Summertime Sadness

Recent Ashes series have been brilliantly predictable instead of predictably brilliant.  Australia keeps losing.  Batting is the problem.


But no one need get seduced by England’s bowling.  The opening day of the Ashes could’ve been so much worse if England actually had quality bowlers.


But they don’t.  Their attack is good rather than great.  The stats don’t lie.  Jimmy Anderson has taken 329 wickets but averages 30.11.  Stuart Broad has 217 wickets at 30.58.  Chris Tremlett has 49 at 26.75 and Graeme Swan has 248 at 28.55.


England’s attack is good, but the averages are too high.  To borrow a line from Jack Dyer, they are good, average players.


They lack the potency and class of men like Richard Hadlee, Joel Garner, Shane Warne, Allan Donald, Glenn McGrath and Curtly Ambrose.


Yet Anderson, Broad and Tremlett ran through Australia’s batsmen.  The Australian top order keeps making the Poms look good.


Australia’s batting remains vulnerable to any sort of bowling, whether it is spin in India or swing, bounce and accuracy in Australia.


At the Gabba, the Aussies weren’t intimidated by pace.  The ball wasn’t swinging a foot or seaming six inches.


The Poms just bowled accurately, either short at the head or just short of a length.  They kept putting the ball in the right place, at 132km an hour.


It wasn’t speed that did over Chris Rogers and Michael Clarke.  They got out meekly to accurate balls that bounced.


Shane Watson, George Bailey and Steve Smith didn’t need to play at the balls that got them out.  David Warner, instead of whacking a wide ball for a boundary, bunted it to cover.


The top order should be embarrassed, particularly with the way Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson rebuilt the innings.


Those two, a keeper and a bowler, batted intelligently, leaving the wide balls and blocking the straight ones.  Anything short or full was walloped to the boundary.  Their 114-run partnership was based on discipline and intelligence, traits our top order are bereft of.


The Australian top order didn’t underachieve.  They need potential before they can underachieve.  They need consistency, and until recently, only Clarke has that quality.


But Clarke can barely move.  He got out to a ball he has never had trouble with before.  His degenerative back isn’t allowing him to duck or jump.  He is planking in the upright position.  Anything at the throat is a problem.


Those who have suffered a back injury can admire his courage, if not his determination to play.


As long as Clarke’s back provides the restrictions, he is a liability.  Although there is no one in Australia to replace him, he should not be playing with the agony.


Playing cricket isn’t easy.  To get out is to lose your dignity.  To get out like Australia’s top order did is to bat without dignity.


Watson, Warner and Smith are attacking batsmen who play with flair and abandon.  They’re good to watch, but they can’t handle pressure.  Rogers is classed as a fighter, so it is time to show some.


Australia will be lucky to make 300, a target the Poms will snigger at.  Then it will be up to the bowlers, again, to drag Australia back into the match.


Arguably, the Australian attack of Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Johnson and Nathan Lyon might be slightly better than the Poms.  But there is a problem.  England has a better batting line up than Australia.


Don’t expect them to crumble like Australia did.


Day two should belong to England, just like the first day.  And if Ian Bell gets away again, the Australian top order should watch closely, and concentrate on good batting.




About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…


  1. Had to work today so I only checked Cricinfo for scores and summaries, but thinking about Broad on the train on the way home I thought “poor man’s Glen McGrath”. “They keep putting the ball in the right place at 132 kph” just about says it all.
    I’m not worried as much about Bell, as the fact that Cook and Trott will want revenge for average seasons in England. Cook was awesome here last time.
    Pietersen will get 150 here or in Adelaide (or both). He’ll eat Lyon for breakfast. Straight breaks on that deck until at least day 4.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Spot on iron mike yep admire , Clarke for wanting to play but the hammer and tack is gone rendering him just about useless may be they could run a raffle at the gate allowing the winner to bat for us , CA are only interested in making money so I am sure it will be in place in time for our , 2nd dig no need to hurry . Correct weight and all clear re the pommy attack steady but no super star
    Pure technique wise abysmal , Rogers and , Smith just Stadled the crease back and across for goodness sake ! Kids might read !
    Predictably poor batting wonder if there is more chance of winning x lotto or aust fighting back ?
    Thanks Mike

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