Wed, Dec 11, 2013 - Page 20 News List

England’s mantra for Ashes must be: ‘Thou shalt not hook’

Reuters, ADELAIDE, Australia

England captain Alastair Cook has called on his players to search their souls for hidden resolve and dig themselves out of the deepest of Ashes holes, but mining reserves of character may not be enough to counter Mitchell Johnson on Perth’s WACA pitch.

Bullied by the left-arm seamer in the opening defeat in Brisbane, England had 10 days to prepare for Johnson before the second test in Adelaide.

However, like schoolchildren scared stiff on exam day, the tourists looked as if they had learned nothing at all.

Johnson finished with eight wickets to earn his second man-of-the-match award of the series, his 7-40 in the first innings routing England for 172 and putting the match beyond their reach.

Trailing 2-0 with three Tests left, England have only three days to dust themselves off before facing Johnson again on his favorite wicket in Perth, where the combination of bounce and a dependable afternoon sea-breeze can conjure a vicious cocktail of pace and swing.

After Adelaide, one lesson should be drilled into the England batsmen’s psyches and tattooed on the backs of their hands: “Thou shalt not hook.”

Cook could do little to avoid losing his first innings wicket when he was bowled by a searing Johnson delivery of extreme pace, but he threw away his second wicket by hooking the Queenslander straight to Ryan Harris.

That set the tone for his side’s 218-run defeat, as one after another of his players gave up their wickets pulling, hooking or slogging to leg-side traps rather than getting in behind the short stuff to block and drive Australia’s seamers.

“We haven’t batted very well and when you do that, people start looking at shot selection and execution of shots,” Cook told reporters.

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