Mike Gatting opens up on Ashes and Steve Smith

Former England captain Mike Gatting feels Steve Smith has been ‘huge’ in the Ashes but he wants to see how the Aussies fare if the star batsman is dismissed early.

Former England captain Mike Gatting at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai on Thursday.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

 

It hasn’t been a perfect start for England in the Ashes as it suffered a 251-run defeat against Australia in the first Test at Edgbaston. And former England captain Mike Gatting believes that the host has ‘‘got a huge hill to climb now”.

“I still think it’s gonna be an interesting series because every Test match is going to have a result. It’s going to be about who does recover quickly after every match,” Gatting said on the sidelines of a book launch here on Thursday.

In Birmingham earlier this week, Australia rode on Steven Smith’s back-to-back centuries to bounce back in the game. But Gatting wants to see how Australia fares if Smith departs early.

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“I’m not saying Australia is not the favourite team but all I am saying is that its batting order is slightly fragile. Obviously, Australia is in a good place for now. There will be further results. For England, they will have to get players finding form soon,” Gatting said.

He is worried with Moeen Ali’s poor form. The spinner conceded 172 runs and scalped three wickets at Edgbaston. “What really worries me is Moeen Ali hasn’t bowled very well. He is reasonably turned to part. It certainly would have been better for him had he bowled well at Edgbaston. I don’t know what sort of wicket we would get at Lord’s. It might be a little bit greener than what we got in Birmingham,” Gatting, who played 79 Tests and 92 ODIs between 1978 and 1995, said.

The spectators booed David Warner and Smith — who were suspended for a year for their involvement in ball-tampering saga — in the first Test. Gatting feels that things will be better at Lord’s.

READ| Why Warner, Smith shouldn’t be sledged

“That’s not booing him. Look, I’ve been back to Australia and you get booed for nothing over there. Remember, Stuart Broad got booed for not walking at Notts and that made a huge story about not walking and stayed right through the series. As the summer goes on, I suspect it might die down at the end. At the moment, what they are doing to Australia, it’s not nice. But I don’t think the Australians will be bothered about it too much,” Gatting said.

Returning to Test cricket after a year, Smith hammered tons in both the innings and paved the way for Australia’s win. “He has been huge for Australia. He has been one of those guys who is in form. He is difficult to bowl at. One thing he does is gets his head still on the off-stump and he is good at manoeuvring the ball around, which is a great skill. And yes, without doubt, he has made a huge impression this Ashes series. It’s just a question of whether we can get him out early,” Gatting said.

On umpires’ call

The International Cricket Council (ICC) will soon empower TV umpires to take a call on front foot no-balls on a trial basis. The ICC will test the new system in a few identified limited-overs series over the next six months and if the experiment pans out to be a success, on-field umpires could lose the right to call no-balls for overstepping in future.

“With all the technology they have got now, they have been looking up to get it right. They have got a chance. It’s worth chatting about. I haven’t made up my mind,” added Gatting, who is also the chairman of the World Cricket Committee at the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

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“That’s also something that we have talked about in the World Cricket Committee. One or two guys have quite rightly pointed out that the same ball can be ruled out or not out despite hitting the stumps. Anyway, that’s another one that we have been discussing. The pros and cons, is there a slight discrepancy about technology. That’s another one that will need some more discussion…”