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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
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

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas