Second Test–Day 3: Punter’s tactics work on me as well

By Andrew Starkie
It seemed like a good idea at the time.

When Daff made the pre-series call for volunteers to write daily Ashes reports, I thought, yup, sounds easy.  I put my hand up for Saturday at Lord’s, marked the date on the calendar and looked forward to a relaxing evening in front of the TV.  Problem is I’m not a night owl.

The evening has arrived and as I lay in front of the box, waiting for play to start, I’m secretly longing for an early night.  I’m feeling the effects of a week of chasing kids around the classroom and the ducted-heating is inducing sleep.

And with Australia facing their first loss at cricket’s home since Fred Perry was winning Wimbledon, I’m expecting a long and painful night of Pommy dominance.

Anyway, a man’s gotta do…..

Overnight details:

England 425
Strauss 161
Hilfenhaus 4-103

Australia 8-156
Hussey 51
Anderson 4-26

First session:

Play started under light clouds with Australia needing 70 runs to avoid the follow-on.

Broad opened with a handful of bouncers.  Hauritz and Sidds ignored them or edged and sliced boundaries through the fortunately empty third man area.  Broad looks like a public school toff, or Julian from the Famous Five (“Come on Dick, let’s have a yummy picnic in the castle!”).

Onions, who would look at home playing the spoons in an Irish pub, replaced Anderson after forty minutes and was immediately driven through point for four by Hauritz.  Two balls later he slashed outside off and was caught smartly by Collingwood at third slip.  Hauritz was out for 24 and Australia was 9-169.

Australia still needed 30 to avoid the follow-on when Hilfenhaus walked to the crease.  The responsibility lay with Sidds, who continued to cut and hook Broad, whose bottom lip started to quiver.  Onions pitched up to Sidds, who edged to Strauss at first slip.  Sidds’ 35 is his highest Test score.  Australia were all out for 215, a deficit of 210.

Perhaps to rest Freddy, who didn’t bowl this morning, or maybe because he liked the look of the flattening pitch, Strauss didn’t enforce the follow-on.  He and Cook strode back out under a warm sun.  Strauss immediately pulled Hilfy for four and England looked set for a big day at the crease.

Punter’s patience with Johnson lasted three overs.  He was cut and pulled everywhere and after Strauss swatted a full toss off his pads for another four, Sidds replaced him.

Things didn’t improve.  Strauss and Cook plundered 50 from their first ten overs.  England were 0-57 at Lunch and the overall lead, 267.

Tiredness crept in during the break.  I had to keep busy, so I put on a load of dirty washing, cleaned the kitchen and gulped down some strong coffee.

Second session:

I settled in for the start of the middle session expecting to witness an English run feast.  When Strauss flicked Sidds off his pads for four, dread filled me.  Here we go, I thought.

Suddenly, funny things started happening.  Hauritz came on – sore finger and all – and trapped Cook plum in front with his first ball.  In his next over, he tossed one up to Strauss, who edged to Clarke.  Both batsmen made 32.  Pietersen opened his scoring by waltzing down the pitch and lifting the off-spinner over mid-wicket.

Hilfenhaus replaced Hauritz to have a go at Pietersen who survived an LBW appeal and run-out chance – all in the same ball.  Hilfy twice whistled his outswinger past Pietersen’s bat.  An uncontrolled off-drive caught his inside edge and almost the off-stump.

Ponting, at second slip, dropped a simple chance off Bopara.  Punter looked at the ground like someone who had farted loudly in church.  Sidds crouched mid-pitch with his head in his hands.

Normalcy returned when Haddin gave away four more byes.

The hour after drinks saw Australia produce their best spell of bowling for the Test.  Hilfenhaus dominated Pietersen with his outswingers and even Johnson found a better line.  Our fielding was sharp and pressure was maintained on the English.

England managed only fifteen runs in a ten over period.

England were edging towards Tea when Bopara pulled Johnson to mid-on and Hauritz claimed a tumbling catch.  Rudi Koertzen referred to his colleague in the grandstand and Bopara was given the benefit of the doubt.

England went to tea at 2-130 with Bopara on 19 and Pietersen 28.  It had been Australia’s session, yet England’s overall lead was 340 and growing.

Third session:

Punter employed go-slow tactics after tea.  He found it necessary to speak to his bowlers – and anyone else for that matter – whenever possible in an attempt to hinder England’s momentum.

The plan worked. Bopara and turned Hauritz off his thigh pad and into Katich’s hands at short leg.  He never looked comfortable and made 27 from 93 balls.  Pietersen edged Sidds to Haddin on 44 from 101.  England had strolled to 4-174.

Punter’s tactics worked on me as well.  He obviously didn’t have sympathy for sleep-deprived cricket watchers at home.  The tough grind set in and I was doing it tough with about 30 overs left in the day’s play (and it was about 2am Reservoir time).  I had to step outside into the cold night air to wake up.

Prior emerged with instructions and he and Collingwood lifted the scoring rate.  Hauritz came in for punishment as drives and cheeky sweeps found the boundary.  The 50 partnership came up in 49 balls.  Prior took just 37 balls to score his half-century and looked destined for a brilliant century until, on 61, North ran him out with a direct hit from the outfield.  England were 5-260.

Freddy came out to huge applause and Punter discussed his dinner plans with Johnson.  I folded towels and prayed for rain.  Collingwood carried on and brought up his 50 from 72 balls and the lead was 500.  Party time.

Things became embarrassing when Freddy got going.  The field retreated and runs were easy.  Our quicks were plastered everywhere.  Dark clouds drew in and the umpires discussed the light.  Rain stopped play as Collingwood fell for 54.

No further play was possible and the day closed with England 6-311 and with an overall lead of 521.  As I fall into bed, delirious, I’m struck by the realisation that only rain can save Australia’s beloved Lord’s record.

Close of play details:

England 425 and 6-311
Prior 61
Flintoff 30*
Broad 0*
Hauritz 3-80

Australia 215
Hussey 51
Anderson 4-55

Comments

  1. Peter Flynn says:

    Well done Andrew.
    A great read. Being the couch correspondent is no easy gig.
    The Ashes can’t be retained with Johnson in his current form.
    With back-to-back tests coming up (3rd and 4th), I am coming around to the view that we need to play 5 bowlers.

  2. johnharms says:

    Andrew

    Very noble. I got to tea. (I’m on tonight)

    I don’t think the Australians are out of this – iff (one of my favourite Maths terms which Peter Flynn may verify means if, and only if) they get a start. At 1/20 it will be all over. At 065 they’re a chance.

    Do you remember the Test where the protester dug up the wicket? Walters and McCosker (??) were going to win that test for Australia.

    JTH

  3. Pamela Sherpa says:

    Well done, all in the line of duty Andrew. Just think how clean and tidy your house is now. I’m enjoying the reports from all. Glad there are an hour of highlights on the TV at 5p.m each day too. I don’t understand the intracies of the game but find it intriguing all the same.
    Prophetic words from a Geelong supporter John. Anything can happen.

  4. Peter Flynn says:

    Verified John.
    I reckon David Steele (grey-haired county pro) made a pair of 50’s.

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