It staggers me that England do not have a full time spin bowling coach. It is scandalous when you think how desperate England are to unearth a spin bowler that they do not have a specialist coach for that area but do have them for batting, fielding and fast bowling. They also have an analyst on tour.
During this Test we have a 20 year-old leg-spinner in Mason Crane make his debut and he has nobody to help him out at the end of a session. It is remarkable.
Saqlain Mushtaq works with the team for only a set number of days per year. He went home after the Adelaide Test. England need a spin bowling guru around them all the time and it cannot just be someone who works well with Moeen Ali. They have to appoint the best spin bowling coach, not just one for off spin. If it is Saqlain then great but he has to work with Dom Bess, Crane and Jack Leach. He has to adapt to all types of spin.
You can see how much the spin bowling coach is missed in this match. Moeen is bowling the same ball every time and hoping for a different outcome. He lands his feet in the same place, bowls from the same angle. The cluster of his release points vary by only about three or four inches. He has not tried one ball from wide of the crease. He has not changed the angle of his run up or bowled one ball over the wicket. He has not tried a round armed slinger.
As soon as Joe Root came into the attack he bowled wider of the crease with more pace from a round arm. It gave him a different angle into the stumps so if he caught the rough he beat the outside edge, if not, the batsman still had to play at every ball.
Moeen bowled from the same spot every time and it went straight on from where he delivered the ball. The batsman knew he could leave it and not defend it.
I have to question why a player who has appeared in 49 Test matches does not change his technique and action to suit the conditions. That is the frustration for me. A spin bowling coach would undoubtedly help, but sometimes players have to work things out for themselves.
I like the look of Crane. There is something for England to work with. Clearly getting Ben Stokes back in the team makes that a lot easier. I said last week Moeen has to be a top six batter, but I no longer believe that. He could bat at seven with Stokes at five and Jonny Bairstow at six. That allows you to play Crane, with Stuart Broad and James Anderson.
Crane puts good revs on the ball and he offers variation. England do not have ultimate pace at the moment. What they have in Crane is someone who is different and a leg spinner who looks like he has energy, and the attitude you need to survive as a wrist spinner in Test cricket. It is early days but it is worth sticking with him for a while.
What this tour has proved is that those who say there is no gulf in class between England and Australia are talking utter rubbish.
In Australian conditions England have lost 18 Tests out of 24 this century. They have won four, drawn two, lost 18. In Australian conditions we are miles behind. What are England going to do to change it? Are they going to just be happy to win at home?
I think there are ways and means of changing it. It is about preparing the best Test match team possible. How do you do that? Follow the one day model and play on flat wickets. England wanted to play a more flamboyant style in one-day cricket. You can’t do that on green tops so they produced flat pitches for white ball cricket.
They have now given themselves a chance to win our first World Cup. The Test team has to realise they might have to play some boring games on a flat wicket or two in England because they need to learn to bat for long periods of time. Conditioning batsmen to make 80 off 100 balls is no good. England need their batsmen to learn to make big scores like Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith and the Marsh brothers have done in this series for Australia.
It means batting for eight hours. The only way that happens is if the surfaces are good and you can trust your technique and mind to bat for a long time. It would mean the bowlers have to bowl that bit quicker and the spinner give it a rip to be successful. If that happens then over a period of time we will produce a team that can compete in Australia. It all starts at home.
Moeen has been the disappointment on tour for me but Dawid Malan has been the standout player. He has learned from watching Australia play old fashioned Test match cricket. Smith has reached hundreds off 261 and 259 balls. Add in the attritional ton by Shaun Marsh in Adelaide and the way Usman Khawaja has played here and Australia have shown England that on flatter wickets you have to prepare your mind to bat long periods of time and wear the opposition down.
Malan has shown the same attitude. Flamboyant shots do not earn you a Test career. It is about resilience and Malan has shown huge amounts of it because he has not found it easy.
He has had to grind every run out of his body to compete. He has shots. We have seen that in T20 cricket but he has thought here ‘I have my chance. I am not going to let it go.’ You require that desperation to be in the team for a long period of time at Test level. He has been stubborn and prepared to score ugly runs. How many of England’s players are willing to do that? Alastair Cook, but not enough of the others have been prepared to put in the ugly work.