Australia v India – Fourth Test, Day 5: Chaos, defiance, pirates and unicorns

‘Harry, Lord Reserve Carnegie’ – Kate Birrell


Woolloongabba Oval, Brisbane.
Start of play, Day 5.


India resumes 2nd innings 0/4 (Rohit Sharma 4*, Shubman Gill 0*, 1.5 ov)


Australia 369 (M Labuschagne 108, TD Paine 50, Thangarasu Natarajan 3/78, Washington Sundar 3/89, Shardul Thakur 3/94)
India 336 (Shardul Thakur 67, Washington Sundar 62, JR Hazlewood 5/57)
Australia 294 (SPD Smith 55, Mohammed Siraj 7/73, Shardul Thakur 4/61)
India target: 328


Australia 1- India 1


Will India chase the total?
They need only to draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
Why would they risk it?
Will it rain again today?
Will the Australian bowlers crash through this inexperienced batting line up?
Will the Australians lash out in anger if they become frustrated?
Will there be a run out?
Can the decision review system hold up to scrutiny?
How will the pitch play?
What of the stories of individual players?
MA Starc? Cheteshwar Pujara? NM Lyon? Ajinkya Rahane? TD Paine? Rishabh Pant?


In a wink from the universe, school holidays and annual leave and COVID-19 and my unfolding domestic situation all miraculously align to have me lying with both feet elevated in front of the TV on a Tuesday morning in January.


Questions and wonderment float across my vision.
But I am here not to offer solutions.
Instead, I am here as a lucky and grateful observer.


What do I see?
I see that anything is possible.
I see Australian bowlers expend energy as they wear their training outfits and bowl in makeshift nets before play.
I see the forecast for showers and possible storms but with only 40% chance of precipitation in Brisbane.
I see MA Starc bowl with the drop-shouldered mope of a disaffected teenager. I see him scuff his footmarks, complain. I see him remove himself from the reckoning.
I see PJ Cummins athletically field a ball and throw down the stumps.
I see PJ Cummins take on the physical form of an enormous (and growing) beating heart.
I see Shubman Gill stare into the eyes of history and turn the other way.
I see the pitch play as a pretty solid fifth day wicket.
I see Cheteshwar Pujara.
I see Cheteshwar Pujara.
I see Cheteshwar Pujara as a mighty warrior forged in the mountains.
I see Cheteshwar Pujara turn his head away from the ball as he ducks again into another bouncer. I see him wear the ball on his body, on his arm, on his head, on his very presence. I see him defy pain and time and impatience and the combined efforts of the Australian cricket team.
I see a review for l.b.w. by Australia denied. The call remains “umpire’s call” as the on-field umpire decided that it was “not out.” I see that this is exactly as it should be.
I see Cheteshwar Pujara pull away from the strike as JR Hazlewood approaches. The erratic flight path of a butterfly zigs and zags and distracts the batsman. I see JR Hazlewood next ball send down a bouncer that crashes into the helmeted head of Cheteshwar Pujara. I see JR Hazlewood react with the stung petulance of the thwarted by goading and sledging his dazed and physically struck opponent. I see that Cheteshwar Pujara and that the presence of Cheteshwar Pujara is defeating Australia.
I see Shubman Gill clout the bowling with cavalier abandon and watch as a small sprinkle of magic dust dazzles in the Brisbane sun.
I see Shubman Gill dismissed to a wide one and I wonder about tricks and about magic.
I see Ajinkya Rahane smile as pirate ship captain, feet planted on the deck, sword in hand.
I see NM Lyon offering not much but having made a career of offering not that much.
I see Ajinkya Rahane dismissed by the beating heart of PJ Cummins and I see that Rishabh Pant is next man in and I watch as he waddles to the centre and removes his own gleaming cutlass from its scabbard.
I see C Green bowl with all the menace of a cinnamon doughnut.
I see that of Australia’s bowlers, only PJ Cummins looks physically and emotionally able to take on a pirate onslaught.
I see the mighty Cheteshwar Pujara defy, defend, blunt and thwart every attack of Australia. Until he falls with the second new ball. It is 4/228. It is well into the final session. One hundred runs to get. Six wickets to get.
I see Mayank Agarwal pick up his own story and join with Rishabh Pant in attacking this run chase against a fading Australia.
I see PJ Cummins remove Mayank Agarwal and grow now to the size of myth. 5/265.
I see Washington Sundar lope to the centre with an air of possibility that defies his status of debutant.
I see that anything is possible.
I see that the last three Indian batsmen are not much chop.
I see Rishabh Pant climb the rigging and take his sword between his teeth.
I see clouds gather all around.
I see run-a-ball required for approximately the last eight overs.
I see Australia bereft of an attacking option.
I see Rishabh Pant and Washington Sundar swing into Australia and smile.
I see ramp shots.
I see Washington Sundar make merry on debut.
I see that anything is possible.
I see an absence of fear.
I see joy.
I see shadows creep onto the field.
I see a spirit of possibility.
I see Washington Sundar bowled attempting a reverse sweep with 10 to win!
I see algorithms broken.
I see chaos defeating analysis.
I see Shardul Thakur caught in the madness.
I see that anything is possible.
I see Rishabh Pant fall over as he plays a walking pull shot to the boundary.
I see three wickets required to win and that being not out of the question.
I see three runs required to win and that being not out of the question.
I see that anything is possible.
I see Rishbah Pant with the strike.
I see Rishabh Pant stand and smote JR Hazelwood to the long-off boundary.
It is over.


