The Ashes – Adelaide Test: Aussies one hand on the urn

Australia 442 (Marsh 126 n.o., Paine 57, Khawaja 53, Warner 47, Cummins 44, Smith 40, Overton 3-105) and 138 ( Anderson 5-43, Woakes 4-36)


England 227 (Overton 41 n.o., Lyon 4-60, Starc 3-49, Cummins 2-47) and 233 (Root 67, Starc 5-88, Lyon 2-45, Hazlewood 2-49)

Australia win by 120 runs


My observations of the test match:

1. Bizarre captaincyRoot wins the toss in Adelaide and sends Australia in – It was hardly a green tinged wicket. Yes, it was cloudy but it was windy and England very quickly gave the indication it wasn’t a decision with full support with poor body language and almost resignation; what in the hell are we doing out here. England also bowled way too short and gave Australia a huge advantage in the end.

Smith not enforcing the follow on – it had hardly been hot exhausting weather nor had the Aussies been forced to bowl a ridiculous amount of overs. Yes, Woakes and Overton had staged some sort of rearguard action but isn’t the golden rule of sport do what the opposition wants least? England quite rightly would not have wanted to face a new pink ball under lights at that time. Surely a day/night test needs thinking outside the accepted norm nowadays. For mine we are still spooked by Laxman and Dravid at Kolcutta in 2001.

Smith two reviews on the forth day – showed a sign of panic and were not clearly thought out by the Aussie side especially the lbw Malan off Hazelwood clearly high


2. Poor umpiring – as bad as I can remember in a test match in Australia. Now, after Gaffaney had given Shaun Marsh out and been overruled by DRS, surely Chris Gaffney had to think re. height. But, no, he then gave Tim Paine out – it would have been plumb if the stumps had been a giraffe. In the end both Aleem Dar and Chris Gaffaney were just guessing. The caught behind Dar gave re. Woakes on the last day smacked of ‘I have no idea DRS, you decide’. I think it was over rules in the end both umpires should have been walking onto the ground with a guide dog. Dar has been terrible for quite a while now and surely so many errors should have had him replaced on the panel by now (is it purely political that he has kept his spot?), while Gaffaney was just way, way out of his depth. Surely international cricket can come up with 15 or so competent umpires and a shame that the neutral umpires are seemingly a long way below the Australian and English umpires who are therefore ineligible to umpire an Ashes test match.


3. Shaun Marsh – while I wouldn’t have picked him no-one can deny that he hasn’t been vital so far. His 126 not out was a master class in concentration and just basically keeping at it. Didn’t really play any expansive shots till he had brought up his ton, with the straight hit six the shot of the match. Geez, he nailed it!


4. Pat Cummins – all-round game is vital to the future of Australian cricket. Pat can really bat and with his technique could definitely end up as a all-rounder. I thought he was the obvious choice as night watchman as he is more than good enough to continue the next day. I predict a test ton if used properly – he will also have some very important partnerships during his career. He bowled without luck in this game to only get three wickets. He deserved better than that. Mind you, one of those wickets was Joe Root in the first dig.


5. Nathan Lyon – roll back the clock 12 months and it was only Steve O’Keefe failing a fitness test which kept the GOAT in the side. A year on and Nathan has serious claims to being the best spin bowler in the world. His fielding again was excellent with that brilliant caught and bowled. Not only is he clearly outbowling Ali, he has dismissed him in every innings.


6. Mitch Starc – is the best sorbent toilet paper bowler in the world (he cleans the tail up beautifully). Australia’s bowling quartet all contributed at various stages. The depth and variety in our bowling attack is far superior to England’s.


7. England in Mark Stoneman, Bernie Vince, Dawid Malan, Chris Woakes – are very good B-grade cricketers who seem to have huge problems delivering an A-grade performance on a consistent basis.


8. Moeen Ali – is a batsman who, in reality, seems to be short of being a genuine top six player and is just a spinner. Plenty of better spinners than Ali have been found out in Australia; he is being added to the number.


