Ashes 2013/14: England must do much better - Graham Gooch tells batsmen to bounce back

England’s batting coach admits they did not compete in the first Test and wants repeat of last year’s India fightback

adelaide

When England’s leading Test runs scorer insists you failed to meet the required standard, it may be worth listening. If that man also happens to be the team’s batting coach, it might pay to act as well.

Graham Gooch, holder of both posts, did his utmost to sound optimistic yesterday while lamenting the wretchedness of the batting which led directly to England’s 381-run defeat in the first Test of the Ashes series in Brisbane. He was forthright, candid and entirely correct.

If the whole cohort of batsmen do not buck up their ideas and find some way (any way will do) to repel Mitchell Johnson and his pals this week, then the Ashes so lovingly held and cherished for four years will be on their way to being surrendered. Gooch’s words ought to have made the players wince.

“It’s tough, I wouldn’t deny that,” he said. “It’s not the sort of defeat you want – a heavy defeat and we didn’t compete. In high-level sport you need to compete. The batsmen’s job is to set up a platform for the bowlers to try to win the game.

“We didn’t even get close to that. Everyone’s got to look at their game and how they can improve on their performance. There was nothing wrong with the wicket – a great Test wicket.”

In a round of interviews yesterday, Gooch returned repeatedly to the theme: not good enough, must do better. A more poetic soul might have evinced the spirit of King Harry on St Crispin’s Day. Gooch did not score many of his 8,900 Test runs by sledging in Shakespearean verse, however, but England really must be the few, happy few come Thursday morning.

The tourists, as they have every reason to do, are clinging on to their comeback in India a year ago as if it were a rosary bead counting prayers. If they did it then, they can do it now, although then their difficulties were with infernal spin and now they are with high pace.

“It’s the first time Australia have beaten England for quite a few Tests and we’ve had a lot of success over the last few years,” Gooch said. “We lost the first Test in Ahmedabad a year ago. There is character in the team and skill. We have to show better will than we did in the last game.

“To get dismissed twice for under 200 is very disappointing. You’re not going to win any games of cricket if you do that. We know we didn’t perform anywhere near the standard required and this team is capable of. We’re going to work hard to put that right. It’s quite simple.”

Much of the gossip in Adelaide is about who will bat at three for England. Gooch conceded that it was almost certainly between Joe Root and Ian Bell and readers of runes are still going with Root.

Important though this is, the nub of England’s innings, of competitiveness, may stem from their captain, Alastair Cook. The feeling is that if  he goes well, then so will  England.

The record does not quite bear this out. England have lost four and won 11 of the 25 matches in which Cook has scored a hundred, lost one and won 11 of the 23 in which Kevin Pietersen has made a hundred and lost none while winning 14 of the 20 in which Bell has made a hundred. On those grounds Bell is the man everyone should crave to make it 21 in Adelaide but Captain Cook carries an unmistakeable resonance with him into the arena.

“He is a massive part of the success of England,” Gooch said. “Generally, when Alastair does well, the team does well, if you look at some of the Tests in India last year. And, of course, being captain – I think it is quite an advantage to be captain and open the batting because you get the chance to dictate terms, set the tone, to set the agenda, so to speak. Your captain scoring runs up front and leading the way is always a big boost for the team.”

Gooch scored 11 of his 20 hundreds as captain (of which they lost one), still more than any other man to have led England in a Test match, though Cook, with seven in half the matches, is catching fast. Cook was one of two players to have long, intensive one-on-one coaching sessions yesterday.

He was with Gooch, working assiduously on that line outside off stump, where fourth and fifth stump would be, and where he has so often been ensnared into giving a catch behind. Meanwhile, Matt Prior worked with the team coach, Andy Flower, probably on a range of issues which will have embraced when to stick and when to twist and how to avoid that instinctive flick in the short leg arc.

Since his gallant, atypical match-saving hundred in Auckland in March, Prior has scored 180 runs in 15 innings at an average of 15. That is the form of a tailender, not an all-rounder and he is wise and experienced enough to know that it cannot continue. Credit eventually runs out.

Throughout his career, Cook has been mentored by Gooch and it has worked admirably for him. Gooch is imparting advice on matters technical and mental, yet England have made above 400, the sort of score when you can think of winning, only once in their last 12 Tests. He will continue offering the benefit of his undoubted wisdom.

“Generally that’s what I get paid to do. Whether they  listen is another thing,” Gooch said. “You give advice. When you’re playing, your desire is to play, reach the top. The player is always the master.

“The coach is there to shape the player, give advice, give tips, to help him hopefully shape his career, style, play, technique. If he wants to take that advice, that’s up to him. Different things make different people tick. That’s not rocket science.” And it  is not rocket science that England need.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most