It would seem that we have officially entered bizarro world, folks. England are a Test up after two matches in the series, and bar one injury, have a pretty stable lineup, while Australia have a batting line up which is pretty much made of filo pastry held together with saliva, and a bowling attack likely to change again when the Perth Test starts.
- Shane Watson and Simon Katich’s comedy running which left Katich heading back to the shed without facing. Neither of them had appeared to call, comical.
- James Anderson bowling like he can cope with Aussie conditions, on the contrary to what a lot of people suggested.
- Michael Hussey displaying something which might resemble what you call ‘form’. Usually he follows up career saving innings with very little, so this was a pleasant surprise.
- Kevin Pietersen doing a Steve Harmison and getting a well set Michael Clarke out with the last ball of the fourth day. Clarke was probably too busy thinking about what film he was watching that evening (Sleepless in Seattle).
- The general vibe about Australia at the moment is doing my nut in. Yes, they’re not as good as they used to be. All great teams have this problem when the good players go, get with the times.
- Kevin Pietersen’s revival has been the main story to come from England’s performance in this Test. He’d been threatening to make a big score for a while, and what better time to finally do it?
- Graeme Swann looked more at ease with the Australian conditions, taking the crucial wicket of Hussey in the first innings before claiming a five wicket haul to wrap up the game in the second.
- Now face a trilemma over which of the three reserve seamers is to replace Stuart Broad, now out for the series.
- A shout out to Alastair Cook, who has transformed into Optimus Prime crossed with Batman, or so it seems.
- Ryan Harris bowled better than Mitchell Johnson.
- No one else was of much use though.
- It still took England five days to win the Test.
- Maybe the batsman coming in for a knobbled Simon Katich will be super awesome?
- Erm, at least things have become so bad now, that anything Australia manage might be better than this shower. Poor Xavier Doherty, I’m not sure this is how he imagined his career panning out.
So the ghosts of 2006 have been put to rest at the Adelaide Oval, nice going folks. There’s a bit of a gap between now and Perth, so plenty of time for speculation and other Ashes related crap until then.
Alastair Cook’s currently in the process of causing as much hurt to Australians as would happen if someone told them that they thought that Kylie and Dannii Minogue are in fact as talented as each other.
He’s going to resume at Adelaide on 136, which is after that unbeaten 235 he racked up at the Gabba last week. That was some viewing, seeing him batter Australia’s batsmen about. Given that he looked technically spent during the English summer, it’s like watching an unsubtle visual suggestion that Australia’s bowling attack is fucking awful.
Of course, that’s in fact the only time that Cook has brought up a century when I’ve been watching. When he was going through that two year-long purple patch that was the start of his Test career, I wasn’t really watching that much cricket, which is one of few things about 2006 and 2007 that I could definitely tell you.
I resumed watching cricket regularly in 2008, coinciding with his first bad run of form, so I didn’t see any there, though he did make some promising starts, like in Chennai before he skied an attempted slog-sweep. In 2009, he timed his centuries to occur when it was term time while I was at university, or, in 2010, while I was in some part of Catalonia wandering up Montserrat and eating smurf flavoured ice cream.
In the case of the Adelaide Test, I went for an intended hour’s slumber, only for it to turn into seven hour comatose.
So whereas before it was simply a matter of circumstance that made me miss Alastair Cook scoring runs by the saxophone case-load, now my body’s decided to turn against me as well. Thanks a lot, body.
A few wickets and a million runs from a handful of batsmen later, and the first Test of this Ashes series petered out into draw. A post-mortem of events seemed like the most appropriate way to term my summary, given the crowd at the Gabba on the final day.
- Group Captain Strauss winning the toss and electing to bat first. Nasser Hussain could learn from this.
- Peter Siddle’s hat-trick, because any Test match hat-trick is a pretty awesome achievement. And on his birthday of all days! I’d probably be too busy thinking about my cake to focus on bowling at the stumps.
- Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook batting like Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin hadn’t put on a 307 run partnership to put Australia 221 runs ahead after their first innings.
