Melbourne Test – Day 3: el león y el bigote (the Lyon and the Moustache)

England 255 and 179 (KP Pieterson 49, NM Lyon 5/50)

Australia 204 (BJ Haddin 65, JM Anderson 4/67) and 0/30

The story today was of NM Lyon’s toil and reward with both bat and with ball and of the continuing hold that MG Johnson has on this series and of the continuing absence of pluck from the England tail and of the greater forces toying with every one of us.

Quiet roads. Quiet city. This is the best time of year to be in Melbourne as it is Melbourne without the traffic and without the people-as-obstacles. Already it’s got that baking intensity about it. Forecast maximum of 38 degrees Celsius. My old horse called Clarrie Grimmett is able to lazily cross and so does indeed lazily cross major thoroughfares without breaking stride. We see the odd person out for a run and take that as proof that odd people indeed do live around Melbourne. The last of the jacaranda blooms are holding on.

We canter through Edinburgh Gardens and even the recreational tennis players are keeping to the shade. It’s 9.30am. We pass rows of terrace along Napier Street and neither see nor feel any tribal divisions among them on this day. No Fitzroy. No Collingwood. No, today the entire colony is together; united in defiance of Old England. The roads and the paths are thickening and the Fitzroy gardens are thickening with people. All heading in the same direction and heading to the ‘G. The Yarra park eucalypts hang sentry in the summer heat. Clarrie Grimmett stops at the top of the hill, looking down upon the paddock.

There are the people. Everywhere there are the people. We trot around to the statue of Dick Reynolds classically performing a blind turn, and pause to reflect for a moment on how he would view the present Essendon hierarchy, also performing a blind turn. Entering the colossal stadium, we see even more people and they are swarming over the playing surface, carrying cameras, ropes, measuring tapes, bibs, paraphernalia. People are swarming on the concourse selling coffee, raffle tickets, “commemorative” lapel pins. Clarrie Grimmett eyes the leader of the Barmy Army theatrically clutching a cardboard shield and plastic sword. Pwwwwwww, he says.

With the mystery of theatre, the playing surface is cleared of hangers on precisely at 10:30am and we are reminded that a cricket game is underway with Australia 9/164 (BJ Haddin 43*, NM Lyon 0*). SCJ Broad opens from the Brunswick end to enthusiastic singing and NM Lyon cops one on the body. JM Anderson opens from the Prahran end to BJ Haddin and there’s a big drive. Misses. JM Anderson labouring with his 10-2 feet shuffling like Chaplin back to the top of his mark. BJ Haddin is picking them off and NM Lyon is looking the goods and the field is spread as AN Cook takes the second new ball. This is a risk. Clarrie eyes me ominously.

On cue BJ Haddin flays it and NM Lyon alternately dances to square leg and stands up straight and the English appear to be waiting for batsmen to get themselves out. Eventually they will, of course. But it can take time. And runs. By the time JM Anderson gets the last, BJ Haddin has been caught for 65, NM Lyon is 18* and Australia are all out 204. They put on a few. The first innings deficit stands at 51. It could easily have been more than that. Or less. And now it’s something that just is. JM Anderson finishes with 4/67; his best return of the series. NM Lyon and BJ Haddin sprint from the field. Support staff stampede onto the arena. It’s 29 degrees Celsius.

Seven minutes later the Australian XI stand, arms around each other. MJ Clarke is exhorting something. Is it a John Kennedy oration? Behind by 51 on 1st innings, Australia needs to pull something from the fire here. RJ Harris opens from the Brunswick end. MG Johnson from the Prahran end. In both cases, it’s fitting.

My horse Clarrie Grimmett tells me of the wind and tells me of simple grandstand physics. If a howling northerly races along from the desert country and buffets the MCG, the air rises over the stand and promptly drops. As it drops, it crashes into the viewers sitting in the Great Southern Stand. It sinks and races across the playing surface to the northern side, before rising as it confronts the immovable obstacles of the members and Olympic stands. Clarrie understands wind and says that when a northerly blows outside, a southerly appears to blow on the playing surface.

MG Johnson is fast under a searing blue sky and NM Lyon takes over from the Brunswick end and it’s only the 5th over of the innings. PM Siddle from the Prahran end as AN Cook knocks up 8000 Test runs for England. That’s a great effort, warmly applauded. It’s 0/32.

Clarrie Grimmett wanders down to the side of the field and finds plenty of room to graze as there’s been a huge reduction in the playing surface area. Ropes are placed 10 metres in from the fence and sightscreens are even on the grassed surface.

