November 2010


So, England scored 517/1 – saving the test in style and grinding an average Australian attack into the dust. They did a whole lot more than just save the test, they exposed some fundamental weaknesses in the opposition. The Canary’s have problems that they have no choice but to fix.

This is probably the weakest Aussie attack in my lifetime. Siddle is good – and we shouldn’t forget the performance and hat-tick on day one – but he probably won’t last five tests, Hilfenhaus is an antipodean Hoggard that isn’t swinging the ball late enough or quick enough, Johnson could be awesome but appears to have a feeble mind at present. As for the spinner, I didn’t think they’d be able to find someone worse than Hauritz. Doherty has had a tough first test, he must be better than what he’s shown here.

England’s batsmen broke record after record in overhauling the Aussies first innings lead. Of most note (see piece in Sporting Life) was that Alastair Cook’s 235 not out was the highest score at the Gabba (beating Don Bradman’s long standing record) and the partnership between Cook and Jonathan Trott was the highest stand for any wicket at the Gabba.

Cook is like a man reborn this series. He could have missed out on this series. Had England played five bowlers he probably would have done.

Trott’s innings was superb too. He’s played two tests against the Aussies and has scored big hundreds on both occasions.

The overs England bowled at the end of day five showed that it was a very flat pitch, and the Aussie batsmen finished on an optimistic note, however, this shouldn’t take anything away from a terrific recovery from England in this.

Whether the Canary’s stick with this attack, or make changes, it will still be a threat this series, but England have laid down the gauntlet.

Has anyone else ever noticed the resemblance between Brad Haddin, the wicket-keeper/batsman who spent years as Adam Gilchrist’s under-study, piling on the runs and dismissals in both Australian state cricket, and also for Australia’s A side, and Colonel Decker, the fictional military policeman who spent years chasing Hannibal Smith’s A-Team in the cult US TV series?

Just check out the nose.

Brad Haddin - spent years as Australia A-team keeper

Brad Haddin - spent years as Australia A-team keeper

Colonel Decker - spent years chasing the A-team

Colonel Decker - spent years chasing the A-team

Watching the highlights from today’s play at The Gabbatoir again. I am loving the passage of play when Hilfenhaus gets the ball to nip back to Jonathan Trott, who shoulders arms and is hit below the knee-roll close to off stump.

Aleem Dar says not out, to a look of sheer incredulity from the bowler. No-one on the fielding side can believe it hasn’t been given. So, Ricky Ponting signals for the third-umpire to have a look, using his third and possibly final review.

Michael Clark gives Hilfy a high-five, and the stump microphone clearly picks up him telling the bowler “you’ve got him, that’s definitely out”. Every Aussie on the park was convinced it was a wicket.

Hawkeye, however, reveals that the ball didn’t nip back enough to hit the stumps. Not only did that astonish and wipe a smug grin off many of the Aussies, it should make those of us who stand in the field and question umpires decisions every Saturday in club cricket realise that you can never be certain.

Well that was very pleasing. As Shane Warne just said on Sky: “not much to write home about for the Aussies, it’s been one way traffic.”

Tons for Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook (unbeaten) and Jonathan Trott looks good too.

The Aussie bowlers look tired and Ricky Ponting’s captaincy desperate, the Punter gambled more than once and wasted reviews. What a difference a day makes.

Pitch looks good and England are in the ascendancy. Bat long tomorrow and grind the Aussie bowlers into the Gabbatoir dust.

When I turned the TV on at 5am today I was very tempted to go back to bed. Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin were still batting and we hadn’t taken a wicket in over 24 hours. I have to admit it, but they both batted terrifically well.

Stephen Finn’s six wicket haul was a terrific achievement for him. He’s come a long way in the short amount of time he’s been playing for England. Quite whether it will be enough to make much difference in this test is another matter. England are 208 runs behind at present, and have a battle on to save the test.

Fundamentally, England need to bat for the best part of two days. If we bat until tea on day five we’ll be 250 – 350 runs ahead. If we don’t last past lunch Monday the game is Australia’s.

A very interesting scenario would be if England were to bat to just past lunchtime on Monday. Were we to be bowled out with a lead of 200 – 250, there’d be a very interesting couple of sessions during which the Aussies will have to go for reasonably quick-ish runs to win the game, and England would have an outside chance of an unlikely win on a last day Gabba pitch.

England are 12/1 for the win at Ladbrokes and 14/1 at Paddy Power. I’d want better odds than that to be worth a flutter though. Anyone know a Karachi bookmaker?

So, an encouraging day for England. There was enough in the wicket for the current holders of the Ashes to take wickets and establish a promising position against Australia earlier in the day. Stuart Broad troubled the Canary Yellow openers, James Anderson is in the wickets (and well on course for the five wicket bag I predicted), while Stephen Finn looked a handful at times.

It could have been better though. The partnership between Michael Hussey – who seemed to have a little too much to pull – and Brad Haddin – who didn’t do too much, puts Australia in front, but within reach. Hussey played Swann really well, the best of any batsman I can remember.

But England have a brand new ball and fresh bowlers in the morning. It’s going to be a big first session tomorrow.

Not sure this is possible, he must be able to see something, but here is England’s Kevin Pietersen shows off some unconventional cricket skills by batting blindfolded.

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