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Vaughan reveals ‘problem’ that could kill Ashes

Former captain Michael Vaughan says England is facing a crisis with its bowling attack in the lead up to the Ashes in Australia in 2021-22.

Stalwarts James Anderson and Stuart Broad both reached significant milestones during the just-completed English Test summer, with Anderson taking his 600th Test wicket and Broad his 500th.

But with Anderson having recently turned 38, and Broad 34, Vaughan is concerned about succession planning for the pair, with no stand-out candidates to lead the attack on a consistent basis.

"The problem England have is that James Anderson and Stuart Broad will both be in Australia for the next Ashes because the younger bowlers who have been picked this summer have not done well enough," Vaughan wrote in The Daily Telegraph.

"They are not taking enough wickets to put pressure on those two. Sam Curran did not have a massive opportunity but when he did play he did not take a bagful of wickets. Jofra Archer went wicketless in the last Test."

Stuart Broad celebrates his 500th Test wicket during the third match against West Indies.

Neither Anderson or Broad have enjoyed success in Australian conditions in the past, with both averaging over 35 in this country.

A quick look at England's bowling stats from the summer – which consisted of three matches each against West Indies and Pakistan – reveals the extent of the problem.

Broad was by far the most successful bowler, taking 29 wickets at 13.41, while Anderson provided excellent support with 16 wickets at 25.50.

Only Chris Woakes, with 17 wickets at 20.47, prevented the two ageing warriors from finishing as the two highest wicket-takers for the summer.

Elsewhere the returns were hardly earth-shattering. Curran's four wickets cost 36 runs apiece, while Archer claimed eight wickets at 45.

Injuries hampered Ben Stokes and Mark Wood through the summer, although Vaughan is cautious about Wood's prospects during an Ashes series.

"We know his body is not going to last five matches in Australia," he said. "If you can get three of the five Tests out of him that would be great."

Archer made a big impact during the 2019 Ashes, with a searing spell at Lord's that felled Steve Smith, but Vaughan says the 25-year-old still has plenty of maturing to do.

"Jofra is still working out what kind of bowlers he is, which is fine for a young player," he explained.

"Jason Gillespie, his coach at Sussex, says he is the type of bowler who hits the top of off stump with the odd sharp bouncer. Recently he has been used as the short-pitched battering ram. I don't think that is going to work with a soft ball on a slow wicket."

Jofra Archer of England

Although nothing is certain in these COVID-19 times, the Ashes will presumably start in Brisbane next November, a venue where Australia has built an imposing record, having not lost a Test there since 1988.

Vaughan said the challenge for Joe Root's side will be to find a way to leave the Gabba with at least a draw, as they did in 2010-11, the last time England won a series in Australia.

But as well as relying on the ageing pair of Anderson and Broad, Vaughan highlighted another key weakness with the English bowling line-up.

"Spin is the big problem," Vaughan wrote.

"How can you win overseas without a spinner? (Off-spinner) Dom Bess is 23 and young but he has played all six Test matches this summer after England put confidence in him.

"I like his character. He has spirit and confidence but I was disappointed with him this week.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan.

"Not once did he have a silly point to right handers. I found that staggering. If it had been a low scoring game, then fair enough. But with 583 (to defend) it cannot be right that he did not have a silly point.

"They can play safe and sensibly with the bat but you cannot be safe with the ball, not with England's attack. There was not a chance in a million years that the ball would go in the air to deep point."

England's 2010-11 Ashes win, where they blew Australia away 3-1, is their only series win in this country in the last 30 years. And according to Vaughan, there's plenty of improvement needed if that's to change in 16 months' time.

"A lot of good things have happened this summer but England have not addressed the problems they have overseas."

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