• The third Ashes Test: Five lessons

    Barely a week after Australia thrashed England by 405-runs at Lord’s, the hosts responded with an emphatic eight-wicket victory at Edgbaston, to go 2-1 up. Tom Sizeland picks five lessons learnt from the encounter.

    It was worth the wait
    Two years ago, Steven Finn was deemed ‘unselectable’ by then England ODI coach Ashley Giles. He has refused to eat his humble pie, as he would say on Twitter, but Finn’s first match since then saw him walk away with the Man of the Match award, thanks to eight wickets in the game, and within that career best figures and double scalps of Steve Smith and Michael Clarke. He displayed terrific pace and movement, and provided a genuinely threatening third seam option – something England have been missing for years.

    Clarke is vulnerable
    Australian skipper Clarke, usually forthright, but stubborn when it comes to his own game, finally said after the match that Australia are only playing with ten men at the moment, and there might be a possibility that he will move down a spot in the order. Two more failures with the bat at Edgbaston and a dropped catch in the second innings, has left his Test future teetering on the edge of existence. The fact that he said he might move down one, shows that he can no longer protect his place in the side with his words.

    Class is permanent
    Ian Bell came into the third Test under immense pressure. Not only was he facing the possibility of an early international retirement, but he was bumped up to No 3 in the batting order. His response? The highest run-scorer in the match. It might only be one match, and he’s going to have to justify his place in the side with some consistent performances, but the class is there, and always has been, and he showed it with the freedom England wanted to see so desperately.

    Australia need a No 5
    Adam Voges deserved his place in the side going into this series. He had been performing brilliantly in the Sheffield Shield, and struck an unbeaten century on his Test debut against West Indies. He has failed to find that sort of form against England however, leaving severe exposure in Australia’s middle order. In 11 innings between them so far, Clarke and Voges have mustered just 167 runs. Australia must make use of what’s at their disposal – Shaun Marsh. Bump the versatile Marsh up to 4, and put Clarke at 5. This will alleviate some of the pressure off the skipper, in turn giving them a potentially stronger option there too.

    Anderson is irreplaceable
    Finns career-best figures can’t hide the fact that England have a massive selection call going into the fourth encounter. James Anderson pulled up with a side strain in Australia’s second innings, and England’s worst fears were realised with the news he will be missing the Test at Trent Bridge. Anderson is the leader of the bowling unit, and his ability to make full use of seam-friendly pitches is going to be severely missed. Mark Wood will probably move in, but he doesn’t fit the mould of Anderson at all.

    Picture: Reuters

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    Tom Sizeland