9. What a fantastic crowd – just short of 200,000 people. Adelaide is the social test match capital of the world – out the back of the members continues to grow and grow. It is something that us Croweaters should be proud of. It has me beat that other states and countries aren’t trying to copy, or are they but just nowhere near as well? Flynny, Citrus Bob, Smokie Dawson (and anyone else), your thoughts?


So we head off to Perth with the Aussies having one hand on the urn. Can the Poms fight back? Would you have bought in Maxwell for Handscomb? Any other thoughts?


Catch up on the rest of the Footy Almanac coverage of the Adelaide test HERE. And, don’t forget the wonderful Adelaide #Almanac280, results HERE.


  1. Find myself in agreement with you on all things except Dar – not sure he is that bad really but would be interested to see his DRS performance over the last year – maybe we need a way of assessing the verdicts. I thought the Lyon LBW reversal was tough because the ball looked to be going down leg to me – but ball tracker had it crashing into leg like there was some sort of optical illusion at play. Feel for Gaffaney on that occasion but yes he didn’t seem to be mostly guessing. Maybe umpires need to be wearing earphones plugged into a stump mic? Dar probably just down on confidence right now.

    I totally agree with Cummins being a star on the rise – such an inspiration from how far he has had to come back from injury and clearly hasn’t lost any pace or venom. Love a bowler who can bat and values his wicket. Lyon is an enigma – bowls like he knows he belongs and has the confidence of the entire team, and clearly for good reason. Langer was clever to identify him as the song custodian if I recall correctly.

    I vote give Handscomb another chance on the bouncy deck which should suit his style. Yes Maxwell is bashing the door down – but let him sweat a bit and demonstrate his depth of character as he bides his time and maintains his form. He is not quite in the Brad Hodge bracket yet.

  2. Steve wood says

    All good calls Malcolm.
    I also thought Tim Paine showed why he was called up too.
    Shocking decision by root to start the match when conditions were so windy.
    Not sure why we persisted in bowling so short to Overton once he showed he could sort of handle a bat either.
    Totally agree with the follow on call too.

  3. Bill Drodge says

    Yes Malcolm, a very bizarre Test Match.

    Strange decisions from both Captains. I can see some logic in Smith’s decision not to enforce the follow on. I can’t see any logic in Root’s decision to not bat first. It might have been an admission that he wasn’t confident in his batting line-up? His bowlers wouldn’t have been happy, after not taking a wicket a few days earlier in Brisbane and now back out in the field again. Bayliss backed up Root’s decision, claiming it was the best way for England to take 20 wickets. Really? A bit of scoreboard pressure, and a 2nd Aussie innings on day 5 would’ve given them a better chance. (they still didn’t take all 20 wickets in the match anyway !)

    There were many twists and turns, as well as weird tactics from both teams. Root had is funky field placings, which he stuck to in spite of missing the obvious other needs in the field sometimes.

    Having not enforced the follow on, and then surviving a nightmare of a night session, the Aussie batsmen seemed to be in a hurry at the start of day 4. Yes, history suggests they may have had enough runs. But by not taking their time with the bat, they gifted England the best session of the day for batting. This enabled the Poms to start their innings before the night session. Was batting that bad at the start of Day 4? It didn’t seem as bad when the Poms batted in the middle session.

    With an older ball, the Aussie quicks didn’t get the same results as the Poms the previous night. Cummins effort late tin that session was crucial.

    After such an unusual and quirky Test Match for 4 Days, it all then went to script with the usual batting collapse on day 5! Game Over.

