Fourth Test – Day 3: Terrific Test Match shows Bell is all class and Lyon is determined and gives us the verb ‘to Watto’

England 238 & 234/5 (74.0 ov)

Australia 270



As our antipodean world of sheep dip and shark alarms faced the grim reality of a month-long election campaign and Fremantle finishing on the top of the ladder, in sunny conditions in Durham Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin strode to the crease. Rogers had 101 gritty runs to his name; runs won by a combination of technique and good fortune in an innings which landed a blow to the cricket philistines with something a little firmer than a lettuce leaf (perhaps the firm, ribbed leaf of a young cabbage).

On this third morning Rogers was in a position to make the Test Australia’s. He had with him Brad Haddin, the court jester of batsmen.

The test – of character, skill and the application thereof – continued.

That test applied equally to the Englishmen who, these days, relish it. Swann came around the wicket in the hope he’d straighten down the line, which he did. Haddin played across one and was absolutely plumb. Not that he thought so. He appealed and the verdict was returned.

Rogers went bat pad to , and Siddle nicked to Cook which brought Lyon to the crease, his elevation to ten piquing the crowd’s interest in the batting prowess of Jackson Bird. Lyon was gunned LBW to one that was obviously missing, even from a lounge-room in the People’s Republic of Northcote.

Harris clouted with some hulking drives at half-volleys which hadn’t moved in the air and then got one of those LBWs where he walked. However, the umpire, spooked by the present state of affairs, gave it not out: the English automatically reviewed it and there was a moment which showed where the whole adjudication situation is, when there was actually no-one on the ground when the finger was raised.

Australia led by 32, a modest figure, although not necessarily inconsequential on this wicket. They needed to start well and keep the pressure on, making full use of the new ball. Harris bowled magnificently. He was lively, bouncy, and really, really dangerous, bowling fine length and moving the ball, especially off the seam. The delivery that got Root was as near to perfection as the Polly Waffle.

Trott looked  a little out of sorts early. His skipper, who had started well, struck the doldrums. Harris worked on the one coming back at the left-hander, until he pushed a fuller surprise across Cook’s bow enticing a flamboyant drive and nick to the `keeper.

Advantage Australia.

And even more so when Trott gloved an awkward hook to Haddin.

England needed something from Pietersen and Bell. And they got it. A period of classic Test cricket followed: a session when the game in the balance and the skill of bowler is pitted against the skill of batsmen.

Both Poms played intelligently as the Australians probed. Scoring slowed but the batsmen had a series of little victories which included inside edges that just missed. Fortune is definitely part of the equation.

They both looked settled enough for the commentators to tell the tale of the previous evening’s big barbecue at Beefy Botham’s Durham abode; an event  which claimed a few casualties. The stories were told in that quintessentail post-piss-up good-old-boy sort of way which appeals to the undergraduate in all of us. Apparently Darren Lehmann was best-on.

Meanwhile Nathan Lyon was concentrating intently, and giving his all. Lyon wants to win cricket matches and he is working out how. There is humility in his cricket, which is admirable, but a little less may serve him well.

He tried to push the straight one across the right-handers from around the wicket. Despite his excellent control, the Englishmen accumulated patiently, and from the quiet of the relatively subdued crowd came a duet of travellers strangling Waltzing Matilda. (Could it have been Adam and Goodwin worse for the northern ale?) The English trumpeter took this as his cue let rip with a Yellow Submarine which was probably accompanied by new lyrics outlining the sexual preferences of Shane Warne and other species.

The crowd was building into Sunday party mode and looked very relaxed. One bloke was so relaxed he held up his artificial leg complete with sports shoe, although in this day and age he may have been a plant from Nike. At the moment I so wished Bumble was in the booth.

Lyon was encouraged by a ball that turned and caught the inside edge of an advancing Pietersen giving Haddin (or Tallon) no chance at all. He was also encouraged by Pietersen’s preference to turn everything to mid-wicket.

However, Pietersen belted the last couple of balls before Tea to the boundary off Siddle, which took some of the jam off the iced vo-vos.

The desiccated coconut went some time after Tea when Jackson Bird, Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke asked for a review of a Pietersen LBW which struck him outside the line by a considerable margin and would have missed by a couple of ball-widths anyway.

The contest continued.

Watson tied up and end until he Watto-ed. Watto-ed? If Beckwithed can be the verb ‘to find the boundary line’ and ‘Doyled’ can gain currency insofar as commenting on sportswriting, political philosophy and buffoons are concerned, then ‘to Watto’ must be mightily evocative.

Watto: verb, to leave the ground at the earliest sign of injury (often mid-over), with no apparent concern for anything on the planet other than the few fibres of the groin muscle that have been placed under duress. (Other definitions of ‘Watto’ welcome).

Just minutes later Lyon found the leading edge of Pietersen’s bat and Rogers raced forward from cover to accept the chance.

It was still anyone’s game but Bell was looking like a seriously good player: compact and with the capacity to concentrate. He drove the ball beautifully through cover and mid-off while Bairstow hung around.

Then the umpire’s intervened, again, and the players went off for bad light.

At that point it was very hard to remina awake even though the cameras were catching areas of blue sky not far away.

Lyon claimed Bairstow caught behind, bringing night watchman Bresnan to the crease to see Bell to his hundred and his country to stumps.

This was another wonderful days Test cricket on a wicket which offers  something to all. Ian Bell, surely the man of the series to date, was the difference.

Even if Australia bowl England out quickly tonight, the chase will be very difficult. It will be a nice way to spend a Monday evening.



