Fifth Test, Day 3: There you have it — all preconceptions blown out the window

It’s a sad reflection of my life that I offered to write this Saturday night for the cricket report.  The once youthful, bundle of energy that I was has fallen the ways of the domestic silent majority and was happily watching SBS (not the usual late night programs) through the night to see if Australia could retain ‘The Ashes’ on this dusty pitch.  If the truth be known, I thought covering day 3 of the final test, with the momentum all with Australia after the 4th test, would be a walk in the park, with Punter gearing up to put the little urn in his back pocket around 5.00 pm.  In fact, so easy did I expect it to be before the first ball of this match had been bowled that I had already hatched up some themes and stereotypes to fill in the report.  

The first such theme was to be the weather – how it was gloomy, wet and cold.  That wasn’t the case at all – the weather was fine and apparently mild.  The next one was to be the fine bowling of Mitchell Johnson, which I had considered both in advance of the test and after the conclusion of day 2.  Mitch was to clean up the poms, leaving the Aussies with a moderate score to chase and restore himself at the head of the series wicket takers.  Sadly, Mitch bowled sparingly in the first session and didn’t take any wickets on the day, so I got that one wrong too.  The final thought I had surrounded the slow Boycott-like batting of the poms, as they succumbed to the Australian attack, with the sole aim being to occupy the crease.  Alas, yet again, I was wrong as the English batted with elegant style, scoring ambitiously and at about 4 runs an over.

In fact, the day didn’t go to my plan at all and finished with the English in an almost impenetrable position at stumps which is very difficult to admit.

The star of the day was the Test novice Trott who batted with genuine discipline and his century was justified despite some troubles and luck in the 90’s.  For most of the morning it was he and captain Strauss who held the green and gold at bay.  For me (and this is terrible and almost sacrilegious) the highlight for the day was when Ponting got hit a ripper in the face fielding in close (without helmet) just before lunch.  My initial reaction was this is fair enough for crap captaining, with Johnson bowling only 2 overs and Katich not even getting a go on a turning pitch.  I realised shortly afterwards during the 37 separate replays that he never flinched when the ball was whacked at him, and he seems almost immune to the blood trickling down his face – I’d be crying like a pre-teen boy asking for the nearest surgeon.  I felt even worse when they showed his record as a captain later on the tele, where in 61 tests, he had only lost 10 matches, and realised maybe he aint that bad.  One thing’s for sure, he can certainly bat.

Anyway, when Strauss fell for 75, Prior was run out soon afterwards and in came Freddy in his swansong innings.  As you’d expect, by this stage I was half asleep – half awake, but his arrival at the crease willed me to some semblance of mental coherence.  It was typical Freddy, offered a lot but finished all too quickly on 22 at more than a run a ball, but everyone had been entertained and the man himself seemed to enjoy his efforts.  You just wonder whether this innings epitomized Flintoff – capable of much more than what he delivered during his career.

At 6 for 200, with an overall leader of just under 400, there was still some hope that the tail would go cheaply and we just might have a chance.  Again, I was foiled and some excellent swashbuckling batting from the likes of Broad (29 off 35) and Swann (63 off 55) made you think you were in a silly 20-20 match as distinct from the pivotal test in ‘The Ashes’ series.  By the time Trott scored his century (only the 2nd Pom to score a century to 7 by Australia in this series which seems as big a contradiction as anything) and then fell for 119, it was time for England to declare with a lead nudging 550.  The pick of the Aussie bowlers was North who had taken 4 crucial wickets.

Was this match going to be a repeat of the last match at The Oval between these countries?  I hoped not and was pleased by the batting of both Katich and Watson, who held firm until stumps.  Now the challenge was to do something no other test team had done before – score 500+ in the 4th innings.  My tip, Punting to make a lot!

Let’s see if I can get something right.


  1. Peter Flynn says

    You were on the money with Ponting until that run-out.
    SBS to resume normal programming.

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