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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks
tv

Regular cast member Ste Hay, played by Kieron Richardson, is about to test TV boundaries

Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
techPerils of 'text neck' revealed
News
i100
News
Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt
peopleStonewall boss says many fear it could ruin their careers
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

Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager
Isis in Iraq: Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants

Isis takes a big step back

Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants
Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits: How to shop politically

How to shop politically

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits
The science of sex: What happens when science meets erotica

Sex on the brain

Fetishes, dominatrixes, kinks and erotica. They are subjects that should get the crowds flocking to a new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection