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
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
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

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York