December 16, 2010
December 7, 2010
The 2006 Ashes test match in Adelaide was one of the most miserable I’ve ever watched. England batted themselves into a position of authority, with a century from Pietersen and a double from Collingwood, only to throw it away with a disasterous Warne inspired collapse on the final day.
This time round we didn’t make the same mistake. England took their chances, bowled and batted superbly, and ruthlessly annihilated an underperforming Australian team.
Australia don’t have McGrath and Warne anymore, but they have had four years to get used to that. England have gradually lost all of the Ashes winning attack of 2005, but strength in depth has enabled it to put in place a competitive bowling unit that has looked a cut above their Canary counterparts.
England won in Adelaide in a very Australian way. Big runs from a classy and in-form batting line up, penetrative bowling from a bowling attack offering pace, bounce, both kinds of swing and a top class spinner, backed up with very sharp fielding.
Australia have not played like an Australian side so far this series. It remains to be seen whether Ricky Ponting can inspire any kind of turn around.
December 6, 2010
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Michael Clarke batted really well today, but Kevin Pietersen snared him with the last ball of the day. Turn, bounce, out!
England need to take six wickets tomorrow. Provided there are no interruptions from the weather, there will be plenty of overs to force the result, and England have a brand new cherry available tomorrow morning.
There is a possibility that Stuart Broad, who has a stomach strain, won’t be able to take it. That leaves the prospect of an Anderson/Finn new ball pairing. That would be an entertaining prospect.
Clarke has looked feeble against the short ball this series. A couple of early wickets with the new ball will leave England with an end open against the tail. Then Swann can do his thing. We might also see Pietersen bowl a few more overs too.
“You have to work hard to win test matches in Australia”, says Michael Atherton on Sky commentary. Too right.
December 5, 2010
When you watch Alistair Cook bat you have to admire his grit, determination and concentration. You enjoy his resilience, the ability to churn out runs, even though its not the prettiest to watch. Kevin Pietersen’s batting is different, it can be astonishing.
The phenomenal talent (as well as the hard work he puts into pratice) has been used to tremendous effect in Adelaide over the last couple of nights. He has simply anihilated the Aussie attack.
This was a confident Pietersen, who put right a long run without a ton with a tremendous double. A quick 70 was not what England wanted, and he went big to deliver. England scored at five an over for much of yesterday, and KP could have been much closer to 300 had rain not washed out the entire final session.
Ryan Harris aside, who managed to trouble Pietersen with a couple of new ball bouncers early on, none of the Aussie bowlers could contain him. Bollinger looks well short of his best, and the overs of toil put in at Brisbane must be affecting Siddle.
Australian bowling attacks very rarely get put to the sword as they have over the last couple of tests. They are pretty much used to having things their own way. Xavier Doherty – who can only have been picked because the Aussies think KP is poor against left-arm spinners – is having a far tougher baptism than probably any other Australian bowler in history.
December 4, 2010
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When England last won the Ashes in Australia, a substantial part of that success was down to the weight of runs contributed by a tall, left-handed, opening batsman. His son, a major part of England’s current side, has spent a large part of this test, and the last, watching another tall, left-handed, opening batsman batting better than he ever has before.
Chris Broad, father of Stuart, scored 487 runs in the 1986/87 Ashes series, including three centuries. Alistair Cook – big, not as bad, but much better than Stu’s dad – has already scored 438 runs in the 2010/11 series, broken countless records, and could pass Broad Senior’s run tally tomorrow morning in just his third innings. He’s only been dismissed the once in over 1,000 minutes of batting.
Australia’s day actually started quite brightly, with Andrew Strauss generously leaving a straight delivery from Doug Bollinger that removed his off bail. That was as good as it got for them, however, they returned that generosity in spades. Good England batting, bowling no better than Brisbane and dropped catches allowed Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen to pile on the runs and the agony for Ricky Ponting.
Bollinger and Ryan Harris have toiled hard, but haven’t added the cutting edge that was badly missed at Brisbane, while England’s batsmen have not allowed the spinner Xavier Doherty to settle. There is a hint of turn already, and Marcus North got at least one delivery to turn sharply out of the footholes.
England are 72 runs ahead at the end of day two. England’s job is to keep batting, grind the Aussie’s already dog-tired bowlers even further into the dirt and aim to have a lead of 500 by lunchtime on day four. With another day of near 40 degree heat, it will be prime opportunity for Swann to attack, attack and attack some more with men around the bat.
December 3, 2010
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A team needs to take 20 wickets to win a match. England’s first day in Adelaide gets them half-way there.
