The Ashes – Fourth Test, Day 2: Catching up

As is their want, the crowd was slow coming in on Day 2. Christmas Day and Boxing Day seem to take toll of even the hardiest souls. However, by the time 10.30am came around the people coming in had tripled.

 

A couple of English journalists asked me my thoughts for the day and I put forward that Steve Smith would be not out 334.  Surprisingly they did not disagree as if to say anything is possible the way SPD Smith is batting.

 

Another glorious day weather wise with the temperature due to reach 36 degrees.

 

SESSION 1

 

Smith and S. Marsh open confidently and then the impossible happens: Smith (76) drives at a wide ball from debutante Tom Curran and he plays on.  Australia 4/260.

 

A huge day for the Marsh family as Shaun and Mitch are at the wicket and no doubt all the family are here watching. Turns out a disappointing day in one respect as Mitch (9) plays a replica of Smith’s shot and plays on to Woakes.  Australia 5/278 and England has fought back well this morning with luck falling their way.

 

The English take the honours in the first hour of play with 2/35 but Shaun Marsh is looking very confident.

 

The crowd have not let Melbourne down and by drinks there are at least 60,000 in attendance.

 

Marsh’s fifty comes up of the same amount of balls that Warner took to make 100, 130 balls. He and the new bat Tim Paine are looking vigorous in their approach. One guesses that the Australians are very mindful of the weather forecast for Thursday and Friday.

 

Marsh on 61 gets a good one from Broad. Umpire says ‘not out” Root goes for DRS and wins 6/314.

 

Tim Paine, under enormous personal strain, makes an attractive 24 until Anderson has him playing on 7/318. Bird (4) follows soon after when Broad beats him all ends up and gets the wicket on review.  8/325 and lunch.

 

There is no doubt about the G being the place to meet old friends and acquaintances.  Caught up with David Wilson who is the grand nephew of the subject of my favourite trivia question. “Who is the only Australian Test cricketer to take 10 wickets or more and make 100 in a Test match?

 

It’s Betty Wilson, now a member of Australian cricket’s Hall of Fame.

 

Another friend I caught up with was KooWeeRup’s own John Glasscock.  We played cricket and football together in the days of black boots and white laces that had to be washed every Friday night.  To my knowledge Glasscock is the only player ever to score a nine on the “G”. Like his father Marcus, who played football with Melbourne, John was a very fine all rounder who certainly could have made it at cricket if farm commitments did not get in the way.  One of many stories like that. Think Henry Gunstone, the “Bradman of the Bush”. Gunstone made it in both sports but had to return to run the family farm outside Ararat.

 

Meg Lanning’s coach Steve Maddocks (ex-St Kilda/North Melbourne) was yet another member with whom I spent some time. Maddocks comes from the school of tough relentless, give nothing away. He bemoans the changes in cricket in recent years and would love to see less commercialism, players earning their Australian caps the hard way. Earn your cap through being recognised in top (grade/district) cricket, through the State second XI, firsts and then the “bigtime”.  It was not hard to guess that Maddocks is a product of the bush who had to leave home to try and make the big time in his chosen sport. An interesting colleague who has cricket points that should be heard at a higher level.

 

Yes, I do miss a bit of the action but I treasure those moments reminiscing with old teammates and cricket people.

 

SESSION 2

 

It has been a great morning for the underdogs – they’ve taken five wickets.  Broad and Anderson looked threatening throughout and were making the ball move just enough off the pitch.

 

Lunch brings no relief for the home team and Cummins (4) and Lyon (0) fall to Broad and Anderson respectively. Australia all out 327. The last 7 wickets falling for 57 runs.  Broad 4/51 and Anderson 3/61 bowled exceptionally well on a docile pitch that gave them some support this morning.

 

England start confidently and Cook in particular is determined to beat his run of outs. Stoneman (15) comes down to drive Lyon but only manages to hit him high and right but the bowler makes the catch look easy. 1/35.

 

Is Nathan Lyon one of the finest fieldsmen you have ever seen particularly off his own bowling? Remember his run out of Vince in Brisbane as well!

 

James Vince gets of the mark with a beautifully executed cover drive from Lyon. If only he had the patience of Job. The Australians always think they have a very good chance of taking his wicket quickly.

 

Cook plays the shot of the match so far with a straight drive from Bird that was just so effortless. He is looking confident in his approach today. It truly was a sweet stroke.  (Pause)…. “top shot that”………  (pause).

 

England have had a winning day so far and at tea they are 1/72 with Alistair Cook on 37 and James Vince on 17.

 

I am sorry Cricket Australia but having a group of nobodies walk around the ground at the tea interval is just not cricket. Who or what are they?  Who cares? I wonder if they know that they look like lemmings wearing those stupid hats that will never see the sun. Sounds like I do care!

 

SESSION 3

 

Vince (17) goes straight after play re-commences when Hazlewood has him LBW. England 2/72. The ball moved just enough to go through the gap. This has gone on all throughout the series for England.  Just when they look like gaining the upper hand they lose a wicket or two.

