Second Test – Day 2: Golf anyone?

England v Australia, Second Test, Lords, Day 2, 19 July 2013

 

shambles, n. A place of carnage, a scene of wholesale slaughter; a scene of disorder or devastation; a muddle; a mess

 

The second day of the second Test at Lords four years ago was a disaster for Australia after a promising start. In similar opening day conditions in 2009, England had won a vital toss and piled up 6/364. Australia fought back early the next morning, cleaning up the last four wickets for 61. All things considered, 425 didn’t seem too high a mountain given the excellent batting conditions.

 

But under leaden – and sometimes liquid – skies, the Aussies subsided to 8/156, with Lancashire swinger Jimmy Anderson picking up four top order wickets.

 

Phil Hughes was first out for 4 that day. Michael Clarke, batting at five, made 1, and Haddin, at seven, got 28. Despite a day 4 comeback led by the current skipper and his deputy, the Test was effectively surrendered on the second day.

 

Australia went one down in the series, after failing to close the deal in the first Test in Cardiff, and never really recovered. In the current series, they are already one down, a valiant run chase in Nottingham notwithstanding. Day 2 of the Lords Test therefore loomed large once again in the Ashes scheme of things, with honours even after the first day.

 

England resumed at 7/289 on a flat, dry pitch surrounded by a lightning outfield, but this time under a bright blue sky. This is the tale of what went wrong. None of the guilty will be spared.

 

Like most horror stories, the slaughtered are lulled into a false sense of early comfort. Ryan Harris seamed his first ball away from Tim Bresnan, who nicked it through to Haddin.

 

Four overs later, Harris induced an edge from Anderson that Haddin inexplicably left for Shane Watson, who barely got a hand on it as it raced to the boundary. Plans for a wicketkeeper lynching were, however, temporarily suspended when Anderson reproduced the shot next ball, but with a thinner edge. England were 9/313 and Harris lifted the Duke ball to an appreciative crowd.

 

Graeme Swann was lucky to survive a snorter from Harris next ball, but then embarked upon a lusty partnership with Stuart Broad which, if anything, only served to demonstrate just how fast and true the pitch was. They peeled off 48 in a little under seven overs, mainly in boundaries, including one “look-away” hook from Swann that narrowly eluded James Pattinson at fine leg.

 

Broad finally nicked Pattinson through to Haddin for the keeper’s fifth catch of the innings. It was, however, only a fine edge, and given that Broad had not walked in the First test when Agar took a Jack O’Toole-sized chunk out of his bat, it was perhaps no surprise when he made the T-sign.

 

Only serial vigilante Dexter gets away with multiple infractions, though, and Broad was sent on his way.

 

The upshot was 361 from 100 overs, a laudable performance from the Aussie bowlers, and about par for the conditions.

 

Watson and Chris Rogers had an hour to bat before lunch, enough time for the Poms to field two substitutes. The first was Gloucestershire captain Chris Taylor, at 36yo possibly the oldest sub “ever”, in David “Bumble” Lloyd’s view. Taylor was on for Swann who had copped a whack on the forearm facing Harris.

 

The second sub was Billy Root, Joe’s brother, on briefly for Broad. Alistair Cook no doubt told his team there could be no more departures, because, as the actress might have remarked to the bishop, another Root was surely out of the question.

 

Watson settled in quicker than Rogers, and was soon sending some booming drives to the boundary. Rogers – looking more like an accountant every day – nipped and tucked. The bowling was steady and occasionally threatening, but both openers were growing in confidence. Norman Bates moved away from the hotel window.

 

Credit must go to the Sky commentators who at various stages of the morning session allowed one or even two balls to pass in glorious silence, letting the crowd’s conversational hum do the talking. The spell was momentarily broken when the camera fell on the blonde mop of Mayor of London Boris Johnson. “Tories everywhere,” said Nasser Hussein, perhaps revealing his political tendencies.

 

British PM David Cameron was also spotted with the hoi polloi in the middle of the Edrich stand. He had notably eschewed the “Royal” seats in the MCC, which had been occupied by so-called “cricket tragic” John Howard and his wife on day one. Do we read anything in the Queen taking her leave before drinks in the first session?

 

The Aussie openers had all but navigated the hour to lunch, and this story might have turned out differently if Swann hadn’t whipped through his first over, leaving time for one more from Tim Bresnan.

 

The burly Yorkshireman thudded his fourth ball into Watson’s front pad. It looked plumb from my Thornbury loungeroom and quite probably plumb from the moon. Umpire Dharmasena agreed, which is where the matter should have rested.

 

Watson thought differently – as he often does – and after what looked from a distance to be a token conversation with Rogers, referred the decision upstairs. Dharmasena’s ruling was confirmed in world-record time, and the players adjourned for lunch.

 

It’s hard to know what goes through Watson’s mind at times like this. Does he consider his own wicket so much more important than those of his teammates that he can blithely burn a precious referral before any have fallen? His crime contrasts starkly with Cook’s call not to challenge his own LBW on the first morning.

