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Ashes heroes Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison believe a shift in mindset is key after England’s first Test series defeat on home soil since 2014.
A miserable batting display at Edgbaston saw Joe Root’s side slump to a crushing loss at the hands of New Zealand.
The result has left them in disarray ahead of the visit of India later this summer and with an Ashes tour in Australia on the horizon this winter.
Hoggard and Harmison are accustomed to the highs and lows of Test cricket – and believe the only answer is individuals finding the right headspace to perform at the top level.
“I never thought too far ahead,” Hoggard said, speaking at an event with Vertu Motors. “I always thought I was only as good as my last game, if I got picked for the next one I just wanted to perform.
Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com – 14/06/2021 – Cricket – Vertu Motors Steve Harmison & Matthew Hoggard Bowling Masterclass – Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England – Matthew Hoggard (Left) and Steve Harmison (Right).
(Image: Will Palmer/SWpix.com)
“If you start thinking too far ahead you forget about the here and the now and the performance.
“Yes, it’s going to be tough. India are as good, if not better, than New Zealand, and we’ve got white ball cricket up until the Test matches.
“It’s going to be a tough ask to turn it around in such a short period of time, but it’s a very individualistic game. Every individual will have to go away and say, ‘how do I go out and score a hundred?’
“‘What is my best technique, best game plan for coming up against the very good Indian bowlers on some pitches where the ball might swing about. How do I go out and score a hundred?’
“That’s what you need to win Test matches – you need batters to go out and score runs so your bowlers have something to bowl at.”
England's batsmen flattered to deceive as they were ripped apart by the Black Cats
(Image: Action Images via Reuters)
Harmison, meanwhile, believes England’s under-fire batsmen could learn from the motto of West Indies icon Brian Lara in terms of their approach to scoring runs.
“You’ve got to earn the right to score runs, and at this moment in time, if it is hangover from white ball cricket, the earning the right of scoring runs isn’t there,” Harmison says.
“We played against one of the best cricketers of all-time, Brian Lara, and he used to say, ‘the first 25 balls are the bowler’s, then once I’m in, that’s me away’.
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“We’ve got players who’ve had five or six innings and not lasted 25 balls. They’re trying to hit a ball from off stump through mid wicket, getting caught at slip.
“Trying to hit balls that are almost as wide as mine at Brisbane, nicking it straight to slip after two balls of a Test match. These things are just a little one, after a little one, after a little one.”
Harmison also believes their defeat was a long time coming – with numerous changes to rest and rotate players leaving inexperienced batsmen thrown in at the deep end.
Joe Root's side have plenty to be concerned about with India and Australia in their path
(Image: Action Images via Reuters)
“England’s batting unit has been fragile for a long time,” he added. “Joe Root carried them in Sri Lanka, they were woeful in India and this has been coming, for me.
“When you keep chopping and changing, leaving players out, resting and rotating, you leave good players out.
“I remember you’d open the dressing room door as a young player and we had Andy Carrick, Darren Gough, Nasser Hussain, Mark Butcher. You had key figures, iconic figures you’d been watching on the TV and they’re the ones responsible for doing the bulk of the run scoring and wickets.
Harmison believes rotation has thrown plenty of players in at the deep end
(Image: ECB via Getty Images)
“At the minute, this England dressing room looks like, if you take Broad and Anderson out of it, it’s a very young, naive dressing room to keep resting and rotating.
“If you’re going to take Stokes out, Buttler out, even the likes of Bairstow and Woakes, they’ve played a lot of cricket, they’re experienced characters.
“When you take them out the dressing room, it’s basically chucking a kid into a swimming pool and saying, ‘sink or swim’ and that is, unfortunately, where England’s confidence has just completely gone.”
Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard were speaking at an event with Vertu Motors , sponsor of Yorkshire CCC and Durham Cricket