England top order given a Graham Gooch grilling

Graeme Swann, along with fellow bowler Tim Bresnan, spared England's blushes with an unbeaten century stand. Picture: Getty
Graeme Swann, along with fellow bowler Tim Bresnan, spared England's blushes with an unbeaten century stand. Picture: Getty
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Graham Gooch last night spelled out that England’s batsmen can and must do better than they managed on day one of their Ashes warm-up match at Chelmsford.

Test batting coach Gooch described a stumps total of 328 for seven as no “disaster”, but it was clear that an unbroken century stand between numbers eight and nine, Tim Bresnan (55no) and Graeme Swann (62no), had papered over the comparative failures of those above them.

Little-known leg-spinner Tom Craddock, by his own admission, had the best day of his career – “no doubt” – as he took three wickets including that of Kevin Pietersen as England’s top seven all reached double-figures but none a half-century on a blameless pitch.

They should have one more innings each in this four-day match to put their game in order in time for the first Test against Australia on 10 July.

Gooch said: “It’s a fair total. But we’d have liked some of our top order to spend more time at the crease, and capitalise on their starts.

“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. You’ve got to bat long. Once you get in, you’ve got to capitalise on that. Certainly, come this Test series, if we get starts we’ve got to put big totals on the board.”

England’s batsmen know that, of course, without Gooch having to tell them. “The job of the batters is to create an opportunity for your bowlers to win the match,” he added. “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 does not see the switch from ODI cricket in the Champions Trophy only a week ago to the longer format as a feasible reason for any shortcomings, and he added: “Some of the Essex bowlers did their job, okay. I don’t think they tore up any trees, but they stuck at it. 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.”

It was a surprise when Essex captain Ravi Bopara chose to bowl first in glorious conditions, but his decision did at least give Craddock his opportunity to make a name for himself – which he did, despite some inevitable early misgivings at having to bowl to a well-set Pietersen.

“I’ve watched him for a few years now, growing up, and I know he’ll happily take down spinners,” said the 23-year-old Yorkshireman. “I just thought ‘if I can land a few and join a few dots at KP I’ll be happy’. But luckily he gave me a caught-and-bowled chance… taking three is a surreal day.”