Latest Sports

Ashes Panel: England batting woes merit county game overhaul, says Michael Atherton

Written by corres2

Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain and Rob Key joined Ian Ward on the Sky Sports Ashes podcast to discuss the fallout of England’s innings defeat to Australia at the third Test in Melbourne; Australia retain the Ashes with an unassailable 3-0 lead

Last Updated: 28/12/21 2:23pm



Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sky Sports Michael Atherton says the England cricket system is not strong enough for the Test side to thrive at International level

Sky Sports Michael Atherton says the England cricket system is not strong enough for the Test side to thrive at International level

Former England captain Michael Atherton believes the domestic game needs an overhaul to produce Test-standard batting in the wake of England’s Ashes humiliation.

The tourists were bowled out for just 68 in Melbourne – with only Joe Root and Ben Stokes reaching double figures – as they slid to an innings defeat that confirmed an unassailable 3-0 lead for Australia in the five-match series.

Although the County Championship programme has been reduced from 16 to 14 games in recent years, the bulk of fixtures take place at either end of the summer, when conditions make it harder for batters to thrive.

By contrast, Australia’s domestic Sheffield Shield – contested by six states – comprises 10 matches apiece and a final and Atherton, speaking on the Sky Sports Ashes podcast, said: “If your system is strong and competitive, all the talk about coaching is somewhat peripheral.

Ben Stokes was one of only two England batters to reach double figures in their second innings (Associated Press)

Ben Stokes was one of only two England batters to reach double figures in their second innings (Associated Press)

“You’ll have a Darwinian system where the best players come to the top of the pile and I don’t think it’s strong and competitive enough right now. An 18-county system with four competitions is basically too much to fit into too short a space of time.

“A shorter, more condensed higher-quality first-class competition would in the end allow the best players to come through and they should be able to make the step up to Test cricket.

“How you get there is not simple, but the fundamentals for Australia came from the fact they have a better first-class system and that’s it really – you can over-complicate things.

“A lot of the summer is given to white-ball cricket, but there’s still a majority in England who like Test cricket and Ashes cricket above all. There’s anger and frustration that they feel England’s Test team has been marginalised and the County Championship has been hollowed out.”

Atherton was joined on the podcast by Ian Ward, Nasser Hussain and Rob Key – with the latter urging the 18 first-class counties and the governing body, ECB, to put aside self-interest in pursuit of an improved England Test side.

“There has to be some sacrifice along the way to try and help our young players coming through into the system,” said Key. “There has never been a time like this where batsmen have struggled as they have now.

“You’ve got to change the conditions in which people are learning to play, but what you really need is the ECB and the counties to finally work together for once, not go against each other.

“All this warring over when do we play the Hundred, when do we play the T20 Blast, when do we get our little bits of the summer, that has to end. Counties and the ECB need to sit down and do what’s best for English cricket to help us be successful.

Former England batsman Rob Key blames the side's batting for their Ashes defeat in Australia and their recent Test failures

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Former England batsman Rob Key blames the side’s batting for their Ashes defeat in Australia and their recent Test failures

Former England batsman Rob Key blames the side’s batting for their Ashes defeat in Australia and their recent Test failures

“It’s going to take a while. They’re going to have to work out how to do a county schedule – at the moment it’s a complete farce. I feel sorry for the person who has to fit all the matches and formats in, you cannot keep everyone happy.”

Hussain also cited New Zealand’s domestic set-up as an example of how changes can prove beneficial at national level – with the Black Caps crowned inaugural Test champions earlier this year.

He said: “These are professional cricketers. It is your game, take ownership of your game. I never walked off, when I was having problems against Courtney Walsh or whoever and said ‘you know what, that was my coach’s fault’.

Australia seamer Scott Boland ended up with figures of 6-7 on his Test debut as England were rolled for just 68 in their second innings

Australia seamer Scott Boland ended up with figures of 6-7 on his Test debut as England were rolled for just 68 in their second innings

“I don’t mind you having all these techniques but it is about getting runs. If you’ve got a problem with pitches go and speak to [ECB managing director of men’s cricket] Ashley Giles and tell him the pitches in domestic cricket are not good enough.

“Look at what New Zealand did, they were going through a similar thing and the one big change they made was in their domestic cricket.

“They played on better pitches, not flatter pitches, and you can see the results.”




Source link

About the author

corres2

Leave a Comment

x

COVID-19

India
Confirmed: 40,371,500Deaths: 491,700
x

COVID-19

World
Confirmed: 362,960,836Deaths: 5,625,854