Ashes 2015 - Damien Fleming: I’m the Australian lbw champion so if Shane Watson wants help with his problem, I am available

THE AUSSIE ANGLE: Watson knows time is not on his side and Mitchell Marsh is looking over his shoulder

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The two things that send Australians into Twitter meltdown are warm beer served at a pub and yet another promising Shane Watson innings ending with him being trapped lbw. For Aussies, both bring unwanted shouts.

The day started with high hopes of Watto scoring a career-saving hundred, supported by Australia’s handy lower order to minimize the first-innings deficit or even claim a slight lead. England’s quicks had other plans, bowling full and swinging the Duke with great control. They demolished our tail as easily as David Boon devours a cold beer on the Melbourne to London Qantas flight.

Shane is a thoughtful, intelligent guy who has been a great white-ball cricketer for Australia and a handy Test cricketer, whose best periods have been opening the batting with tough and hairy Simon Katich. He knows he is under the pump and at  34 years of age it’s about results. And with the emerging all-rounder Mitchell Marsh looking over his massive shoulders, his career – putting it in financial terms – is not quite in Greece territory but it’s certainly in a bear market.

In the end, Watto scored about his career-average 30 and got out for his most likely mode of dismissal: lbw. No less than 28 times his front pad has been pinned by Mr Duke or Mr Kookaburra and has been adjudged lbw in 27 per cent of his Test dismissals. Compare that to someone like Australia captain Michael Clarke (11 per cent) and you can mount a case for Watto attending lbw group therapy.

Now, I was no more than a handy tail-ender but I’m willing to help mentor Watto in this regard. I feel I’m somewhat of an expert as I hold the highest percentage of being dismissed lbw of anyone who has played over 20 Tests for Australia. A whopping 37 per cent of my innings were ended with the umpire’s finger raised after the ball hit my pads. My simple solution for Watto’s woes – and it’s potentially very painful – is to bat without a front pad. Surely the prospect of a broken shinbone would improve his bat plane from the backswing down and get him back hitting the ball.

It was Bowlology gold from the England fast-bowling unit in the first session. Anderson, Broad, Wood and Stokes constantly bowled into the Avenue of Apprehension on this slow pitch and  proved too much for the Australians’ techniques.

James Anderson is someone I can watch bowl all day, someone who is at the elite end of his craft. The England spearhead ticks a lot of key attributes: pace? Tick. Accuracy? Tick. Late swing both ways? Tick. Endurance? Tick. He tested all Aussie batsmen with his unique ability to bowl outswingers to both right and left-hand batsman at will with no real change of action. He simply angles his wrist at first slip for his outswinger to a right-hand batsman and angles his wrist to leg stump for his inswinger, with no jumping wide of the crease or opening up too much with his front arm to give the batsman a clue of the change of swing method.

England have outplayed Australia in this Test so far but that doesn’t guarantee a win. The Aussie top order has proven match-winners in David Warner, Steve Smith and Clarke. Or could today be the day Shane Watson gets his Test cricket career back into a bull market?

Damien Fleming played 20 Tests for Australia and is the author of Bowlology. Follow him on Twitter @bowlology