 

With lunch taken at 1/42, there still should have been no cause for alarm, although a shot of a padded-up Khawaja looking petrified in the dressing room during the morning session did not inspire confidence.

 

The knock-on effect of Watson’s crime became apparent straight after lunch when Rogers declined to review a horrible decision by Erasmus that he was out LBW to a rank Swann full toss. Replays showed the ball missing the leg stump by a good margin, but Rogers had departed, no doubt concerned about using up the last get-out-of-jail card.

 

The DSR was back in action a few overs later when Hughes waved loosely at an innocuous Bresnan ball and Dharmasena detected a fine edge. The immediacy of Hughes’s request for a review suggested some hope of a reprieve, but hot spot was inconclusive and third umpire Hill deferred to Dharmasena. At 3/53 and no reviews left in the bank, Australia’s now notoriously soft underbelly was exposed.

 

You might have thought that with his captain coming out to join him, Khawaja’s best bet would have been to play to his strengths and drop anchor in a match-turning partnership. Clarke looked confident from ball one, and there were no demons in the pitch, or quite frankly, the English bowling.

 

Having negotiated 34 balls with relative ease, however, Khawaja decided to try and hit his 35th into the crowd. He made it about half way, skying a standard Swann ball to Pietersen at mid off. With Warner due to return from exile, his walk to the pavilion may continue all the way back to the Sheffield Shield.

 

4/69 became 5/86 when Ian Bell snapped up a sharp chance from Steve Smith off Swann. Smith is probably the only member of the shambolic collapse who could claim he got a “good one”, with Swann garnering bounce and turn from the footmarks.

 

The camera landed on a bemused Darren Lehmann on the balcony. He would have been forgiven – nay, acclaimed – for strapping on the pads and coming in next.

 

At the other end, Clarke looked in relative control. Talking up the captain’s credentials, Hussein said you could “say what you like about the rest of Australia’s top order”. Thanks Nasser; I refer you to the paragraphs above.

 

But maybe the weight had become too much to bear. Broad pitched straight and full, Clarke missed, and Dharmasena did the rest.

 

To complete two hours of self-inflicted carnage, Agar was run out at the non-striker’s end after completing three quarters of what should have been an easy single. Haddin had stayed put, again for reasons best known to himself.

 

Australia had lost 6 wickets for 54 runs in 28 overs between lunch and tea. They had also lost the Ashes.

 

Noel Coward take note: it’s not only mad dogs and Englishmen who go out in the midday sun.

 

I decided to see out the last session in bed with the radio and a chortling Tuffers. There would be no Nottingham-style resistance. Swann mopped up the tail to complete one of the least impressive “five-fors” in recent times.

 

The only likely outcome of Siddle’s impressive evening spell – in which he picked up Cook, Trott and a lazy Pietersen – is to shorten the Test by a day. England are effectively 3/264, and could probably declare now without too many concerns.

 

They won’t, of course. I’m tipping they will play Paul Keating to our fishnet-stockinged Alexander Downer, and “do us slowly”.

 

I’ll be watching the golf.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Peter Flynn says:

    Very accurate account MOC with some funny lines.

    I will also be watching the golf.

    I hope it rains in Durham.

  2. Peter_B says:

    Very accurate, MOC. I also saw the footage of some team flunky giving Usmaaaaan a back rub as he was padded up waiting to bat.
    What the????? This was not going out to face Hall and Griffith or Roberts and Holding on a cracked Sabina Park deck. Talk about soft and up themselves. UK lost me for good last night. It was the luckiest/worst 14 I have seen from a top order batsman. Dropped at 7 off a sitter. Shits himself as soon as Swann has the ball.
    Looks like Ken, bats like Barbie.

  3. Hey MOC,

    I will BE at the golf on Sunday.
    Beaut weather here in Edinburgh.

    Go Scotty!

  4. Peter Flynn says:

    Smoke,

    I’ve been to Muirfield (2002 Open).

    Terrific course and easy to walk. It goes in a sort-of-spiral.

    Catch Scotrail to Gullane.

    The 13th is a great par 3. Eels played an extraordinary bunker shot in 2002.

    The 17th is famous. I tried to find Gary Evans’s ball in 2002.

    You get a good view of the 18th.

    Enjoy.

    PF

  5. You lucky bugger, Smoke. Enjoy the day. Presume it will be Scott and Woods in the penultimate group. You might have a few companions.

    By the way, I think it was Hewson that Keating said he would “do slowly”, not Downer. The error was made in my haste to link fishnet stockings and the Australian top order.

    Another great night at Lords.

  6. Luke Reynolds says:

    Great summary MOC. It gets worse every day. Hopefully Adam Scott can give us something to cheer about tonight.

  7. MOC – most enjoyable.

    Gary Evans: one of the best pars ever made.

  8. Mark Irving says:

    I liked Norman Bates moved away from the hotel window. Talking about actresses and Bishops: Keating to Hewson (good to see Hulls again in the background).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEsN4-XLE2k

    Place an Englishman in the role of Keating and the Australian cricket team in the role of Hewson, then watch.

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