First Test – Day 3: Australians bat on, and on

by Peter Flynn

Australia survived a jittery period with the second new ball to post a 44 run lead at stumps on a day interrupted by rain. With the prospect of more rain tomorrow, the odds on either a draw or an Australian win have shortened appreciably.

My evening started with a ‘70’s meal of roast chook and vegies followed by chocolate pudding and cream. Ten minutes prior to the start of play, trackydaks were donned and prime couch position assumed. A strong Antipodean contingent had again gathered at Caerdydd’s (meaning ‘fort (of the river) Taf’ and anglicised to Cardiff) Sophia Gardens. A contingent presumably far more confident about Australia’s position compared to just after midday yesterday following a shambolic period in the field. Among them were a slab of Boonies all adorned in full Boony regalia. A prayer was directed towards Sky Sports. Please do not show M Vaughan or JW Howard again during the series.

Australia commenced day three on 1/249 with the dual centurions, Ponting and Katich, in occupation. Broad had first crack at them. He looks as though he has taken leave from the set of Home & Away. If things don’t work out for him on the cricket field, many a pantomime season beckons. The son of former England opener Chris Broad started with a maiden. This included a delivery that burst through the surface of the pitch. Skipper Strauss started with Monty from the other end who matched Broad in the maiden stakes.

The seven overs prior to the second new ball were characterised by inconsistent line and length from the English spinners and decisive footwork from Ponting and Katich. Panesar was too short. Swann was too full. The Aussie batsman cut and drove with steely intent and aplomb. After nine ordinary overs, Anderson and Flintoff took the new agate. Each bowled an indifferent first over with it. Ponting played a signature pull shot and a majestic cover drive off Anderson. Flintoff opened his spell with a ‘Harmy”. Despite this, trouble for Australia was imminent.

At 1/299, Doctrove unbelievably fired Katich out lbw to Anderson for a fine 122. It was plumb. It swung in late and hit his pad on the full. Under Katich’s thick chest rug, there lies a strong ticker and the stomach for a stoush. Katich is no stylist. He plays with his hands, particularly a strong bottom hand when driving straight. He played a great hand for his country.

In the first over after drinks, Flintoff sconed Hussey with one that didn’t bounce. In the commentary box, ex-English captains renowned for their defensive tactics have the temerity to criticise Strauss for being too defensive. Turn it up! The electrifying Flintoff tried to bounce Ponting out. Ponting top-edged him over Monty’s head at fine leg for a Tom Mix. At 2/325, Anderson seduced Hussey into a poor drive. Caught behind for not many. Ordinary footwork from Mr Cricket. Hussey is becoming a noted nicker and seems not quite sure where his off-stump is.

Ponting brought up his 150 with a typical forward nudge through the covers off Panesar. Monty had a chance to run Clarke out before he was set but made a five course degustation at Stefano’s of it. Soon after, Ponting went back to cut Panesar and played on for 150. Punter’s 38th test century included all the signature shots. Back foot drives. Cover drives launched from front foot strides of abnormal length. The swivel pull shot. He is indeed a great batsman. North and Clarke survived through to lunch. At 4/348, they trailed by 87 runs.

The second session was dominated by the sparkling Clarke and the dependable North. They accumulated 110 runs from 31 overs with a minimum of fuss. To the spinners, Clarke exhibited the footwork of a Baryshnikov. Light on his feet and decisive when playing either forward or back, Clarke played many fine drives along the carpet and back over the bowler’s head. At 4/371, the English 12th man Tom Maynard came on hoping to emulate Gary Pratt from four years earlier. He didn’t. Mysteriously, Flintoff didn’t bowl in the first hour after lunch. Is his fitness a concern?

North was solid. He kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely with good shot placement all round the wicket. He was troubled only when sweeping (more like shovelling) awkwardly to Panesar in successive overs. Once again Swann and Panesar “complemented each other beautifully”. Swann continued to bowl full bungers. Monty disappointed again. His main problem was an inability to deceive the batsman in flight. Clarke brought up his fifty with a signature cover drive from another Swann full-bunger.

At 4/426, a desperate Strauss threw the ball to Collingwood. When standing up to the stumps to Collingwood’s cutters, custodian Prior demonstrated he is no Blackham. Consecutive sets of four byes added to England’s woes. Clarke smashed a now lacklustre Flintoff for a boundary to take a first innings lead. The Aussies went to tea at 4/458. Not long after, the overdue South Wales rain arrived with Australia leading by 28 runs. After a couple of hours break (read sleep), play resumed at 6.15pm. Clarke succumbed just before stumps for an excellent 83. He was out caught behind attempting to hook Broad.

Weather permitting Australia should aim to post around a 200 run lead on day four. North, Haddin and Johnson hold the key.

Cardiff is a vibrant city with no shortage of watering holes. After play, I envisage the slab of Boonies wandering in to The City Arms or The Goat Major for a few pints of Brains before going on to experience the schoolie-type vibe of St Marys Street on a Friday night. Half their luck.

Comments

  1. Andrew Starkie says:

    Flynny, great stuff, an enjoyable read. Let’s hope the weather holds tonight and we can post a big lead. We can win this Test. C’mon Aussie!!

  2. Peter Flynn says:

    G’day Andrew,
    Thanks mate.
    With decent weather and a similar attitude to Adelaide 2006/07, we could pull it off.
    What does it need for this to happen?
    A big lead. The Poms batting for time. Johnson and Siddle firing up. The Katich bosie.
    I’ve been to Cardiff many times for work and the longest dry spell I can remember is 3 days tops. That’s a worry.
    Cheers,
    Flynny

Leave a Comment

*