The Ashes 2015 – Fourth Test, Day 1: This is supposed to be a Test Match

There’s been a lot of conjecture about what’s been happening behind the scenes of this Ashes tour.

The dropping of Shane Watson after the first Test was met with universal acceptance. Everyone assumed the natural order of the world was achieved after Lord’s, but then things started to unravel at Birmingham.

The failure to return Brad Haddin back into the team was the first crack in the armour. The defeat, nearly within two days, saw the armour loosen up even more.

Talk of team disquiet with Captain Clarke, his relationship (or lack thereof) with the coach, Lehmann’s similarly fractured relationship with Chairman of Selectors Rod Marsh. The “chief’s” don’t seem to be on the same page.  Things don’t seem to just right in the camp.

It’s a typical freezing, overcast day in Nottingham and the pitch looks like it’s been prepared by Ashley and Martin. The grass is long and bright green – it’s going to grow some more. It looks a bit soft on the screen.

If anything, it looks underdone and needs at least another couple of hours under the heavy roller.

Cook wins the toss and puts us in. But there’s another selection surprise from Australia, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh is replaced by his brother Shaun, who will bat at 4 and Michael Clarke drops down to 5.

Considering you’re one down with two to play, taking 20 wickets is a must and the selectors have chosen to go into the game a bowler short. If this was more like a wicket we saw at Cardiff, there would be genuine doubts of the capacity to get those 20 scalps. It makes me wonder if this is the XI the captain wanted.

Stuart Broad starts around the wicket to Chris Rogers, who has never had a duck in 24 tests, shame about breaking that drought on the third ball of the match. Three balls later, Steve Smith is walking back to the pavilion. Disastrous start for Australia, yet 10 runs still came from that over.

At the other end David Warner survives only two balls from Mark Wood. It’s 3 for 10 after only eight balls. Clarke chops one in half but it misses the stumps and runs down to fine leg for four. Fifteen runs from the first two overs, shame about the 3 wickets.

Shaun Marsh lasts only four balls. Four for 15. Voges falls to a stunning catch by Ben Stokes. 5 for 21.
The stage is set for Michael Clarke to earn a knighthood. Dig in, lead from the front, slash at a wide one from Broad and edge it straight to Cook at first slip. The Knight’s armour is gone. It’s a bloodbath in the centre and behind the scenes we can only imagine the rumoured tense atmosphere in the dressing room has become an even colder place to be.

In the modern dressing room there is nearly more support staff than there are players. What has the batting coach, Michael De Venuto done to assist the batsmen in the team to adjust their technique’s for the prevailing conditions? Not much based on the evidence of the capitulation of the first five wickets.

The commentary is starting to drive in the knife. On Test Match Special they are saying that the Australians didn’t know the make-up of their eleven until the huddle on the field before this morning’s warm up. It is generally understood the team is known at least the night before. Voges was convinced he was already dropped and Peter Siddle believed the conditions demanded his selection for this game. The horse for the course.

All this carnage while England’s spearhead sits in the dressing room with a side strain from the last Test.

Nevill is now cleaned up by Steve Finn. 7 for 31. Roberto Duran is saying “No Mas.”

Starc and Johnson are at the crease with the ball less than an hour old. Shame they’re batting.

Starc and Johnson go after drinks in identical fashion, caught Root from Broad. 8 for 46, 9 for 47. Ironically Nathan Lyon looks the most accomplished with the bat in his hand. How is he batting behind Hazlewood?

Broad finishes with 8 for 15 as Australia are dismissed for 60 from only 111 deliveries, the quickest first innings in Test history.

Now a nasty little 12 minute session for the England openers before lunch and once again, the one bowler the English are genuinely scared of won’t be bowling. Never looked like taking a wicket and the Poms go to lunch with 13 on the board.  There’s still 66 overs to be bowled.

