Andrew Starkie’s Ashes Diary (12)


Entry 12

Tuesday, 4 January, 2011

Australia’s first innings in Sydney was fairly typical of its performances during this Ashes series.

Hughes and Watson’s opening partnership should have been a solid foundation.  Johnson and Hilfenhaus’ rewarded swinging at the end either saved or provided further embarrassment for  teammates sitting in the dressing room.  Australia’s batting during this series has relied too much on few partnerships.  Hussey and Haddin steered their team away from trouble in Brisbane while in the second innings in Perth, Watson and Hussey constructed a chase too far for England.

Khawaja’s debut innings showed poise and hope.  Similar promise was provided by Doherty as he cleaned up the English tail in the first Test.  Hopefully, Khawaja’s early career doesn’t go the same way as the off-spinner’s.

As it has done for much of this series, Australia’s top order made poor shot selections in the first innings.  Hughes looked comfortable in the first session until edging a ball he should have left on Lunch.  Moving away with both feet off the ground, he looked like he was diving backwards off the low board at the Warrnambool Olympic Pool.  Much was hoped of Haddin this morning.  He also wafted at a ball wide of his body.  His dismissal was a photograph of so many Australian wickets this Summer.  Think back to Boxing Day when all Australian batsmen fell to edges to the moving ball.

Clarke demonstrated poor temperament and lack of discipline by flashing to gully.  Australia’s situation was dodgy after having lost a few wickets post Lunch and the situation called for the new captain to play a conservative, rebuilding role.  While it’s difficult to criticise him considering the fine series he has had, Hussey’s mishit pull shot during the second innings in Adelaide signalled the end of resistance in that match.

England’s performance in the field so far in Sydney has been consistent with its series.  Despite looking understandably jaded and dusty after Melbourne, England’s bowlers continued a tight and disciplined line.  Again, winning the toss and dark, heavy skies helped.  Anderson and Bresnan were patient either side of weather interruptions, knowing eventually wickets would come their way.  The Yorkshireman, who looks more suited to the front row, wasted his outswingers on Hilfenhaus.  England’s fielding, often laughable in recent Ashes campaigns, has been a real highlight.  You know a captain’s going well when he rests his quicks in the gully.  And they take catches as Anderson did to dismiss Clarke.

Australia’s Ashes campaign is best summed up by the dismissal of Hussey: our best batsman bowled by Collingwood, their fifth bowler.  The first innings total of 280 bettered its series average of 261. Alas, once again, it probably won’t prove enough.

England 0/73 at Tea

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