Adelaide

A

Day Three

Oh what could have been. England’s bowlers finally turned up on the third evening and proved what we knew all along: Australia’s batting is weak and contains several flawed batsmen. What a pity our own flawed batsmen had already effectively lost the game.

Although we might take a little heart from reducing the Aussies to 53-4, and some pundits are talking about momentum swings and England actually ‘having a sniff’ now, the bottom line is that the Canary Yellows are effectively 268-4. And that’s still a massive advantage. I expect they’ve got enough runs already … and a cynic might suggest that bowling Australia out actually means we’ll have to bat longer to save the game!

The latter is obviously a facetious suggestion, as England are 0-1 down in the series and desperately need to win at a venue where they were fancied to do well, but Australia are still massive favourites. England will need to bat ten times better than they have so far on this tour just to get close to whatever target Australia set.

Today’s collapse was pretty much par for the course: a succession of poor shots and a complete inability to dig in. Cook played a terrible prod at Lyon with an open face (it was a ball he simply didn’t need to play), Root played a hideous drive with his body weight back, Vince played a horribly ambitious back foot drive to a wide delivery, and Moeen tried to play against the spin and spooned a catch back to the bowler.

All four shots of these shots were unforgivable really. They’re the type of strokes you expect to see in the fifth test when you’re tired and already beaten. England still had a chance to salvage something from this game this morning. Only Overton and Woakes showed what’s possible when you bat with application and discipline.

Unfortunately, England have rarely batted with discipline over the last few years. It’s often the same old story. Some will blame white ball cricket but it’s important to remember that not everyone in this England team plays ODIs and T20s. Perhaps it’s the coaching?

Trevor Bayliss had better watch out because if England get hammered in this series then someone will need to be the scapegoat. It won’t be Root, it won’t be Strauss (that’s for sure!), and I bet it won’t be the selectors either. So that leaves ….

Day One

Ashes series are often defined by mistakes. And sadly it looks like Root made a big one when he inserted Australia today.

It’s hard to know what Joe was thinking. Yes it was overcast but since when does the Kookaburra ball swing for long? What’s more, the fact this was a day-night match (that might suit our bowlers) shouldn’t have come into it. After all, it’s a day-night match for all five days. It’s not like England had to seize a once in a lifetime opportunity to bowl this morning. Sigh.

I guess it wasn’t all Root’s fault though. England didn’t bowl well in the first session before the rain break. You don’t expect two bowlers as experienced as Anderson and Broad to bowl too short when conditions suit them. We improved after the break but England needed intensity from ball one. And it just wasn’t there.

In an interesting bit of commentary towards the end of the day, Kevin Pietersen suggested that Anderson and Broad probably didn’t agree with the decision to bowl first. It’s possible he was just thinking out loud (some would say stirring) but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was right. Anderson and Broad like to call the shots, and I can’t think of another reason for England’s lack of urgency early on when a huge effort was required.

Although England looked right in the game when Overton dismissed Steve Smith in the final session – and what a moment that was for the tall medium-fast Somerset seamer – beauty and the beast saw Australia to the close. The beast, of course, was Handscomb. Unkind observers might suggest he has a highly appropriate name for someone who’s w**k to watch. The aesthetically pleasing Marsh was quite the contrast.

England probably needed two late wickets so that partnership at the end proved quite crucial. At the end of the day, a score of 209-4 puts Australian in a very handy position – especially after losing the toss. Because the pitch is sluggish again, and scoring is hard work, that 209-4 is probably worth about 280-4 in normal circumstances. And let’s not forget that scoring runs will be equally difficult (if not more so) for England against the Australian quicks.

Before I sign off, a quick word about the Adelaide Oval and the pink ball. Although the atmosphere looked pretty good – and there was lots of talk about the record crowd – I’m really not a fan. The Adelaide test was a special occasion before the day-night experiment. It wasn’t broken so why fix it?

The developments at the Adelaide Oval have also been for the worse. It used to be the prettiest ground in Australia. Now it looks like any other multi-purpose sporting stadium. The beautiful scoreboard is basically all that’s left of this elegant cricket ground.

