Australia and Test cricket not done with yet

 

by Andrew Gigacz

This was a day when everything went right – maybe not for Phil Hughes, but for me and the rest of the Australians. Knowing that I’d be doing the Day 4 report for the Almanac, I headed out for my morning coffee with the intention of returning home to catch the start of the day’s play. But one of the Sunday crossword clues particularly stumped me and I briefly lost track of time.

Fortunately I snapped back to reality in enough time to miss only the first over of the day. I wasn’t particularly concerned. I mean, how much can happen in a single over? That question was answered in amazing fashion upon my arrival home. Resuming at 1/10, New Zealand had seen off the opening over from Siddle without fuss. Now it was James Pattinson’s turn. Pattinson had taken the all-important wicket of McMullan the night before so I was hopeful that his confidence would be up. I had thought he bowled better in the first innings than his figures suggested.

An over later I was wondering if he’d bowled as well as his figures suggested! Pattinson’s entire over is worth recounting, ball by ball. Martin Guptill played and missed at one that was in what Damien Fleming would call the Avenue of Apprehension. Guptill was expecting another one on the same line the next ball and was clearly startled by a short ball into the ribcage. He fended it lamely to Khawaja at short leg and Guptill departed with New Zealand at 2/17.

Kane Williamson arrived to face Pattinson’s third ball and I was pleased to see that Pattinson didn’t feel the need to give him a short one first up. He returned to Aisle of Indecision and Williamson nervously played and missed. Pattinson followed that up with another ball down the Channel of Chance and Pattinson felt drawn to the stroke and edged straight to Ricky Ponting at 2nd slip. A duck for Williamson and New Zealand tottering at 3/17.

Pattinson resorted to the corridor of consternation again for his fifth ball. It was Ross Taylor’s first ball and his last. He too, was drawn into a forward push and edged it through to Haddin. New Zealand were now reeling at 4/17 and Pattinson had taken 3/0 in five balls and was on a hat-trick. With the left-handed Jessie Ryder at the crease, Pattinson used his natural movement through the air the bowl an inswinging yorker in an effort to complete the hat-trick. It was too good for Ryder who couldn’t get down on it in time but it JUST missed his off stump.

A triple-wicket maiden for Pattinson. Combined with his previous evening’s work it gave him the figures of 5 overs, 4 maidens, 4 for 1. In reality his bowling probably wasn’t that good. Williamson should perhaps have left the ball that got him out and Taylor definitely should have. But Pattinson revealed himself to be a bowler who can not only swing the ball at almost 150 kmh but can also use that skill thoughtfully.

In many ways Pattinson’s single over meant the rest of Day 4 was largely academic. It simply remained to be seen whether New Zealand could make Australia bat again.

Bracewell became Pattinson 5th victim. Having survived Pattinson’s hat-trick ball, Ryder played with typical abandon before holing out lamely to mid-off, giving Lyon his first wicket. New Zealand were 6/69 and Brownlie and Vettori were once again given the job of rescuing New Zealand from the brink.

With immaculate timing my son Spencer asked at that moment if I could give him a lift to a friend’s house. Not wanting to lose my ranking in the Father of the Year stakes, I obliged. Brownlie and Vettori also obliged by hanging around until I returned, just in time to see Vettori edge part-timer Hussey to Clarke at first slip.

As one of the seemingly not many who has always like Michael Clarke, I’ve come to like him even more as a captain. In his short stint, I reckon he’s shown more imagination in the field than Ponting ever did. Bringing Hussey on was a good example of that. Vettori is a renowned fighting batsman who won’t sell his wicket cheaply to the top-line bowlers. Clarke’s call to Hussey induced Vettori to relax just enough to play a false stroke.

New Zealand were 7/121 at lunch. This match wasn’t going to last until tea. And it didn’t. The Kiwis limped to a total of 150, leaving Australia just 19 to win. Hughes and Warner were on a hiding to nothing but the way they approached their short stays was instructive. Hughes flashed and edged to slips, only to be dropped. The very next ball he did it again and was on his way. He needs to do some serious work outside his off stump. Warner, having gloved a ball he tried to avoid in the first innings, wasn’t going to avoid anything in the second innings and he knocked off the required runs in quick time.

This match was between the fourth-ranked Australians and the eighth-ranked New Zealanders so a nine-wicket victory was to be expected really. Having said that, I think there’s a lot to like about what Australia has done since their capitulation for just 47 at Cape Town. To come back from that disaster and beat South Africa at Wanderers and then to withstand the loss of several players to injury and play as positively as this bodes reasonably well.

