England told to go back to basics ahead of Ashes

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Julian Guyer
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Leeds (United Kingdom) (AFP) - England have been told to improve their cricket basics if they are to acquire the ruthless edge that will see them regain the Ashes.

Caretaker coach Paul Farbrace believes this is something England must do if they are to topple Australia following their 5-0 Ashes thrashing 'Down Under' in 2013/14.

Farbrace is set to hand over control in time for the Ashes, which start in Cardiff next month, to Trevor Bayliss after the Australian was recently appointed as England's new full-time coach in succession to the sacked Peter Moores.

England's comprehensive 199-run defeat by New Zealand in the second Test at Headingley on Tuesday meant that, for the second series in a row following their tour of the West Indies, they had let slip a 1-0 lead to end up level-pegging at 1-1.

"We have said now for a few series that we have had opportunities to win," Farbrace explained.

"In the West Indies we should have been 2-0 up going into the last game.

"We weren't, and it allowed them to come back into it."

A rash of dropped catches, mostly in the slips, cost England an estimated 182 runs in the second innings at Headingley alone.

"Ruthlessness comes from doing the basics right -- if you do your basics well, catch your catches, you have opportunities to put them under huge pressure," said Farbrace.

"We somehow missed those opportunities (at Headingley).

"They (New Zealand) have taken theirs and put our bowlers under huge pressure."

Farbrace added: "We perhaps at times (were) searching for magic balls rather than...just holding a line and length.

"When they started playing lively shots we went away from our discipline...and that gave them runs in both innings when we did bowl wide and short at them."

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said his side had planned to hit England's seamers off their length.

"That's generally the way we operate best," Hesson told AFP on Wednesday. "Our m.o., I guess, is to take them on and, if we do, it spreads the field and the lengths change."

- Cook form -

However, Hesson said that if England captain Alastair Cook maintained the kind of form that saw him score a century in his side's 124-run first Test win over New Zealand at Lord's, as well as two fifties at Headingley, Australia could yet have their work cut out.

"Alastair Cook is in fine form. If he can carry on batting for that length of time, there's enough stroke-players around him to build enough runs," said Hesson.

"On the bowling front, Jimmy Anderson, he just keeps doing it -- old ball, new ball, doesn't really matter. He's a quality performer.

"Stuart Broad, when he gets his tail up, he's a tough proposition. They are looking good."

Prior to the Ashes, England face World Cup finalists New Zealand in a limited overs series.

England have signalled their intention to create a new-look one-day side, following their embarrassing first-round exit at the World Cup, by omitting Anderson, Broad and senior batsman Ian Bell from their squad for the New Zealand one-dayers.

And Farbrace said Bayliss, with whom he worked when they were both members of Sri Lanka's staff, had already outlined how England should play their white-ball cricket.

"He's had an influence in (the selection of) this one-day side," said Farbrace.

"He's relayed some thoughts as to how he'd like to see us working in this one-day series -- even though he's not going to be here for it.

"The same in the Test series -- he's watching and keeping a close eye."