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 ….
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.