The Reader: Anderson could have swung Ashes our way

Difference maker: Australian batsman Steve Smith (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for Surrey CCC): Getty Images for Surrey CCC

As exciting as the Ashes was, it was determined by just two players: England’s James Anderson, who missed most of the series through injury, and Australia’s Steve Smith, who batted in the mould of the legendary Donald Bradman. Anderson in the past had worked out how to dismiss Smith.

In the final analysis these were two average teams, lacking consistency and strength in depth and both lacking great captaincy. It is also debatable whether England should have one coach across all versions of the game. Trevor Bayliss built a World Cup-winning one-day side and then thought these same players could be the core of his Test team.

Captain Joe Root’s ability to become a truly great Test cricketer was damaged by being a forced to be a regular one-day player. Only Ben Stokes, Sam Curran and Jos Buttler really are suited to both the red ball and white ball game. More thought needs to go into how we can develop a strong batting top order for the Test side.
Claude Keith


Dear Claude

Yes, neither England nor Australia had a vintage side but they were full of great players at the top of their game, such as Smith and Stokes. That combination produced a great Ashes series, the best since 2005.

Anderson’s injury was a huge blow for England but it’s a long time since he has had Smith’s number, as the great Australian’s 687 runs in the 2017/18 Ashes showed. Perhaps Anderson’s presence would have tipped things England’s way but that is no given, due to Smith’s rare form.

I disagree with your assessment of Root. While he has struggled in T20 he is a great one-day batsman, as the central role he played in the World Cup triumph showed. He already has more centuries (16) than any other English ODI batsman, and will top the runscoring charts before long, too. In India in 2023, he should be a central figure for England’s first World Cup defence.

While Root is experiencing a lull in his Test form he will eventually prove his class — and greatness.

Will Macpherson, Cricket Correspondent

We need trees, not golf courses

It’s time a conversation was had around using London’s green land in order to reap the best benefits.

The capital is home to woodlands such as Epping and Highgate but did you know that within central London, and the London Green Belt, 47,918 acres of land is made up of golf courses? That’s eight times the size of Epping Forest.

It’s hard to ignore so much land which could be used for community wellbeing, tree planting, making space for nature and absorbing carbon emissions.

With so many golf courses that are off limits to your average Londoner, is it time to rethink some of our land use?

Trees are a key part of the fight against climate breakdown, yet the UK has some of the lowest levels of woodland in Europe (just 13 per cent tree cover compared to an EU average of 37 per cent).

We’re facing a climate emergency, and doubling tree cover is one of the ways London can play its role in fighting this.
Guy Shrubsole​
Friends of the Earth

Why are we stuck south of the river?

It was good to see Peckham being highlighted last Wednesday in Homes and Property. Peckham is a great area with a lot going for it. However not everything is improving — take transport.

Buses in particular. The no 171 was a very useful route, taking in Waterloo and the South Bank and finishing at Holborn. It now terminates at Elephant and Castle. Buses are the lifeblood of areas like Peckham as there is no Tube. It lost out on the extension to the Bakerloo line and the tram never arrived.

I used to joke that there was a conspiracy to keep south Londoners on their side of the river. The joke is starting to look a little jaded.
John Lawrence

Every little helps on climate change

In your interview “The Accidental Activist”, David Wallace-Wells states that reducing emissions from animal agriculture by 10 per cent will only cut global emissions by 1.5 per cent, and interviewer Katie Law notes: “You can see his point.” The problem is he entirely misses the point. You may as well ask, why has the UK set a net-zero target when it accounts for just one per cent of global emissions? This type of argument is used by people who, unlike Wallace-Wells, deny climate change. What if we cut animal agriculture emissions by 50 per cent?
Tim Croker