The Ashes 2015 – Third Test, Day 1: Swing, 1997, Mr Anderson; the consolations of Hegel

Stumps Day 1: Australia 136 (CJL Rogers 52, JM Anderson 6/47) v England 3/133

On a day’s play that mirrored Day 1 at Edgbaston in 1997, a classical exhibition of swing bowling has filleted Australia. As in 1997, only three bowlers were required to put England in the box seat in a match that will see a result.

It’s been a symphonic series, full of high notes from both teams; crescendo; boom. And it’s 1-1 after two.

Today has been a long day of Australia, of England, of footy, of cricket, of thought, of wondering, of philosophy. As Nothafagus cunnnghammi, mother of my children, philosopher at large, commonly says: it will all work out in the end; if it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end. Today I found and leant on a classical version of this phrase.

Today they’re at Edgbaston, Birmingham, for the Third Test. England have dropped GS Ballance for JM Bairstow. Jonny has averaged close to 100 for Yorkshire this year. And ST Finn is in for MA Wood. Big lad. At the toss everyone is talking, unimaginatively, about the toss. Good one to win. Australia, England, M Nicholas, SK Warne, MA Vaughan all agreeing that they would bat.
The sky looks a little dark to me.
And so we learn from history.

The game awaits. But I’m off to the Bud’s room to read a chapter from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
From their bedroom I hear:

DA Warner lbw JM Anderson 2 (1/7)

Soon enough, MA Slater and SK Warne greet me on arrival at the couch; two commentators suffering extreme levels of relevance deprivation syndrome; inherently self-obssessed. Peter Pan, of course, stopped aging in body as well as in mind. Sadly, the bodies of our commentators indeed age through time despite best efforts (“he used to do surgery, on girls in the 80’s, but gravity always wins…” – Radiohead, Fake Plastic Trees). Perhaps more sadly, their minds seemingly do not mature (“mate”). Tails, heads, tails again, ball selection duties, whether your mate BJ Haddin should have been dropped…

It’s moving around. Classic English conditions. Terry Alderman conditions. And all of the English quicks are landing the swinging cherry on a length. Love watching this.
Challenging conditions in which to bat for anyone, including…

SPD Smith c AN Cook b ST Finn 7 (2/18)

Yes even our man SPD Smith. Well, even DG Bradman made low scores.
Swinging ball, shuffling feet. This game is alive.

JM Anderson has been to the hairstylist during the week. But he’s too old to carry off the boy band look, despite the baby face nature of Englishmen, generally.

This is a big moment now for MJ Clarke. How he must yearn for the old days, when he’d peel of a double century without chance, tattoos still offering at least novelty value. Now it’s onto a treacherous stage he steps. Concern and doubt along for the ride. Chirpy English all around.

ST Finn hasn’t aged much, either. It’s the weak English sun that preserves these complexions. An Australian of the same age always appears older than a Pom. And now ST Finn sends down a beautiful full outswinger.

MJ Clarke b ST Finn 10 (3/34)

And with that somewhat lazy dismissal, darkness envelopes the Australian captain, and indeed, the Office of the Australian captain.

Rain falls. Players, umpires and pitch take shelter.
“This is fairly predicted,” says IA Healy of the rain, effortlessly speaking a language other than English in front of a (captive) live audience. And it’s been a fine English morning.  The ball swings. CJL Rogers, with short back-lift, minimal follow-through, bats on (that’s how you do it). Rain.


On this Test match day 1, the big story in Australian sport this day is sadly of Adam Goodes. For the time capsule, I mention it here. While our cricketers are taking on the Anglo-Saxon colonial masters, our indigenous football world is tearing itself apart, in a way that African-Americans would surely recognise. It’s difficult to fathom how this must be viewed internationally.
In the rain break I’m searching…

…and finding: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, born 1770.

A good portion of this is transcript from the School of Life video (included below), but I extrapolate some points to apply to societal handling of the booing of A Goodes.

