First Test/AFL Round 16 – Collingwood v Adelaide: Friday night at the Games

By John Kingsmill and Rob Bath

 

 

It’s been a pressing day; I’m late for the game; the house is cold. I’m in no mood for shitty footy from Adelaide. I’ve got my tips in – Collingwood to win by four goals and the rest of the round is a no-brainer. Everyone will get nine this week.

 

-o-

 

Ten minutes ago and 19,000 km away at the MCG, Australia’s home of cricket, they bounced the ball. At Trent Bridge in Nottingham, the third-oldest Test cricket arena in the world, Aussie left-arm medium-pacer Mitchell Starc was running in to bowl the first ball of Day Three of the First Test, to Kevin Pietersen. 54,790 footy fans in the MCG make that stadium look two-thirds full. Trent Bridge has reached its 17,500 capacity.

 

-o-

 

Twelve minutes in and Adelaide are playing as if their lives depend upon it. Which it does. 2.1 to 1.3, in Adelaide’s favour. Make that 4.2 to 1.2. Porp has two, Lynch has one. Hang on. Make that 5.2 – Lyons kicks his second. All goals are coming from fast movement into the forward lines, not from contested marks. Collingwood are looking stupid. All effort, no cigar. Adelaide are looking good but everyone looks good in the first quarter. Everyone looks good on their first date.

 

Jenkins takes a contested mark up front and kicks his second point. We enter red time and Swann immediately bursts through the centre and kicks a long goal. Adelaide are pathetic in red time. But Collingwood is worse. Brown clears from the pocket, kicks across the face of goal into the arms of a surprised Tom Lynch, 30 metres out on a 45° angle. The siren sounds and Tom kicks his second. Adelaide up, 6.2 to 2.2.

 

In the middle of that first quarter Dangerfield popped his shoulder and went off looking as if he was in trouble. They pumped him full of something and he came back on, but we’ve yet to see him re-enter a contest.

 

-o-

 

KP is playing comfortably if cautiously on 40, ditto Captain Cook on 38. At 2/86, effectively 2/21, a harmless pitch requiring only one slip, the match is delicately poised, as they say. We’re in for an intriguing tussle between bat and ball which is code for nothing much happening. Unless quick wickets fall.

 

First innings hero Peter Siddle, comes on from the other end…

-o-

 

Collingwood mount their attack in the second quarter. Ben Reid gets two early ones; Tom Lynch counters with his third, wheeling around from a free with a long bomb. Step forth Andrew Krakouer. He sidesteps and kicks a goal. Everyone knows that he is going to sidestep but there is nothing you can do about it. If you sidestep with him, he’ll go straight. A few minutes later, he snaps an extraordinary goal from a tangle of limbs. Bugger it!

 

Dangerfield can’t raise his left wing. He goes down into the rooms again. He’s gone. He’s the captain of my dreamteam – I’ll get few points tonight. Travis Cloke misses again.

 

-o-

 

Pattinson’s on … and, now at 2/113, it is the man of the moment, Ashton Agar… the first cricketer in the game to have a word added to the cricket lexicon, on debut:

 

Agarphobia; n. The fear of being unable to dismiss an Australian number eleven.

 

but can he bowl?

 

Yesterday, his heroic 98 only masked the appalling failure of Australia’s recognised batsmen. Boof would trade every tail-end run from the bowlers for some five-fors in the coming months. He needs a genuine spinner who can turn, flight and loop the ball with line, length and variation, tie it up on flat pitches and run through middle orders on dodgy ones. That was Shane Warne but not Nathan Lyon, apparently.

 

AA gives it a bit of air and KP and Cook try to frighten the new boy. This session could get interesting.

 

-o-

 

There’s no Dangerfield in the middle. Swann and Pendlebury are killing us. Collingwood could win by ten goals. Cloke marks, shoots, and eats leaves. He misses the lot. Dangerfield comes back on. Who are they kidding? Macaffer levels the score; Porp snaps for his third; Krakouer gets another. It’s a shootout and Adelaide can’t win those. Dangerfield marks 45 metres out and misses. He only has one arm but he can kick. He can’t handball legally. Cloke takes the chest mark of the year. Goal. Here they come. 8.7 to 9.5. Adelaide will not win this.

 

-o-

 

But Patto gets the breakthrough. KP drags one onto his stumps, reminding us of that brilliant sub-editor’s epithet Dumb Slog Millionaire. Gone for a slow (by his standards) 64. After drinks, Ian Bell – stylish, talented, under-achiever, maybe a downhill skier – starts his innings. This could be his career-defining moment.

 

-o-

 

Collingwood surge forward in the third to be five goals up and looking for more. Swann and Pendlebury have 57 disposals between them by the third bell – they’re at world record pace. Adelaide drag a couple back late in the quarter and, remarkably, are still in the game.

 

-o-

 

Agar’s first Test wicket is a beauty. His arm ball is a classic spinner deception and Cook is an important scalp. He’s gone for a painstaking first half-ton at Trent Bridge. The relatively untried Bairstow takes guard. I think we can say Game On.

 

-o-

 

A quick goal after the bell and Adelaide’s only seven points out of it. Dare to dream? I don’t think so. Pendlebury engages another gear for a stunning thirteen-disposal last quarter and Collingwood ride home on his back. Pendlebury is exciting to watch. He appears laconic and lucky as if he lives in a bubble as all great players do but, if you watch him closely, he always takes a few steps backwards after he gains possession to create the time and space he needs for perfect delivery.

 

-o-

 

At lunch, it’s England 4 for 157 – Bell 20, Bairstow 13. Pattinson and Starc are swinging it and the batsmen are a bit thick-edgy, but the Aussie momentum has been blunted.

-o-

 

Collingwood regain their poise and draw away. Adelaide’s Scott Thompson, last year’s silent assassin, fumbles an easy chest mark. He’s had another shocker with misdirected handballs and tackles that haven’t stuck. It’s a relief, later, to hear the coach finally say that Scott has being playing under the duress of a groin injury this season. We’d hate to think that this fine player had reached the end.

 

Tom Lynch had his best game since he kicked ten in Round 7. He kicked four but did his best work away from goals, defending and linking in the way that Dangerfield, Thompson and Sloane couldn’t. Jarryd Lyons (4) and Jason Porplyzia (3) kicked the goals that Josh Jenkins didn’t and Richard Douglas was full of grunt, again. That little man gets bigger every week.

 

-o-

 

Shortly before the players walk back on to the field, the final siren will sound at the MCG. If this was a Twenty/20 match, we might have seen eighteen wickets and 400 runs in a similar time-frame to that AFL match. We’ve seen two wickets and 71 runs. That’s been the least eventful session so far in what could well end up a thrilling and memorable Test.

 

-o-

 

Luke Ball played a blinder in the last quarter of his 200th game and was as important as Pendlebury and Swann for getting Collingwood home. Watch him, closely. This great player hasn’t peaked yet.

 

And for the record, Patrick Dangerfield ended up with ten kicks, five beautiful illegal handballs, four marks, four tackles, sixteen pressure acts, one goal assist, seven contested possessions, three clearances and seventy dreamteam points. That’s enough for most two-winged players to get a game next week.

 

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