Don’t call them the tail.
Australia’s batting coach Michael Di Venuto believes his side’s bowlers have done more than enough to warrant the tag ‘lower-order batsmen’ in the Ashes.
“I call them our lower order, don’t call them our tail,” Di Venuto said.
“They need to have a rest because they bowl, that’s the only reason they don’t bat up the order.”
Based on the past two Ashes series, the tailenders’ tussle could play a pivotal role in deciding who takes home the urn.
“Like a lot of Test series, this one is going to be decided by the runs scored by numbers seven to 11,” former England captain Bob Willis told Sky Sports.
There were many reasons for the dramatic turnaround between the 2013 and 2013-14 series.
An important factor was Australia’s new-found ability to stop Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann from eking out runs.
Brad Haddin also formed a series of important partnerships with the tail to steady his side after top-order collapses.
Much was made of Joe Root’s century in the first Test at Cardiff, but Moeen Ali also did quite well to steer England from 6-293 to 430 in their first dig.
Mitchell Johnson countered with a swashbuckling 77 on day four, but too much work had been left for the tail after Australia slumped to 7-151.
Steve Smith and Chris Rogers’ imposing 259-run partnership put the tourists in the box seat at Lord’s, but Di Venuto knows they won’t always have that luxury.
“I get tired towards the end of the day (at training) when they start coming out at me,” he said.
“You’ve got to do it because they expect themselves to score runs, not just go out there to fill up a little bit of time.
“They’re all talented batters.”
TALE OF THE TAIL
*Mitchell Johnson – average of 23.24. Belted an unbeaten ton against South Africa in 2009
*Mitchell Starc – average of 26.00. Fell one run short of a century against India in 2013
*Josh Hazlewood – average of 37.00. Highest score of 43no at first-class level
*Nathan Lyon – average of 14.75. Went 194 days and 160 deliveries without being dismissed in 2013-14
*Moeen Ali – average of 29.35. Looked poor in second dig at Lord’s but starred in Cardiff
*Stuart Broad – average of 22.84. Short-ball issues but eminently capable of scoring quick runs
*Mark Wood – average of 31.00. Smacked an unbeaten 32 to heap further misery on Australia in Cardiff
*Jimmy Anderson – average of 10.52. Batted for 69 minutes to deny Australia victory at Cardiff in 2009.