THE ASHES 2017 : David Warner’s worrying form; Moeen Ali’s ‘soft, weak’ dismissal and Gilchrist’s advice
DAVID Warner’s up-and-down form has been queried by former Test stars, but one Australian great has got a word of advice for the misfiring Australian vice-captain.Plus, England’s Moeen Ali has come under fire for his “soft” and “weak” dismissal on day two at the WACA and Michael Hussey lets England in on a little secret about how to stifle the seemingly unstoppable Steve Smith.
DAVID Warner’s new-found ‘go slow’ approach has been pinpointed as the key reason behind the Australian opener’s sluggish form in the Ashes to date.And legendary Australian captain Allan Border wants the 31-year-old to return to his cavalier ways to break out of his mini slump.Warner, a noted dasher at the top of the order, has been far more reserved against England – striking the ball at 54.44 runs per hundred balls, his lowest-ever strike rate on Australian soil.Warner’s lowest-ever strike rates in a series are 50.38 in India in 2013 and 54.11 in the West Indies in 2012.Border told Fox Sports News that he feared Warner was being bogged down by the vice-captaincy, and was changing his batting approach to fit in with his role as a senior player.“Maybe just his mindset is a bit more (aligned with) taking on the responsibility of being one of the senior guys, rather than just going out there and just seeing it and hitting it,” Border said on Saturday.“Maybe just a bit of a chat to the coaches (would help), just to free his mind out. ‘If you see it and it’s in your slot, just go out there and whack it’.”
England has adopted a tactic of starving Warner of run-scoring opportunities this series, and Warner hit just one boundary in his first innings knock in Perth.The idea behind this tactic is that Warner will become frustrated at falling behind on the scoreboard, and will make an error – as happened on Friday when he was dismissed prodding at a ball outside off stump to be caught behind for 22 off Craig Overton.“He’s not totally out of form but a little bit of doubt is creeping into his mind about what to play and what not to play outside the off-stump,” Border added.Border wasn’t the only Ashes legend to be concerned about Warner’s woes, with England great Kevin Pietersen and former Australian skipper Mark Taylor agreeing he was out of sorts.“Warner is a little bit of a concern for me, (he) looks like he is really playing within himself this series,” ex-England batsman Kevin Pietersen told the Nine Network.“We have hardly seen any hustle and bustle … I’m wondering whether he is thinking responsible, responsible, responsible instead of thinking the David Warner way which is whack, whack, whack.“He has been so good at handing over the pressure to the bowlers, to the opposition captain, and we just haven’t seen any of that.”
ENGLAND all-rounder Moeen Ali has been slammed by Ashes winning captains Michael Vaughan and Ricky Ponting.Ali was caught by Steve Smith off Patrick Cummins’ bowling for a second ball duck on day two and was part of a collapse which saw the tourists lose 6-35 in less than 10 overs.It was the first time this series the left-hander has been dismissed by a bowler other than Nathan Lyon and his lack of form is rapidly becoming a concern for England.“Moeen’s was a weak dismissal,” Vaughan told BT Sport.“It really disappointed me, it was soft.”Ponting shared his 2005 opposing Ashes captain’s sentiment:“Quite often when a batsman sits around for four or five hours, there’s every likelihood he’s going to come out and get knocked over,” he told BT Sport.“I agree with Michael, Moeen was really lazy. He’s been sitting there watching how much it’s been bouncing and then he just stands there and prods at one.”Ali is averaging 22 on tour and is yet to reach 50 in any first-class innings in Australia. He has also struggled with the ball, collecting just four wickets for 323 runs.
FORMER Australian batsman Michael Hussey has run out of superlatives to describe Steve Smith’s batsmanship.Smith is unbeaten on 92 ahead of day three at the WACA and Hussey implored England to do away with the funky fields and revert to regular, boring cricket the next time they bowl to a fresh Aussie captain.“Quite often the best thing to do is go right back to basics,” Hussey told Fox Sports News 500.“Keep it really simple and bowl dot balls. As Glenn McGrath used to always say just hit the top of off stump every ball. If he is good enough, which he is at the moment, then you just have to tip your hat to him.Smith had a quiet Test at the Adelaide Oval following a man of the match performance in Brisbane and is just eight runs away from notching his 22nd Test ton.And former Aussie batsman Adam Voges has high hopes for Smith on a flat wicket.“I wouldn’t be surprised if he is still there at stops tonight,” Voges told Fox Sports News.“He’s been phenomenal again this series. His record speaks for itself and he will play a huge role today.”Steve Smith’s sheer batting brilliance should prompt cricket coaching manuals to be torn up, Test great Adam Gilchrist says.Australian captain Smith is headed for his 22nd Test ton on Saturday when he resumes on 92 not out against England in the third Test in Perth. The knock continues Smith’s stunning first-innings record — he averages 79.44 compared to his second-innings average of 39.92.
Gilchrist says that statistic underlines why Smith’s unorthodox technique should be the new-age coaching model, rather than sticking with traditional methods. “It’s everything you don’t teach,” Gilchrist said of Smith’s style while commentating for BT Sport.“But he has got Bradman-like numbers so why don’t we encourage it?” Ex-Australian captain Ricky Ponting said Smith “does things at a different level” to other batsmen.“His basics just look slightly different than everyone else,” Ponting said on BT Sport.“He plays the ball on its merit and it hits the middle of the bat.” Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen, flanking Ponting in the commentary box, said Smith’s eagle eye was astonishing.“The speed with which he picks up the ball from the bowler’s hand is something to be admired,” Pietersen said.“The great players can pick gaps and he’s picking gaps … he does the basics right and he’s sticking to his way. Smith is a great player.” Smith is averaging 61.40 in Tests.
And if he completes another hundred on Saturday, he will have more tons than half-centuries (21) in his 59 Tests.