The Ashes – Fourth Test, Day 5: Axes and Orchids

I have this feeling that today will be a day of complete and utter insignificance.   Still there would be around 10,000 devotees as the first ball is bowled.

However perhaps we should indulge with some serious comments, cricket and Australian cricket in particular, with our annual Axes and Orchids segment.

To the unwise and people north, west and south of Victoria the radio newspaper from the thirties through to about the eighties’ was called “The Listener In” and came out weekly.  One page was always devoted to the readers/listeners comments and called Axes and Orchids.


  1. Sorry Mr MCC curator the pitch you prepared would have been turned down by the most lowly cricket club in the world. Bowlers could not extract anything from it at all.
  2. The Gabba has had its day. Even with your pool it does not attract the crowds. Time to move out.
  3. Many of the media scribes for trying to create stories out of nothing to interest fans.
  4. Ben Stokes for having his name mentioned more times than any England player even though he was not playing.
  5. The Australian selectors for their shabby treatment of regular wicketkeepers.
  6. The Australian selectors for deciding to pick the touring team to South Africa before the conclusion of the Sheffield Shield 2017-18.
  7. Cricket Australia for their continuing snubbing of the Sheffield Shield and their treatment of ABC radio for the first three Tests.
  8. English hierarchy for putting skipper Joe Root under too much pressure both on and off the field of play.
  9. David Warner for his over the top display after he scored a century in Melbourne. Not the sort of stuff that will lead to the captaincy.
  10. The covers! In this age can’t we come up with something of a technological nature.  In both Perth and Melbourne, we nearly lost groundsmen in the wind.
  11. Can we forget about singing the National Anthem until the players learn the words?
  12. The cricket channel for not making some much needed changes in their line-up.
  13. More and more people on the ground prior to the start of a day’s play. Counted 135 in Melbourne on day 4.



  1. The organisers of the Women’s “Ashes” format. Brilliant and perhaps should be the way the men’s game goes in future. Using the same players who make up the original test squad
  2. The woman who played in the series. Woman’s cricket has just gone up so many notches in the last three years.
  3. Le trio enfants terrible. No wonder Australia won the series with bowlers of this ability leading from the front.
  4. The Australian selectors for naming Tim Paine and Shaun Marsh at the start of the season. Much outcry but has turned out trumps.
  5. Alistair Cook for his innings of 244 n.o. in Melbourne. Marvellous return to form.
  6. Ellyse Perry you are a star.
  7. Nathan Lyon for his all-round cricket both in bowling and fielding. His run out in Brisbane and numerous catches.
  8. The Barmy Army for their continuing exuberance and putting $60m into the coffers of Melbourne alone without taking into consideration any other state.
  9. Australian supporters for dropping the insidious “aussie, aussie,  aussie, oi, oi, oi” from their repertoire.
  10. To regular correspondent PB for continuing his grumpiness throughout the series.
  11. SPD Smith set up the tone of the series in the first test and has been the nemesis of England ever since.
  12. Centuries to Marsh brothers, Warner, Malan and Bairstowe were all worthy of praise
  13. Mitchell Starc’s ball-of-the-century to dismiss Dawid Malan in Perth.



Dull, overcast, bright, rain that was how the first hour and a bit went with Smith and Warner not pushing the throttle at all. The 10,000 plus who made it for the start had expected something but the batsmen had other plans.

Nb. Total crowd at 3.00pm just over 14,100.

It was not until after the first rain interruption that there was movement at the station.  Root came on to bowl, Warner (86) tried something, didn’t work and Vince took an easy catch. Australia 3/172. Do you get the message Joe? The element of surprise has worked in many movies why don’t you try it more.

Four runs later Shaun Marsh (4) poked at Broad and Bairstow did the rest.  Australia 4/176.

Who’ll win?   “You’ll have to get the other bloke (Smith) out if you want to win” said everyone I spoke with.  Such has been the success of SPD Smith with the bat this series that this has become the unwritten word.

England had come alive with the two wickets but Smith was still there at lunch.  Australia 4/176.


Play continues to amble along with the batsmen continuing to play each ball on its merits but taking runs as each opportunity arises. There is no hurry in their game.

Must pay credit to Stuart Broad who has had a very good match with both bat and ball.  We dismissed him after Perth but like AN Cook he has come back to his best with a vengeance.

Smith is the master and he is taking runs at will with never a hint of a chance. Methinks the only way he will be dismissed is for a mistaken run-out to occur. The unassuming Australian captain has taken all before him in this series and only needs to get a bit of “dare-devil” in him to become master of all he surveys. A magnificent series.

No wickets in the first hour after lunch 29 runs and no chances. A draw is looing more and more ominous unless England take a couple of quick wickets.