Essentially, Hegel’s insight is that growth requires the clash of divergent ideas and therefore, that it will be painful and slow. Let’s assume that Australia and Australians now are growing. This will take time. And we could argue that current angst is a necessary pain for us to reach the next stage in our collective development. But at least when we know this, we don’t have to compound our troubles by thinking them abnormal. Hegel gives us a more accurate and hence more manageable view of ourselves, our difficulties and where we are in history.

Hegel’s work is based around several key ideas.

1. Important parts of ourselves can be found in history.

In Hegel’s day, a standard European way of looking at the past was to consider it as primitive and to feel proud of how much progress had been made to get us to the modern age. Plenty of people dispiritingly still think in this antiquated way. But in his book, The Phenomenology of Spirit, published in 1807, Hegel argued that every era can be looked at as repository of a particular kind of wisdom.

Progress is never linear. There is wisdom at every stage. A consolation here is that we are improving through time, but that at no point have we got life sussed. There is always a need for thought.

2. Learn from ideas you dislike

Bits of the truth are always scattered. No one has a monopoly on truth. We all have a viewpoint. So we should ask always: What sliver of sense and reason might be contained in otherwise frightening or foreign phenomena?

What good idea or important need might be hiding within racism, or within excuses for displaying what is received as racist behaviour? Could it be the need for people to feel proud of a perceived superiority. To identify with something beyond merely their own achievements? And to anchor their identities beyond the ego? Hegel is a hero of the thought that really important ideas may be in the hands of those people you regard at first glance as beneath contempt. Again, it pays to keep thinking.

3. Progress is messy

Hegel believed that the world makes progress but only by lurching from one extreme to another, as it seeks to overcompensate for a previous mistake. He proposed that it generally takes three moves before the right position on any issue can be found. A process that he named the dialekitk. He was often thinking about the complex twists and turns that brought about the modern state. We can also think about the slow path to sensible attitudes to women, domestic violence and race relations.

All this can seem the most appalling waste of time. But Hegel insists that the painful stepping from error to error is inevitable; something we must expect and reconcile ourselves to when planning our lives or contemplating history books. And sometimes, in this process of moving from error to error we will find a new solution that manages to synthesise the good qualities of the previous solutions to make something REALLY new, and different and better. Again, at the big picture level, we’re on the right track. Keep thinking.

4. Art has a purpose

We could think of sport for art here. Or of football as art. Hegel vigorously rejected the idea of art for arts’ sake. Painting, music, architecture, literature, footy all have a major job to do: we need them so that important insights can become powerful and helpful in our lives. Art is, in Hegel’s interpretation, the sensuous presentation of ideas.

Just knowing ideas often leaves us cold. For example in theory we know that Aboriginal life expectancy is a problem. In practice, however, we just switch off. In principle we know that we should be more forgiving to our partner, but this abstract concept gets forgotten at the least provocation.

The point of art, as Hegel realized, was not to come up with strange or startling ideas, but to take the good, helpful, important thoughts we already think we know, and make them stick more imaginatively in our minds. Events in and around football have achieved that end. What we can take from this is that it’s alright to be confused. It’s alright to be frustrated. But that we’ll get there.

School of Life – Hegel:


MA Taylor commentating now. Offering insight and thought. It’s possible. “Batting will get easier after lunch.”
SCJ Broad bowling beautifully.
CJL Rogers batting better.

3/72 at lunch
CJL Rogers 31, AC Voges 12

Do I go to bed now?
It’s been a day full of wondering. And a day containing one of those Shared Life Moments never to be forgotten. After school, Buddy Yum (8 years old) and I lost and then recaptured one of our two pet finches, Atticus. Attempting to transfer it to a new cage. Incredible scenes. Tea towel, fishing net, live scared loose bird, pair of calmly anxious humans…
I channelled Hegel.
Atticus is with us tonight. I’ll stay up a bit longer.


ST Finn restarts on a super line after lunch.
JM Anderson as always.
It’s odd to see Australia in the hands of two oldies here (where is our future?). But not for long.

