Just like Lemony Snickett’s series of unfortunate events, the Poms have had a number of what we in clicheville could call unlikely occurrences. Looking back to the start of the tour, or even the First Test, what price would you have got on any number of these things happening, let alone them all.
Let’s look back to November and see how these individually or collectively would have sounded:
- Australia plays a full series with the same players.
- Australia plays a full series with Ryan Harris
- England finish the series without Swann, Trott or Prior in the team.
- Their middle order reads Balance, Stokes, Bairstow and Borthwick (which sounds much more like a leading English law firm)
- Australia are 4-0 up
All of those tips would have been seen as widely speculative. Gamblers taking the multi on these would have got very attractive odds, and should they have come in, there would have been calls to have the entire team swabbed.
At the start of the tour, Joe Root was the designated opener, with Carberry given game time in lead-up games to see what he could contribute as reserve. The series will finish with Root having played at 6, 3 and now as the sub. England turn their back on Tremlett and Bresnan, and even Finn, to play Irishman Boyd Rankin, who sets an unwanted record by going off injured twice. Wow, who would have seen that coming, seeing he hasn’t played a match since mid November and needed a fitness test about an hour before the game?
As to the day’s play, there were a number of occurrences that ranged from ‘saw that coming a mile off” to unlikely, including:
- The top order all getting starts but falling cheaply to see Australia 4 or 5 down for not much
- Haddin and Smith save us again.
- Australia score quickly to again make over 300
- Bailey out of form again and barring a second dig ton, will not travel to face Steyn, Philander and Morkel.
- At least one tail ender putting his senior partners to shame
- A pommy batsman falling to a set play blind freddy could see being hatched.
- Lyon not out again
- Watto doesn’t refer a plumb LBW
- Poms take 4 tests to get a LBW decision
England will finish this tour with Ben Stokes having made a ton and taken 6 wickets in this innings and he wasn’t in their best 11 at the outset. The DRS controversy has played no part in the series. Australia has kept faith with an off spinner.
If this was a Hollywood script, it would be rejected as totally implausible.