  4. Eric Weltner says

    Joe should have consulted Bob Willis, the last England captain to win the toss and bowl at Adelaide Oval. And it was pretty much the same result – Australia scored 400+ in the first innings and went on to win the Test.
    I also said at the time that I thought Smith missed a trick by not enforcing the follow on. Absolutely ideal conditions for it, new ball under lights. Instead, England was able to fight their way back into the game. Never mind though, Australia is now 2-0 up and needs just one more victory from the last three Tests to regain the Ashes.
    A LOT of DRS reversals in this Test. The umpires seemed very slow to comprehend the extra bounce in the track. It was obvious to everyone else except them that the length balls were going over the top.

  5. Martin Rumsby says

    The DRS has changed the game for umpires, players and spectators. From the umpiring perspective I didn’t think that too many of their decisions in this test were howlers. In pre-DRS days there would not have been too many raised eyebrows at the decisions made. I think the DRS has resulted in more batsmen being given out LBW because ball-tracking can indicate the top of leg stump being hit, whereas previously an umpire needed to be confident that the ball would be hitting middle-and-leg or middle-and-off no more than two-thirds of the way up. It is also interesting to observe the discussions amongst players when considering to ask for a review. A full-hearted appeal from all members of the fielding side can suddenly turn into a decision not to ask for a review of a “not out” verdict from an umpire. From the spectator perspective the DRS has added theatre and an increased confidence that the right decision has been made. I’m not sure that the public is too fussed about whether the umpires initially get close calls wrong or right because the technology is now the ultimate arbiter (as long as a team hasn’t lost their right to a DRS review).

  6. Jeff Milton says

    Made no sense for Joe Root to choose to field. Would only do that if you thought you could knock Australia over in 2 sessions or less. If they had done this then England would have had to bat against a fresh Australian attack with the new ball in the evening session.
    Modern Aussie teams don’t follow on.One reason given is the massive comeback by India after being 274 behind in India in 2001. I just googled this and this game had no immediate effect on Australia enforcing the follow. In fact the captain who tookover after that series (and played in that game) Steve Waugh enforced the follow on a 100% of the time and then Ricky Ponting just under half. Since then virtually never. I assume the reason is fear of fast bowlers getting injured. Given a new pink ball under lights did not lead to a follow on what would?

  7. I thought I heard a statistic that 70% of the crowd were not from South Australia.

  8. What did Ian Chappell say about winning the toss and putting the other mob in? And I am not convinced that some backroom boffin staring at a laptop computer chart of bowlers’ numbers did not have a big say in the follow-on decision. Like the rest of the world, too many computers.

  9. A wonderful Test Match, RB. There is nothing like Test cricket.
    Some excellent points in this piece. I agree, I really think Pat Cummins is a super-star in the making.

    Was great to catch up and have a chat on Day 1, Malcolm. Yes, the SACA should be very pleased with the event that they put on. I note that the MCC are dipping their toes in the water in this respect by putting marquees in Yarra park just outside the Members during the Boxing Day Test.

  10. Dave Brown says

    Sound analysis as always Malcolm. I actually don’t have that big of an issue with either captain’s call – I think they had a much smaller influence on the game than the actions of individuals within the game. England bowls a better line on Day 1 and they may have skittled Australia for 200. Australia bats with more resolve on Day 4 instead of chucking their wickets away and they are defending 400+ with a swinging night ball in hand.

    As you say Pat Cummins’ figures don’t do him justice. He was instrumental in slowing the English run rate late on Day 4 and then capped it off with a wicket. He makes a very good bowling partner for Lyon. Moeen should be batting below Bairstow.

  11. Peter Tisato says

    Excellent test to watch.

    Pat Cummins – the next Keith Miller?

  12. Mitch Starc is very hot and cold but bowls wicket taking balls. Bowled 3 swinging play and misses in one over and then followed up with an over containing 4 pies on leg stump. But always seems a chance of taking a wicket. Hazelwood was also poor at times but good on the last day. There is probably not much between the teams but the conditions suit us (Eng no hope in Perth), not sure we will do too well in England next time unless Anderson retires as the batters can handle swing bowling. Home teams are dominating tests at the moment as there are no teams without weak links that get exposed overseas and home ordered pitches (not that Adel was). Time for an independent overseer of pitches so greentops of England and dustbowls of India are no more – just a decent surface whenever possible.