RJ Harris is back on. They are working in two-over spells. GJ Bailey dances around at square leg, running over to BJ Haddin between balls, clapping, encouraging. But it’s a flat MCG crowd now as the Poms get on top. The match is having a siesta. SR Watson and MJ Clarke stand alongside one another. Hands on hips. It’s 30 degrees Celsius. SR Watson trudges to the popping crease and bowls one that bounces twice before reaching BJ Haddin. And Clarrie Grimmett is interested to note that RJ Harris fields at 1st slip for the bowling of SR Watson, and fine leg for the next over from MG Johnson.

It’s 0/54 at lunch. England lead by 105, 10 wickets in hand. AN Cook 41, MA Carberry 5. The siesta continues. Grave scenarios await Australia at this rate.

SR Watson opens sedately after lunch from the Brunswick end and MG Johnson rapidly, but unthreateningly from the Prahran end. Cumulo nimbus clouds are building and it’s 33 degrees Celsius and we now see a short mid off for AN Cook, yet the sense remains of meandering cricket. AN Cook cuts a wide one from SR Watson for four to bring up 50 and over is called and SR Watson continues to stand mid-pitch with his hands to his face. Is it a lack of awareness on his part? Clarrie motions to his saddle bag in which I have packed a copy of “The Good Life” by Hugh Mackay, a Christmas present from my hermosa novia. I agree with Clarrie that we’ll post SR Watson a copy of this book.

NM Lyon is on from the Brunswick end and SPD Smith wears one at bat pad, right on the mitt. AN Cook keeps out a fast yorker from MG Johnson and then next pill, he’s out lbw. AN Cook accepts his fate admirably.
AN Cook lbw Johnson 51. It’s 1/65. Carberry 6*. Well batted, AN Cook.
Out comes the young chimney sweep of growing presence, JE Root. MG Johnson has a pep in his step. And now JE Root has been given caught behind to just his second ball. The match has awoken.  Only BJ Haddin (unreliable witness) and MG Johnson appealed for the catch, which JE Root chooses to challenge. The decision of the field umpire (out) is overruled by the third umpire.

The crowd is alive and present and now it’s PM Siddle at the Prahran end. It’s 34 degrees. It’s 1/85. Clarrie senses something and PM Siddle is around the wicket and he beats MA Carberry for pace and it’s LBW and he walks.
MA Carberry lbw PM Siddle 12. It’s 2/86.
And KP Pietersen is beaten by PM Siddle’s first ball and in the maelstrom, JE Root facing NM Lyon, hits to wide mid off and runs and big MG Johnson races around, stunningly, and collects the cherry and throws the stumps down, with JE Root, diving, caught short.
JE Root run out (MG Johnson) 15. It’s 3/87.
IR Bell is at the crease and NM Lyon continues to IR Bell and it’s a wide one that drops but IR Bell carries on with the shot, spooning one straight to MG Johnson at mid off.
IR Bell c MG Johnson b NM Lyon 0. It’s 4/87.
Clarrie is rearing and shaking his mane in the sun. We’ve seen three wickets in five balls.

Half an hour to tea, RJ Harris (Brunswick end) and MG Johnson (Prahran end). BA Stokes defends well but hares off for a single. PM Siddle picks up well but misses the stumps and a direct hit would have run out KP Pietersen at 4/103. And I say to Clarrie: Upon such chances, matches turn.

At tea England is 4/115 (KP Pietersen 14, BA Stokes 13). Half a dozen blokes in navy blue roll out a wheelbarrow to the centre. Lots of sweeping.

The last session starts with NM Lyon and PM Siddle and it’s 35 degrees Celsius. Cloudy. The MCG and all in her have been baked today but now we’re out of the oven and into the bamboo steamer. Cloud passes. We’re back in the oven.

BA Stokes is deceived, perhaps by the oven and bamboo steamer environment, perhaps by a change in pace from NM Lyon. Whatever, he lifts it straight to the very safe, though bruised, hands of SPD Smith at wide mid off.
BA Stokes c SPD Smith b NM Lyon 19. Pietersen 23*. It’s 5/131.

And now JM Bairstow is at the wicket and he plays a stylish orthodox lofted on drive for 6. And another. And now, at 4.10pm, the wind changes direction in the middle of NM Lyon’s over. We’ve had a baking northerly outside all day (ground level southerly). But the southerly cool change has arrived, as with the flicking of a switch (ground level northerly).

With the wind change, RJ Harris switches to now bowl from the Prahan end. And MG Johnson comes from the Brunswick end. There’s a wonderful element of being pawns to greater forces at play.

And as if with the atmospheric disturbance the game awakes from a second siesta and MG Johnson slides a fast one across JM Bairstow who’s late on it.
JM Bairstow c Haddin b Johnson 21. It’s 6/173. KP Pietersen 44*.