I’m all for progress – I’m not that much of a grumpy old git – but progress is only progress if things, you know, actually improve. The day-night test at Adelaide is not an improvement. And the big crowds are probably due to (a) the novelty, and (b) the fact the ground now holds more people than ever before.

The crowds used to turn up for the traditional Adelaide test played in bright sunshine too. They used to sunbathe on the grass bank and admire the wonderful views of Adelaide Cathedral. It all feels very different when the ground is shrouded in darkness.

Test cricket has it’s own unique atmosphere that is in no way improved by floodlights, loud music and razzmatazz. Keep all that Americanised shit for the T20s please.

James Morgan

35 comments

  • ” England didn’t bowl well in the first session before the rain break.”

    That’s the understatement of the year, hopefully. They really were bloody poor. Never mind county attacks I’ve known plenty of club sides who could have bowled better. No pace, accuracy, plan or swing. The latter may not be entirely their fault, sometimes it swings sometimes it doesn’t, though getting the ball down in the right attitude to enable swing helps!

    Then again the convict batsmen weren’t all that much better. Given the overcast conditions they seemed quite happy to just stay there and attack the backup bowlers rather than go after the rank, short, misdirected hoop being served up by Anderson, Broad and Woakes. Warner had a go and Khawaja actually played quie nicely at times but the rest didn’t look like test batsmen.

    I’ve got nothing against an old style run rate where it is deserved but where were the demons in that pitch? Anderson and Woakes would bowl almost identical balls with the latter being deservedly dispatched to the boundary and the former treated with respect. Seems that team orders take precedence over playing every ball on it’s merits.

    I was grateful to KP for pointing out just how bad the bowling was, and amazed that Boycs seemed to think they bowled quite well. The pitch map looked like a blind girl’s third XI’s efforts rather than a test team. Only one ball in the first session would have hit the stumps… The score wasn’t a disaster but that doesn’t mean you’ve bowled quite well.

    Moeen still isn’t right. Managed to get appreciable turn and bounce early on and then just went flat. Which is bloody annoying.

    With the wind in your face and a bouncy pitch which seemed to grip that looked like a spinner’s paradise to me. Seemed a bit variable or two paced at times too.

    The only bright spot was Overton. They tried attacking him then realised he was the best bowler there. And he does look like a decent prospect, not much pace but reminds me of Andy Caddick. His bouncers actually carried some threat and he bowled good lines if a bit unsure of his length at times. He alo did a bit with it, got his wicket with a cutter. His brother is the same only quicker apparently. One at either end might be fun. 🙂

    I was calling for Crane to come in for Woakes before the test and I got it wrong. I should have been calling for Crane to come in for Anderson! Broad pulled it back a little, Woakes was just woeful but Anderson was about as bitterly disappointing as I can recall any England bowler being. And there’s been a few….

    • Ask any MCC University player, who have used pink balls for years now, the pink ball does not ***swing*** in daytime conditions. Sure a new seam can have a short term rudder effect … once that is beaten down …

      If that is the case, England have five hours tomorrow – less a relatively short time when the seam continues to be proud and a slightly longer time whilst the ball remains hard – to make hay before the lights take effect.

      Australia thus had a difficult hour and a half on day one. Otherwise would their score seem exceptional had this been a morning start with a red ball?

      Russell Degnan provides an interesting read about ‘insertions’ here: http://idlesummers.com/post.php?postid=1797

      Day Three will be a psychological thriller or nightmare. 400 in five sessions, Australia batting for the start of the third innings of the match ‘under lights’ or unjustifiable disintegration.

      • “Australia thus had a difficult hour and a half on day one. Otherwise would their score seem exceptional had this been a morning start with a red ball?”

        Not particularly hard early on day 1, other than running out an in form batsman of course!

        No 442 isn’t in any way an exceptional score on 1st innings at Adelaide, doubt it’s even top 50 of the matches played there. The only problem being the DN nature and the very low sample size with relatively low scoring games. A few people have said the wicket looks like an old style Adelaide wicket rather than those prepared to molly coddle the previous versions of the pink ball.

