Andrew Starkie’s Ashes Diary (7)

ASHES DIARY

Entry 7

Friday December 17, 2010

In a reflection of how confidently England are travelling, Andrew Strauss won the toss and elected to bowl on a green, yet firm Perth pitch expected to reward batsmen prepared to dig in and weather an early barrage.  Nassar Hussain was heard yelling from the commentary box: Noooooo! Broad has gone home for the filming of the next Harry Potter and has been replaced by Tremlett, who stepped from the pages of Empire Male Quarterly.  In an indication of how little the Australians relished the idea of batting on the opening day, Ricky Ponting didn’t attempt to hide his disappointment when he said he also would’ve chosen to bowl first.  Australia had made a fuss of Beer all week before deciding not to play him, instead favouring four quicks and Smith, an unproven leg-spinner.

Watson was given out done the leg side in Anderson’s opening over, however, survived on referral.  Tremlett softened Hughes up with short pitched deliveries before bowling him through the gate.  Hughes played across the line and his technique remains inadequate.  Ponting’s dismissal provided a microcosm of the series so far.  He swatted unconfidently at an Anderson ball he should have left and was caught quite brilliantly one-handed by Collingwood in slip.  Ponting’s shot was beneath a player of his record and ability, however, provided proof we are all susceptible to lack of belief and insecurity.  Clarke also stuck his bat out unconvincingly to a ball he shouldn’t have given respect to and was caught behind.  It was a soft dismissal.  3-31 at drinks and here we go again.

Finn hit Watson on the toe which brought Smith and Hussey together.  They survived until Lunch.

Smith became Tremlett’s third victim second over after lunch when he followed those before him by pushing at a ball away from his body.  With the score 5-69, once again it was left to the middle order, in particular Hussey and Haddin.  A half-century partnership was produced, highlighted by some attacking straight batting.  Swann was again targeted, however, the spinner again won the battle by having Hussey caught behind by Prior when he misread a straight ball.  Haddin and Johnson, who batted confidently from the go, compiled a swift 50 run partnership, before the wicketkeeper was caught smartly above his head in the slips by Swann off Anderson.

A score of around 200 looked the best prospect, however, Australia’s tail flicked the flies away for the first time this Summer.  Harris finally scored, much to the relief of his family and country.  Johnson brought up his 50 with strong hitting not seen since his efforts in South Africa in 2009.  Hopefully this purposefulness will carry over into his bowling.  Siddle and Hilfenhaus entertained by swinging strongly at the end, lifting Australia’s score to 268.

Strauss and Cook handled all four Australian quicks and saw England through to 0-29 at Stumps.  Cook’s cut shot for 6 offered yet another example of the current difference in self-belief between the two teams.

Strauss’ day went to plan and the mistakes of past captains who have put Australia into bat were laid to rest.  All his bowlers contributed by capitalising on a pitch that offered bounce, however, many Australians brought about their own dismissals.  Tremlett is tall and hits the pitch hard making him perfect for Australian conditions.  At tour’s end he is sure to drop in at the Calcutta Yacht Club for a few G&T’s.

When interviewed after the toss, Ponting said he had barely spoken to Hughes and Smith during the week, preferring to let them be to concentrate on their preparation.  Is this a captain with faith in his team or one who has withdrawn to fight for his own survival?  When a group begins to fall apart, it’s human nature to worry about ourselves.

The Ashes may be decided before the weekend is over.

Comments

  1. Okay, so I had a read of this entry to see if couldn’t understand anything in it.
    Instead I’m just even more confused lol
    I assume a ‘leg spinner’ is a Michael Jackson like dance move?
    ‘Finn hit Watson on the toe’ – that would hurt; I mean cricket balls are heavy right?
    Man I suck at this Cricket stuff but atleast I know that Watson is a looker and that Ponting looks like that captain guy in Titanic.

    Hmm… I think I will just give up on this lost cause lol.

    Danni

  2. Andrew Starkie says:

    email my hotmail about your results.

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