Not that our bowlers needed to take all the wickets today. Some sharp fielding meant that two fell to run outs, and the excellent run out of Simon Katich by Jonathan Trott exposed Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke to the new, swinging ball. Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann catching in the slips took full advantage.
Michael Hussey again provided resistance, but on a pitch where conventional wisdom says you should be scoring 500 first up, 245 all out is a woeful effort. Especially after winning the toss and choosing to bat.
England’s bowling and fielding were mostly superb. Anderson was excellent (again) and Swann was better than in Brisbane.
Day was typified when Brad Haddin and Ponting threw their toys out of the pram at the end of play, and tried to lay into Andrew Strauss on the way off the pitch. Probably want to be a bit quieter after you’ve just been spanked!
Shit day for the Aussies, great day for England.
November 29, 2010
So, England scored 517/1 – saving the test in style and grinding an average Australian attack into the dust. They did a whole lot more than just save the test, they exposed some fundamental weaknesses in the opposition. The Canary’s have problems that they have no choice but to fix.
This is probably the weakest Aussie attack in my lifetime. Siddle is good – and we shouldn’t forget the performance and hat-tick on day one – but he probably won’t last five tests, Hilfenhaus is an antipodean Hoggard that isn’t swinging the ball late enough or quick enough, Johnson could be awesome but appears to have a feeble mind at present. As for the spinner, I didn’t think they’d be able to find someone worse than Hauritz. Doherty has had a tough first test, he must be better than what he’s shown here.
England’s batsmen broke record after record in overhauling the Aussies first innings lead. Of most note (see piece in Sporting Life) was that Alastair Cook’s 235 not out was the highest score at the Gabba (beating Don Bradman’s long standing record) and the partnership between Cook and Jonathan Trott was the highest stand for any wicket at the Gabba.
Cook is like a man reborn this series. He could have missed out on this series. Had England played five bowlers he probably would have done.
Trott’s innings was superb too. He’s played two tests against the Aussies and has scored big hundreds on both occasions.
The overs England bowled at the end of day five showed that it was a very flat pitch, and the Aussie batsmen finished on an optimistic note, however, this shouldn’t take anything away from a terrific recovery from England in this.
Whether the Canary’s stick with this attack, or make changes, it will still be a threat this series, but England have laid down the gauntlet.
November 28, 2010
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Watching the highlights from today’s play at The Gabbatoir again. I am loving the passage of play when Hilfenhaus gets the ball to nip back to Jonathan Trott, who shoulders arms and is hit below the knee-roll close to off stump.
Aleem Dar says not out, to a look of sheer incredulity from the bowler. No-one on the fielding side can believe it hasn’t been given. So, Ricky Ponting signals for the third-umpire to have a look, using his third and possibly final review.
Michael Clark gives Hilfy a high-five, and the stump microphone clearly picks up him telling the bowler “you’ve got him, that’s definitely out”. Every Aussie on the park was convinced it was a wicket.
Hawkeye, however, reveals that the ball didn’t nip back enough to hit the stumps. Not only did that astonish and wipe a smug grin off many of the Aussies, it should make those of us who stand in the field and question umpires decisions every Saturday in club cricket realise that you can never be certain.
November 27, 2010
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When I turned the TV on at 5am today I was very tempted to go back to bed. Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin were still batting and we hadn’t taken a wicket in over 24 hours. I have to admit it, but they both batted terrifically well.
Stephen Finn’s six wicket haul was a terrific achievement for him. He’s come a long way in the short amount of time he’s been playing for England. Quite whether it will be enough to make much difference in this test is another matter. England are 208 runs behind at present, and have a battle on to save the test.
Fundamentally, England need to bat for the best part of two days. If we bat until tea on day five we’ll be 250 – 350 runs ahead. If we don’t last past lunch Monday the game is Australia’s.
A very interesting scenario would be if England were to bat to just past lunchtime on Monday. Were we to be bowled out with a lead of 200 – 250, there’d be a very interesting couple of sessions during which the Aussies will have to go for reasonably quick-ish runs to win the game, and England would have an outside chance of an unlikely win on a last day Gabba pitch.
November 26, 2010
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So, an encouraging day for England. There was enough in the wicket for the current holders of the Ashes to take wickets and establish a promising position against Australia earlier in the day. Stuart Broad troubled the Canary Yellow openers, James Anderson is in the wickets (and well on course for the five wicket bag I predicted), while Stephen Finn looked a handful at times.
It could have been better though. The partnership between Michael Hussey – who seemed to have a little too much to pull – and Brad Haddin – who didn’t do too much, puts Australia in front, but within reach. Hussey played Swann really well, the best of any batsman I can remember.
But England have a brand new ball and fresh bowlers in the morning. It’s going to be a big first session tomorrow.