The Full Toss today launches a fundraising campaign to purchase a can of petrol, a box of matches, and a flight to Brisbane. Burning down the Gabba is surely England’s only hope of ever again winning the Ashes in Australia.
God, I hate the place; scene of unending, quadrennial torture. It’s little wonder Cricket Australia always schedule the first test here, to rub in the advantage. They know England fear the Gabba. By contrast, the ECB go out of their way to do the opposite. In 2009 the first match was at Cardiff, where neither side had ever played before, and isn’t even in England. In 2005, the venue was Lord’s, where at the time we hadn’t beaten Australia for 71 years.
On paper, this now looks like a typical Ashes Gabba scoreline. But until deep into today’s morning session, it had been a close, hard-fought contest. And the outcome was so nearly so different. As Simon Barnes of The Times puts it: “England got slaughtered at the Gabba today. All the same, it was slaughter by the very finest of margins. Believe it or not, England were pretty close to a seriously good day. Instead, they had an almost laughably poor day.”
From an England supporters point of view, we can’t help feeling it was all dreadfully unlucky. Especially because the technicalities of the Decision Review System caused so much of the damage.
Damn you, DRS. At some point in the future, I will send a Terminator back through time to seek out and destroy its creator. The bloody thing has brought England nothing but trouble.
Early in the first session, Mike Hussey was given out LBW to Anderson. It was overturned on appeal, as Hawkeye adjudged the ball to have pitched a few milimetres outside leg. Yesterday, our review of an LBW against Shane Watson was rejected because the ball was only just hitting the stumps – due to the margin of error, the on-field umpire’s original decision stood. So why is margin of error not taken into account when it comes to where the ball pitches – as the disparity was so slight, morally, the same principle should apply.
Shortly afterwards Hussey was stone dead to Anderson but reprieved because umpire Aleem Dar wrongly adjudged an inside edge. By this time, England had used up their two reviews and were unable to appeal. One had been lost over the Watson LBW, and the other when Michael Clarke had seemingly edged to Prior. The only proof of the edge came from Snicko, which has been excluded from the set of DRS tools because it’s deemed too time-consuming.
In both cases the batsmen were proved to be out – but England still lost the reviews. How is that fair?
Anything reading this who’s not English will say: stop whinging; sour grapes; you don’t complain when DRS does you a favour. Maybe. But personally, I’d rather be stitched up by an umpire than a computer. Human umpiring has two great virtues: simplicity, and unambiguity. By contrast, DRS is dreadfully convoluted, riddled with logical flaws, and has created the unwelcome ‘game-within-a-game’ of how to use the two reviews.
Meanwhile…tonight we can look forward to the grim prospect of watching our batsmen trying to survive . Great. Feels like a Collingwood kind of situation, but the ideal scenario might be a true counter-attacking performance in the form of a Pietersen century.
We’ve argued before that scoreboard pressure, from batting big in the first innings, is our most likely means of winning this series. This was underlined by the way Australia batted today – very cautiously until they’d drawn level with our first innings score, then increasingly positive and aggressive as they drew away. The point being – Australia get nervous under the pressure of opponents’ runs. If we’d made, say, 375, Hussey and Haddin would have batted within themselves for much longer – and created more opportunities for a wicket.
As for our bowling, what’s happened to Swann? Nerves? Or has he, in Hussey, finally met his match?