First Test – Day 4: Rain helps the English cause

by John Harms

The finest meteorologists in Wales promised us precipitation, and while their timing was a little out, and it was a little tardy, down came the rain. Enough of it to prevent any play after Tea on the fourth day.

Which was a blessing for the home side: the Englishmen were in all sorts of trouble at 2/20 and rather concerned that the umpires had decided that their dismissal-of-preference would be LBW. Alastair Cook played across the line of a straight one from Mitchell Johnson and trudged off with a handful, and Ravi Bopara failed to recognize Ben Hilfenhaus’s standard out-swinger and was caught in front much to his surprise. And the surprise of most of Glamorgan. He was struck somewhere near the groin.

The day’s play had started with the Australians chasing quick runs. I was settled: in front of the fire with the life and soul of Rockford’s winery, Robert O’Callaghan, on the Krondorf Road outside of Tanunda. The huge mallee root on was turning into the combination of flame and coal that makes them such providers, and we were tucking into a post-dinner Rod and Spur, as we sat by the 150 year old fire place.

I love the Barossa. During the afternoon Robert and I went up to the Tanunda Oval – Magpie Park – where I had played cricket many years before, during the 1984-85 season, when I spent the summer working with my brother David in the siloes at Eudunda. We were offered jobs on the proviso we played cricket for the local side, which was a lot of fun, and good cricket. Eudunda hadn’t beaten the Huns for a while and were very keen to make amends. During the season we played a tie at Eudunda when Dino Handke threw the stumps down from cover to save the day. In the semi-final at Tanunda we needed to post a big score against the strong Tanunda bowling line-up, but I could only manage 5 before nicking Barry Scheer to the keeper. David didn’t make many more. We got rolled.

Magpie Park was freezing. Grey-blue clouds ripped across the sky. And the oval was sodden and muddy from the heavy rain the night before. Carl Lindner, of the famous Lindner clan, reckoned he hadn’t seen a wet ground like it for years. Tanunda, the powerhouse of the Barossa footy competition were playing terrific footy, just as they did last year when they went through their centenary season undefeated. We drank port from the barrel on the trestle table while the Magpies demolished Willaston.

So it was good to be in front of the fire as we flicked between the Crows smashing Freo (disgraceful) and Sophia Gardens.

Marcus North looked determined to make a hundred. And he didn’t get much resistance from the English attack. Strauss’s faith in the weather report seemed unshakable as he did little to chastise his carefree bowlers. They were awful. Probably bored, as the score raced through the 500s.

North accumulated. He reached his hundred without much consternation. Haddin began to hit out, clearing the pickets with a swing Adam Scott would have been proud of. He also made a hundred, the fourth of the innings. And Australia kept batting.

The skies were grey when Ponting called them back to the pavilion, on the dismissal of Haddin, but the rain was still some distance away. It held off long enough for the openers to realize that they were actually under a fair bit of pressure and probably in a perilous state if early wickets fell.

Johnson bowled tightly, and Hilfenhaus got the ball to swing, attacking the stumps and building the English concern. Two wickets in seven overs was outstanding measured alongside the English effort.

The weather of course is the key. But so is Hauritz and the part-time possibilities dished up by Clarke, North, and Katich. Which is probably the order in which Punter will try them, although I’d like to see Katich have first crack after Hauritz. I reckon Panesar and Swann bowled too slowly. It looks to me to be a Derek Underwood-Bruce Yardley sort of wicket where you can push them through a bit and they’ll still turn, and the occasional one will spit. The quicker off-break that dismissed Panesar in the first innings is illustrative.

This has been a mediocre Test. The Australian batting has been solid. The English bowling has lacked enthusiasm.

In the years to come I’m more likely to be recalling the afternoon at Magpie Park than the first –ever Test from Wales.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au He has written many columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf’s Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV’s Offsiders.

He can be contacted j.t.h@footyalmanac.com.au

He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids – Theo9, Anna8, Evie6.

He might not be the worst putter in the world but he’s in the worst three.

His ambition is to lunch for Australia.

Comments

  1. Peter Flynn says:

    John,
    Enjoyed the report.
    The English bowling attack needs a serious revamp for Lords.
    Apparently Pieterson skols a can of red bull before going out to bat.
    It helps explain his ‘urgency’ to get off the mark.
    The opposition are aware of this and have plans to run him out.
    Cheers,
    Peter

  2. I enjoyed the cricket last night. It certainly pipped Sandown races in my sports highlights package for the day. Today’s journey to U14s at Point Cook and then the MCG leaves the Test favourably placed to again win today’s nom (though Liam Jurrah was great fun and Cassisi fantastic).
    Bowling attacks can’t be judged on that deck, but captaincy and morale perhaps can.
    The coverage had some good moments, with the match itself an aside. The trumpeter’s burst of “Neighbours” brought the house down and he seemed the main entertainment for the locals.
    Partisan Aussies, of course, toasted Haddin’s dismissive knock. It was worth sitting through to his ton to hear Aggers’ pronouncement of the gritty keeper’s acknowledgement by his batting partner, Marcus North:
    “A very friendly hug, in a rather manly manner”!