Cricket supporters are very, very observant. The Cook 244 n.o. sign was up first thing this morning and members quickly realised that the font was different to the other names on this board of honour.  I went in to the library who said it was only temporary until the “real” sign weathers a bit and is the same as Sarfraz, Cowper and co. Don’t miss a trick do the members of the wonderful sports library at the “G”.

Play continues to dawdle along and by tea time Smith has reached 87 and Mitch Marsh 10.  It would be a long time that such attacking batsmen had only scored 47 runs in a session.


The only interest is how long will it take for Steve Smith to score his third century of the tournament.

He is in no hurry; Mitch Marsh is certainly in no hurry and the Englishmen will be glad when the day is over.

All in all, it has been one of those days in Test cricket where very little has happened. The wicket continues to be a complete bore for everyone.

This would have to be Steve Smith’s most unobtrusive century ever. It always seemed as if it was going to happen and it just rolled along with only six fours in 259 minutes. Mid you he has been well supported by Mitch Marsh who has shown very good defensive technique in this innings.

The visitors are trying to finish the game as quickly as possible now and I think the spectators are too.

The only group showing any interest, possibly in themselves, is the Barmy Army who I am sure would keep going even under water.

Well its all over they call it of with Australia 4/263  SPD Smith 102 not out and M.Marsh 29.  Anderson, Root, Broad and Woakes 1 wicket a piece.

Without doubt one of the worst day’s play I have witnessed over 70 years of watching.

And what have we learned from this Test match that was watched by over 200,000 spectators over the five days?  Very little apart from some fine batting by Cook, Warner, Smith and a pitch that was probably one of the worst ever created.

Now to Sydney and Mr Curator it is up to you.

About Bob Utber

At 80 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he wanted to do as a 14 year-old living on the farm at Lang Lang. Talking, writing, watching sport. Now into his third book on sports history he lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny ) and a groodle named "Chloe On Flinders". How good is that.


  1. Peter Flynn says


    Nobody seems to interrogate the MCC about the continuing issue of the pitch.

    We need a Willesee to unstitch and destroy the Hewson.

    I would like to know the dynamic at work here.

    You could tell the wicket was ‘cactus’ on Day 1.

    In fact you’d have same feel for the past 2 decades.

    Who is protecting and who is being protected?

    Cricket at the MFG is [email protected]@ed,

    Marvin Vaas

  2. Axe
    Anyone calling Mitchell Starc’s ball in Perth to dismiss Dawid Malan a “ball-of-the-century”.

  3. Orchids to Swish for working out Daphne and Lavender. The Avenging Eagle reckons Test Cricket is like watching grass grow so the horticultural metaphor works well for this test (except that grass clearly refuses to grow on MCG wickets).
    My orchids go to Gerard Whateley, Chris Rogers and Dirk Nannes in particular on ABC Radio for commentary that made the contest more interesting than the on-field action throughout the series.
    Axe to Jim Maxwell for consistently anachronistic pining for 40 years ago. McGilvray and Arlott alcoholic memoirs. The joys of the WACA (from an air conditioned commentary box) at a ground where the only good seats are in the Lillee Marsh stand. Etc etc.
    Axe to Bancroft (angled bat and falls to off) and Khawaja (lazy footwork) who need to work on technique to reestablish Test careers.
    Orchid to Steve Smith for proving technique is irrelevant if your eye is good enough and you know your own game. The Jim Furyk of cricket.
    Orchid to Tim Paine for the cleanest Australian glove work since Wally Grout.
    Axe to selectors for picking Agar (any relation to Gordon?) for Sydney Just to stymie the Scorchers ongoing success.
    Orchid to Citrus Bob for his tireless reporting and optimism about Test Cricket despite itself (p.s. O.10 should read A.10).

  4. Thanks again Bob – glad you mentioned the women’s series. A pearler.

    The contrast between Warner and Cook was huge – an interesting contrast, but certainly one that reflects better on the Englishman.

    Glad I’d hit the road to Adelaide and didn’t bother to hang about for Day 5 – no more to see there!

  5. Super effort, Citrus. I have thoroughly enjoyed your reports. Thank you.

    Something tells me that the pitch will not be the same road next season.

  6. Well done and many thanks Citrus Bob.
    You bring so much to this summer of cricket.

    Outstanding contribution.

  7. Citrus Bob says

    Thanks ER
    Will probably now spend my time preparing a Tag team with Marvin Vaaas and Peter B (in WA) and Rulebook to take over the Gerard Whateley role.

    Mind you The Book must have known something as he has been working on it to go solo for months now. Good thinking Book!

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