Nick Compton’s Ashes verdict: The three things England should have done against Australia

Nick Compton AshesGETTY

Nick Compton says English cricket must change

The score wasn’t easy viewing this morning, having gone to bed hopeful that England could put up a gritty and determined rearguard effort and draw the Test and keep what’s left of the Ashes alive. My hope, it turns out, was forlorn.

My mornings this winter have followed a particular pattern. First the alarm – and then an immediate check of the cricket score followed by a deep sigh before reading the myriad of tweets from past and present players bemoaning the state of English cricket. 

Some of it has been pretty damning and yes there are points being made that are justified: Alastair Cook has been desperately out of form, Stuart Broad is nowhere near his best and Moeen Ali appears to have lost his touch for the moment.

All this criticism goes with the territory and the team will know that. Losing this Ashes will hurt but in all defeats, there are lots of lessons that one can learn. Being brutally honest for any professional can be a hard pill to swallow but it’s where the key to progression sits. 

This particularly crushing series defeat – and it is a crushing scoreline, despite the fact that England have competed in every Test – has shown three crucial things you need to win Test matches in Australia: fast bowlers who offer pace AND bounce, a spinner that properly threatens to take wickets and batsmen that have the mentality to score big and make big partnerships.

Steve Smith AshesEPA

Steve Smith has been the man of the series so far

Until the system at home changes and there is less cricket played, it will be hard to get England competitive again Down Under

Nick Compton

Sadly, England have shown little of the above this winter, and Australia had all of it.

Australia’s bowlers used the new ball effectively and blew the tail away every time. Yes, they were very good but our lower order was a real worry. Broad is a good batsman but I wonder if he needs someone to work with him now. He should be averaging considerably more than 20 coming in where he does, but he is just not getting the scores anymore and he needs some help.

I now worry about Alastair Cook too. He is an exceptional opening batter and someone I have looked up to for years. We may be in danger I think that we are sucking the life out of him. He knows how he wants to play and at the can still offer England another five years world-class Test match batting. He is one of the few who can bat for five hours but you can see that he lost some of that mental strength for the time being.

It was similar to when he was in the last throes of his captaincy – very sad to see.

And I hope we don’t see something similar with Joe Root. He looks exhausted by this series – both by the on-field results and, I am sure, the off-field troubles. You see his energy has been drained but it is hard to have the energy when you don’t have the artillery to back you up.

He will be so disappointed with how the series has gone but he has a big future as captain of this side and rather than criticise some of the decisions he made, I think we should back him to the hilt.

I think his instincts are good – and we don’t want to lose that. He went in to this series with his hands tied a little: only three 80mph bowlers was never going to help him captain a winning side here. 

Steve Smith is a good batter and a good captain but he’s not that much better than Root.

I know people call the England captaincy a poisoned chalice but we must not let this series define some of our bigger players. I still believe Root has the potential to be an English great.

Joe Root AshesREUTERS

Joe Root has struggled with the bat during this Ashes series

For the most part, though, these England players are simply products of their environment. They will come back next summer and be a good team. They excel in English conditions and should be applauded for that. Jimmy Anderson, for example, really is an incredible bowler in England.

But until the system at home changes and there is less cricket played, it will be hard to get England competitive again Down Under. 

Bowlers will continue to bowl within themselves on English wickets because that is what is required to be successful. 

The wickets are getting worse around the counties. They are flat, docile and all too often lifeless.

Fast bowlers must get frustrated but, as a batsman, I hate it too.

English cricketGETTY

English wickets are not helping the England team

Getting the ball off the square for me was tough at the best of times but I would much rather face pace and bounce and have a chance to score on true wickets than have to grind it out on slow English wickets. It can be very hard work and is of no use when we play an Ashes series away. 

Finally, a really important point to note is that in modern cricket, home advantage has increased massively. Today’s teams tend to lose when they travel abroad. We have seen Virat Kohli struggling in England and the Aussies often find it very difficult in India.

I am wondering if we are now reaching a stage where we need to think about picking different teams to play in different countries.

***Nick Compton is Ladbrokes’ Ashes brand ambassador. Australia start as 4/9 favourites to win the fourth Test with England 9/2 outsiders and the draw at 9/2.***