I see a cavalcade of dancing unicorns laugh.
I see them drop their magic dust and fly into the Brisbane sky.
I see that anything is possible.


I see that many things could have been done differently.
And I see that they were not.
Never mind that. Never mind that.
I see only what happened.
This is the story.




India wins by three wickets.
India wins the series.
Australia 1 – India 2


Well played.




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About David Wilson

David Wilson is a hydrologist, climate reporter and writer of fiction & observational stories. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Probing and thought-provoking Er. “I see NM Lyon offering not much but having made a career of offering not that much.” has given me pause for thought. Off-spin is rarely menacing and that Lyon will take 400+ Test wickets as a largely benign bowler is remarkable. But as always there’s much going on beneath the surface of this. It is a point of celebration in a world veering violently away from subtlety.

    Thanks for your existential ponderings.

  2. G’day & thanks Mickey.
    The offie. Yes. There is a lot to consider with the offie. I’m reminded of that terrific piece by Chris Harms from a few years ago (in reply to a piece by John Harms).

    Had NM Lyon taken a couple, perhaps I would have seen his efforts differently. It’s a strange thing- is effort the thing, or are results the thing? Or both? Or neither?

    I agree that much goes on beneath the surface (always). One of the enthralling aspects of Test cricket.
    From my vantage point NM Lyon looked pretty unthreatening. And perhaps that is part of his genius. An assassin in flannelette shirt & desert boots.

    Thanks very much Mickey.

  3. Really good observations well told, e.r.
    Most enjoyable.
    I particularly liked the cinnamon doughnut reference! Excellent!

  4. John Butler says

    ER, there was so much going on during that final day. This does a great job of capturing it.


  5. Thanks Smokie & JB.
    Really enjoyed the Test cricket that I was lucky enough to see this summer.
    I find myself barracking for the game these days, rather than for any team.
    (Likewise with footy).

    My heart rate was pretty elevated in that last session.
    I remember thinking:
    Half of all tied Tests in history have occurred at the Gabba.
    Half of all tied Tests in history have been between Australia and India.

    Yes, Australia has work to do.
    That’s alright. There is always work to do.

  6. Daryl Schramm says

    Nice one David. Agree with all of the above, especially “there is always work to do”. It will be, and thereforeis, OK.

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