The Ashes 2015 – Third Test, Day 2: Aussie shirts need more Starc

I feel heavy. Events, more worldly than Australian, have been weighing down on me. Whilst we have experienced a communal self-flagellation around the Adam Goodes saga, devastating events unfolding overseas remain unreported. A monumental tragedy has been revealed in the land of the free that we hear nothing about. Maybe the media juggernauts simply see no commercial reason to delve in.

 

I actually find winter heavy in any event. The dark and the cold hover like a thick tar roof. I like to see the stars at night and a relentless blue sky during the day. There is no weight in these things. The possibilities are endless.

 

I switched on the TV hoping for clear English skies and a vibrant Australian attack. I got none out of two. The skies over Edgbaston were grey and morose. Perhaps the conditions would assist the likes of Starc and Hazelwood in particular. Alas no. Hazelwood was trundling in like a bloke playing park cricket, and Starc needed reminding that the mowed strip of grass was what he should be aiming at. There were a few occasions where the batsman could have taken block and square leg and still got bat on ball.

 

We had the Poms at 3 for 142 when Mitchell Johnson unleashed two deliveries the likes of which I have never seen. The victims were Bairstow (why did Malcolm Blight leave him on Matera in 1992?) and Stokes. Both deliveries were aimed at the throat and chased the batsmen like Exocet missiles. Hapless, they could only wave their arms around in the air as the red rockets honed in on the jugular. The balls flicked the gloves and Nevill grabbed the catches. 4/142. Then, 5/142. The Aussies were back in it.

 

Johnson rested and Starc took up the challenge. It was almost embarrassing. Joe Root got out because he felt sorry for poor old Starc who just couldn’t hit the pitch. Ball after ball whizzed past the batsman and ended up in front of second slip. Nevill, in trying to keep to this rubbish, was giving his hammies an enormous workout. Finally Joe Root dangled his bat at a ball that was almost unreachable and got a nick. It may well have been the worst wicket taking ball in the history of Test matches. Buttler followed shortly after and the Poms were teetering at 7/190.

 

Unfortunately for the Aussies Moeen Bradman (nee Ali) came in and belted the Poms back into the ascendancy. Has there ever been a more infuriating opposition batsman? Most of the time he looks like a wicket waiting to happen, then he unleashes the most majestic of cover drives. He plays cricket like Diesel Williams used to play football; he accumulates. Before you know it he has banked 30 runs. He and Broad, IMHO, bat the Aussies out of the game. When we finally uproot the Poms they’ve made 281. That’s about 81 more than we can afford. We trail by 145.

 

Rogers and Warner start steadily. My eyelids fall across my eyes like the covers over a wet pitch. Sleep. Glorious sleep. I will awaken and we will be 2/156. Warner will be carving them up and Smithy, with his olde world features and shuffling style, will be skipping down the pitch like a kid on a beach. The sun will be shining. The Ashes will have all but returned.

 

I hear some rain on the roof. No it’s not rain, it’s the sound of wickets clattering. The Aussies, the worst really good team to leave our shores, are capitulating. The old man of the sea, Rogers, has gone for 6, Smithy 8, and Ponting 3 (Ponting is Michael Clarke’s new nickname). Clarke is gorn. Feet, eyes, composure are all astray. He’s falling over like Ricky did when father time caught up with him. All great athletes eventually fall over. Even the great Joe Louis fell. The Aussies are 3/76 when Adam Voges’ career ends. Golden blob. Sad. Fancy throwing a 36 year old bloke in and hoping for success. Mitch Marsh, who bowled with heart and intent, can’t repeat with the bat. He’s bowled by Finn, the unlikely destroyer, who has captured 5/45. The red crunchy cheeks of the English crowd are glowing. My mood boils.

 

The day ends. Australia hangs by a thread. 7/168. A lead of 23. Nevill and Johnson are at the crease. Nevill has grafted and scratched and toiled like a good cricketer should. We can still make a game of this. We can still get 150 in front and charge in for all we’re worth. But could someone please tell Starc to get the ball on the pitch.

About Damian O'Donnell

OK - which is the odd one out: Love the Cats and flannelette shirts, especially in winter. I get on extremely well with red wine. We just seem to hit it off. Love horse racing in Spring. Used to love cricket. Go to Stawell every Easter and contemplate life around the fire. Love water skiing, especially in summer. Get meaning from catching a beautiful curling wave. Love a great oil painting. Will read most things put in front of me. Thought 'The Sopranos' was the best TV show ever made - by miles. Run an accounting practice in Melbourne's suburbs.

Comments

  1. Peter_B says:

    The Avenging Eagle had finished with Netflix by tea time. Should I take sole possession of the idiot box and watch the last session? Bed and the BBC radio description seemed more inviting. I drifted off. Clarke and Voges soon followed me. Ho hum.
    Thanks for filling me in on what I didn’t miss, Dips.

  2. Bring back Watto!

  3. Finn de siecle?

  4. E.regnans says:

    Good one Dips. “I find winter heavy in any event.”

    Watching this fluctuating series, in one way, it’s funny how individual performance depends so much on conditions. But in another way, it’s no surprise at all.
    Exploiting swing and guile, the English bowlers’ planning and execution of a wicket have been a pleasure to watch. All bar CJL Rogers have appeared as sitting ducks. And yet, it’s supposedly within a batsman’s power to adapt, to learn, to show match and self-awareness.

    Perhaps SPD Smith’s amazing run of form has masked deeper problems in the batting order.
    He’s rarely failed of course. And when he did once in the West Indies, A Voges made a ton.

    Its alright to fail, But it’s not so bright to seemingly offer no resistance.
    What’s the plan for batting to a swinging ball?
    Is anyone batting a metre out of their crease?
    Is anyone taking a different guard?
    Is anyone choosing to remove certain strokes from their repertoire?
    Awareness. Plan. Execution. 0/3.

    Poms on the other hand; terrific. Good swing bowling sucks me in like good leg-spin bowling.
    I could watch it all day (and night).
    Thanks Dips.

  5. E.regnans says:

    And we don’t historically bowl that well to SCJ Broad.
    Nor to lower orders, generally.

    Again, there seemed a lack of Awareness, Plan, Execution for dismissing Broad and MM Ali.
    At the time, you could see this was a match-winning partnership.
    And yet there was a spread field, absence of real intent for a wicket.
    Puzzling.
    But well batted those two.

  6. Luke Reynolds says:

    Good work Dips.
    Clarke is gorn. I like Nevill’s fight. And his glove work. A 150 run lead looks near impossible. But we can hope.

  7. It’ll be over by lunch. I still expect us to bounce back in the next test(s). THe two sides are very evenly matched, thus a repeat of the 1972 result 2-2 drawn series makes sense.

    Glen!

  8. Look at the AustA match in India and enjoy the prospects of a “team makeover” – they’re playing a pretty good India rep side with Kohli at 3!
    Nevill’s footwork with thr gloves is a revelation – good keepers (cricket and soccer) only dive late…his feet get him to the best position.

  9. Peter_B says:

    Starc is in the side for his batting. Voges for his fielding. Nevill is an obvious #3, with Smith at #4. Mitch Marsh is a bowler who bats at #7. Where do we find a #5 and #6 now that we’ve sacked Clarke and Watto?

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