English cricket is stuck in a “circle of excuses” having failed to beat Australia in a home Ashes series for the first time in 18 years, Michael Vaughan says.
England is still picking through the rubble of its 2019 Ashes campaign after Australia retained the urn with a Test to spare. The tourists hadn’t done so in England since 2001.
England paceman James Anderson claimed in the wake of the historic failure that the pitches used in the series have suited Australia more than the hosts.
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The wickets have been generally flatter than those used in previous series in England, particularly at Old Trafford where Australia scored a first innings 8-497 declared to set up a decisive victory. England’s advantage in home series has historically come from extra swing and seam movement compared to that typically seen in Australia.
Nonetheless, former England captain Vaughan said pinning the nation’s performances on the pitches is going down the wrong path, which it has been doing for some time.
“We always go through a cycle in English cricket when we win or lose,” Vaughan wrote in a column for The Telegraph. “When we lose at home it’s because the pitches have been too flat and have not assisted our bowlers. When we win a series at home it is because we are really good and have played brilliant cricket.
“When we lose a series away it is because the pitches at home offer too much assistance to bowlers and we cannot produce batsmen who can bat for long periods of time. It is just one big circle of excuses.
“When our greatest ever bowler, James Anderson, said this week he was disappointed the pitches have not helped us more in this Ashes series it showed the cycle had started up again.”
England hasn’t won an away Test series against a top five opponent since beating South Africa 2-1 in 2015-16. Since then, it has lost away series to India, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and tied with Bangladesh.
At home, it’s been a different story – no one has beaten England in an away Test series since Sri Lanka in 2014.
Anderson – who only bowled four overs in the first Test before tearing his calf – bemoaned the preparation of pitches, saying his fellow pacemen haven’t enjoyed true home-ground advantage.
“When you go to Australia, go to India, go to Sri Lanka – they prepare pitches that suit them. I feel like we could just be a little bit more biased towards our own team,” he said.
But Vaughan said preparing pitches to help the bowlers will only hurt England’s pursuit of claiming wins overseas on flatter decks.
“If we want to produce cricketers who can play the relentless style of cricket then we cannot be complaining about the pitches and the ball not swinging enough,” Vaughan wrote.
Vaughan added that England can’t blame the pitches as it “has not been good enough” against Australia.
Already going home with the urn, Australia can win the five-Test series by avoiding defeat at the Oval. The fifth and final Test starts Thursday (8pm EST).