We might not be on the verge of another era of Australian dominance but we might be at the beginning of one that sees some gripping and tight Test cricket between evenly-matched countries. As a lover of Test cricket, I will not be complaining about that.

 

About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?

Comments

  1. Peter Flynn says:

    Gigs,

    Clarke is a couple of overs ahead of the play.

    He uses Lyon well.

    Phil Hughes offered quite probably the dopiest batting I’ve ever seen.

  2. Gigs – I happened to see Pattinson’s over of wickets. It was great TV.

    Clarke is a better captain tactically than Ponting but he still has a lot to do before he will win my heart. Still a Sydney tosser in my view. The true measure of his legacy will be what sort of culture persists in the Australian team when they once again find success.

  3. Andrew Starkie says:

    Spot on, Flynny. The word ‘dope’ instantly came to mind when Hughes got out.

    We all know his technical flaws, they are replayed over and over when he’s invariably caught in the slips or at gully. However, he’s also one of the dumbest cricketers I’ve ever seen. All he had to do yesterday was put is head down for, how long, 15 minutes? Compile a neat little not out and head to Hobart with the media off his case for a week. Why couldn’t he? Why wouldn’t he?

    If I hear he or Brad Haddin say they were playing their ‘natural game’ after selfishly throwing their wicket away one more time, I will scream. Cricket – deerr – is a team game. Learn to adapt for the side’s sake – and your own.

    Our batting still has a long way to go before being good enough to regain the Ashes. I’ve been banging on about Chris Rogers for years now. He should have gone to England in 2009. If he had, he would have replaced Hughes in the third Test, the Watson experiment would never have happened and the selectors would not have made a rod for their own backs in terms of the opening positions. Rogers is the best opener in the country and continues to make runs at Shield level, however, is now too old to debut for his country if the focus is on the next Ashes..

    Obviously, there is much to be happy about with our bowlers. Suddenly, we have a basket of demon quicks, but as the late Roebuck said time and again, keeping them fit is the biggest challenge. Cutting injured himself in Melbourne on the weekend when he should have been playing in Brisbane. Why wasn’t the best Shield bowler debuting on his home track? He’s out for the next month. Harris is probab;ly the best bowler in the country, but his career is potentially over due to injury.

    Pattinson, Starc and Lyon bowled well on the weekend, however, let’s not get carried away. New Zealand played get out shots. Taylor and Ryder embarrassed themselves. The Indians won’t give their wickets away. .

    The first Test in SA aside, Clarke’s reign has started well. He’s alert, intelligent and well prepared. He’s batting well and we’re winning. So far, so good. But as captain I’d like to see him batting at no.4.

  4. Test cricket may not be done with yet, but hopefully this is the pillow over the head of the Big Bash, – http://www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/confidential/hamish-blake-and-andy-lee-in-opposing-camps/story-e6frf96x-1226213652152

    PS: I’m with you dips re Clarke and culture… and I still don’t understand why we don’t bring in a batsman to open the innings?

  5. Agreed Craig, Cowan should open in Hobart if the selectors are serious and have any intelligence.

    Hughes out.

    What has happened to the cricket today? Has it been washed out or is bad light already?

  6. Andrew Starkie says:

    Aren’t Deano and Merv coming out of retirement?

    Had to laugh when the ends at Etihad were named after them.

    Who ever made that call is fooling no one but themaselves

  7. Andrew Starkie says:

    The call for Cowan has credibility, but he averages high 30s in First Class

  8. His current form and the way he has been getting big runs this season is noteworthy Andrew.

    He will stick around and grind them out. Good foil for Warner.

  9. Andrew Starkie says:

    Yeah, i like him. Don’t worry about that. He;’s writtten a book?

  10. Andrew, I would rather read my Google search history aloud to my parents than have anything to do with the Big Bash…

  11. Andrew Starkie says:

    How rude! I bought you a Renegades shirt for Christmas.

  12. Off spinners are a dime a dozen, but as I said after Day 1, I really like the look of N Lyon.
    He is not afraid to give it a bit of flight, and has lovely loop through the air.
    My concern with Lyon surrounds the looming BigBash tournament. Not too many
    opportunities for an offie to show some loop and flight in this form of the game.
    However, it is ironic that it was in last year’s BigBash that we were first introduced
    to the young spinner.

    Like the cut of D Pattinson’s jib. one of the most exciting things in Test cricket is watching
    a couple of young, genuine quicks steaming in. Bring on India and their senile batting line-up!
    (Famous last words…..)

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