  3. johnharms says:

    Crio

    Can’t quite agree. I think the wicket appears benign, but that’s when Test cricketers demonstrate that they’re Test cricketers. I think even of the big man from Footscray, Sumo Hughes, when nothing was happening, and he’d just bend his back and get that blood from the stone. (1993 especially I reckon)

    I think both attacks conceded too much at various stages.

    If the ball isn’t moving in the air, Hauritz is of course the one, and I’d be having him bowl quicker, to try and get some quicker turn and spit. Haddin was laughing because he was allowed to: he played back and had all the time in the world.

    JTH

  4. Danielle says:

    I have no idea what anyone is on about.
    Cricket is so…..draining.
    ive never watched a full game or what ever its called, i dont think i could survive.
    whats so good about watching dudes hit a ball with a bat, wheres the tackling, the speckies, the hands in the back rule!and explain how you can tell if the cricket dudes are good looking in that head gear and those outfits!!
    oh well, each to their own i suppose.

  5. Josh Barnstable says:

    Cricket is a good alternative to footy. But even during the Ashes, you can find some of the sport we all love. I love cheering on Marcus NORTH and jeering Paul COLLINGWOOD.

  6. Danielle says:

    lol no thanks!!
    ill stick to my footy and ofcourse my netball! ahh the good old days when i was played as WA, WD and even C.
    GO THE THUNDERBIRDS!!

  7. johnharms says:

    Danielle

    If yuo want to see what Test cricket is all about you might turn SBS on right now (9pm EST)

    JTH

  8. And listen to Geoffrey Boycott on ABC Radio. Fantastic.

  9. johnharms says:

    Can I re-consider? Actually the Test was saved by a classic last day, and will now be remembered.

  10. Peter Flynn says:

    The Aussies were cruelled by the rain.
    BW Hilfenhaus and SM Katich would have been my choice to bowl the last few overs.
    Hauritz was OK but offered a certain sameness late in the day.
    This test will certainly be remembered by the Poms.
    I think Pietersen overdosed on red bull before the warm up.

  11. Steve Healy says:

    I should have stayed up till the end- only stayed up still 1:15.

    Can’t believe the Aussies didn’t win!

    I guess getting Collingwood out earlier would have won it.

    I think Hauritz exceeded expectations. 6 wickets in one test.

  12. johnharms says:

    I reckon Cricket Australia should get Nathan Hauritz to spend a day with S.K. Warne. Toasted cheese sandwiches for morning tea into a game of golf, into beers, into dinner, into more beers, into pizza and more beers, into crash.

    Nathan Hauritz needs to learn what legitmate sporting aggression and energy is. And S.K. Warne is in the top few of all time in this regard.

    He bowled beautifully in the early overs, and then dropped away. It was as if he started to think he wasn’t going to get them out.

    Great chance for him at Lord’s. I think they’ll pick him.

    JTH

  13. Peter Flynn says:

    Quote from Mike Atherton in The Times on July 7.

    Hauritz has little of Shane Warne’s ability, which he can do nothing about, but none of his presence at the crease, either, which he can. A word here, a pause there, a knowing look, all gave the impression that the batsman was dancing to Warne’s tune, but there is none of that with Hauritz.

  14. Steve Fahey says:

    A few notable firsts in this Test, the obvious ones being first Test in Wales, first Ashes cricket under lights in UK, first time four Australians scored centuries in the one innings in an Ashes test. (It may also be the first time that two Australians batting together have scored centuries in their first Ashes Test, although this is such an obscure stat only Charles Davis or Gigs could be relied upon to make the call ) !

    Despite these occurrences, the one which caught my eye was the first time in my cricket-watching memory that a batsman in a Test has held his bat to all sections of the crowd after scoring less than fifty (with the possible exception of someone who has actually won the game with their innings). Swann managed to perform this feat on the second morning and followed up in partnership with his spin twin Panesar with the equally unlikely feat of making Hauritz look like the best spinner in the match.

    Swann utterly deserved the plentiful chin music served up by Siddle and ought expect much more of the same, especially on pitches with more life.

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