England have got a lot to do to prevent Australia retaining the Ashes at Old Trafford but, in Rory Burns, they have at least filled one of their problem positions, says David Lloyd…
Rory Burns is getting great experience, it doesn’t get anymore difficult than in an Ashes series and he’s doing absolutely fine. He’s scored a century and a couple of fifties batting in the hardest position against a quality attack from Australia.
It was a great shame that he didn’t get a hundred because I think he is working it out and at the end of this series, he’ll probably be a far better player than he was at the start. I think England have solved one conundrum of their opening batsmen, they needed two and I think they’ve got one of them.
He should be nailed on for the winter tours now. He’s quite a studious player, he knows where he scores runs and he looks a brave player as well because Australia examined him with the short ball.
Pat Cummins is the No 1 bowler in the world and he gave him a working over but Burns found a way to survive and score runs, he can be well pleased with what he has done so far. He looks a real gritty, no nonsense opener.
Similarly, for Joe Root, coming up against top-class bowling, he had to use all his skill. He got felled by a blow in the midriff and then he gets smacked on the knee. You’ve got to get through these tough times, and it was tough out there.
I thought that partnership between Burns and Root was very, very good for England. Root fell for 71 but it was a really hard-fought 71 before Josh Hazlewood got him lbw with one that kept a little bit low and just nipped back. There is enough in this pitch for the fast bowlers but – and it is a big but – you have got to put the effort in, bend your back and hit the pitch – that’s what Australia do.
Cummins and Hazlewood give you nothing. They work to a plan and in this series that is to stay disciplined, round and about off stump and use the bouncer effectively. The other thing that the management will be looking at is that their pace is up there all the time.
There is none of this ‘hang on, why is he bowling 75mph?’
Cummins was excellent without taking the wickets and then Hazlewood followed up brilliantly with those three wickets in the evening session.
They will have wanted to use Mitchell Starc as a shock bowler but given that they only have four bowlers, he will have to share the load as well. But we saw that he will give you some loose deliveries and they want to use him in short bursts with extra pace. He’s very tall but he also gives Nathan Lyon that rough to work with against England’s right-handers.
The off-spinner just didn’t bowl consistently well enough on day three, though. He bowled some great deliveries and it always spins here at Old Trafford.
England can’t rely on that being the case tomorrow, though. Jonny Bairstow said on interview that they have got to wear down the Australia bowlers and they did that in the last innings at Headingley, they have got to continue that. Burns and Root did but there were alarm bells when they both went pretty quickly.
Jason Roy came in under tremendous pressure, made a start but couldn’t kick on, now Ben Stokes and Bairstow are in and England are still 297 runs behind – that is a lot! They’ve still got a lot of work to do and the rain won’t save them – the forecast for the next couple of days, we’re told, is good.
Watch day four of the fourth Test between England and Australia from 10am on Sky Sports The Ashes.