Australia v India – Adelaide, Day 4: Same, same but different

It’s already so unalike.

Popping down in front of the couch for day four, you expect to be greeted by the nostalgic tones of Channel 9’s musical introduction to the cricket. You expect to see a scorecard that has Australia batting first and smacking 500+, before tearaway paceman rolls through the feeble opposition and gifts the mighty Aussies a lead that they use to dominate the game. By day four, the opposition has been thrown to the wolves and are usually 3 or 4 wickets down and needing 400 runs to win. But not this summer.


Instead, I’m greeted by some foreign swish-swash of panels and lines, like Daft Punk has suddenly decided that sports telecasting is their new production area. Instead of the male-dominated cast of Australia’s glorified ex-players who scrutinise the bat-on-ball action and jokingly tease each other in a larrikin type of exchange, a fresh cast of faces chosen from global channels, ABC and the recent retirees greet me in a more exuberant style to the gentle fathers that used to represent Channel 9. I am shown that India have fought back from their rocky start and have pounced on the undermanned Aussies, with a certain Pujara playing a rare hand by actually batting for longer than twenty overs. What is this?


There’s technology (controlled by fast bowler Trent Copeland – I couldn’t imagine Glenn McGrath taking a board of gadgets and tricks seriously for too long), there’s a vibrant energy that is surprisingly refreshing – all guided by the elder hand of Tim Lane, who acts as if he’s Kerry O’Keefe when using sophisticated adjectives and analogies. Except ‘Skull’ is dominating the airwaves with Gilly on Foxtel – a great shame.


An even greater shame is Australia’s supposedly all-conquering bowling line-up miscuing their line and length first up. The likes of Ponting and McGrath sound pained when listing everything that the bowlers and captain should change to undo the dominance of India’s middle order. Starc spends most of the day spraying deliveries either side of the wicket, as his pace remained down and he looked as beleaguered as the figure who Shane Warne once slammed about ‘body language’. Hazlewood is his probing self, being as impressive as ever yet gaining no reward for his selfless toil on the fourth stump line. He’ll never go for many runs, but today just isn’t his lucky day. Cummins is aggressive, like usual, except this time he can’t get the breakthroughs that he usually does. Lyon spends almost two hours trying to exact an inside edge from the rough foot-holes that the Indian fast bowlers have scuffed up, and eventually does. With Pujara gone, Rohit Sharma also falls and the quick hands of Handscomb allow me to be more content. That’s more like Ponting at short mid-off.


After being reminded of the times with a lunch break that doesn’t include the usual Channel 9 show, my ears ring with Ponting’s constant reminder that the second session could be dire for Australia if India continue to bat the way they have. However, they crumble. Rash keeper Pant bats like the typical import that local clubs receive, as he looks a million dollars when taking 18 off a Lyon over, but then ignorantly holes out to a man in the deep. Rahane throws away a century when reverse-sweeping Lyon, before the off-spinner finally receives some luck when running through the tail and collecting a hard-earned six wicket haul. India have been arrogant after lunch, and Australia have been awarded a miniscule window of opportunity because of this.


A chase of 323 would garner hope and excitement if Langer and Hayden were trotting to the crease. However, the makeshift pair of Harris and Finch only results in a ray of optimism that a fluke could occur. Two balls in and only frustration sits with me, as Finch has once again been undone too easily by a swinging ball. With cries of “We can’t take him to England” filling my mind, a futile review uncovers a front foot no ball. You’re kidding.


From there anything can happen. But Finch appears to feel remorse for Ishant Sharma, and therefore saves his skin by choosing not to review when Ashwin hits him in the pad and he is given out caught. That’s elite honesty for you.


Khawaja trudges to the crease in his casual manner, like a mountain of pressure pounds his back. Except this time, it really does. Without Smith and Warner, and Shaun Marsh’s impressively horrid recent efforts, Khawaja is the only experienced batsman who has the capacity to get Australia anywhere close to victory. Yet this young man just hasn’t worked out how to play Ashwin. He is tentative and doubtful of the Indian’s impeccable line and faultless ability to land the ball on off stump and turn it differently each time. To combat it, a shimmy down the wicket to a ball that is not full enough to strike results in a popped-up catch that looks too easy. It’s finally hit me. This isn’t cricket the way I am used to it.


For the rest of the day inexperienced batsmen who aren’t that adept at Shield cricket try to grovel Australia out of a ditch that appears to be made of quicksand. Handscomb reaches to climb out of the hole, yet his technique brings about his downfall – his scoring is dried up by his inability to make runs on the front foot, so when a pull shot comes his eagerness causes a chip to mid-wickets hands. Cue Virat’s rampant fist pumping and crazy yelling.


Despite his recent [Test] slump, the old dog in Shaun Marsh actually uses a proper technique and scores frequent runs because of it. By the end of the day, Marsh and the dogged Head hold firm for the Aussies, as they haven’t given up the fight to India yet. Hopes aren’t high, as our dismal scoring rate and susceptibility to good spin bowling and tight swing bowling means that we have a line of sitting ducks ready to be shot down on day five. But if Marsh can stick fat and keep scoring runs, then who knows? That’s what Australian cricket has come to.



  1. Sean yes I feel exactly the same re the commentary interestingly tho as Glen McGrath can quote every one of his wickets and how they were dismissed I reckon he wouldn’t mind the gadgets.Finch dismissal just bizarre appalling umpiring huge chance,Long was just thinking give him out and Finch will review let drs decide and extraordinary that the Aussie batsman didn’t review.Hanscomb jury more than out unfortunately those days of us dominating test cricket are long gone with Warner and Smiths stupidity accentuating the problems
    thanks Sean

  2. R. Ponting made a good point about Handscomb (supported by A. Border):

    Because he is so far back in his crease he struggles to score off the front foot, therefore goes at everything even a bit short. Therefore will always be set up with the short ball. Not good enough at this level. Its a fair call I reckon. He needs to develop more shots.

  3. Handscomb weird love to see vision of his ton in shield final in Adelaide why so much change to technique and the thoughts re supposed benefits

  4. Great observations, Sean.
    Enjoyed the “elite honesty” line.

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