Five things we learned at Sydney

1. Brad Haddin is the new Jacques Kallis in the sense that for England he is now the world’s biggest pain in the arse. With five fifties in the series, all made after arriving at the crease with the side under pressure, the Australian wicket-keeper has become by a distance the most influential player of the series – you can forget Johnson. Today’s plotline was so ludicrously predictable it was scarcely credible. Surely he wouldn’t do it again? He did. Five times now we’ve been in control of the game half-way through the Australian first innings, and five times, Haddin has taken it away from us. It was heart-breaking, really, and now we’ll have to score 450 to even have a chance.

2. They’re only six runs better than us. Simon Hughes came up with a remarkable fact this morning: in aggregate, Australia have score 602 for their first five wickets in the first innings, across the series. We’ve made 596. But when you do the same calculation for the last five wickets, Australia have scored 600 more.

3. Bad form brings bad luck. Poor Boyd Rankin: after two months carrying drinks and wearing the hi-vis bib of shame, the lanky Irishman finally got the chance to make his test debut – and after only eight overs, knackered his hamstring. Alastair Cook’s captaincy skills may have impressed few observers, but sometimes you really have to feel sorry for him – losing a principal bowler at just the moment he needed to retain control.

Things like that don’t happen to winning sides, and ditto Michael Carberry’s dismissal – in fairness, not great batmanship, but forty-nine times out of fifty he would not have found the fielder. Brad Haddin top edged several shots today, all of which landed miles out of reach.

Poor Carbs, though – this will be his last test match. And his duck will keep the scrutiny on Andy Flower’s decision to retain the Hampshireman at the expense of Joe Root. I’d argue that this was the right call – as fervently as we want Root to flourish, the truth is that his failures have been central to almost every England batting collapse since Trent Bridge in July.

4. We’ve turned Steve Smith into a batsman. In the 2013 summer series, he looked utterly unsuited to test match cricket. Now he’s blazed his way to two centuries against us, and although at heart we English will always regard him as a buffoon, the unfortunate fact is that he’s hurt as badly, and now has the confidence to do well in 2015.

5. David Warner can make us happy – at least when he gets out as cheaply and arrogantly as he did today. For all his swagger, Warner is rubbish in the first innings, and today we all hugely enjoyed seeing his off-stump removed after he heaved across the line. As Geoffrey Boycott said on TMS, “getting out couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. He’s only been in the game five minutes, and he talks like a superstar”.


  • Leave young Smith alone,was impressed with his guts in England in unfamiliar conditions.Next Australian captain,reminds me of a young man.His name was Steven Waugh

  • Steve Smith is a bad player being made to look good. First 1000 runs at 35 for a reason. How bad did Borthwick look? Like a crap Ian Saisbury.

  • As I have written a few times in this forum, Steve Smith is an exceptional cricketer. He was a standout in India, had a pretty good summer Ashes in England which included a century at The Oval, in the top 10 batsmen in test cricket in 2013 and a very good Ashes series in Australia which has included two centuries, been involved in a number of rescue missions in this series notably with Brad Haddin, Man of the Match award in Perth and a brilliant fieldsman – and yet people stil find negetives. What else has the guy got to do to prove he is top class cricketer? If you listened to some of the commenters today, they were discussing his potential as a future test captain, something I have been saying for years now – he is highly regarded from within and respected by many former players. If he can improve his bowling to a point where he can come on and do a job as well as give the frontline guys a rest, then we are talking about a very special, complete and valuable cricketer. I think he is only 23, so he has plenty of time. In fact he will follow Clarke as captain, so perhaps we will see him become VC after Haddin retires, which given the way he is playing, won’t be anytime soon.

  • Doug, I think we now have to take Smith seriously. He looked terrible early in his career, but I was very impressed with him yesterday. He’s winning me over. I’m still unconvinced he’s an elite talent, and comparisons to Steve Waugh (an all time great imho) are a little premature, but I now think he should have a pretty good test career. His temperament is good. He needed it on this Sydney pitch, and wasnt ruffled by the uneven bounce.

    Australia’s coaches are working wonders with his technique (he must thank his lucky stars he isnt coached by bloody Gooch, who seems incapable of sorting out England batsmen’s problems over a number of years, let alone weeks) and he also seems like a likeable lad.

    It’s important for England fans to remember that Hashim Amla looked absolutely abysmal early in his career, but he’s turned into a class act with a bit of technical help. This is sadly, sadly lacking in England’s camp – our established players have been getting slowly worse over the last two years when age-wise they should be at their peak – but Lehmann obviously has the right support staff in place and he’s maximises his squad’s potential. It’s the opposite with England I’m afraid.

    • Your right James,bit early for comparisons with S R Waugh.Just reminds me a little of Waugh in terms of guts.Yesterdays and his waca innings were pure Steve Waugh,a refusal to hand his wicket over.I am a big fan of Stokes as well.

  • Keep hurrumphing and pissing vinegar as long as possible Maxie. So sad it’s the last test and the top shelf entertainment will sadly cease. Any chance of following the Aussie tour against the Saffa’s and spreading the wee a little further? Such petulance, belligerence and misplaced confidence has been a precious gift. You have a rare talent that is very appreciated and I’d hate to see your “buffoonery of heart” wasted on the unappreciative. I dips my lid to you kind sir.

    • Read our previous post, ‘on the eve of destruction’, and think about your life you gimp.

      • You mean the post that belatedly reflected exactly the points I raised in your “Dark side of Australia” post. Is that the one you mean Jimmy? Thank you, the sincerest form of flattery and all that. I’m happy you eventually got there but perhaps you need a wee bit of reflection time hmmm? Gimp is it. Ouch, how terribly unkind of you. Good to see you sticking up for Maxie though, how utterly dashing of you.

        • Didn’t actually read the garbage on that thread, as the level of debate (presumably established by you) didn’t seem worth it after a while. Good to see you resorting to the usual ‘tally ho’ style insults though. There’s nothing like good old fashioned stereotyping to underpin a well thought through and intelligent argument.

          Oh, and there’s nothing more attractive, by the way, than someone who trolls the forums of defeated supporters looking for an opportunity to stick the knife in and rub people’s noses in it. The very fact you’re reading this blog, and making insulting comments when people express an opinion they admit is subjective, says a hell of a lot about you.

          Keep the comments coming. You’re demeaning yourself.

  • Right on the money Doug. James you cant argue for civility and condone Maxine Buffoons trolling posts at the same time it just makes you look a berk.


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