NEED FOR INTENSITY
When your intensity is very high in preparation, it leads you in to a Test very well – Broad © Getty
England may change their preparation ahead of the fourth Test match at Old Trafford in a bid to combat the inconsistency which has dogged their Test match cricket over the past two years.
Their wildly fluctuating form is almost becoming predictable. After a crushing defeat at Trent Bridge, which had followed an equally emphatic victory at Lord’s, Joe Root’s men performed excellently at The Oval to beat a South African side which they had thoroughly outplayed. The winning margin of 239 runs proved their dominance.
This is not a new phenomenon. England’s form in Test cricket over the past two years has been full of these sorts of contrasting performances. During the 2015 Ashes, England won the series 3-2 but the two defeats they suffered were hammerings. Last summer against Pakistan, a four match series was drawn 2-2. England’s margins of victory were 340 and 141 runs respectively. Their margins of defeat were equally large: 75 runs and ten wickets.
The problem is well known – the players and coaching staff admit they have an issue – but the solution has, so far, proved to be elusive. After the 340-run defeat at Trent Bridge, Root admitted that the things England had attempted to try and improve their consistency had not worked so “we have to look for something different and make sure we work very hard at that and make sure it sticks.”
As such, England may look at their preparation ahead of the next Test at Old Trafford, which begins on Friday (August 4), in a bid to find that consistency. “Joe asked the team to make sure our intensity in preparation was high leading in [to the third Test],” Stuart Broad said. “When your intensity is very high in two days preparation, it leads you in to a Test match very well.
“With back to back Test matches, can you match that intensity in training in between? You’re training Wednesday, some of the bowlers might not bowl because of workloads but actually, do we need to raise that intensity two days out so we go in to the Test on Friday as pumped up, mentally focussed and physically ready as we can be?”
It is surely worth a try even if there is a risk the players will head in to the match less fresh than usual. The bowlers in particular, given recent injuries to James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood, will have the be managed carefully but their workload was not overly taxing in this Test – no English seam bowler bowled more than 18 overs in an innings – so that should ease those concerns.
England’s willingness to look at all aspects of their preparation in order to improve is to be welcomed. Whether it leads to more consistent performances in the future remains to be seen.