        Interesting article though, and yes it makes sense. If you have to win then bowling first makes sense. For what it’s worth I have no issue with Root choosing to bowl, it was a brave decision though one I didn’t feel was backed up by his bowler’s efforts.

        Despite Stoneman getting a good one I’m quite sanguine about England’s chances. There’s no demons in the pitch and I didn’t personally think that Australia batted that well apart from Marsh. Whether we can bowl Australia out at all is the issue, as 17 wickets thus far at 116 balls each is so far off the pace as to be out of contention. 13 sessions to get 20 wickets!

        If the MCC know that the pinky doesn’t swing at all then you’d think that England know it too, which makes the inclusion of swing bowlers a bit mystifying. Hoping for 10 new ball overs in the dark is great, but could never be guaranteed.

        One thing I have to disagree with James on, as a grumpy old git, is the novelty of the day night element. I think it’s fantastic.

        Cricket to me has always been a game where everything either slowly or rapidly changes and the joy of it is adapting. The condition of the ball, the pitch, the bowlers and the atmosphere in particular. The greats are always ahead of the game, some struggle inelegantly as rather epitomised by the hapless Handscomb.

        Adding an extra element which vaguely ( over a very small sample size) helps the bowlers is both wonderful entertainment and will likely happen when the crowd are at their most… Lubricated. I recognise that it’s the quicks providing blood and teeth on the pitch which brings the money, I rather think that DN tests might hit that sweet spot which Packer searched for all those years ago.

        You could well be right about the third innings. Australia will get the new ball a few overs before tea / dinner assuming we get there. If they, and teams in the future, delay it till after dark then that means more graveyard overs for the spinners, or those that have them.

        We’ve already seen a Faf declaration spicing things up somewhat, I think it really adds something.

    • I prefer Mike Chaffin’s analysis above.
      Anderson is neither captain, nor infallible, however fine a bowler he can be – and today he wasn’t really that either.

  • Anyone want to tell me again that Australia are there for the taking and that only Warner and Smith can bat and that their lower order is shit?

    • Marsh has batted beautifully. He looks good. Otherwise it doesn’t look that difficult out there some a few fifties isn’t a great advert.

      England though have proved, if anyone doubted it, that they cannot bowl Australia out with their current lineup. They can’t even get Cummings out.

      England’s bowling was better this morning, though they set a low bar to compare it to. Still too short. Boycs is whining about them not getting the rub of the green though… I’m wondering whether he’s watching the same match.

      When you have LBWs overturned for being too high it tells you that you’re bowling too short. In fact it screams that you’re bowling too short. Proves it conclusively.

      It isn’t over but the fat lady is warming up her vocal chords. 400 and a bit isn’t a big score at Adelaide, though it is thus far in day night tests. Adelaide is the home of the double century though England can’t win the match.

      Let’s be as wildly optimistic as we can. England rack up a huge score, however that comes about. They still can’t bowl Australia out. If Cook faced England’s attack on that pitch with their short 80mph trash he’d end up with a huge score.

      Whether Australia’s quicks do the job is irrelevant, though I suspect they will. Nathan Lyon will if they don’t.

      • Root’s turned a few so I think your right – Lyon could be quite dangerous. Cummings is actually a good bat so I’m not surprised he has made runs but I am worried at how easy he has made it look. It is still early in the series but I agree with you, England do not have the bowling attack to win in Australia. Now for fuck’s sake, proof me wrong.

        • Anyone know Anderson’s average to batsmen rather than tailenders in Australia?

          Suspect it’s closer to 50 than 35.

  • Watching from the ground as Aus push towards 400.

    England seemed eager to bowl short to rattle the Aus batsmen, withlots of verbals etc with the umpires intervening at one point. Looked to be the wrong tactic given the speed England bowl at despite the pitch being very bouncy.

    Riot had a leg slip For a large part of the day especially against Handscomb but it seemed redundant and Handscomb scores plenty through fine leg anyway.

    Regarding the ground I think it was the AFL that drove the expansion as they fill the ground more regularly than the cricket. But you have to remember that more people have watched the first two days here than would watch all five days previously. It’s somewhat of a shame but it’s still quite a nice ground to watch from.

