Thursday December 30, 2010

Such was England’s dominance, this Test felt old by the end of the second day.  Its course was obvious and result assured.

The dark skies that glared menacingly down on Australia’s batsmen on Boxing Day provided an appropriate opening scene.  English conditions suited the visiting bowlers who moved and slid the ball past their hosts.  Four years ago, James Anderson had a torrid time.  This Summer he is one of the world’s best line and swing bowlers.  Tremlett and Bresnan arrived in the country as back-up.  Big, strong and able to hit the pitch hard, which you must do in Australia, they will leave Ashes heroes.  All ten Australian batsmen fell to catches behind the wickets.  Lack of technique and fight were exposed on Australian cricket’s biggest day.  When Strauss and Cook took block, the clouds departed, the sun arrived and the pitch browned.  Save for Siddle hitting Cook’s pads once, the English openers were untroubled.  Australia’s bowlers were unable to recapture the venom of Perth, nor the swing and line their counterparts could earlier in the day.  England had a first innings and ten wicket lead by stumps.

Conditions were overcast and more suited to bowlers again on the second morning and Siddle had both openers early.  Again to edges.  The ball that claimed Strauss kicked and bit at him.  The sun reappeared and Pietersen and Trott – two South Africans who appear to have little else in common – held back Australia after Lunch.  Pietersen antagonises, goads and dominates opponents.  Trott is a combination of back alley slugger, shirt out and open stance, and methodical batting machine.  He concentrates intensely, dragging and whipping onto the on side.  Once he’s in, he’s in.

Harris squeezed a ball between KP’s bat and pad and Haddin convinced Ponting to refer upstairs.  Ponting’s angry and prolongued reaction to the third umpire’s decision, showed a captain at desperation stage.  His finger waving and yelling at Umpire Dar were terrible, however, this new referral system is creating a culture of disrespect towards umpires, so what can we expect.  Soon after, Pietersen was trapped plum in front by Siddle.  He walked three metres towards the rooms before changing his mind and returning to question the umpire’s decision.  Trott told him to leave.  The ICC must abolish the players’ ability to challenge decisions and allow umpires the right to refer any decision they wish.  Credit to Umpire Dar for later recalling Prior after referring his own decision.

Collingwood and Bell were both caught by Siddle off Johnson’s bowling.  The North Melbourne man was involved in all England wickets for the day.  Trott and Prior – who wanted to see Siddle outside in Perth – realigned things for England.  They plundered and Australia unravelled in the final session.  Clarke bowled and received a bronx cheer when he finally managed a dot ball.  Johnson stood at the top of his run, hands in his pockets, shrugging his shoulders at his captain.  Australia looked tired and out of ideas at Stumps.

England were all out by Lunch on day three.  Trott was unbeaten on 168 and Siddle had six wickets.  Always considered the least talented of Australia’s bowlers, the Victorian performed again on the biggest stage, like two summers ago against South Africa.  Harris had left earlier with a stress fracture in his ankle.  England led by 415 and Australia had to survive eight sessions.

England again bowled to a plan.  They targeted a tight line and Strauss’ field placements choked scoring opportunities and brought wickets.  Hughes started well: striking cleanly and defending resolutely.  Watson ran him out.  Bresnan discovered reverse swing.  He bowled Ponting who had gritted his teeth for nearly two hours.  Punter stood helplessly at the cease before trudging off.  He carried a look of resignation.  Watson was out LBW without playing a shot.  Hussey fell for the short cover trap, reminding of Hayden in 2005.  Clarke survived a stumping chance off Swann when Prior, busy wanting to refer everything and holding up play, fumbled.  The spinner went to work on the Australian vice-captain, shackling him to the members’ end.  Eventually, Strauss moved to second slip, Swann bowled an arm ball and Clarke edged.  Not quite death by a thousand cuts, but not far from it.

The fourth morning was England’s.  Haddin and Siddle delayed celebrations for a while, however, Strauss’ men were saluting history and the Barmy Army before Lunch.  Victory by an innings and 168 runs and the Ashes were retained.  Post-match, Swann said he only cared about the next few days’ partying and to hell with everyone else.  Strauss said England were focused on winning in Sydney and a 3-1 series victory.

England are a better team than Australia.  They bat, bowl and field better.  They arrived in the country early, prepared, settled, focused and with a plan.


  1. Pamela Sherpa says

    I’ve enjoyed reading all your and other peoples reports Andrew. Yes, England are a better team. They and their fans deserve to be celebrating while times are good for them.
    I just hope that while times are tough for Australia things don’t become too ugly. I thought England pulled themselves into line well after Perth and took a disciplined approach which served them well in Melbourne. Andrew Strauss has mentioned several times what a happy group they are. Good on them for sorting themselves out and rising to the challenge of winning out here.Hopefully we will see a good contest in Sydney

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