England have retained the Ashes by playing one good Test out of three. Fortunate to escape Trent Bridge, dominant at Lord’s, outplayed at Old Trafford, a subdued, slightly embarrassed, extremely relieved England accepted and returned the applause from the balcony after play was abandoned and hurriedly packed the urn and their bags for Durham, the far northern town with the beautiful cathedral and university and a liking for rain.
I’m not sure what to say about the third Test beside the fact it ended fours hours short when rain answered the order and charged in from the Pennines, ambushing Australia’s victory.
This was a fine effort from the tourists considering how deflating Lord’s was. Clarke, Smith and Rogers stood up with the bat and Haddin and Starc could’ve landed centuries themselves if a declaration wasn’t called in the final session, day 2. Swann claimed another 5 for but was also carted everywhere. He was spinning it from the first morning, which sent chills to Coburg, but he failed to be a match winner.
KP and Bell held Australia up on the third day. Clarke’s refusal to refer Watto’s LBW appeal on KP when he was 60 odd may have been result turning.
What of Watto? Not asked to open in the second innings may be a sign there’s less use for him now. Suddenly, not surprisingly, he’s telling everyone he’s happy to bat anywhere. Watto can hear the bells tolling.
On the fourth morning, Australia was concentrating more on the weather than bowling and England’s tail wagged, avoiding the follow-on.
Again, Sidds was the pick of the bowlers. Why doesn’t he open? He’s more than a grunt. You’d go to war with him.
Australia chased too hard for second innings runs and couldn’t find the flow. Some bad shots were offered, but at least they played as a team, not for self-preservation.
The umpires called Clarke off just as he was beginning to have fun. England couldn’t get off quick enough, reflective of how they had played the whole Test. I thought the batsmen had the last say on light. This was the end of the match, really.
Three for at Lunch on the last day, England were as good as gone. KP sooked, but he hit it. I don’t like the DRS, it has robbed the game of its immediacy and drama, the umpires their authority and turned the batsmen into typical spoilt 21st century sportsmen. Can we get rid of it? Probably not. Why not only give each team one referral or place all referral power in the hands of the onfield umpires. The third umpire should be neutral.
Harris is like Sidds: old school. Honest. He could be a tradie. A tiler. A brickie. Love him. Let’s hope he stays fit for the return series.
We rush to Durham, barely pausing to catch breath. England have won but Cook and Trott haven’t hit form. The captain appears to have lost his eye, while the latter, his balance. This can’t last. Australia will pay eventually.
Australia will be buoyed by Manchester. They need to drain every drop form this series, while keeping an eye on Boxing Day.