Posted by: tootingtrumpet | July 13, 2009

England vs Australia First Ashes Test – England Report Card

backboneAndrew Strauss – Two nothing scores in a match that showed his captaincy was neither inspirational nor cunning. Has much to do off the field to rouse his battered bowlers, but must switch on completely when batting to deliver the starts England needs.

Alastair Cook – Despite his hand of nine centuries at the age of 24, the two dismissals will worry him. In the first innings, he flashed to Hussey at gully. In the second knock, he fell over his front pad to be LBW to a straight one. For an opener to be forgiven those errors, he needs three figures on the board.

Ravi – Nervous in the first innings, he showed some of the shots that have excited his fans (including the Trumpet) but was suckered by a smart piece of bowling. Sawn off in the second innings, but shouldn’t have given the umpire the chance essaying a terribly misjudged poke to leg.

KP –  Top scored in the first innings, but out to the kind of shot you can play when 269 not out, not 69 not out, and appeared passive and distracted in a very strange second innings, in which he left two straight ones, the second cleaning him up. Could do a lot worse than spend the next couple of days watching te carefree spirit who played with a silly haircut in 2005. Wants to bask in the adulation of his fans and can only guarantee that by scoring a ton at Lord’s.

Colly – Feet stuck as he threw the bat at a wide one to toss away a century in the first innings. Then bowled some very handy cutters that will suit England well, if the selectors revert to four bowlers. Batted the situation superbly in the second innings to show England’s profligate batsmen what Test match batting is all about and put the backbone back in the England team.

Matt Prior – Played beautifully to give the first innings momentum before getting a good one from Siddle that needed careful defence and not a walking drive. Amidst fierce competition, played perhaps the worst shot of the match in his second innings in attempting to cut against Hauritz’s turn when the match situation demanded circumspection. His keeping still failed to convince.

Andrew Flintoff – Bowled as wise judges now expect: plenty of heart and pace, but failing to create chances. His 35 overs will either set him up nicely for Lord’s or turn a niggle into a full blown injury. Although he’s no longer the batsman he was in his mid-twenties, both innings give him a foundation to justify his position at Number 7, from which he will need to make fifties later in the series.

Stuart Broad – Bowled some fast deliveries, but that’s about it. England followers have hopes of his development into a version of McGrath / Ambrose, but those summits seem more distant than ever. If he survives the cut for Lord’s, he will need to get closer to the stumps in his delivery stride and aim to seam the ball half a bat’s width in or away from an off to off and middle line. Batted for an hour under pressure in the second innings, which shows he has the temperament that he should bring to all elements of his game.

Swanny – Batted with confidence and élan in the first innings to show the personality that is his trump suit and repeated the dose in the second innings, when he showed courage too. 78 runs for once out to much the best bowler in the match is a fine contribution. Bowling, he will hope to write this match off as an aberration in an otherwise impressive start to his Test career. Lord’s will tell us much about whether Swanny is Test class bowler or a bluffer.

Jimmy – All the carefully constructed confidence dissolved far too quickly once the ball failed to swing. Hit a very brief purple patch to dismiss Katich and Hussey and needs to be at that level in every spell at Lord’s. Played a foolish shot in the first innings, when another thirty minutes of batting with Swanny might have posted a score of total of nearly 500 and taken the Australian win out of the equation. No praise is too high for the way he handled his second innings knock

Monty – Outbowled Swanny, but that isn’t saying much. Doesn’t look like taking four wickets in an innings, so it’s hard to justify a place for him given his batting and fielding. A season out of the spotlight restoring his confidence and developing variation will do him good. At 27, he has ten years left in the game – a break now won’t hurt his career. Will be eternally grateful that he didn’t have to face Hilfy in those fraught final overs.

So Australia take the plaudits, but this is not as hapless an England team as first impressions led some fine judges to believe.

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Responses

  1. Surprised that England managed that. Impressive draw by any standards, but let’s not forget that they went into the game hyping themselves as likely winners. That is, capable of taking another 15 wickets than they did, and scoring another four or five hundred.

    And on another note, on the kinds of wickets that are being prepared these days, if both sides bat well, you’d need about 10 days to finish a match. Australia would’ve been looking at posting +1000.

    Stuff 4 day tests. They should bring back timeless tests or a sixth day. Or maybe start preparing some decent surfaces and stop blaming 2020 for making it look dull.

    Whatever, as an Aussie, I’m disappointed and frustrated. But happy for Panesar. He should tell a few of his teammates to stuff it.

    Well done Hauritz too.

  2. Very fair appraisal. I have never seen the point in Collingwood and when he went today I thought it was all over Red Rover. He really should be the perfect foil for the hitters all around him. It is not his fault that KP, Prior and Fred didn’t do their jobs.
    KP is playing by numbers and needs to play the ball.
    I am seeing shades of India getting out of jail in 07 in the First Test and then roaring back.

