The patience of 39000 fans, 22 cricketers and definitely one coach were severely tested as the second day of the test was frustratingly curtailed by something that wasn’t rain. It was barely a mist that brought the game to a standstill, the type of mist that E Grade concrete players wouldn’t even consider heading to the boundary, let alone the bar, to wait for 3 hours. At no stage was what was determined as rain any heavier or going for any longer than the precipitation that ensured the last ball of the first day was bowled prior to the scheduled tea interval.
The following is my perspectives of the day based upon the many tweets I made from my vantage point in Bay 49 of the Olympic Stand, right next to the MCC gate.
The travel from the last couple of days (Brisbane Christmas Eve, 4AM wakeup on Christmas Morning to make the early flight, 7AM wake up on Boxing Day to make the train from Berwick) seemingly is catching up with me. Didn’t miss too much unlike 22 years ago to the day when Graham Gooch bunted the first ball of the day back to Craig McDermott. In fact not a lot happened for the first hour. Perhaps part of it is because of some tactics from the Australian left arm quick bowler….
Scariest moment of the opening session came on the last ball before drinks. With 100 in the offing as well as a 50 for his mate Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali managed to make his ground to avoid a freakish non-striker run out off the bowler’s hand. At least everyone in the ground thought so except for TV umpire and a member of the 1992 losing World Cup English team to Pakistan (last man out caught off Imran Khan) Richard Illingworth. Thankfully for everyone concerned it was a case of the finger hitting the wrong button. Looking to escape the “You Had One Job” discussion I was moved to ask a simple question that I’m sure won’t be answered by the man in question (and if it does it will probably be a corporately approved answer)
With so much discussion about balls in the last couple of test matches it would be strange to think that a ball would cause so much consternation. However following 6 overs of part time garbage that again proved to me that Steve Smith doesn’t trust Nathan Lyon as much as the crowd does (there was a Nice Garry from the crowd after his 3rd ball, but not as planned or as effective as yesterday), for some reason the ball needed to be changed after the 79th over, one before a new ball would be required. After tweeting….
…it turned out that there was a 2nd over of old ball bowling, but from Jackson Bird rather than the usual Mitchell Starc pre-lunch burst.
An over later it appeared the new ball would be taken, but Ian Gould decided to stamp his authority on the game. Many Pakistan fans on twitter may have believed it was skipper Steve Smith that influenced the decision, but Gould decided that this was his moment to try to outdo Phil Gould as the most unpopular Gould in the country.
12:23 PM: It’s not raining, mizzling, drizzling or anything. These umpires have lost the plot.
#boxingdaytest #AUSvPAK #testcricket (Edited to remove a hashtag that may not have been suitable for the audience)
It wasn’t until about 1:30 that anything resembling a shower that may have in many people’s eyes necessitated a disruption to proceedings. In the interim I came up with gems such as….
Then when an inspection was scheduled for 1:15 that actually happened at 1:20 just as the ground staff were re-covering the square
#AUSvPAK they wouldn’t worry about these conditions in 20 over games so why worry now? #pathetic #testcricket #boxingdaytest (there have been many 20 over games where they’ve simply done the baseball tactic of carrying several balls, and there was a game in Brisbane played last year when it should never have played)
After reading tweets using similar hash tags from amateur meteorologists (let’s be honest, they’re all angling for the job in Darwin, fine and 34 or storms and 34 isn’t it?) that suggested that play may not even continue, I was worried that some may not have got value for money by remembering that Cricket Australia wouldn’t offer a refund because 31 overs to that stage had been bowled, more than the 25 over threshold.
Many headed for the exits following an on ground interview with Ian Healy, which was as attractive as trying to remember every line from the latest 30 minute infomercial for a food processor that apparently isn’t. I was tempted to join them, then after an hour wandering the bowels of the stands catching a glimpse at some TV’s relaying the Channel 9 feed of the 1990/91 Boxing Day Ashes Test (Terry Alderman’s Mullet needed more respect, especially post Dizzy Gillespie) suddenly the covers were actually being lifted. It hadn’t rained for ages, so the hold up probably wasn’t justified (they’d go on about some garbage about the outfield being wet but it wouldn’t have been any worse than playing a Day Nighter in a city exposed to dew). At least there was some good news as I returned to my vantage point, plus a chance to have another crack at the umpires.
The last session came and early on gave a chance for Illingworth to at least redeem himself. I may have been the only person in the section to cotton onto this, but I’m sure others would have thought the same as I again asked a question without hope of an answer.
After Asad fell to a regulation slips catch keeper Sarfraz probably saw Dean Jones in a radio commentary box and tried to emulate him, without much success.
Sarfraz for all of his intentions failed to impress, edging a one low to first slip, then watched as Mohammad Amir showed him how it was done, even if he managed to pick out probably the least athletic man in the Australian side in Usman Khawaja to hit over, then past (and also the 3rd man which is a rare sighting with a ball not coloured white).
Sadly the weather finally won the battle and with Azhar past 100 and looking determined to get to 150, he may have to settle for red ink or even change his tactics to press ahead should Pakistan look to bat on. As for the home side, Starc’s form is as worrying as anyone’s given he never looked threatening all day, in fact he had more chance of getting Matthew Wade to bellow “BE NICE STARCY” than getting a wicket today. The other pacemen kept it tight and created frustration, reaping the rewards when they rarely came. Many media outlets have already tabbed this match as a draw, but I’m a little more optimistic for Day 3. Yes there’s a storm forecast but that may be for only an hour at best and the afternoon appears to be clear. Perhaps that’s a good time for me to start my run training for the year!