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Ashes 2021/22

‘That has to be our rock bottom’ – Cook and Butcher slam England for ‘pathetic’ Hobart batting collapse

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Alastair Cook and Mark Butcher have strongly criticised England’s performance in the fifth Ashes Test at Hobart.

For a time, England’s performance was one of their better ones this series. They claimed 20 wickets for the first time in an Ashes Test in Australia since 2014, with Mark Wood’s 6-37 keeping England’s fourth-innings target under 300. They then got off to a strong start to the chase, with Rory Burns and Zak Crawley putting on England’s best opening stand in an Ashes Test since the 2013 Boxing Day Test.

However, from 68-0, England collapsed dramatically, losing all 10 wickets for 56 runs to end up 124 all out. Butcher, speaking on BT Sport, conveyed the sense of inevitable shellshock England fans were feeling.

“The opening partnership was good, wasn’t it?” he said. “The bowlers had given England an outside chance… Once you get off to a start like that, you know the hope is that with the runs required reduced, and a little bit of adrenaline, a little bit of push you can get over the line. I was about to say that the collapse came as a bit of a surprise, but it doesn’t really, does it?”

Butcher continued discussing England’s propensity to lose wickets in clumps.

“These quick losses of wickets seem to dog this team wherever they go. They managed, what? 86 and a bit overs for 20 wickets in this Test match?” he said. “Thoughts go back to the India trip, although circumstance and pitches were perhaps much different, they were bowled out, 20 wickets for less than 80 overs in Ahmedabad in one of those Test matches. It’s just that they don’t seem to be able to bat for any length of time or withstand any amount of pressure. And that was ghastly. It really was.”

He defended England’s bowlers, who batted for 20 balls between them as they batted aggressively, while also highlighting the issue of the lack of rest they get courtesy of England’s regular poor performances with the bat.

“I don’t blame the bowlers for coming out and having a swish,” he said. “They’ve done their job in this Test match, they’ve done their job in the series really, in terms of the amount of times they had to be bowling the next day and the next day. Batters just haven’t been able to give them enough rest, and that was the epitome of the way the tour’s gone. It was pretty pathetic.”

Cook, Joe Root’s predecessor as England Test captain, also came down heavily on the batters.

“Yeah, you don’t win games of cricket with that,” said the Essex opener. “The fact that we lost ten wickets in hour and a half… Yes, the conditions were tough, and some good bowling, but there was no resilience there. I said at the beginning of the game actually, it is going to a really hard week for them mentally because they’re about to lose and about to go home and you have all the thoughts about that, and as soon as they are put under pressure you are going to see how much resolve there is. They showed a lot at Sydney, and they used it all there.

“That was very, very tough viewing. That has to be our rock bottom. There cannot be any worse a place in terms of getting bowled out in a hour and a half. OK, we competed in this game with the ball. We didn’t quite get it all right. 300 was 50 too many, it might be 100 too many. But there might be excuses and they lost it for an hour or so. I actually can’t believe an hour and a half to lose 10 wickets… As a batter and a professional who plays professional cricket, you get bowled out under a session once or twice a career almost. This side, after a couple of wickets you say, ‘jeez, something’s on here’. You can see a batting line-up devoid of all confidence and belief that once you lose one wicket or two wickets, no one seems to step up and stop that slide. You can talk all you want about it in the dressing room, until some people grab this team by the scruff of the neck and do it for themselves, I can’t see what’s changing.”

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