The Ashes – Fourth Test, Day 2: Cook’s Class and Stevie’s Stumbles

Before I get started writing this review about the cricket, my knowledge about this game is far inferior to my knowledge of the great game we call Australian Football, but because I have some time on my hands, I decided to go along to the second day of the Boxing Day Test, a sporting event that’s always very popular with the Australian public and challenged myself to write a review of the day’s events.

 

Already 3-0 up in the Ashes Series and having the urn sewn up at the WACA, Australia ended the first day in solid fashion, making 3/244 as David Warner and Steve Smith starred. Warner got himself 103 off of just over 150 balls and Smith, despite concerns with his hand after enduring a freak accident at practice, knocking 65 not out. The expectation on day two was for him to make another century and make it a hard task for the English to catch up.

 

Personally, I found it a real disappointment as Australia only made a further 83 runs as they were all out for 327, most of the wickets coming in the morning session.

 

With Smith – inspirational throughout the series – and Shaun Marsh continuing on from yesterday. It started off smoothly enough. Smith knocked home a couple of boundaries from James Anderson before it was the new kid for England in Tom Curran, who was somewhat a subject of ridicule for his no ball out on David Warner yesterday, who took the very critical wicket of Steve Smith, with the edge of his bat clipping the ball which in turn, hit the wicket – Bowled out.

 

Coming in to replace Smith, Mitchell Marsh, who did hit over 150 runs in his innings at the WACA, didn’t last very long as he was bowled out in a similar fashion to Smith. This time it was through Chris Woakes, who dismissed M.Marsh out for just nine runs. Often maligned by the public, it wasn’t hard to see why after a batting performance that I can only describe as brief and just not good enough, as this was the opening that England had been searching for most of this series.

 

Now 5/278, the Aussies now had to look at the partnership of wicketkeeper Tim Paine and Shaun Marsh to try and steady what was becoming an Australia innings that was facing a downward spiral. Sadly, the partnership lasted only 36 runs as Shaun Marsh was given out lbw via Australia’s sworn enemy Stuart Broad after originally given not out by the umpire. It was a very good call from Joe Root and England.

 

Paine was the next to go, but tried putting some respectability to Australia’s total, scoring 24 off 36 balls, before he did what Smith and Mitch Marsh basically did and that’s hit the ball with the edge of the bat that sent the ball into the wicket, and then from there, the Aussies’ collapse was almost set in stone. The four bowlers Pat Cummins, Jackson Bird, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon could only muster up nine runs as a collective. Cummins in particular was a bit disappointing as he had been a thorn in the English side throughout the Ashes.

 

All out for 327, a solid bowling performance from the English, with Stuart Broad taking 4/51 and Jimmy Anderson taking 3/61. A lot of intrigue surrounded how the English would perform with the bat when they went out to take the field.

 

It was a very rocky start for the English batsmen, who had lost Mark Stoneman after just 11 overs as his shot was caught one-handed by bowler Nathan Lyon who produced another stunning moment of fielding as he outstretched his right arm to take a miraculous catch to dismiss Stoneman for just 15 runs – England 1/35.

 

James Vince stepped up to bat next and after hitting a few boundaries, he was bowled out via lbw by Josh Hazlewood, but to the surprise of many at MCG, he tried to challenge it, but it was crystal clear it was out. With England 2/80, it was looking a little rocky for the English batsmen early on.

 

Enter 33-year old Alastair Cook.

 

A former captain of the Poms and having played 150 test matches, Cook’s form in this Ashes series had been so incredibly poor that many cricket experts had been prompted to suggest that he step down from test cricket. An equally poor performance on day two would heap so much more pressure on him after bringing up scores such as 2, 7, 16 and 14 runs throughout this series.

 

Not on this occasion though, as Cook wound back a vintage performance that saw him register his 32nd test century and his fifth against the Aussies in his career, batting 104 not out from just 166 balls by the time it was called stumps on day two. It could’ve been cut short as Steve Smith let a golden opportunity literally slip from his fingers as he couldn’t hang on to the ball after it clipped the edge of Cook’s bat when he was on 76 runs.

 

Smith had a poor day fielding, and it was made worse when he came out to bowl to Cook for the final over of the day, allowing him to reach his century, much to the applause of the MCG crowd, from both sides of the fence as Cook has been under an unbelievable amount of pressure. As for Smith, I’m pretty certain that his performance can be forgiven as every great player has their off-day and unfortunately for us Aussies, it came on the second day of what’s proving to be another exciting test match.

 

As for the man that replaced Vince, England’s captain Joe Root, he formed a very solid partnership with Cook, with the pair making 112 runs as Root was one run shy of making a half-century – stuck at 49 not out from 105 balls and he should be able to reach his half-century this morning provided the unthinkable happens and he gets out on his first ball.

 

In closing, it’s fair to say England are in control and the kudos does go to Alastair Cook and the rest of the England team as they showed from this day alone that they will give it their darnedest to avoid a 5-0 whitewash, but as the Aussies showed on day two, the batting order could just as easily collapse on day three.

 

This will get interesting.

About Alex Docherty

Alex is a diehard footy nut. He loves his Western Bulldogs and loves writing about them every week as much he loves running out and playing footy himself.

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