  • “You don’t expect two bowlers as experienced as Anderson and Broad to bowl too short when conditions suit them”

    You don’t expect that UNLESS YOU’VE EVER SEEN ENGLAND BOWL OVERSEAS. At which point you don’t just expect that, you are wearily resigned to it.

    Starc swung the ball, and both he and Hazelwood bowled good lengths. Broad bowled alright. Anderson was crap, Overton OK and Woakes utterly toothless. (This for me was the defining series for Woakes, and he’s answered the remaining questions about himself as a Test match bowler in just about the most emphatic way possible. It’s like Warne in 1993, except in reverse).

    Before the match Adelaide was the one where England were going to make use of the ‘English’ conditions and run through Australia. Well Joe Root got out of bed on Saturday, saw the most English conditions imaginable in Australia, and gave his bowlers the chance to prove themselves.

    They blew it.

    We’ll see tomorrow morning what Australia can do with a new ball in the first session of an Adelaide Test. If England are all out for 150, does that prove that Root got the toss right, after all?

    Blame the bowlers, not the captain.

  • 50-3. Root and Vince trying to prove that England’s tactics should have worked?

    I’m all in favour of positivity but chasing wide ones is brainless given the match situation.

  • The audience numbers we need to watch for Day/Night Tests are those for weekdays. If there’s a clear bump in the attendance after school finishes for the day and people finish the work-day, then there may be some tangible benefit to the Day/Night format.

    • Why just Test matches?

      County attendances are nowhere near as bad as is sometimes assumed, though where the grounds have the facilities I suspect DN matches might be popular.

  • The really gutting thing is that, as well as they bowled, it just isn’t enough.

    Yes 53-4 is something to celebrate but it came in 27 overs. A very good 27 overs which saw Anderson finally being Jimmy and Woakes belatedly bowling.

    Still 27 overs for 4 wickets though, at a team strike rate of a wicket every 40 balls. Tomorrow England restart with a not so new ball which will probably do bugger all, and the old ball didn’t exactly do figure of 8s under the lights on day 1.

    So two of our bowlers, half our attack, are very effective for a third of the day if those overs happen to be with a new ball. As a way of winning matches it isn’t persuasive. It isn’t as though matches start in the dark under lights.

    Who knows maybe we’ll knock them over cheaply and break a few records to keep the series alive. Even that unlikely outcome won’t paper over the cracks of relying on bowlers who are ineffective most of the time.

    Why hasn’t Malan bowled? As a wrist spinner I’d want to roll up that wicket and carry it around for me. Yeah he’s a part timer and I have no idea whether he’s any good or not as I’ve never seen him bowl. Not even worth having a look at in 150 overs of the first innings though when Ali clearly isn’t right and Root is reluctant?

  • Listening to TMS you might have believed we were right back in this game. We’re not. They’re only 4 down, it’ll be sunny in the morning and the ball will get softer. I’ll be surprised if they don’t end up declaring. Even if they don’t, we probably wouldn’t chase the 270 or so they’re already ahead by.

    Plenty to grumble about with England’s batting effort but the thing that really wound me up today was the fact we lost 3 overs this evening because of a stupid rule. Why can’t the close of play rule be that if it’s fit to play, you bowl the allotted overs? They’d probably have been bowled in the same time anyway if there was no point in timewasting. I’ve no complaint about what the Aussies did – England and any other side would do the same thing in tricky conditions with a set finish time – but as so often the ICC have a rule in place that cheats the spectator out of an exciting passage of play and they show no sign of doing anything whatsoever about it.

    The cynic in me couldn’t help but admire Lyon’s effort though. I didn’t think he had a prayer of making a Chris Woakes over last more than 6 mins. What a pro…

    • I think at the end they were frequently losing the ball in the light as while in the first 15 overs of Australia’s second dig there was lots of movement beating the bat in the last ten they were missing pretty straight balls.

      I suspect that it will be very differently this morning and Australia will add another 150-200 and send England under lights chasing over 400.

