Batting coach Graham Gooch urged England’s top order to make the most of sound starts after all the side’s specialist batsmen failed to do just that on the first day of their Ashes warm-up against Essex.
England finished the opening day of four at Chelmsford on Sunday well-placed at 328-7, but with the only stand of note thus far coming from an unbroken eighth-wicket century partnership between Tim Bresnan (55 not out) and Graeme Swann (62 not out).
Former Essex and England captain Gooch, one of England’s greatest batsmen, has long emphasized the importance of “daddy hundreds” — players turning good starts into truly large scores.
All of England’s top seven, including captain Alastair Cook, Gooch’s protege, reached double figures on Sunday, but none could follow the master’s example.
They should have at least one more chance to spend some time in the middle before England begin the defense of the Ashes with the first Test against Australia in Nottingham starting on July 10.
“It’s a fair total, but we’d have liked some of our top order to spend more time at the crease, and capitalize on their starts,” Gooch said.
“You want your main batsmen to get into a bit of rhythm, get their games in order so that we’re building up to peak next week,” he said.
“You’ve got to bat long. Once you get in, you’ve got to capitalize on that. Certainly, come this Test series, if we get starts we’ve got to put big totals on the board,” he said.
“The job of the batters is to create an opportunity for your bowlers to win the match. That’s their job, and they know it is. It wasn’t a disaster today, but obviously some of the guys would have liked to spend more time out there,” Gooch said.
Several of England’s batsmen have only just returned to first-class cricket following the team’s run to the final of the one-day Champions Trophy, where they were beaten by India at Edgbaston last month.
“I certainly wouldn’t make excuses,” Gooch said. “We’ve played a lot of one-day cricket recently against the white ball ... you have to make that adjustment pretty much straight away [but] I don’t think any of our players would make that excuse.”
“Some of the Essex bowlers did their job, okay. I don’t think they tore up any trees, but they stuck at it,” he said. “Our guys got in, and some of them got out.”
“They won’t be happy with that. So next time they’ve got a chance, they’ve got to do a better job,” Gooch said.