The Ashes – Second Test, Day 3: On attitude, application and a swinging ball

by Citrus Bob Utber, Adelaide Oval.

DAY 3 IN ADELAIDE

The two sides are out “training” and it is easy to see which team is on top.  The Australians are running around like chooks with their heads off and England are just standing around as if they had nothing to do.  Body language tells a great deal and in this case, it looks as if England have already thrown in the towel.

Since half way through the third session in Brisbane the visitors have been performing like a punch-drunk fighter and today is no different even though a ball has yet to be delivered.swing

It will be up to Cook the former captain to show endeavour along with skipper Joe Root but they will need great support from their long list of B Grade players. Incumbent James Vince will have to make a stand with Cook.

He doesn’t!   A lackadaisical shot against Hazlewood sees Paine take an easy catch and he goes for 2.  England 2/31. A bad start to what should have been a day of consolidation.

Skipper Joe Root comes to the wicket to assist Cook and it is these two experienced players who will carry the fate of England on their respective shoulders.  Root will always give you a chance and after making 9 he plays a loose shot against Cummins for Bancroft to take a sharp chance.  3/50.

Cook, looking better the longer his innings goes has Malan to assist and they put on 30 before Cook (37) tickles one to Smith from Lyon.  England 4/80 and in serious trouble.

The bowling has not been that outstanding to create such a scorecard more that the batsman have played ordinary shots to get out.

Malan (19) does get a good ball from Cummins and gets an inside edge for Paine to take a fine diving catch to his right.  England 5/102.  Tim Paine is having a fine match both behind and in front of the wickets.

New batsman Johnny Bairstow is in need of runs and he starts belligerently with an aggressive off drive from Cummins.  Cummins is throwing himself into his work and beating the bat regularly. Lyon continues to be Lyon at the other end giving the batsmen nothing to hit.  It must be extremely frustrating for the batsmen as they can’t score of the fast men and then get held up by the off-spinner at the other end.  This Australian attack is near-perfect. For me?  I would have a Fawad, Zampa or Holland to add variety to the attack. A batsman would have to go and the only one looking fallible at the moment is Handscomb.

At the first break England are 5/128 with Malan 22 and Bairstow 17.  Honours to Australia.

As was the want yesterday a wicket falls just after the break when Malan (25) mistimes a drive from Lyon and that fine fieldsman dives to left to take the catch.  England 6/132.

The Lion sinks further into the mire when Starc with fantastic reflexes catches Bairstow (21) on his follow-through, England 7/142. The professionalism of the Australian team is really coming to the fore with their great reflex catching and fielding.

The Trio Terribilis are throwing everything at the English tail and Woakes and Overton are not happy out there.  Somehow they are surviving and hitting the occasional four. Hope batsmen two to seven have been watching.

Well done to Overton and Woakes they have withstood the fire and brimstone and are playing some good strokes.  On the other hand, the bowlers are tiring and starting to bowl too short to the two talls.

They have now put on 53 runs and if this continues they should be able to avoid the follow-on despite prodding and missing occasionally.

Woakes (36) becomes a bit ambitious and tries to pull Starc but skies it back to the bowler.  The end of a fine partnership of 66 runs.

Shortly after tea the final two wickets fell while I was absent without leave and the visitors were all out for 227. Craig Overton with 41 not out showed the way to his more experienced team mates. Lyon (4/60) and Starc (3/43) were the main wicket takers.  Bancroft and Warner run off the ground and they are not heading for the toilet.  I still think that the locals have the heebie-jeebies about batting last anyway given our record in recent years.

Discussions during the tea break centred on whether Australia would bat again given the conditions and the consensus of opinion was that they would.  Smith is a very cautious leader and I don’t think he ever intended to enforce the follow-on.

With a lead of 215 only one side can win now and that is Australia.  With 90 minutes of play left tonight the home side should be well over 300 ahead and a declaration at lunch tomorrow or just before is well on the cards.

If Test Match cricket has its faults this is where it lies. “Who dares wins” is a quote that is not in the vocabulary of Test match captains and it is safety first at all times. One can understand how Ange Postecoglou felt when he made the decision to quit the Socceroos coaching role.  The pressure on an Australian cricket captain to succeed at all times is enormous.

Australia are in trouble early when Bancroft (4) tickles a moving ball from Anderson to Bairstow. This is probably the best A & B have bowled in the series particularly Broad who is continually beating the bat of both Warner and Khawaja.  It is splendid bowling in an endeavour to get back in to a game that does appear to be lost.

The two opening bowlers continue to fluster the batsmen and there is no doubt the night air is making the ball swing all over the place. Mind you two of the best swingers in the world are in action at the moment.