AC Voges c J Buttler b JM Anderson 16 (4/77)

Things are rapidly following the 1997 script. At least the oldies showed a propensity to bide their time, though, as opposed to driving at the outswinger before they’re in.
It’s a poor shot. Third ball.

MR Marsh c J Buttler b JM Anderson 0 (5/82)

PN Nevill to the crease.
Here’s a Test.
Watching him take guard, I’m more confident than if BJ Haddin had been there. Let’s not forget that he was past it when dropped at Lord’s. He’s not been wronged.
On the positive side, PN Nevill has CJL Rogers alongside him. Could these two see out the day?
Not with JM Anderson swinging it both ways.
He’s got five slips.
Play and miss – ahh, outswinger.

Shoulder arms – ahh, outswinger

Shoulder arms – ahh, inswinger

PN Nevill  b Anderson 2 (6/86)

Still with five slips; Stokes at fifth slip.

Play a drive – ahh, outswinger.

MG Johnson c BA Stokes b JM Anderson 3 (7/94)

And that’s five for 5/22 for yer hairstyle. Wonderful wonderful bowling. Not unplayable (note: CJL Rogers), but wonderful. The moving ball has brought Australia undone well and truly. This match is following the form line of the 1997 Edgbaston Test alarmingly closely. SK Warne in commentary asks MA Taylor about the value of declaring here. Giving Australia’s bowlers the use of maddening conditions, the atmospheric portion of which can be expected to soon change. It’s a cunning line of thought. MA Taylor, though, opines that he’d prefer to take every available run at this point, given the pedigree of Australia’s bottom order.

And here, yet again, we have the humble pleasure of watching humble CJL Rogers batting humbly on. Yet another half century (amid the carnage). A walking advertisement for the value of patience and craft.  We learn from history. And yet, on a day dominated by England, who can deny SCJ Broad a wicket?

CJL Rogers lbw SCJ Broad 52 (8/110)

Or two?

MA Starc c JC Buttler b SCJ Broad 11 (9/119)

Or, for that matter, a crowning wicket for Mr. Anderson; proving as defiantly resilient and important as Neo in The Matrix.

NM Lyon b JM Anderson 11 (10/133)

These are some seriously good bowling figures for Mr JM Anderson: 14.4 overs, 2 maidens, 6/47.

Every time Agent Smith says: “Mr Anderson”


Right. We learn from history. In 1997 Australia were skittled for 118 on Day 1, before England reached 3/200 at stumps.

Today is a little brighter, as JR Hazlewood, who has bowled a terrific length all series, takes the first.

A Lyth c AC Voges b JR Hazlewood 10 (1/19)

And yet after finding themselves 3/30 in most Test innings recently, England has re-shuffled the batting order. IR Bell comes in at #3. Together with Captain Cook, they pass 50. Good signs for England. The wicket of AN Cook, though, is always a good sign for Australia.

AN Cook c AC Voges b NM Lyon 34 (2/76)

With IR Bell getting a start, JE Root comes to the wicket. Important not to let these two get away. And on a day affected by rain, extended with the help of floodlights, Australia take a late wicket shortly before an even later stumps.

IR Bell c DA Warner b NM Lyon 53 (3/132)

Play will resume tomorrow with Yorkshiremen JE Root on 30, JM Bairstow on 1. Thirteen wickets on Day 1 at Edgbaston – just like 1997. In the corresponding 1997 fixture, the Poms made 478 in reply when the sun came out; including a fourth wicket stand of 288 between N Hussain (207) and GP Thorpe (138).

What would Hegel say about this day? For now, I’ll go with: it will all work out in the end; and if it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end.

Radiohead – Fake Plastic Trees



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. Brilliant ER, weaving Hegel and A. Goodes into another Edgbaston (potential) debacle. Couldn’t believe the Poms were $4.25 before play here.

    Plenty to contemplate for Australia, for football fans, for Goodes. None can simply walk away.

