It's time England learned how to win ugly after Perth defeat

By Nasser Hussain for the Daily Mail

England were let down by their batsmen in Perth. However much Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss try to deny it, there is an issue with this team on the kind of hard, bouncy strip we saw at the WACA.

Scratching out ugly runs in tough conditions may not look pretty, but if you want to be a fully-rounded Test batsman, you have to adapt.

Over and out: James Anderson walks off as Australia celebrate on the fourth and final day

Over and out: James Anderson walks off as Australia celebrate on the fourth and final day

England have a batting coach in Graham Gooch who was a master at it. They really ought to have taken their lead from him.

Yes, Australia bowled well. Mitchell Johnson swung it in the first innings and Ryan Harris charged in in the second. But that's Test cricket. Bowlers bowl well from time to time - and Test batsmen have to be good enough to cope.

When Gooch made his 154 not out at Headingley against Ambrose and Marshall and Walsh in 1991, do you reckon he just shrugged his shoulders and said: 'Oh well, Curtly's on song. I haven't got a chance'? No. Gooch got stuck in, played straight, left the ball alone when he had to and ground West Indies down. The vibe over the last few days in Perth has been that England didn't seem capable of following suit.

Bad day at the office: but Collingwood should not be dropped

Bad day at the office: but Collingwood should not be dropped

I believe they've grown too used to playing on flat tracks. They're world-class when conditions suit them, as we saw in Brisbane and Adelaide, where they could play round their front pads and trust the bounce.

But they've struggled time and again over the past two years when an extra element comes into play - whether it be seam movement of Headingley, the bounce of Johannesburg, the swing generated by the Pakistanis last summer or the resurgence of Johnson.

You have to learn at Test level to be different kinds of player. I don't mean this to sound smug at all, but I used to love batting on tricky pitches. It removed the fear of failure, and there were few things that gave me greater pleasure than an ugly 70. England need to recreate the same mindset in matches like this.

The good news is the pitches at Melbourne and Sydney won't be as lively as this one in Perth, and I still believe this England side have the edge on Australia because they have more players in form.

That may sound odd after they've failed to post 200 twice in a game, but look at Australia's batting. One of their openers is totally out of nick, and so are their captain and vice-captain - and Ricky Ponting, assuming he plays at the MCG, will be doing so with a broken finger. As for Steve Smith, he's quite simply not a Test No. 6.

England missed Stuart Broad a bit in this game, but mainly for the attitude he'd have brought to a fiery encounter. Don't forget that the bloke who came in for him, Chris Tremlett, finished the match with eight wickets. With that in mind I think the only change England should make for the Boxing Day Test is to swap Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell round in the order.

People might start arguing that Eoin Morgan should come in for Colly, but Colly's streetfighting qualities are exactly what you need with the series as finely poised as it is. He could get a pair in Melbourne and I'd still pick him for Sydney.

It's true that the number of runs Steven Finn is leaking - 4.30 an over so far in the three Tests - is causing a bit of a problem in terms of the control Strauss would like to exert.

To me, Finn looks a bit like Stuart Broad did before he underwent his spell of strength and conditioning. But the problem was accentuated in Perth because Graeme Swann didn't bowl much and because the batsmen's failures meant England were bowling on each of the first three days. I'd keep Finn in the side, because you don't drop your leading wicket-taker just like that.

And I'd remind the team that, despite a thrashing, they are well in this series. If they keep their heads at the MCG, the Ashes can be theirs before the year is out.


The comments below have been moderated in advance.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now