MCG Test, Australia v India – Day Five: Bob Church, the Cherry Flicker and the Scarlet Pimpernel

A frustrating start to the final day with rain stopping play after only three balls from Sharma. Perhaps this will hurry up Steve Smith’s declaration. No time will be lost.

Unfortunately another shower delays the game further and this will cut the minimum overs number for the day.

Australia’s ‘tail wag’ becomes more superior again with Shaun Marsh and Ryan Harris moving past yet another 50-plus partnership. If you look back on all three Test matches, you will see the difference between the two teams has been the tail. The Australians put their head down whilst the Indians look like they are playing on the beach.

Spent lunch on Tuesday with the delightful Bruce Church, who at 82, is still as sharp as a tack. I happened to mention that my first Test match was Australia v India in 1948 (the fifth Test of that series). I told him that this was the only time I saw Bradman live on a cricket ground (Retired hurt 57 on the Friday. He hobbled out on the Saturday morning but did not bat again). “Ah” said Bruce, without pausing; “that was the day Harvey ran W.A.’Bill’ Brown out for 99”. I hope that level of recall will be the same for me when I reach that age.

The Indians are in no hurry around the ground and the defensive field placings keeping the run rate down. I believe Australia is in no hurry anyway and to go to Sydney two-nil will see them regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy which they lost in the last disastrous tour of India.

At last, a wicket as Harris (21) tickles one to Dhoni off Shami. Australia 8-303. Marsh is dropped by Ashwin of his own bowling and immediately attacks him with a six, then a boundary and a delightful shot for an easy two off consecutive balls. He is now approaching his third test century.

NO he doesn’t! Run out as he goes for a quicky against Yadav.99. Great work by Kohli. Australia bat on and at lunch they declare at 9-318  with Lyon on one and Hazelwood not yet having troubled the scorers. Sharmi, Sharma, Yadav and Ashwin finish the innings with two wickets each.

These Indians are kamikaze! What they have for lunch I would like to know. Any one would think they were in Neville Shute’s On the Beach. They are in such a hurry to get out before the earth ends.

Dhawan (0) goes to a beauty from Harris and is out LBW. India1-2. Pujara does not appear again. Shades of Brisbane. It is the newcomer Rahul and his second dig is no better than his first. On one, he top-edged Johnson to be easily taken by Watson. India 2-5.

Vijay (11) is unlucky to be given out LBW to Hazlewood as DRS showed it would have missed leg. India 3-19.

It will be up to Kohli and Rahane to repeat their first innings heroics if India are to hold on and not be humiliated by a crushing defeat. They are defending well in the first half hour but you are always waiting for Kohli to make a mistake – particularly with his running between wickets.

India is at it again! At the end of nearly every over the ‘runners’ are out on the ground with some sort of excuse. When are the umpires going to take COMPLETE control of the game? It is a cool day today and certainly the need for a drink and to change gloves is not there.

One thing about these two batsmen: they will take every possible short single. At 3pm they still have 306 runs to win and there is an air of confidence about their batting. Whereas other batsmen would have probably shut up shop, Rahane and Kohli still play as if there is a chance to win.

Lyon comes on and does get his cherry flicker to work as Rahane is bamboozled. The Young cherry picker-cum-off-spinner will need a few of those today if Australia is to give India the pip.

Did we mention it earlier? India has a mix-up in the middle but escape when Lyon drops the ball from brilliant work by Warner. At tea India are 3-104 with Kohli on 54 and Rahane a patient 33.

First ball after tea and Kohli (54) is out caught by Burns of a dolly from Harris. India 4-104. There seems to be an inordinate number of dismissals in this series within 10 minutes of a break. Must speak with Ric Findlay.

Pujara (21), the Scarlet Pimpernel (‘they seek him here, they seek him there…’), gets a ripper from Mitchell Johnson that takes his of bail. The upsetting of the batting line up by Pujara has caused problems with the Indians in the last two tests. The Pimpernel has been the problem. India 5-141

AM Rahane is having a great match and he continues to hold his team together until he to dollies a catch; this time to Marsh off Hazlewood. Out for 48. India 6-142.

Australia is in with a big chance now, as there are still some 16 overs to go. Dhoni (24) for the first time in the series steadies the ship after some initial swashbuckling slashes. He and Ashwin (8) hold out until both captains call the game off. India 6-174.

Harris, Johnson and Hazlewood finish with two each and the cherry flicker none.

Another fine game that did peter out at the finish, but continued to hold spectators to their seats throughout.

My Warwick Armstrong Votes:

3. Ryan Harris – was in the game throughout with both ball and bat.
2. Steve Smith – continues his consistent and brilliant season
1. Virat Kohli – the Jason Akermanis of cricket. Please let your bat do the talking

And now to Sydney where we should see the continuation of a great series. Let us hope the umpires take control of THEIR game.




About Bob Utber

At 80 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he wanted to do as a 14 year-old living on the farm at Lang Lang. Talking, writing, watching sport. Now into his third book on sports history he lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny ) and a groodle named "Chloe On Flinders". How good is that.


  1. Warwick Armstrong votes?!
    That’s some wonderful stuff again, Bob.
    Really enjoyed your daily observations from across this whole series.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Bob totally agree re umpires failing to take control re the time wasting crap great comparison re Akker and Kohli yep shut up ! Harris brilliant yet again

  3. Interesting obs Bob.
    I thought the Aussies were embarrassing…obsessed with throwing at Kohli’s end. Warner needs to grow up. Haddin and Johnson disappointing. Harris also lost focus. Kohli won.
    What about the declaration debacle? Lehmann, with besuited Pup at his shoulder, gave the call to the reserve ump as I saw it! Australia then had relentless meetings in the field as Smith switched plans like he jiggles his pads. Haddin may have nominally been happy to have been a deputy but just became another noise in Smith’s head. after all the “spirit of cricket” and “pride” crap post-Hughes’ death, the Australians have again been ungracious.

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