  13. Peter Warrington says

    Model i was the same with Lyon’s one, you could see both middle and off at thee point of contact. i am back to banning ball tracking and just using DRS for issues of fact eg in this case the umps says “not out, it was missing leg” – no review possible. but if he said “struck or pitched outside leg”, that IS reviewable, because it’s measurable fact.

    Model I understand the logic re making them wait, but Maxwell is in the best form of his life and Handscomb the worst, Khawaja looks out of sorts and Warner is jumping when he plays. Bancroft an unknown. Those 400 runs Maxwell just scored for Victoria could have been made for Australia. (He will get picked for Pakistan in UAE whenever and when out of form and then cop the “geez he’s had so many chances” line…)

    Cummins bats the house down but we really don’t want to blunt his attacking edge, his lift, or to cloud his brain. Bat him at 8,. enjoy the bonus runs he scores. Use Starc as the pinch tonker because, like Johnson, that’s all he has. Can bat anywhere from 5-11 as long as tonking is required.

    obviously bowler bias but i couldn’t believe Haze wasn’t given Malan in real time. i almost woke the kids with the “he’s plumb” roar from the lounge. still morally out. if it hits the pad, just give them. scum, really, these batsmen creatures.

    and Martin, I definitely agree that more borderline decisions are given. I hate to go there but Watto copped a lot of “ump’s calls”, lunging forward, big offcut or inswing, speculative “out” call, randomised ball tracking suggests “umps” call, so out, and he pilloried for “stupid reviews”. would never have been given “back in the day”. and at least now on those ones he wouldn’t have wasted a review.

    meanwhile, who is into Ussie for “wasting a review”. Ah, Watto, why did we hate you so???

    Lastly, hurrah to that dude from the Melbourne Stars, who flamed Hohns and co, called the selection process – and the selectors – antiquated, and demanded that Lehmann and Smith front the media, and this Maxwell, and explain why, after being told to go get big runs, and answering with 278 and then 96, what they had really meant was that he should have learned how to be a C-grade trundler.

    PS I noticed Alastair Cook will be 33 on Christmas Day but they are already preparing the Crucifixion. Poor bugger : (

  14. charlie brown says

    Great write up Malcolm.
    But I’m with Martin Rumsby and others in that I don’t think the umpiring was diabolical. Seemingly exaggerated ball tracking made the LBW decisions look worse than they were.
    Fantastic work by the Oval ground staff to produce a superb 5-day pitch. Best cricket wicket in Australia.
    At the risk of being howled down I’m not a fan of the day-night test match. We’ve experienced the novelty factor. Great for TV and socialising but back to a 11am start for mine.
    And there is something very wrong when someone who has been a member for 38 years finds it more comfortable in the outer than in the members.
    Lyon, again, showed superb technique, form and confidence. 400 wickets maybe?

  15. Good write up RB.
    Great that the pink ball test went into 5 days.
    I think we needed you somewhere on Friday night with those flyers, the Kensi breaky was a bit quiet this year. Needless to say I didn’t see a ball of cricket until Sunday arvo.

  16. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Model for mine both umpires re bizarre not taking the amount of bounce anywhere near enough ( Smith also ) Handscomb looks mentally shot at the moment hope gets thru it,Maxwell enormous amount of ability have to question his ability to conform and fit in.Steve just bizarre re Root and great to see a natural keeper instead of Wade who tried hard huge difference.Bill couldn’t agree more yes while we could all work out re not enforcing the follow on the decision to send the aussies in bizarre to say the least and our batting in the 2nd dig lacked patience.Eric I thought of Bob Willis as soon as it was announced and totally agree.Martin I felt Paine and Root decisions were howlers not taking in to account re bounce and way to many guesses for mine yep agree re theatre may be I am being to precious re the original decision.Milts you nailed it.Tim only shows how the test match is a real selling point for the state and vital for tourism.Smokie the potential of Cummins is obscene and good to hear re Vic hopefully I will be there on Boxing Day.Dave I just think the advantage re batting at Ad oval is to big to give up in general and yes the lack of resolve in our 2nd dig could have been very costly and totally agree re England’s batting order.Peter I reckon that is a great call sports scientists worrying about workload so much will probably prevent,Cummins from reaching his full all round potential.

