England are banking on a team meeting described as “brutally honest” and “a kick up the bum” to spark an almighty Ashes comeback.
- Mark Wood said being made to sit through a video of the team’s dismissals in Adelaide was a “kick up the bum”
- The fact some English have not batted in Australia was a factor in the team’s form, added Dawid Malan
- However, England’s leading run-scorer insisted team morale was strong
The tourists must defy history if they are to come back from 0-2 and reclaim the urn, starting with Sunday’s Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
Across Ashes history, the only side to come back from losing the first two Tests and win the series was Sir Don Bradman’s 1936-37 Australia.
Soon after their 275-run belting in Adelaide, England’s batters were made to sit through a video selection of their dismissals and home truths were laid bare.
“This was more a kick up the bum,” said bowler Mark Wood.
“Those brutally honest conversations … we probably needed it.”
England number three Dawid Malan spoke further about the meeting on Thursday, saying it was important the players do not go into their shells.
“It was a good, honest chat,” Malan said.
“When you go 2-0 down in the series, it’s very easy to go, ‘Oh, it’s okay, we’ll move on’.
“We actually challenged each other to get better, challenged each other in the areas that, as a batting group, where we could have done better.”
It has echoes of Australia’s meeting after the Ben Stokes-inspired English miracle at Headingley during the 2019 series.
The day after that loss, coach Justin Langer made his players sit through the full video of Stokes’ barnstorming innings.
Langer was asked on Thursday whether he would try such a meeting again.
“We won the next Test at Old Trafford and retained the Ashes, so that’s one way to look at it, the outcome,” Langer said.
“The process was tough at the time, but … on reflection, would I do it again? I’m not sure.
“But, at the time, it seemed to be the right thing to do. It seemed to get the right effect.
“I probably would do it again. Who knows?”
Malan is England’s leading run-scorer in the series, but he and captain Joe Root have been unable to turn their half-centuries into tons and that has hurt them.
“Scoring 80 is good, scoring 180 is brilliant,” he said.
A key has been leaving the right balls outside off stump, with the majority of England’s dismissals involving a build-up of deliveries before the killer blow.
“A lot of our dismissals were probably soft ones, in the sense we could have probably left them,” Malan said.
“It’s about making the right choices under pressure … myself included.”
Some of the English have not batted in Australia before and Malan said that had been a factor.
“It’s a really good learning curve for us . Hopefully, it’s not too late,” he said.
Amid speculation about team changes for the third Test, Malan was asked whether he would be prepared to open.
“I will bat wherever,” he said.
“I don’t see myself as an opener, but if they’d like me to, I’m happy to do whatever is needed.”
Despite their plight, and media reports to the contrary, Malan is adamant morale in the England camp is strong.
“When you lose, there always going to be reports that England are at each other,” he said.
“It definitely isn’t.
“Morale is absolutely fine. Everyone is up for it.”