Clarrie is stamping with anticipation. We’re inside a swirling cauldron now. The crowd is noisy and we’re all well cooked. Plastic bags are on the breeze. There’s a huge shout for LBW for TT Bresnan’s first ball. Denied.

It’s NM Lyon into the breeze now from the Prahran end and it’s dropped to 21 degrees Celsius and bails are chaotically blowing off. Detritus is chaotically blowing across the field and drinks are taken at 6/174 and then with the second ball after drinks NM Lyon bowls TT Bresnan for 0. TT Bresnan picked the wrong length. It’s a referred decision but it’s out, bowled.
TT Bresnan b NM Lyon 0. It’s 7/174.

And now, three balls later, SCJ Broad, after a hefty booing, is caught at slip to NM Lyon.
SCJ Broad c Clarke b Lyon 0. It’s 8/174.
England has lost 3/1 for the second time in the innings
And NM Lyon has his 100th Test wicket. The team huddle of celebration looks heartfelt and looks like a team celebrating the success of its social glue or of its spiritual leader. This is a great moment. At the end of his two-wicket maiden, BJ Haddin runs down and tackles NM Lyon in further congratulations.

With all this carry-on, KP Pietersen decides it’s time to go and so he throws the bat at MG Johnson without reward and then throws the bat at NM Lyon and is beaten in flight. KP Pietersen tries to hit a six, only hits it a long way up into the swirling gale. RJ Harris takes the fine catch.
KP Pietersen c RJ Harris b NM Lyon 49. It’s 9/179.
NM Lyon has 5/50. He holds the ball aloft.
And now MG Johnson unsurprisingly fires out MS Panesar lbw 0. JM Anderson 1*. England all out 179. From 5/173 to all out 179.

Australia is set 231 to win it.

Clarrie Grimmett watches the roller on the pitch and reflects to me that our day began with SCJ Broad and JM Anderson bowling and now it will end the same way. Those two gents are well negated by the Australian opening pair and then MS Panesar bowls the second last and BA Stokes the last overs of the day.
Australia finishes at 0/30 (DA Warner 12*, CJL Rogers 18*).

The equation tomorrow:
Australia needs a further 201 runs.
England needs a further 10 wickets.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. 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. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. “The Good Life” for Watto? I assume it is the pictorial version. Tom and Barbara ride again with Clarrie’s help? I always had the hots for Felicity Kendall.
    Well played CG and EiiR. I heard scraps of play while touring the wineries of the Great Southern. Seemed a strange day (as all of this Test has been) with long periods of nothing happening and short periods of everything happening.
    Strange days indeed,
    Thanks for filling in the gaps.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Love your work E regnans and , Clarrie I like the reference re , Dick Reynolds and the
    Essendon farce also re , Anderson and Troy Chaplin they both move at the same pace equally shocking body language wise not sure who would stand the mark better geez
    Chaplin excels in that plenty of practice . Again a mystifying days cricket where has the guy gone who bats ugly occupies the crease and grinds runs eg , A Border gone ?
    Englands collapses of 3 for 1 and then 5 for 6 were pathetic , Bells shot lacked concentration and care these collapses reminded me of , Primary School Cricket
    We have had the , Swann situation were the rumour is strong that he was dropped and spat dummy big time and then his comments who ever they were aimed at to th way they thru away a strong position yest suggests major problems in the camp
    We wait to see if w can bat with more common sense and composure today
    Thank you for a entertaining morning read , E regnans and , Clarrie

  3. Like the colonial feel about this DW. Fine work. Fine work by the Aussies too. They’ve learned how to scrap hard. 231 might be tough but very achievable.

  4. I’m still trying to figure out how you smuggled a horse into the MCG. My record is 48 cans of XXXX into the Gabba. Pigs I can get my head around, horses…

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    BJ Haddin (unreliable witness). Well played.
    Superb work again David. CV Grimmett has delivered again.

  6. thanks all.
    It was a perplexing day.
    ABC radio, the perpetual summer background, looms brightly into the foreground today.
    CJL Rogers has a fifty presently.
    Gus – impressive smuggling. I understand your confusion, but Clarrie Grimmett, however, is not the kind to be smuggled. It’s just not possible.

  7. Mickey Randall says

    Beautifully crafted- pastoral and elegant. Almost sepia in tone, I enjoyed your recount. Well played.

  8. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Beautifully written Dave. Like the Brunswick End reference. Hope you don’t feed Clarrie too much Beeferino.

  9. Thanks Mickey, thanks Phil.
    We’re resting up in the shade now.
    Thinking of the series, It has been full of strange behaviours at unpredictable times. I guess that’s the same in life. MJ Clarke sets great fields, though, and seems to create opportunities.

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