Former England opener Geoffrey Boycott expressed his concerns with pacer Mark Wood trying to put 100 per cent of his body into bowling every delivery in the first Ashes Test, calling it ‘a recipe for injury’. He added that if Wood doesn’t reduce the amount of effort, then he will have to face many injuries.
Wood was a standout performer for England with the ball, taking 3/85 with his raw pace and testing Australia batters in the first innings of the first Ashes Test.
“On the plus side, I thought Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson were splendid. Mark was consistently fast, accurate and threatening to the opposition. My only concern was him bowling flat out every ball. Throwing his body 100 per cent into every delivery is a recipe for injury,” wrote Boycott in his column for The Telegraph on Sunday.
“All the great fast bowlers throughout history have bowled very fast but slightly within themselves, only occasionally giving it everything. If he can’t throttle back a touch then more injury is around the corner, which would be sad. He’s 32 during this Ashes series and that is a fast bowler’s dangerous age for injuries. From now on fast bowling gets tougher on the body. We would all like to see more of him for a lot longer,” added Boycott, who played 108 Tests for England.
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Boycott was also impressed with Robinson’s showings of 3/58 and 1/13 in his first Test in Australia but expects him to vary pace in his spells.
“At 6ft 5ins Ollie has that advantage of delivering from higher than normal which gives batsmen a problem picking up the length. They are always thinking can I or can’t I get forward, as bounce is a problem. And then they get stuck on the crease which is fatal. Repetitive length at fast medium on English pitches with the raised seam on the Dukes ball will always bring success. But on flatter batting pitches, especially with the Kookaburra ball which has less seam, it would be better to mix up his pace a bit more.
“Robinson should keep using that deceptive slower ball that got David Warner driving early and caught at mid-off, try bowling a bit more around the wicket to left-handers and use an effort ball now and again to surprise and keep batsmen guessing.”
The 81-year-old felt that Joe Root’s gamble of batting first at The Gabba backfired in spectacular fashion, forcing England to play catch-up throughout the match.
“Joe Root deciding to bat first was a gamble. Recent rain was bound to have left deep moisture in the pitch and it also had a tinge of green grass. I always believed you take the conditions in front of you and use them to your advantage and grab the initiative.
“Thinking ahead too much can be dangerous. Once Australia had bowled England out for a paltry total, unless England could bowl them out for a similar score then they were playing catch-up cricket which hardly ever brings success.”
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Boycott concluded by saying that England have to bounce back from 1-0 down in the Ashes with actions, not words.
“Face up to the fact that England made mistakes which didn’t help our team. For a start, your batsmen and bowlers looked underdone and should have had three or four competitive matches before the series. The planning was all wrong. It would be much better if you and your team answered with deeds and not words.”
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