NASSER HUSSAIN: Conditions were in their favor and they made the perfect start but England failed to count AGAIN with Ben Stokes, Jimmy Anderson and Ollie Robinson injuries, leaving their bowling attack toothless and Joe Root frustrated
- Australia recovers from the depths of 12 to three on day one in Hobart
- England initially took full advantage of circumstances that came in handy
- But their bowlers let it slip thanks to bad luck and ill-considered decisions
- James Anderson was unable to play due to a hamstring injury
- Ben Stokes was unable to bowl due to his side load, leaving England short
- Chris Woakes struggled and Mark Wood proved unfit in the circumstances
- When Ollie Robinson got a back cramp, Joe Root had to bowl himself
Joe Root looked like a frustrated captain towards the end of the first day of the final Test, and understandably so.
Hobart produced England conditions, with a green field and the temperature so cold that the players rushed for their long sleeve jerseys, and the ball did so much that Australia was quickly reduced to 12 to three. But again England let it slip.
Root’s first problem came when Ben Stokes’ worth was underlined once more, as England’s entire balance sheet was tarnished by his inability to bowl.
Ben Stokes was unable to bowl and grinned in the field because of his side load
Ollie Robinson took two wickets – David Warner and Steve Smith – then had a back spasm
Then the England captain had to leave out his bowler best suited to the conditions in Jimmy Anderson, apparently with a hamstring problem.
The problem was compounded as another ideal man for those conditions in Chris Woakes struggled with form and rhythm and looked low on confidence.
And the conditions just didn’t suit Mark Wood because they demanded that the bowlers hit the deck long and he is short and slipping.
Finally, another bowler who was perfectly suited to what was in front of England in Ollie Robinson was forced to leave the attack when he suffered a back spasm.
So we saw Root again bowling the pink ball under lights, as he did in Adelaide, over already on the 33rd as he was running out of options.
It turned out to be a frustrating day for Joe Root after England got off to the ideal start
Root Looks Dejected After Zak Crawley Drops Marnus Labuschagne On Opening Day
Every international team really needs a fifth bowler and England are always weaker when Stokes isn’t around or, in this case, can bat alone.
It’s another reason why they really should have looked after him on this tour and not knocked him to the ground.
This first day was actually the story of the Ashes, for despite all the understandable focus on England’s underperforming percussion, conditions were unique to Australia for much of the series.
England have had three pitches that were perfect for their bowlers in Brisbane, Melbourne and now Hobart, although the pink ball is soft and didn’t do much after the first break on Friday. But they didn’t make them count.
James Anderson was unable to play in the fifth and final test due to a hamstring injury, but he handed Sam Billings his test cap
Stuart Broad was in between the wickets when he turned down Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne, the second came down comically
It was noticeable last summer that Robinson’s pace was slower as he came back for his second and third stints and England clearly want him to get fitter if he is to have a long international career.
He only needs to look to the longevity of Anderson and Stuart Broad for an example of what to do, because in addition to all their skills and success, they have also maintained an extremely high fitness level.
They put so much work into it and Jimmy especially always keeps his pace whether it’s his first spell of a day or his fifth.
We need to give Robinson some slack in what is still his first year in Test cricket. He has spent his entire career in the county game, where as your speed decreases, you are no less hostile. You can bowl at 70 miles per hour in the last session of the day and still get a lot of wickets.
A beautiful century of Travis Head changed the complexion from the first day of the final test
Australia’s recovery came after England got off to a good start, with Stuart Broad throwing Marnus Labuschagne around his legs, leaving the batter flat on his face
Robinson’s record in Sussex has been phenomenal over the past three years, but it’s different in international cricket and not just on the pitch. Outside of that, all flights, various hotel beds and extra fitness work between the matches come through.
But it is clear that he now not only has to work with the strength and conditioning coaches, but also needs to be looked after by England and manage his workload.
There is no doubt that he is a very talented bowler and, make no mistake, Robinson will be back with a slew of test wickets next summer in England.
He can make the ball do the talking, he bowls the right length for Test cricket and he is quick enough to start an inning.
It’s just a matter of maintaining those speeds and being in shape, especially outdoors. I’m sure it’s a lesson he will learn.