Cow Corner

‘They haven’t got the bottle’ – where do shambolic England go from here?

Mitchell Johnson is having quite a series, but the critics are now very much out in force to slam England after the paceman destroyed the tourists again on a flat, placid Adelaide wicket.

Man-of-the-match in the opening win in Brisbane with nine wickets and a half-century, Johnson completed a stunning seven-wicket haul at the Adelaide Oval on day three to rout England's batsmen for 172 in their first innings and put Australia within reach of an improbable 2-0 lead in the five-Test series.

But there is only so much credit that can be dished out - and he certainly deserves it, no question - for a performer simply bowling very, very fast.

When an abundance of swing, seam, spin or even reverse-swing comes into the equation, batsmen have any number of fairly valid excuses to choose from. England, however, have not had any of the above to fall back upon.

The 7-40 haul from Johnson was the best bowling in an Ashes innings at Adelaide Oval in over 100 years and there were few derisive songs belted out by the Barmy Army, who have give the 32-year-old a hard time for his struggles with line and length in previous series.

Away from the bouncy Gabba wicket, some had expected Johnson to struggle in Adelaide, mindful of the bowler's history of following up wrecking ball performances with almost comical efforts of waywardness in subsequent matches. But that was far from the case.

Three of the wickets fell in a single over after lunch without a run scored and two hat-tricks went begging on a glorious day for the home side at Adelaide Oval in what is surely one of the great redemptive stories for a professional sportsman.

It is surely not enough to simply say that Johnson has been too good because, for all his pace and ferocity, England are supposed to be able to deal with pace, particularly when it is not accompanied by other variables.

The likes of Michael Vaughan and Geoffrey Boycott have been quick to point out, however, that Johnson should not be picking up such devastating figures in conditions that do not offer him anything, with the latter making some very controversial remarks about the mentality of the England batsmen.

[Hapless England blown away by Johnson]

[Shambolic England 'hurting' after collapse]

[View from Down Under: Poms' worst nightmare]

Mitchell Johnson bowls James Anderson (Reuters)

Boycott believes too many batsmen are culpable of taking a limited-overs mindset into the Test arena, and accused the tail-enders of having no "bottle".

"There's no excuse for it," he told Radio 5 Live. "They haven't got the aptitude and the tail-enders haven't got the courage, they haven't got the technique, they haven't got the bottle and any time he (Johnson) gets to them he'll blow them away.

"It was as stupid as you get. Irresponsible. I could see it coming. When it comes to Test matches you want them to change and adapt, and sometimes play carefully and sensibly. It's a five-day match, it's like playing chess.

"Chess doesn't happen in 10-15 minutes, it goes on for hours. You have to think your way through situations. They've forgotten the art of that, they've never really learned it and one-day cricket has sucked them in to playing lots of shots."

Frankly, there will be very few who would even attempt to argue with the likes of Boycott after a performance that was so woefully impotent it left many to write off England's chances of even drawing the series completely.

Do England's batsmen lack the 'bottle' required to combat Johnson and fight back in this series? Are they not able to rise to the challenge of a genuine fast bowler looking to intimidate them with sheer pace?

It is certainly their biggest test as a group under Andy Flower with humiliation on the cards unless they can arrest their slump Down Under.