  2. Another thing – Clarke’s dismissal very reminiscent of Ponting’s demise; falling over his feet, head all wrong, eyes nowhere near it. Rogers is the master here.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks OBP we continue to be diabolical against the moving ball and totally agree re Haddin can some 1 please do a 4 day rain dance

  4. Lovely stuff Big Dave.
    Agree just like Hegel that good will be reached through pain, but to the indigenious it’s more than just pain; it’s who you are being trampled on, your soul that is mangled and torched in a practice exam that is the school of life.
    I too winced through every minute of the Slater/Warne commentary combo. Do commentators fear silence like we fear death?
    Jimmy Anderson brilliant. I wonder if his record away from England is as good? Not meant as a put down, just a thought.

  5. Peter Flynn says

    Batted and bowled like a bunch of Immanuels

  6. E.regnans says
  7. Well played, e.r.
    I must say that I wholeheartedly agree with Hegel’s key ideas.
    Yes, James Anderson bowled superbly – it is one thing to have conditions to your liking, it quite another to then use them to your advantage.
    Suddenly, the pendulum has rapidly swung back the other way. Consider this: Warner is out of sorts (despite his 2nd inns dig at Lord’s), Clarke may well be done, Voges has a weakness outside off-stump and is totally unconvincing, M Marsh will only ever make runs when the conditions are to his liking (i.e. when he comes in at 4/300). That list is a worry.
    I am prepared to cut Nevill some slack – anyone who believes Haddin would have fared better has not watched the latter bat in the past 12 months.
    A question about Starc: at this point in his career, if he cannot get his line and length right, will he ever?

  8. Dave Brown says

    A question that was probably asked about Mitch Johnson at a similar stage of his career, Smokie. I suppose the question may be at what level he should be perfecting his line and length.

    Really enjoyed that read, thanks, Dave. Clearly Hegel is a flog.

    (that was a joke)

  9. Yvette wroby says

    Wonderful thoughts and contemplations. Really helpful as guide to riding out current conflicts. Thanks

  10. E.regnans says

    Cheers Yvette and all.
    Let’s keep thinking.

  11. John Butler says

    So much more than a cricket report E Reg.

    And of the cricket? Groundhog Day for Australia’s batsmen. But the bowling was poor as well.

    Rogers batting with humility – sums it up perfectly. If Warner could learn some genuine humility he’d actually be as good as Slater et al proclaims him.

  12. didn’t play much cricket myself – when my son first started on turf I asked for some advice from wise heads.
    “Get forward”.
    Warner, Smith and Clarke were all just stuck on the crease. 101 v swing bowling.

  13. Skip of Skipton says

    Has anyone nick-named Adam Lyth “The Beast” yet?

    I’m starting to like Warnie’s commentary. He will soon find the right mix of off-topic drivel, reminisces,
    by-by-ball stuff and tactical talk. His call last night to declare at 7/98 was a brilliant mind at work.

  14. Luke Reynolds says

    Superb ER. And well done on getting such a thorough report ready so early this morning.

    I stayed up and watched most of it last night. Couldn’t look away. Hopefully Smith and M.Marsh will be better next time against the swinging ball. Young and good enough to learn from this. The others are a worry.

    I wasn’t familiar with Hegel. I’m keen to hear more now.

    How bad is this commentary team? Missing Fox Sports coverage with the Sky Sports team more than I could have imagined. Eventually went with the radio coverage on the ABC with the TV sound turned down. Delay and all.

  15. The delay can be good – I find it a plus

  16. Bairstow boundary
    Root boundary
    aussies for one hour away from playing for a draw
    Those Johnson victories were brutes
    3rd man needed to dry up Root and we’ll bowl out the rest of ’em

  17. Mickey Randall says

    Brilliant David. So much to ponder.
    Hegel the Glenn McGrath of philosophers.

  18. Hegel always understood history had a propensity to repeat. One of those who was influenced by Hegel adapted this idea,, stating that, “history repeats, firstly as a tragedy, then as a farce”. How does this sit in the current equation ?


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