      Aus played terribly against Woakes and Overton letting them get 50 extra runs bowling short stuff that wasn’t all that dangerous to actually getting them out.

      Pretty poor umpiring this game is it 3 or four decisions Australia have had to over turn. Even the one that finally got Smith was umpires call on both line and hitting.

    • The BT commentary was a bit more realistic..

      Who on TMS thought we had a sniff? It’s not as though Smith and co are going to go to the Waca worried about batting out Jimmy and Woakes in the dark….

      Given the difference in the second chuck I can only think that our attack was told to bowl that way. Just keep the runs down and we’ll knock them over at night. Come to think of it Root even mentioned as such at the toss.

      Which… as a fan… Makes me rather murderously angry. If the backroom staff have made our attack look like clueless monkees on the assumption that it never rains in Australia ( helpful hint: the weather forecast wasn’t great) then questions need to be asked about their competence.

  • Can’t think of many better days cricket that I’ve seen..

    Jimmy and Broad brilliant, different bowlers to the first innings and effectively stopped our bats having to face the new ball under lights.

    Starc doesn’t look right.. Got hit out of the attack early on and just seemed…less when he came back. Picked up a couple but I got the feeling that it was partly due to England getting at him. Whether it was a plan or just happened who knows but does remind me of 2005 when we were merciless against whoever happened not to be Warne or McGrath.

    Lyon is bowling superbly but again I get the hint that England, or Root at least, have figured out that he’s bowling just shy of medium paced top spinners. Hence he isn’t threatening the stumps as often as they previously thought. I can’t play quickish spinners myself but those that can tell me that you just flat bat them off the back foot and you can put them wherever you want.

    Cummings, wow. Now that’s a bowler. Stunning performance.

    As ever the first session is going to be vital, 18 overs to the new ball and how many England can get, and whether they lose wickets is crucial. 230/4 at the new ball and they’ll be all over us like rabid dogs. If we need less than 100 Smith might have to be more circumspect.

    What a game!

      • Me too!

        Depends, I think, on how they play Lyon. Whilst he got Cook I’m not convinced his stock delivery is ever going to get you LBW.

        Look at the wagon wheels and it’s obvious that both sides have bowled too short. Lyon, I think, is a chimera. fooling the batsmen into thinking he’s a threat and they have to play when little threat exists. In other words he’s getting away with bowling too short, or has. If he pitched it up further he’d travel I think.

        I would hope that they can navigate overs 60-80 against the fast mediums. If one of them cranks up 90+ consistently then fair play though haven’t seen it thus far.

        As you said below it’s the hope that kills you. 🙂

        • “Lyon, I think, is a chimera. fooling the batsmen into thinking he’s a threat and they have to play when little threat exists…”

          Isn’t that true of all successful spinners to some extent ?
          And it’s not as though he doesn’t get the odd ball to spit and turn viciously.

  • I’m going to get in my comment on day 4 before you, James. It’s the hope that kills you. An excellent day for England today, and we have a sniff. We can finish it (or get very close) before the dinner break. England’s swing bowlers finally bowled like we knew they could, and the fragile Aussie batting line up finally collapsed like we knew they could. Had the lead been what it should have been (50 rather than 215) we’d be clear favourites now.

    As it is, we’re in Bon Jovi (“ohh, we’re half way there, oh woah .livin’ on a prayer”) and Two Ronnies (“one thing was clear: there would be very little sleep for anyone THAT night”) territory. So much depends on Root. I quite like sending Woakes in as night watchman, though. He can bat, and 70 or 80 with Root would set us up nicely. Am I confident? No. I’ve watched England for far too long for that kind of frippery. But at least we’ve given ourselves a shot.

    • It is, if nothing else, proof that Root wasn’t entirely mad to bowl first, but was rather let down by a sub par first innings effort from his bowlers… who not only then had the chutzpah to criticise the batting performance, but then went on to show how they ought to have bowled first time around.

      And those who said the teams are pretty closely matched are at least partially vindicated.

      If we get through the first hour tomorrow without loss, then it ought to be odds on.

By James Morgan

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