 

Cook gets his first fifty of the series with a lovely shot through mid-wicket. Much applause from a very knowledgeable crowd who know what he has been going through. None of us like to see a champion fall from grace. A splendid comeback from the former captain.

 

On 66 Cook edges one from Mitch Marsh. Smith is valiant, he gets to it, juggles but then loses it. Great try but you expect SPD to catch those. At last the Lions key batsmen Cook and Root, or should that be reversed, have found their form. Three rubbers too late but no too late to win back some respect.  At the break England 2/127 with Cook 67 and Root 21.

 

Cook now knows he in control and is determined to push the score along against the flagging Australians. It is extremely hot out in the middle at this time of day and there is very little respite from the cauldron that is the “G”.

 

An excellent session from Cook and Root that has clearly given England the points for the day.

 

Alistair Cook reaches his century due to the generosity of a Steve Smith over that yielded 11 runs at the end of the day. A wonderful knock with 15 fours.

 

At stumps England 2/192 with Cook on 104 and fine support from Joe Root on 49.

 

So Day 2 is over. Anticipation was that Australia would bat most of the day but that did not happen and England at last are in with a fighting chance.

 

About Bob Utber

At 75 years of age, 'Citrus Bob' Utber is doing what he wanted to do as a 14-year old: writing, talking and watching sport. How good is that!?! He lives in Mildura with his wife and 'furry kids'; a labradoodle "Freddy Flintoff" and a groodle named "Chloe on Flinders".

Comments

  1. Peter Flynn says:

    Cook’s pitch.

    No surprise.

    PF Vaas

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Smith looked good early, then “what the?”

    Starc’s absence both lengthened the tail and weakened our attack, but full marks to England for finding some form.

    Caught up briefly with Luke ‘Captain of Industry’ Reynolds at the tea break. How the other half lives.

    Thanks Citrus.

  3. Thanks Citrus Bob.
    Absorbing day. It was a day for concentration and application.

    Wonderful to meet up at the MCG once again.

    I do like that trivia question. As you know, Great Aunty Betty took a hat-trick in that same Test. Go well.

  4. Lovely Citrus. Look forward to discussing this test over a pot tomorrow!

  5. David Wilson forgot to mention that his great aunt also refused a proposal of marriage as she thought it unseemingly to be playing cricket as a married woman. On refection Wilson was way before her time and in today’s cricket she would be a mega star.
    Today’s trivia question – What have Richie Benaud’s wives in common?
    The first correct answer will have the opportunity to sit with me at a sporting event in 2018. No smart answer Marvin Vaas.

  6. Day 3 is warning to be a day of attrition. This will test some fans PB?

  7. Just home from the golf course Citrus. Better to be a participant rather than a spectator (while I still can). Pleased to hear that Cook et al have been giving the FTB’s a bit of a lesson. ABC radio commentary is excellent. If only they would pension off Jim Maxwell (you reckon I’m old and grumpy). More interesting than just watching (no sound on #9 is a given).
    Be interesting to see if the Australian batsmen have the temperament to play long innings in a second dig. Bancroft, Khawaja and the Marshes don’t convince. How come the “world’s greatest cricket ground” has Australia’s slowest, lowest and flattest pitch?

  8. Citrus Bob says:

    PB could not agree more about being a participant rather than a spectator..
    Saw a show on TV this morning telling parents how to make their child active and they were serious. Please!
    Three of those four Bancroft Ussie and Mitch need runs. Found out today that Mitch actually bowls. Big test for them on Friday. Will Bird be given the Bird for Sydney? For who?

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Benaud’s wives were both shorthand typists?

  10. Citrus Bob says:

    Probably correct but not the answer I want!
    Need to dig a little deeper.

  11. It is correct but I’ve got nothing else sensible to offer, so can I dig a little shallower instead? They were, um…, er…, both married to Richie? Sorry, sorry, that’s so lame. But bring on the Betty Wilson Trivia: who held an all time batting record for 45 years? Who took 7/7 in an innings (including a hat trick)? Who had record match figures of 11/16? Who had a bowling average less than 12 AND a batting average more than 57? The answers of course are: Betty, Betty, Betty and Betty.

    Cheers Citrus Bob, great broadcast. Now please tell us the answer…

  12. Citrus Bob says:

    nickw – yes they were both married to Richie but sorry not correct. You have to go outside the circle to find the answer. Suggest ABC gardening ghuru Peter Cundall.
    Thanks for all that stuff on OUR Betty. Unbelievable player in her day and refused a proposal of marriage to concentrate on her game. Now that is dedication.
    Answer will be revealed at the close of play today unless we here beforehand.
    Overcast here at the ground (9.23am). Could suit Anderson and Broad.

  13. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Lavender and Daphne ???

  14. SWISH YOU ARE A GENIUS!!!

    The first person ever to correctly answer my most obscure of Trivia Cricket Questions.

    Will arrange that game next year!

    BRILLIANT!

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