  17. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Byron Bay Starc at times probably tries to attack to much but that is his role in the bowling attack if a opposition took to Lyon it would place more pressure on him to contain at the moment he can afford to try and blast opposition batsman out and a lot of problems re cricket world wide for touring teams is the lack of decent warm up games agree totally re pitches.Peter I just reckon ball tracking must be improved we want this technology and it to be as fool proof as possible agree re Maxwell.Khawaja was good in the 1st innings in particular and re reviews that night the ball was just doing so much more benefit of doubt to the batsman imo.Charlie day night test cricket is here to stay in little old,Adelaide agree re members to the outer at times agree re ground staff and the pitch it was excellent.Raf ahh yes getting kicked out of the ground for giving out flyers not my favorite memory working was a tad quieter than the breakfast at the Kensy normally is thank you

  18. Luke Reynolds says

    Great write up Rulebook. For all the shocking umpiring and weird captaincy, this was a superb, engrossing Test match. The crowds and huge television ratings show Day/Night Test cricket has the public’s vote and is here to stay. Still can’t understand why we didn’t try it years ago.

  19. Cameron Glenn says

    Australia continued on from their dominant performance at the Gabba to take a 2-0 test series lead and could have he Ashes wrapped up before Christmas. Lucky to have had the Adelaide test in cooler weather. Huge crowd but a shame that can’t happen for all sports and events in town.

  20. If you put Australia’s dismal 2nd innigs batting effort aside, they played brillantly once again. England’s batting and bowling stocks this summer are simply inferior to Australia’s lineup. The Ashes outcome should be done and dusted in the Perth test.

  21. 1. CERTAINLY Ashes Test cricket ain’t what it used to be, with several players on each side currently playing who 15 years ago wouldn’t have got within a bull’s roar of the Test side. For Aust. we have Handscomb & maybe Bancroft & Khawaja, for England it’s nearly half their team, especially England’s dodgy batting line-up.
    2. LOVE the 2nd Test crowd figures, even with our sub-standard weather during this year’s Test. Let’s see how the crowds stack up at the other grounds, but SA so often gets the shit end of the stick, YET we are such great supporters of major events per head of population
    3. Pat Cummins, it has been worth the wait. Let’s hope he can stay fit. Nathan Lyon likewise, will definitely have 400-plus wickets by retirement. Mitch Starc & Josh H. have had big moments as well as getting away with some average spells, probably due to the poor quality of the opposition. Tim Paine continues to gain accolades.
    4. The fielding & close catching of the Australians has been sharp & consistently good.
    5. Captaincy…..yeah. Young captains like Root & Smith will have their dodgy moments BUT as neither side has any other viable alternatives, then we need to give them time to develop.
    6. Final result of this series? 4-0 to Australia, can’t see where an England win is gonna come from

  22. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Luke yep day night test cricket is vital for the games future survival.Cameron can never organise the weather unfortunately.Paul hopefully.Tony you completely nailed it yep some average players on both sides and it is farcical in SA not receiving far greater accolades for batting well above its weight for support of sport overall agree re 4,5 and 6 overall as well thank you

  23. Good luck to Adelaide as has great atmosphere, though the ground is just another stadium now with the redevelopment done. Nothing pretty about it or the city really.

    MCG is still the stadium of choice and does not need to copy Adelaide. Boxing Day Test is still the best test event and best prerpared apart from Lords in my cricket travels.

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