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”.