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. Andrew Starkie says

    disappointing day. Haddin and Rogers missed ideal chance. Great bowling from Swann and Anderson, who’s been down. We’ve led on the first innings 3 out of 4 Tests (I think), but haven’t been able to capitalise. Tough from here.

  2. Entertaining as always John.

    Bell is one hell of a gorgeous batsmen. It’s players like him, Mark Waugh and SSV that make Test cricket my favourite game. Superb nights cricket.

  3. The verb: to watto. Brilliant.
    watto v 1 (Colloq) To predictably raise hopes and then disappoint. 2 when disappointed, to laboriously, and with discernible petulance, approximate the motions of an aggrieved adult homo sapiens, while simultaneously approximating the facial expressions of a bewildered, chastened toddler. 3 to have a spectacular, but not unprecedented lack of critical self-awareness about both oneself and one’s certainties; “to believe incorrectly that everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute centre of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive. But it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute centre of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real. Please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centred and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self. People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being “well-adjusted”, which I suggest to you is not an accidental term. Given the triumphant academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. This question gets very tricky…” (excerpt from David Foster Wallace’s ‘This is water’ speech, May 21, 2005).


    (First two lines were written after the Chris Gayle fiasco a few years ago – the rest following the ‘homework’ episode in India)

    TUNE: ‘Where Do You Go To My Lovely’ (Peter Sarstedt)

    You look like Woodstock from Peanuts
    And you dance like Plastic Bertrand
    You’re a team man on Tuesdays and Fridays
    For years you’ve had us all conned


    What’s your problem Shane Watson?
    Are you thick or just ‘easily led’?
    How can we motivate you?
    Is there nothing goes on in your head?

    You average ‘tween 30 and 40
    And that’s mediocre at best
    But as designated All Rounder
    You get cut much more slack than the rest

    So just bugger off to the Premier Leagues
    And become a millionaire
    But no-one will know where you came from
    And back home nobody will care

    You’re not the white Garry Sobers
    Next Davo? Don’t make me laugh!
    You were meant to be our Freddy Flintoff
    But you’re barely the noughties’ Shaun Graf!!

  5. A couple of observations:
    I Bell has been the difference between the two teams thus far.
    The Harris ball which took J Root’s off stump was the ball of the series thus far.
    I am looking forward to the day which marks the end of the Watson era.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Andrew is spot on, we wasted a great chance for a better 1st innings lead. Fantastic Test match so far. Loved the commentators discussing the events of the previous night. Very impressed with Lyon in this match.

  7. Ian Bell has scored three centuries in the series thus far. Unless I’m very much Murray Walker ,the other 23 or 24 players on both sides have scored a total of four between them (Clarke, Root, KP and Rogers).

    All not bad for a bloke who has worn the common, but often capriciously and selectively applied, ‘flat track bully’ tag around his neck ever since his first series.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Smokie, surely that day is coming soon.

  9. Trucker Slim – liked your Sarstedtism. Very clever. Remembering – let alone rhyming – Plastic BertrOnd and conned; Shane Graf and laugh.
    You learned something from all those Dylan LP’s.

  10. Andrew Starkie says

    Luke, we haven’t been able to put them away twice. Simple. Last night, 3-49. A few hours later they had a 200 run lead. England’s top 3 hasn’t clicked. Watchout when they do.

    Need very quick wickets tonight.

  11. John – Wonderful piece as always. I was thinking about my passing interest in the Tests, and concluded that it is all to do with time allocated to watching. Test matches have a melodic sweep that you have to let pass over you. Some are staccato. Some melodic. Some rise to crescendos. Other diminish over passing waves. But you have to listen/watch for long periods to get the rhythm of the piece.
    We debated an extra TV in the study to watch the Tests leaving AE undisturbed. We decided that it would a) cut into reading time and b) cause me to drink too much red wine. Without the extra TV I have achieved my b) goals but am still working on a).
    If you flick in and out of Test Cricket for ‘score updates’ it is inevitably boring and pedestrian because you have no sense of what came before.
    Thank you for your addition to the language. I have already borrowed to the extent that LeCras was wattoed off in the first half (the verb ‘to watto’ or ‘to be wattoed’). Fortunately the Eagles medical staff have also been watching the Ashes and realised that rogersing is to only antidote for wattoism. The half time rogersing worked a treat and he bagged 5 after half time.
    Looking forward to the Cats on Saturday night. Not so sure about the Test.

  12. Andrew Starkie says

    Disappointing. At 1-100, looking good, then to lose 8 for quickly, is such a let down. Did they forget we had another day?

  13. WATTO: An all encompassing term for careless incompetence, particularly used in a sporting context.
    From 2/168 the innings started to Watto. Smith had just Wattoed a hook shot (when he was 2 mind) down onto his stumps. Cometh the hour; cometh the Watto. He Wattoed across the crease and was Wattoed in front by the rampaging Broad. He looked hesitantly down the pitch at the umpire and considered calling for a Watto. But the prospect of a double Watto was too much to bear. He Wattoed back to the pavilion, and watched disconsolately as the team continued to Watto around him. Losing 8/56 in 90 minutes of mayhem, the Australian team had plunged to their 7th Watto on the trot.

  14. That’s a solid job of entrenching “to Watto” in the language, PB.
    Reckon it might stick.
    Hope it does.

  15. watto- a solipsist.

  16. Michael Viljoen says

    On the wireless last night, Gideon Haigh was asked what do we do with Watto? 
    He answered, ‘I think we’re stuck with him unless he gets injured.’
    There is a silver lining here.

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