Peril of bowling Flintoff into the ground

First Test: Captain shows over-reliance on pace pair but he may need to call more on Jones, a victim of careless hands

In the first innings, when Australia rolled over like teddy bears in the face of short, high-speed bowling, Stephen Harmison and Andrew Flintoff bowled 11.2 overs and 11 overs respectively. In the second innings, when the tourists stood up like grizzlies, England's fastest pair each bowled 27 overs, nine more than anybody else.

Since discomforting pace was always at the core of England's strategy, this is entirely expected. Whatever happens now, by the end of the series Harmison and Flintoff can expect to have been bowled into the ground unless Australia reprise their Paddington act.

There is another, slightly worrying factor about the man who bowled the fewest overs and what that might mean for the quest of the next eight weeks. The clear water of the strategy was muddied by four dropped catches in Australia's second innings, three of them yesterday and all of them off Simon Jones. It was oafish fielding and will have done nothing for Jones. There are old bowlers around who suspect that he could yet have a singificant influence on the home side's fortunes. Not if they keep shelling them.

Who bowls when is partly down to gameplan, partly down to events, partly down to the preference of the captain. There is no doubt that Harmison and Flintoff pose the greater threat - they attack the batsmen - and Vaughan seems to prefer them. Jones bowled 18 overs, Matthew Hoggard 16.

Flintoff was kept going, although for a couple of days he kept bowling "four" balls. His first four overs yesterday went for 24 runs. This cannot be expected to happen throughout the rubber, otherwise England will be in deeper trouble than they are already.

The modus operandi suggests that they will always concede runs. In the first innings of this match, Australia were collapsing while still booming along at almost five runs an over. That was because both of attacking fields and bowling which allowed the luxury of attacking strokes even when the straits were dire.

In their second innings, Australia's rate was fractionally below their normal rate of four an over, reduced slightly yesterday when one of the factors was not merely to score runs but to get up England's noses.

Then there is Ashley Giles, the renascent left-arm spinner. Because of the manner in which Giles has re-shaped his career in the past year he had been cast in a leading role in this series. It was not one to put his name in lights above the title, à la Harmy and Freddie in The Ashes 2005, but it was definitely of the "Also starring" variety, so you could be certain that this was no humdrum contributor.

Giles has taken plenty of wickets (39 in 10 matches) since he came storming back at Trent Bridge last year, but his part in the Ashes is meant to be that of the side's holding bowler. Essentially, he bottles up an end on many ordinary days, while the others rotate in attacking mode at the other end. He played it to perfection when it mattered in South Africa in the winter.

He was not needed in the first innings here and that only showed how well the seam quartet was doing. But by Friday, Vaughan needed him. Australia did what England feared they might and made it look easy. Even when Giles was coming over the wicket, he could not stop them scoring off him. His nine overs cost 46 runs and two more yesterday morning another 10.

If Giles is going at five an over in the series and not taking any wickets, it augurs dreadfully for England's chances. One sound judge thought Giles's spell on Friday was as pertinent to England's chances of regaining the Ashes (or lack of them) than any other single factor. Giles at least is strong and single-minded enough to dwell on it and work out other ways. He has been in these dark corners before.

None of this should be construed as terminal. But despite the heady moments of Thursday, when anything seemed possible, it was never going to be easy to take 20 wickets against the best side in the world. They showed it yesterday, and maybe they showed it more in the performance of the last three wickets than they did when the fourth-wicket pair were putting on 165 the previous day. That is what fourth-wicket pairs do.

True, England dropped three yesterday but two were very late on, after which only eight runs were added. The last three wickets put on 105, 77 against the second new ball in 20 overs. There were always question marks about the ability of England's batting to cope with Australia's bowling but the problems of bowling them out twice could never be exaggerated. England at least did it cheaply once. Remember, nobody said this was going to be easy.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
A poster by Durham Constabulary
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
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

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine