Adelaide Test – Day 3: whatever.

Heavy skies greeted the heavy hearts of the Australian fans as they came to (half) life this Sunday morning. The cathedral bells rang out across the parklands as we trudged, lemming-like, down the hill, dodging the Moreton Bay figs, towards the light of the tents and bars which had drained our wallets (at $7 for a cup) the day before. Or should I say towards the heavy of the tents and bars, as you can get heavy in the members. Only XXXX Gold in the outer.

England were about to resume at 2/317 with Cook looking to break more records. The best way to describe the ground was ‘hungover’. The restaurants and pubs of Adelaide had been filled with celebrating Poms the night before. And with shouts and tables of miserable Australians spending time apportioning blame, re-casting those in the side now, and re-picking the side for Perth. “What have we done?” “How has it come to this?”

I had settled on moving Watson to no. 6, Ponting to No. 5, Hussey to No. 3, and opening with Khawaja. No Smith for me; no White for me. Definitely no Doherty who looks like he is bowling billiard balls on to fibre glass. Bring back Hauritz and let the bloke bowl how he likes to. And if, given that last chance, he doesn’t hold up, then it’s time to find a genuine spinner – perhaps Krejza.

But I was only one voice among many.

A more immediate task beckoned, and that was to take eight more English wickets on a perfect deck with a bureaucratic attack. I wasn’t the only one sick of hearing about plans and areas and the only execution I wanted to see was those who administer the side to suffer death by one thousand tomatoes in stocks in the banks of the Torrens (I know the perfect place just near the Festival Centre).

Fair dinkum: sport is about heart and passion. And emotion. This crew have been sold the pup of process to such an extent they make Justin Langer look charismatic. We need a Randall P. McMurphy type character to drive the bus. Which is probably what Warney was and is.

Things got off to a reasonable start when Cook’s inside edge was gloved cleanly by Haddin. (Another two miracles and he will be the second Australian saint). Then Harris bowled a couple of sharp overs at Pietersen who, with his big lean forward, didn’t handle the couple at his throat, one of which spooned over the square leg umpire’s head, like an Ian Harvey slower ball. No-one could make the ground to get to it.

Pietersen survived and pushed on to bring up his hundred and then celebrate in a fashion that even the Poms thought was over the top. I’m not a great one for this term but, “Whatever.”

Collingwood began to accumulate (easily). The skies closed in further. My meteorologist BD Dutschke had assured me there was an 80% chance of rain on the third day and he was starting to look like even more of a genius.

Doherty didn’t look like it.  The Poms didn’t go hard, in the way they didn’t go hard in 2006 when Collingwood and Pietersen were in a position to take the attack apart. Well, here they were in the same position, and still they didn’t smash a broken Australian side. They continued to take their 3 or 4 an over.

Collingwood missed one from Watson and was LBW. Bell wanted his share of the fun. There was no great urgency in him either. By that stage I was at the bar at the southern end talking about the prospects of West Ham with Andy Gemmell (a blind cricket fan from England) who bemused wine-maker Robert O’Callaghan (also with us) by telling him he had found a batch of Robert’s Rockford Basket Press shiraz in an off license in north London. This is like Cricket Australia going to the Adelaide Atco factory to buy a new mower and finding the bloke behind the jump is the best South Australian leg-spinner since Grimmett.

Then it started to rain. Good-sized drops of the sub-tropical variety, but not many of them. And then a few more of them. And the drops started to swell. Until we were standing on the lawn in the rain, which was heavy enough for water to be dripping (steadily) off the umbrellas and for kids to be sliding around.

Stumps were drawn, with the draw looking a real possibility. The principal question being considered was the forecast, and whether Swann could bowl the Australians out in a day and a half. The evidence – that there were (unconfirmed) reports that Marcus North had turned one – suggests he can.

He just needs to be given a chance. Which would suggest an overnight declaration and the pressure on from the first ball Monday morning.

The Australians will do well to sneak out of this. But between the humid conditions which promise more rain, and the relatively healthy state of the wicket, I reckon they can.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. JTH, would Andy G from England be willing to share a bottle or two of the Robert’s Rockford Basket Press shiraz with Andy G from Melbourne?

    I was thinking four quicks in Perth might be the way to go, with one of the batsmen as a spinner. But the spinner would then be North (who should be dropped), Clarke (who should either be dropped or out injured) or perhaps Katich (who IS injured). And I don’t know if we have four deserving quicks anyway. Maybe Australia should to Perth with 11 batsmen…

  2. John Butler says

    England batting on? Just how much of a lead do they need?

    Australia are there for the taking, but can Strauss bring himself to clinch deal?

  3. JTH – RP McMurphy – exactly what the Aussies need. Character, life, verve.

    We’re going through a patch and will re-emerge. I suppose its just the rhythm of life. Having said that, aren’t all these dozens of coaches supposed to confound the rhythm of life and give us consistently good cricketers?

    JB – can’t believe that Strauss kept batting this morning. They don’t deserve to win. Stodgier than a week old porridge. Hope the Aussies hold on and get enough runs to make them bat again. As Teddy Whitten used to say “Stick it right up ’em”

  4. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Hard for McMurphy to do much against an English eleven of Nurse Ratchets.

    If Clarke wants to captain Australia he must go in at number 3 and take on the responsibility. Ponting deserves a rest after so many years.

    Kreyza is the only guy in Australia who can spin the ball. He has the McMurphy spirit with bat and ball, but was crucified by the selectors.

    I’m fed up with pudits still referring to how much we miss Warne,McGrath and Gilchrist. They’ve been retired nearly four years. Where was the succession plan?

    This is similar to the 86-87 series when Australia were still struggling to overcome the loss of Lillee, Marsh and G.Chappell. It took another 2-3 years for us to get the right combinations again.

    Perhaps Hughes and Watson opening with Clarke at 3 will show that the selectors have faith in the youth to set the standard for a new era.

  5. “But I tried, didn’t I goddamnit, at least I did that.”

  6. JTH – I think I have it – you’re staying at St Joseph’s Convent. Just north of the Adelaide oval.

  7. Richard Jones says

    IS Harmesy a Rock Chopper, Dips?

    Or a Rabbit Catcher, if you will. If so, he might have to spend a stretch in S-E Asia and garner some life skills based on the teachings of the Lord Buddha.

  8. I’m a wannabe rockchopper.

  9. Phil Dimitriadis says

    For those who are fans of Kevin Smith’s films, Pietersen’s low punch celebration may well be referred to as the ‘Cock Knocker’.

    The Aussies copped a number of those blows…and it shows.

  10. “Stumps were drawn, with the draw looking a real possibility” Oh my God an oracle…..quick get him a post at the reserve Bank.

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