Five ways to win the Ashes: Where each side can improve

Tourists must not relax but it is Australia with the big issues.
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The Independent Online

Five things England must do to stay ahead

1 Quickly compensate for the loss of Stuart Broad

They always knew that injury was bound to strike somewhere along the line but Broad has become such a key component that it may not be a smooth transition. As Andrew Strauss, the captain, said yesterday all three of the reserve bowlers are in the frame but he and the coach will already have a clear idea.

2 Stay grounded

The winning of the first live Test in Australia for 24 years is a big deal. No England side has managed that for five series, the paltry three victories since 1986-87 all being achieved when the Ashes had already gone. England will never – repeat never – have a better chance of winning in Australia but they have not done so yet.

3 Wrap Swann in cotton wool

He has become the most effective spin bowler partly because quietly he believes he is the best spin bowler in the world. When he was needed to wrap up Australia's second innings he did so with conviction. All members of this team count but he has come to count in the fourth innings a great deal more.

4 Continue to accrue big first-innings scores

It was, of course, important to bowl out Australia cheaply but the key to the Adelaide victory was in scoring 620 for five dec, England's highest total in Australia for 82 years. Repeating that might be too much to expect but the lack of a decent score in Brisbane left them chasing their tails.

5 Strive for the perfect fielding performance

This may sound churlish after their endeavours in Adelaide – the standout was probably Paul Collingwood's excellent low slip catch to dismiss Ponting – but some chances went begging notably two sharp caught and bowled chances missed by Jimmy Anderson and Broad, and a fizzer to Matt Prior on the fifth morning with rain on its way.

...and what Australia must do

1 Stop deluding themselves

Australia are simply not as good – nowhere near as good – as the sides which ruled the world. But until they accept the fact and move on, as their captain Ricky Ponting appears to have done, they will continue to struggle. By kidding itself that it is better than it is, this team is not playing as well as it can. And they should stop the idle talk of a recall for Shane Warne. It will not happen.

2 Stop dithering over selection

There have been times, though they would deny it, when the England selectors have been in a pickle (remember Darren Pattinson, Mr Miller, chairman of selectors?). Australia's panel of four does not appear to know where to turn and has adopted the "stick the pin in the tail of a donkey" policy. They made two changes in their team from the first Test, having already dithered over that, and now must amend it again. Change is a recipe for panic. They must select for Perth and back their judgement to the end of the series.

3 Keep your eye on the ball

Rarely can an Australian team have fielded with such hesitancy and imprecision. It was not only the dropped catches but the level of ground fielding and throwing. It looked dishevelled. Not something that is associated with Australia sides and it affected their game at every level. Concentration is key.

4 Get the order right

So many players from the captain down look out of form. Most of them average 50 in Test cricket yet only Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin have shown a willingness to repel England so far. It does not look the right combination and the choice of the replacement for the injured Simon Katich at the top of the order will be significant. Phil Hughes is out of touch so one solution would be to move the reliable Hussey to open.

5 Stick to a line and length

The bowling is where they are most vulnerable and is the most important to get right. They only have honest toilers as England have discovered to their glee. In this set up it was bold to drop Mitchell Johnson, capricious though he is. He should be brought back as he has talent and given support could still prove to be a match-winner, something the Aussies are short of and need, being 1-0 down.