England captain Alastair Cook says his team needs to be more careful about their shot selections as they attempt to turn around a 2-0 Ashes deficit.
England are in a scramble.
After humiliating defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide, England have vowed to take the fight up to Australia in the third Test in Perth, starting Friday.
But herein lies their problem: 21 of their 40 dismissals in the series have come from catches on the leg side.
That’s almost unheard of in Test cricket, and a trend England are desperate to reverse in the next three Tests.
England captain Alastair Cook is among the leg-side culprits.
His hook to fine leg when his team was trying to save the match in Adelaide drew the most criticism.
Cook has promised to adopt wiser shot selections in Perth, and he’s told his teammates to do the same.
But now for their new problem: the WACA.
England are set to be peppered with short balls on the pace-friendly pitch.
And with the visitors now apprehensive about playing hook shots – or anything else risky down the leg side – the runs could dry up, adding even more pressure to an under-performing top order.
Then there’s the nicks to worry about.
“A lot of dismissals here are caught behind, or caught in the slips and gully. There’s a danger in certain shots,” Cook said.
“It’s one of those wickets that certainly as an Englishman you have to get used to.
“The first half an hour or so is quite unique with the bounce. I don’t think it’s as quick as it was in the 80s and early 90s, but the actual carry on this wicket has always been very good here.
“It can be a fantastic place to bat, but you have to get in to make the most of that.
“It is a slightly different wicket. Adjusting to that is crucial.”
England wicketkeeper Matt Prior says the team can’t afford to be timid in Perth, declaring their intent to go for the win rather than play for a draw.
To do that, the likes of Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Joe Root, Ian Bell, Prior and Michael Carberry need to fire.
Australian pace ace Mitchell Johnson, who has taken 17 wickets so far this series, again looms as England’s biggest challenge.
Cook admits England’s shot selections against Johnson have been poor, but said his team were up for the challenge of turning their fortunes around.
“We’ve talked a good game, but now it’s about making sure we play a good game,” Cook said.
England are expected to recall fit-again paceman Tim Bresnan for spinner Monty Panesar, while batsman Garry Ballance is a chance to replace allrounder Ben Stokes.
But the biggest selection quandary facing England is whether they retain spinner Graeme Swann, or opt for an all-out pace attack.
Should Swann be dropped, paceman Chris Tremlett – who took match figures of 8-150 during his last Test visit to Perth – or Boyd Rankin are the leading candidates to come in.