    • First innings showed the true point of Collingwood – playing the fat, ugly friend to KP. It is when KP is his most relaxed.

      • hahahahahaha

        i had a great laugh at that one…

        *it’s funny cuz its true*

        oh my god, you should be this funny when you do Garfield

      • VV good Jim!

  3. GM – I wasn’t displeased with the pitch. England bowled poorly with very few straight balls and I expect a big improvement next time out.

    Aus would have won if Punter had done any of the following:

    Bounced Swanny in the first innings instead of feeding his drive;

    Declared on 600 to get 17 overs in at the end of Day Four in the worst batting conditions of the match;

    Crowded Monty and Jimmy with eight men around the bat;

    Gone back to Hilfy at the end – incredibly, Hilfy didn’t bowl any of the last 18 overs!

    Bush – Thanks. Colly was the right man for the job.

  4. Fair enough. I’m following from Germany & have no TV coverage, just internet highlights. So I guess I’m in no position to judge the pitch, or anything else much. Just generally noting how often flat pitches are prepared to take the game to 5 days, and then they start talking about 4 day tests to keep the crowds interested. Test cricket is special because it’s not 2020, and vice versa.

    I actually thought Ponting’s declaration was smart. Trying to avoid having to bat again. That should’ve been enough time.

  5. GM – I completely agree on five day Tests. And pitches should deteriorate by the fourth and fifth days – I think this one did.

    Re the declaration, the game is so wonderful that it can throw up two or more options that, even in retrospect, seem equally valid!

  6. More worryingly, not as hapless an Australian team as apparently believed. For the all the talk of spin being their weakness, Monty and Swann looked like they’d struggle to get me out, let alone the opposition.

    Still, at least the next Test is at Lord’s, and we’ve got a great record against the Aussies there!

    …oh.

  7. Great effort from Eng to hang on there when it didn’t seem possible. Didn’t think they could, congrats for having drawn.
    The pitch was not a result pitch, but it seemed England’s ineptitude would deliver one anyway. They got it right in the last session or so.
    “Jimmy – All the carefully constructed confidence dissolved far too quickly once the ball failed to swing.” That’s just the problem isn’t it. So much talent all dressed up and nowhere to go.
    Fair enough summary from toots, except too points:
    1. Swanns personality is not that important. Warne was an exception, everyone else gets wickets from thought not character.
    2. KP is in trouble. Maybe rediscovering his youth is the key, but that’s never easy. I think his personality is undermining his talent. Expect more personality/ego changing room headlines before th summer is out.

    Overall great for Aus to have dominated, poor they couldn’t take the last step. The thing is though, tonight, England will be congratulating themselves for having salvaged a draw, while Aus will be searching desperately for the extra bit they need to win. Siddle will be hitting himself in the head with an axe, saying “Monty, Monty, fuckin Monty”.

  8. Disappointed, but the last pair did (actually didn’t is more accurate) something none of the other nine managed to do – they didn’t chase wide balls or play across the line. Monty played down the wrong line of his first ball but it bounced over the stumps other than that they just played solid defensive. To be honest I expected a lot more of that earlier in the day.

    Tooting trumpet –
    I agree with the Hilfenhaus point. I expected Siddle not to only bowl after he got Collingwood out and the two lefties were in.
    I disagree regarding the declaration. Rain was still only a projection at that stage and the light seemed a lot better than in was when Bopara came out, so he could easily been only 0 or 1 down and only 100 ahead instead of the 2 down. Forget the “declaration was great captaincy” my own view is Ponting only declared to protect the bowlers from any unnecessary injury and if Haddin had not got out Australia would have batted till tea at least.

    One other point. I hope the press do not praise Cardiff for the pitch due to the close end. Terrible pitch, only 18 wickets to the end of day 4.
    A lot of talk before the game of a 5 day pitch to pay the bills and it’s what we got. Only luck that it was interesting at the end.

  9. Excellent summary.

    As a side note, there’s a lot being made in the Aussie papers about the flashpoints of the day. A KP/MJ bust up in the warm up, Broad/Siddell bumping into each other, Ponting shouting at the ref when a catch was turned down, yet hardly a mention of it, if that, on any English sites.

  10. fred – Thanks.

    I think Swanny’s personality had Siddle bowling to try to knock the man out instead of take his wicket. Swanny’s too canny to let that bother him and got through to tea without having to keep out the ball hitting the top of off stump. He’ll pull off another ruse like that bowling soon – just watch, it worked a treat with Devon Smith. (Okay – I know).