After the break the ball finally gets into Johnson’s hands and the intensity has lifted, but again no wickets.  Starc then comes on and gets Lyth snicking and Bell trapped in front. 2 for 34 and we are in with a chance of rolling them for 150.

The verbs, Cook and Root, build a partnership of 62 until Cook is trapped by Starc again.

We have taken 3 for 80 in the session, normally a situation you claim to have the upper hand.

After tea, Bairstow and Root dominate. Hazlewood is ineffective, perhaps Peter Siddle was right?

Bairstow chips Hazlewood to Rogers in front of square on 74 just before stumps, but the damage is done as England’s lead is 214 and Root has been a class above in his century.

There’s been no fightback at any stage today, with either the bat or ball.  Totally outplayed, to the point of embarrassment.

About Wayne Ball

Tragic fan of the Australian and NSW cricket teams (for those of you outside NSW, there is a difference, despite what David Hookes said). Not a fan of T20. Penrith Panthers are the only club of decency and all which is good in Rugby League, the Waratah's were once the national team of Rugby Union, the first non Victorian team in the VFL/AFL is the Sydney Swans, and they all enjoy my passionate support. Sings for Wanderers. Internationally, I have been to see the Oakland Athletics and Green Bay Packers play. One day, I'll see Norwich City play for the FA Cup at Wembley.


  1. E.regnans says

    Great stuff W Ball.
    Love to have been a fly on the wall of the Australian rooms there.

    I wonder who gets the job of “joke of the day” tomorrow.

  2. NWeidmann says

    Good read mate, was horrible to watch, changes to the team need to be made.

  3. Spot on Wayne. We seemed to believe the pre- tour hype of how good we were disregarding the fact we’d not won a series in the UK since 2001, and our OS form per se was nothing to write home about. The Lords victory now seems like an aberattion Clarke, Haddin, Harris, Watson are all going to be former test players. Rogers and Voges for different reasons will also become former test players. That is all good and proper, but where rae the batsmen in waiting. Bowllers we have a few, ditto Keepers but there’s a dearth of batting options. Burns, Kwahja, and ???

    Seriously can some one tell me the last time Extras top scored for Australia ?


  4. Good one Wayne. Your mate TBayliss has shown a strategic intent and consistency of application that have shamed the self-appointed geniuses of Cricket Australia. Well played that man.
    Don’t agree with you about Haddin. Nevill is twice the batsman and keeper at this stage of their careers.
    If playing the best performer creates internal dissent it just shows that the lunatics have been running the asylum for too long.

  5. Wayne Ball says

    The debate about Haddin’s place in the team wasn’t so much about form and ability, it was about the manner in which the change occurred. Reality is if Haddin didn’t voluntarily stand down from the Lord’s Test, he would have played and would have held his spot as part of a winning team.

    As for who is running the Asylum, the fractured relationships between the Chairman of Selectors, the Coach, the Captain and then the rest of the squad is demonstrating there is a vacuum in the leadership.

  6. I still don’t get the Haddin point Wayne. He has been carried on the basis of “don’t change a winning team” for far too long. Along with Watson.
    Mates rates.
    If my wife gets sick and the boss hires a replacement that shows my work has not been up to scratch, I get sacked. End of story.
    Haddin should count himself lucky that he got 12 months more than his form deserved. The fractured relationships are a symptom of the problem that the lunatics have been running the asylum for too long. Not the cause.
    Noone likes having the bar closed at a party, or having to pay the tab,

  7. Yes this tour has not been what many of us were encouraged to believe. All the hype about the 5-0 2013-14 Ashes series, the ODI World Cup victory covered up the reality we are not as good as we’re made out to be. there is no stand out Test team out there, we are flat track bullies ta home, not much chop away. Test cricket is in flux, totally beholden to the BCCI, and other powerful players in the sub continent. Where this lead stets cricket I don’t know, but in the current context the Australian side has quite a few players who have no part in our future , but who does ? Clarke, Haddin, Watson, Rogers, Voges, Siddle S Marsh are not our future, but who is ?

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