The tension eases when Woakes and Overton come into the attack. They are short in length and give the batsmen time to get into position to play shots.

Root is taking no chances and brings Anderson back in to the attack after a one over rest.  Hopefully Woakes and Overton will learn something from the master.

‘Ashes Pashes” takes over for 2 minutes to give us all a laugh.  I have never worked out why things make us laugh particularly with something as mundane as a kiss. Romantics don’t bother to reply.

There does not seem to be any urgency in the Australian batsmen’s approach but Anderson gets one past Khawaja (20) and he goes lbw after DRS appeal by Root.  Australia 2/39 and the lead is now 254. Overall the pitch has been very benign and has neither been a hit nor a hindrance to bowlers. Weather conditions played their part tonight in helping Anderson and Broad with their swing.

Warner (14) goes to a slightly moving one from Woakes and Australia are 3/41. The pleasant evening is certainly playing its part.

Anderson, still going, is bowling beautifully and an lbw decision against Smith is given out by the umpire but over ruled by the DRS.  Smith on zero was very lucky. England are bowling well and keeping the pressure on and not allowing the Australians to dictate terms.

Anderson comes off after 11 overs 2 wickets for 18 runs.  Back to his best as Broad takes over from him.

Smith (6) goes lbw!  This time his DRS is turned down and Woakes has his man – just.  Australia 4/50. Those people who have come in for the last session have had their money’s worth.  Six wickets have fallen for a little over 60 runs as England fight back.

Australia won for most of the day but England took the points in the final stanza.

A great last session for the fans and Australia go to stumps at 4/53 a lead of 268 with 2 days’ play remaining.

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. Thanks very much Citrus Bob.
    Outstanding currency in your report.
    Filed and published an hour after stumps(!)

    I could have watched JM Anderson hoop them around all night.
    Brings a tear to an old swing bowler’s eye.

  2. Not sure what to make of this Series. Have listened to a lot on the radio while in the garden or out and about (Aggers, Alison and Gerard conjur better word pictures than the reality). Haven’t been moved to watch much of this Test other than 10 minutes here and there.
    Reminds me of 8th V 9th in Round 23 for the last slot in the finals. More intensity and faux aggro than skill. Or Year 2’s fighting over who gets more cake at little lunch. Much huff and puff.
    Windies done by an innings in NZ. Sri Lanka choking (literally) in Delhi.
    Test Cricket is at its best when 2 teams are evenly matched, and the narrative shifts from day to day and match to match. Not much chance of that with England’s lack of depth.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    I admit I agree to some extent with PB re the standard.Some pretty poor umpiring has not helped it’s not might be out lbw.Thanks Citrus Bob a pretty important 1st session while it’s unlikely could still be game on think the aussies would be wishing we had enforced the follow on now

  4. John Butler says:

    Onya Citrus.

    It was totally in keeping with Smith’s past decisions that he didn’t enforce the follow-on. Strategically, he’s a very conservative captain.

    But he may feel he missed a trick here. The ball hasn’t hooped like that since the first night test.

    Still probably too late for England. Their top order batting was very disappointing.

  5. Peter Flynn says:

    The most ridiculous decision by an Australian captain since Ponting’s decision to bowl North in Cardiff or Ponting’s decision to bowl in Birmingham.

    If Channel 9 or more likely sports scientists (those buffoons in Doyle parlance who wreck young bowler’s careers and suffer from relevance deprivation) got into Smith’s ear about red zones, it is a complete disgrace.

    A no-brainer to send England back in. You wouldn’t think twice.

    Do what the opposition least likes. England can’t win but they a got a bit of confidence.

    Besides England have 4 left-handlers. Think Lyon knocked them off.

  6. PF – total agreement.

    Mark Doyle

  7. PF – bit slow over here in Perth. I kept asking myself why the wind direction mattered so much when bowling in Cardiff. Gales off the Irish Sea, I reasoned. Just worked it out. Time to go to work now. Clients beware.

  8. Dave Brown says:

    Top stuff as always, Bob, and good to see you on the green on Saturday. Yep, Smith was never going to enforce the follow-on and the game is better for it. Bravo!

  9. A top report, Citrus !!

    Hope PJ Flynn is looking and feeling better than when I saw him on Day 2.

  10. Citrus Bob says:

    PJ FLynn aka Marvin Vaas. How are you on Day 4?

  11. Keiran Croker says:

    Thanks Bob. Seems these days the norm is to not enforce the follow on. Can’t see anyone of Dravid’s or Laxman’s calibre in the English team to make us nervous.
    I’ll keep an eye out for you today .. I’ll be rotating between Riverbank Stand and the Village Green.

  12. Peter Flynn says:

    In the Sir Edwin Smith.

    Delirium tremens

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