    KP has got some work to do on technique. I’ve no problem with him in the dressing room, and never have had a problem with that.

    Siddle should be looking at his figures 3-172 vs Hilfy’s 5-124. He’ll need more than a bouncer and a snarl at Lord’s.

    • Hmm, getting hit by Siddle was a ruse? I guess only he and Siddle know answer for sure to that. Playing Siddle with your elbow is one hell of a ruse.

      I know you have no problem with KP in the dressing room, (leading it in fact), but many will. Doesn’t matter what you or I think of him, my point was that he’s an abrasive and expansive character who will destabilise the team when things start to go wrong.

      Not sure how you work on his technique, since he doesn’t really have one. He just hits the ball. Honestly, what could a coach or a manual tell him? He made it up himself, he has to make it work. I suppose he could cut out the Karma Sutra stuff and just play cricket, but I don’t think his personality would let him.

      • The ruse was the old trick of getting the player to play the man and not the ball, reversed from its usual bowler egging on batsman.

        I’d rather KP’s abrasive personality than ian Bell’s meek one!

        KP needs to stay side on and he needs to get his head over the straight balls and not offside of them.

  11. Jim – you can’t beat leaving wide ones and presenting the full face to straight ones. Why so many batsmen can’t do this is beyond me.

    Perch – Thanks! They showed the MJ / KP dust up and it looked like nothing. If batsmen are practising on the outer and you’re on it too, the odd ball will come you’re way. We’ve all seen it. Punter was a bit truculent with the umpires, but, aside from a charge towards Aleem Dar for a catch that wasn’t, I think it was part of the rough and tumble of a tense Test. I don’t think Punter was thinking straight in that last hour though.

    • I didn’t see the early dust-up but caught the shoulder bumping and Ponting have a shout. Seemed to me it was par for the course in the circumstances, certainly not enough to say that “Ashes tensions exploded”. Still, sets it up well for Thursday.

  12. It is all Handbags. Broad barging Siddle is embarassing. He needs to concentrate on being a cricketer rather than looking like a cricketer.
    I am confident about Lords. We have had some half-decent performances at HQ in the last couple of years…….without winning.

  13. bush – I’m confident about Lord’s too. Not quite enough to say “We’re going to win”, but I think we might have chances.

  14. Good summary Toots. Disappointing effort from Aus not to wrap it up. Regardless of his figures l dont think MJ bowled well enough on day 5. Simply not making them play enough, but he will be better for the run and will bounce back like the champ he is l am sure. Very impressed with Hilf and would have liked to have seen more of him late…l think Siddle had a good first test in England.

    Terrific fight from England, especially Colly. Was quite gutted at 3am we didn’t take the win on offer and lacked the killer blow, but the next day…….overall good signs from the young, hungry team.

    Few worrying signs for England which can be interpreted either way A) Will either see them vastly improve or B) Indicate perhaps they werent as good as l thought they were leading into the series. Wait and see.

    Big second test, can;t wait. Love to win at Lords.

  15. Nice summary, Toots.

    Anderson and Monty saved the test for Eng, but the team should look at how they got into the mess in the first place.If this batting performance increases his confidence, Monty ought to bowl better in the second test, if he gets picked.

    On the whole, I still don’t see the Eng attack capable of taking 20 Aus wickets, but they (Eng) can only do better than what they’ve done in this test(6 wickets).

    Australia have done a lot of things right, but only 15 overs by Hilfy in Eng’s second innings was a bit baffling.But any of the other bowlers should’ve been able to take the final wicket.That they could not do it in 11.3 overs is just one of those things in this glorious sport, I reckon.

    A couple of predictions went right for me in this test (that Flintoff can hustle Hughes out, and Clarke is among the best players of spin today), and of couurse my wish (backed up by Toots, I must add) to see Colly play a match saving innings came true, almost.

    But there are a few things that went wrong, most importantly my perception that Anderson can make better use of the swinging conditions than Hilfy, and that Stuart Broad had enough of exposure to top flight cricket by now so that he could come into his own in this series.

    On to Lord’s then, with nothing learned except that Australia are one step closer to retaining the Ashes.

  16. Japal and Kumar – Thanks.

    I’m not sure that we’ve learned anything substantive from this match that we didn’t know beforehand.

    Lord’s will provide some answers, but it’ll be tight ’til the end this one.

  17. I presume I’m writing the Australian Report Cards.

    On England, they need to be realistic and examine how they won the toss on non-responsive pitch and were a whisker away from an innings defeat.

    The only thing between them and a large defeat, if I am generous, was an hour, maybe two at best.

    Australia showed that they can score centuries and take twenty wickets if given the opportunity.

    England showed neither and it will be an almighty upset if they trounce Australia at Lord’s.


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