The Ashes 2015 – Third Test, Day 3: For Whom the Bell Tolls!

When I volunteered to put pen to paper with my musings on Day 3 of this latest Test match, little did I know it would be the final day of play.

The game between England and Australia, which finished last Friday, could have had the sub-heading ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’.

As indeed the Bell did toll on Day 3 of the Third Ashes Test at Edgbaston.

It rang out to the tune of 65 runs for England’s number three batsman Ian Bell who, up until this Test, had been under a great degree of scrutiny for his most recent underwhelming performances.

While the Australians were probably hoping his lacklustre run would continue, the 33-year-old veteran took on the challenge of getting his eye back in when his country needed him to, with a small target as the lure and a Test victory as the prize.

Sounding more like a crowd at Wembley Stadium than at an historic English cricket ground, the noise that followed the Australian team’s second innings dismissal for just 265, leaving a meagre and very attainable run-chase of 121, was deafening.

The score line was one thing but the fact that the game was entering the fourth innings in the middle of the third day made this Test unusual.

Questions are being asked. Is it the pitches? Is it the desire to entertain with a sprinkling of T20 batting prowess that has the run rates rising and the wickets tumbling?

According to all the pundits, this Australian side now looks to be going through a transition phase which may not have been the intention when they set off for foreign shores, but has emerged as the current state-of-play due to unexpected circumstances. Watson is out; Haddin is out; Rogers is most likely in the throes of his swansong series and Michael Clarke is performing poorly in all aspects of his game. So, do these factors all signal a changing of the guard?

Steve Smith, captain-in-waiting, has held his own for the most part and Australia’s newest inductee into the elite club of the Baggy Green wearers, Peter Nevill, has grasped the opportunity he’s been given with both heavily gloved hands. Unfortunately for him though, his inclusion has been unfairly overshadowed and has come at a cost: the exclusion of long-serving wicketkeeper and team stalwart Brad Haddin. While Haddin opted out of the second Test for personal reasons, he was not re-instated to the core side in the third, despite declaring himself available. This decision was apparently met with some consternation by some members of the team and was the focus of broader commentary.

The Australian team hierarchy would like us all to think the performance in the third Test was an anomaly (in a similar fashion to the way they underestimated the opposition in the first test apparently!) and that focus by the middle order batsmen is all that is required to recalibrate the team. Basically a ‘get your heads back in the game guys’ approach and all will be back to normal (ie: Australia in winning form).

But apparently history is against the Australians. It is a rare feat to come back from a 2-1 deficit in an Ashes series. What will be the strategy leading into the fourth Test and will it be a more even contest between bat and ball?

Such is the unfolding and bizarre nature of the Ashes series, perhaps reflecting the changing nature of Test cricket in the 21st Century.

So the question needs to be asked – are we losing the art of playing genuine Test cricket with all the strategies and intricacies that see it loved as the purest form of the sport?

The answers are for each of us to ponder as cricket lovers.

All I know is that I’m looking forward to a full five days of splendour on the grass from Nottinghamshire.

 

About Jill Scanlon

Blues fan and sports lover. Development through sports advocate; producer, journalist and news follower. Insanely have returned to p/t study - a Masters of International & Community Development. Formerly with ABC International / Radio Australia in Melbourne.

Comments

  1. E.regnans says:

    Interesting times, indeed, Jill.

    I like that line of thought you open about the future of Test cricket.
    Techniques?
    Temperaments?
    Conditions?
    Behaviour?
    How frequently will five days be required to play future Test matches?

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