Mental Disintegration isn’t the kind of place where you find folk being kicked while they’re down. Given the circumstances however, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to indulge in the art for a bit.
For the first time in my existence on this spinning stone, England have retained the Ashes on tour Down Under. I’ve seen a fair share of false dawns in international cricket, hopefully this achievement isn’t going to be one of them. There’s still a Test to play in Sydney and it would be quite disappointing if it became apparent that certain feet had been taken off of the momentum gas pedal.
- Bundling Australia out for 98 is fairly nice.
- Jonathan Trott and Matt Prior keeping their heads in the middle of a miniature crisis following a few quick wickets, pretty much making the difference between a good innings total and a match winning one.
- Peter Siddle showing that someone in Australia is still putting up a fight, both with bat and ball.
- Everyone on Twitter being up in arms about Aleem Dar checking to see if Mitchell Johnson had over-stepped having already given Prior out. This has happened before, folks.
- Ryan Harris pulling up with a stress fracture in his tibia. When you’ve putting in the hard yards despite everything going to pieces around you, the last thing you want is your body going to pieces too.
- Ricky Ponting spending an eternity remonstrating with Aleem Dar after Kevin Pietersen wasn’t given out after a referral. Given how the replays showed no sign off an edge on Pietersen’s bat, it was just toe-curlingly cringeworthy. His punishment was fairly lenient given that he’s the captain and all.
- We’ve entered an interesting moment in time where England have a selection of seam bowlers who probably wouldn’t look out of place in the Test attack. Whilst they might not necessarily deliver spells as memorably devastating as Harmison & co. used to, they’re certainly proving to be somewhat effective when given the opportunity.
- I had my doubts about Tim Bresnan and he went and dispelled them, so hats off to the burly Yorkshireman. Him and Tremlett went from being back ups at the start of the tour to looking like our best bowlers.
- Jonathan Trott, oh Jonathan Trott. He’s now played a big part in Strauss getting his hands on the urn on two occasions and averages over 100 against the Oz. He also had a nation wincing when he managed to edge a delivery onto his knee, ouch!
- Whereas the Australian side of ten years ago was hewn from granite by killer robots, this one seems to be random bits of plywood and MDF glued together by blind puppeteers.
- That point alone says it all about their current situation, to be honest.
So much for kicking them while they’re down, perhaps I’m just more polite than I thought. Suppose everyone else is doing it on my behalf.
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 opening day at the Gabba just doesn’t want to ever go England’s way, does it?
Group Captain Strauss wins the toss, understandably chooses to bat, then gets out third ball from a shit Hilfenhaus delivery. Some batsmen then came and went and scored a few runs, before the excitement kind of dried up.
Just when it looked like Alastair Cook and Ian Bell had settled in with a good partnership after tea, and I’d slightly dozed off, Peter Siddle had other ideas. As I was stirred by some sort of sinister foreboding, Siddle found the outside edge of Cook’s bat, just as he had with Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood earlier on.
The snarling Victorian then upped the ante tenfold, steaming in to make a mockery of Matt Prior’s crazy preparation out in the middle, bowling him off his pads, putting Siddle on a hat-trick. Now I’ve seen hat-trick balls go to waste on many occasions, but he wasn’t having any of it, firing the ball full and straight into Stuart Broad’s pads, and completing the first ever Test hat-trick taken by a bowler on their birthday.
And to think that his inclusion in the Australian XI had come as a surprise to a fair few people, who had thought Doug Bollinger was the more likely choice.
It was a fantastic piece of sporting theatre, even if it meant that Ian Bell was left having to rustle up an à la carte innings total using the Tesco value batsmen that he was left with.