- Australia looking like England of the 90s in the field, dropping lots and lots of catching opportunities.
- David Gower copping one on the foot, courtesy of Nasser Hussain in the Sky Sports commentary box.
- The pitch didn’t particularly offer much for the bowlers.
- As previously mentioned, the turnout for the final day was particularly disappointing. Just because you don’t have match winning bowlers any more, there’s no need to act like Indian ‘fans’ who only turn up when Tendulkar and not one of their other world-class batsmen is batting.
As for the two teams:
- Not getting overly flustered by the early departures of Strauss and Maximus Trottimus in the first innings is a bit of an achievement in itself, compared with England performances of old.
- Ian Bell looks a lot more settled at the crease this time around, although he was unable to cash in after England ran out of batsmen, thanks to Peter Siddle’s birthday burst.
- Could consider themselves unlucky not to get Hussey out before he reached his hundred, but they didn’t really look like getting the Hussmeister out again until he eventually pulled Finn down someone’s throat.
- Strauss, Cook and Trott didn’t look like batsmen with pressure on them, this can only be a good thing as they all made BIG runs in the second innings.
- Graeme Swann struggled to make an impact in this Test, so he’ll be hoping to bounce back in Adelaide.
- Lost the toss, but ultimately didn’t suffer for it as Siddle’s heroics left them with a manageable first innings total to nullify in batsman-friendly conditions.
- When it almost looked like they weren’t going to generate a big lead, Hussey and Haddin dug them out of a potentially deep hole. With a bit of luck, they took Australia to a very good position.
- Bowled like complete wankers in the second innings to undo the Huss/Hadd work and failed to really put England under and pressure. When Marcus North is looking like the most dangerous bowler on the field, you know you’ve got problems.
- Mitchell Johnson was once termed a ‘once in a generation bowler’ by Dennis Lillee. What the moustachioed former pacer meant by this is beginning to seem a bit unclear, given the number of wides he bowled in the second innings. This really upset Brad Haddin, who didn’t like a lot of these wides being classed byes, since they went against his name. The inclusion of Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris in the squad for the next Test certainly means the Australian attack is under pressure to perform or face the chop.
Roll on Adelaide, where I’m hoping Strauss can be the ringleader in a cricketing exorcism.
The only part of the England line up which hasn’t experienced any chopping and changing (bar Captain Strauss sportingly letting someone else have a go) for some time is the two names at the top of the scorecard. Nonetheless, as with every other place, there is always speculation as to whether one or the other member of the opening partnership is up to the job.
Andrew Strauss managed to overcome his doubters in 2008 (Napier), and was the leading figure in support of the team returning to India following the Mumbair terror attacks that year, claiming that it was their “duty to the game”. A century per innings in Chennai put him in a good position to succeed Kevin Pietersen following his fallout with former coach Peter Moores, and it certainly invigorated Strauss’ batting, with three centuries in the tour of the West Indies, followed by a man of the series performance in the 2009 Ashes series. Unlikely to be challenged for the captaincy for some time, there isn’t much point trying to question his position.
Alastair Cook meanwhile, has been taking his turn as the opening batsman in the firing line for what seems like an eternity. While he may have scored several centuries in the timespan since Strauss’ last ton (Lord’s 2009), his form has been remarkably scratchy for a batsman of his calibre. His struggles against Pakistan’s opening bowlers are a cause for concern, given that an opener should be able to somewhat cope with swing due to their exposure to the new bowl from the off. If he can stick around for the first 20 overs in Australia however, it’s possible that he could hang around for longer than he tended to against Pakistan’s notorious M pairing, since legend has it that the Kookaburra ball, unlike the Dukes one used in England, loses the ability to swing after that long.
Despite his troubles, I believe that Cook’s place is more or less secure, given his recently found ability to produce a hundred when the doubts start to set in, which one imagines he picked up from Paul Collingwood during a nets session or something.
Jonathan Trott is also capable of deputising, but this should only be a worst case scenario sort of thing, as he looked more and more comfortable batting at one down this summer.