I may be getting ahead of myself – and not for the first time – but The Oval may have thrown together a batting line-up Australia can work with this summer.
Rogers has the technique, patience and guile to cut it. His century at Durham was reward for a career of graft and aged 35, if he keeps fit, should play for a good handful of years.
Readers of Steinbeck may see Rogers as George to Watto’s Lennie.
Watto fell into the no.3 spot in London because there was nowhere else for him and produced a career saving knock. I know, the pitch was perfect for him and Bresnan wasn’t there, but his brutality before Lunch on the first day was great to watch, while his ability to maintain concentration after 100, was, well, un-Watto. I’m not quite ready to love again, but you never know, this innings may turn Watto around. I’d still prefer to see him at no.4, behind the captain.
Clarke topped the Australian averages (47.62) on the back of one big knock. Besides that innings in Manchester he was inconsistent. Expect more at home.
Smith deserved his century after a number of solid knocks that fell short. His technique issues will always exist, however, he has a great eye and backs his ability to take on the bowlers. Smith is a confidence player and at the moment he is full of it.
Faulkner injected life at The Oval. His front and aggression were a pleasant surprise. He batted and bowled with attitude and made the hosts take notice. And I liked the way he had a crack at England for their go-slow tactics.
Warner is the weakness in the top 6. He hits across the line at everything – even in that socks TV commercial, rarely offers the full face of the bat, and can only go at one pace – flat out. Untamed, impossible to control, and not too bright, Warner reminds me of a silky terrier we had when we were kids. Dad had him put down when he started biting visitors. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen to Warner.
Haddin offered experience and assurance behind the wickets. His record haul of dismissals showed he has returned to his best. How things could’ve been different if he had dragged Australia to victory in the first Test.
Australia led on all but one first innings. The ability to score is there; the willingness to hang in has to follow.
Our bowlers performed. Harris was the best on either side. When fit he has the mental and physical attributes required and he has the measure of Cook. If his body holds up, Harris may win back the urn.
Sidds was Sidds: a captain’s and country’s joy. I’d suggest we make him PM, but why ruin a good bloke. And he’ll achieve more as a cricketer than a polly.
The third pace bowling position is still open with Starc, Pattinson and Bird to choose from. Not a bad problem to have for selectors.
Lyon bowled well and should be shown faith when required this summer. The Agar experiment was well intentioned, however, he is too young and needs more time at first class level. Likewise Ahmed, who needs to prove himself.
Clarke is correct, there are positives to take from this 3-0 defeat.
For England, Swann and Anderson set the series up early with match winning spells. When the latter dropped off, Broad stepped up.
Bell carried the batting. His three centuries helped his team out of sticky situations. KP was next best. Cook and Trott may redeem themselves in Australia, with long, tedious, paint drying innings they are renowned for, or perhaps Harris has broken their confidence. Another average series from these two could see the Ashes handed over.
Clarke was the better of the captains with well researched plans and quick thinking in the field that kept matches moving. His declaration on the last day was admirable, if only fifteen minutes away from disaster. He is a captain who places his duty to cricket and spectators ahead of statistics. In contrast, Cook was playing for a draw from the third Test and accepted Clarke’s challenge at The Oval out of obligation, like the office nerd dragged onto the dance floor at the Christmas party. It will be interesting to see how he copes if England are forced to chase matches Downunder.