Ashes 4th Test Review: Graham Thorpe instilled some fighting in England’s batters

Renounce the root and branch review for English cricket. Maybe all Joe Joe’s team needed to get into this Ashes series was a meaningful exercise to get used to Australian conditions?

England was still outclassed and outcompeted in this fourth test in Sydney but they showed a certain struggle and, crucially, knowledgeable on how to combat Australia’s attacks under these conditions.

Since the series has already been lost in Melbourne, there is only as much consolation as tourists can take from this hard-fought draw.

Still, there was a sense of what could have been if they had actually had a proper run-in to this series instead of showing up in Brisbane six weeks ago amid two weeks of quarantine and two rain-stricken warm-up matches where barely two days of cricket were played.

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It was telling that Ben Stokes, who had not played test cricket for nine months before Gabba, finally looked like the batsman we have all come to love during this test, hitting double scores in the 60s despite the fact that he struggled with a side load.

The same was the form found by Jonny Bairstow, England’s first century creator in this series in this match, who also chewed 105 crucial deliveries on the final day, and Zak Crawley, whose 77 lit up for the morning session.

Both only came into England’s team at 2-0 down in Melbourne, and after a test they showed the form that suggested they should have been in XI from the start. But after being denied proper preparation before the series to decide their best batting line-up, England both parachuted too late.

The fact that this team showed such struggle and character in Sydney reflects extremely well on assistant coach Graham Thorpe and less on Chris Silverwood, the head coach absent because he isolated himself with Covid. Despite the setbacks of the past week, the squad seemed happier and more united without Silverwood.

The 4th ash test – as it happened

Thorpe, a 100-caps test veteran who mastered Australian conditions throughout his career, has added to the batteries in particular an extra sense of purpose and confidence.

The 52-year-old is tipped to become the new Middlesex coach. Still, he has given a good audition this week for the top job with England.

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