Stokes, as I said before no practice, has been out for a long time and he has to come in at 11-3. It’s exactly what you don’t need. New ball, bowlers on top of the game, confidence high. His lack of match practice told, he just got square on to a ball, chest on in a bad position because you’ve had no match cricket.
Hameed and Jos Buttler played very well, full credit to them. Gutsy, determined, stayed in. Buttler came and attacked. But there’s nothing you can do if you get a good ball, and they both got a good ball, you’ve got to put your hand up and say ‘at least I made the seamers bowl me out, I didn’t gift wickets, full credit to them’. They did well but by then it’s almost over.
Young Pope batted beautifully, lovely footwork, looked confident, at ease, I thought – and I’ve thought for a long time – he can bat, he’s a quality batsman. But then he hooked down fine leg’s throat. We’ve all done it, it’s a big mistake, especially when you’re in trouble, and in Australia the ball hurries on, it gets a bit big sometimes, not smart but we’ve all made mistakes.
After that, the tail are never going to get you out of jail. Chris Woakes scored a few runs, looks good, we know he can bat a bit, but England need him to take wickets. By the time he bats, England are in so much trouble he can’t get us out of it.
Our bowlers again will be playing catch up cricket. They will have to produce an exceptional performance to keep the Ashes alive. If England lose this Test match they’ll have to win two out of the next four as Australia are the holders. Possible? Yes, but realistically highly improbable. England need a great bowling performance, great catching and then exceptional batting in the second innings. All we can do is pray for that miracle.