Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 4, 2009

The Ashes – Third Test England Report Card

Due to disciplined Australian batting, Edgbaston's Test turned into as damp a squib as the ground was on Saturday.

Due to disciplined Australian batting, Edgbaston's Test turned into as damp a squib as the ground was on Saturday.

Andrew Strauss – Like so many batsmen in this curious match, he looked solid until inexplicably getting out. On the final day, his captaincy failed to rouse his troops to secure the wickets they needed, possibly due to his faith in an unfit Flintoff in favour of a more threatening Anderson.

Alastair Cook – Continued his run of alternating good scores with poor scores. Needs time in the middle and probably doesn’t play enough cricket and probably never has.

Ravi – 23 is about the worst possible score for a top order bat and the crooked-bat play-on that dismissed him was weak. Is lucky that KP is injured or would probably be back in county cricket. Still very much a work-in-progress.

Belly – When not being saved by some er… generous umpiring, played some nice shots, but that much we know. We also know that he is prone to getting out just when you need him to go on. So, after some time away from Test cricket, he appears to have returned with all the strengths and weaknesses he left with.

Colly – Often looks ugly when scoring well, so looks hideous when getting out playing badly. Essaying a flat-footed slash two balls before lunch on Friday was very ugly indeed.

Matt Prior – So good and positive has his batting become that it’s a surprise when he gets out. Has the talent to get more hundreds and will need to, since he seems cemented into the Six slot.

Andrew Flintoff – Tired and stiff while bowling too short and too wide, but still with real pace, if little real threat. Stiff while batting, but clobbered some poor stuff with real authority before an old weakness to spin saw him off. Often finishes a Test looking like he needs carrying off the field – may start the next Test looking like he needs carrying on to the field.

Stuart Broad – Showed how he can time the ball as well as anyone in world cricket amid some plays and misses in his fifty. Once he sorts some decent defence and shot selection into his batting, he’ll be a Seven. But will he still be in the team? His bowling is going backwards fast with wickets coming because they have to go to somebody. Needs lots and lots of bowling in county cricket which he hardly ever plays.

Swanny – Suddenly, an indispensible player, whether making twenties in quick time down the order whilst upsetting bowlers with a word and gesture or bowling Punter with the perfect off-break. Probably just bit short of the highest class, but has a package that England needs desperately in the post-Flintoff era.

Jimmy – Delivered a masterclass of swing bowling in helpful conditions on Friday morning to dismiss the Aussie lower middle order and tail. Incomprehensibly under-bowled second time round – it’s not like anyone else was tearing up trees.

Graham Onions – Opened the match right up with his Friday morning specials to send back the Aussie captain and Hussey. Continued to bowl a tight line and looks more like Shaun Pollock with each match. Just 400 wickets to go then.

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Responses

  1. This team seems to lack a number three at the moment. Surely putting Bell in there to protect Bopara a little is an option for Headingly?

    It’s quite ironic that one of the strengths of this series was England’s weakness in the T20, namely counter-attacking batsmen further down the innings. Prior and Flintoff have had two cracking partnerships, and Broad joined in the fun on Sunday.

    I’m not sure the bowling line up will be the same for the next test though. Will they risk Flintoff or rest him to make sure he’ll be fit for the Oval? And I agree that Broad needs to get some county overs under his belt. If Harmison’s blisters can be treated it’s not hard to see him playing next test.

  2. Broad won’t be dropped, I am sure.

    Do the selectors have any faith in Harmison? I find it hard to believe they do, but they do need an option if the ball isn’t swinging.

  3. What have we learnt from Edgbaston ?
    Australia can’t play the swinging ball.
    Without Flintoff on top of his game England cannot take 20 wickets.
    England’s 6-9 batsmen are good. England’s 3-5 are not so good.
    Ian Bell is very much Ian Bell.

    Weather forecast is pretty ordinary for Headingley and each team has a quick up their sleeve. Which team will play their joker first ?
    I reckon both teams will keep the same line up and England should bring Harmy in for the Oval whatever happens at Leeds.

  4. Flintoff surely can’t play on Friday. The man can hardly walk. So Harmy for Broad and AN Other batsman forr Fred. Shah? Key? Hildreth? Denly? Carberry? God knows…
    I have a slightly bad feeling about this. If we’d had a short leg for Hussey’s first ball, we’d have won that game. As it is, Australia’s batters look in better nick, they’ll surely replace Siddle with either Lee or Clark (can’t believe he hasn’t played yet) and I quite fancy them to make it one all, one to play.
    Hopefully Fred can hobble back for the Oval…

  5. Australia should take hope from today’s fightback – but what there are 3 things they will need to win at Headingley

    1 Score runs in the first innings
    2 Something (or someone) to strengthen the bowling attack (MJ back to his best would be what I’d wish for most)
    3 The weather needs to stay fair for 4 out of the 5 days.

    England on the other hand can only win if the ball swings again (which it does quite a lot at Leeds) and Australia bat as poorly as they did in the last 2 matches in their first innings….

  6. England should feel relieved they were saved by the rain in this game. With Aus on course for a lead of 400 or so on the fifth day, had there been one, Hautitz proving to be the best spinner of the series and MJ slowly getting his mojo back, along with a shaky Eng middle order…

    I’d be tempted to swap Clark for Siddle, just to add some experience, a cool head, and control, but wouldn’t be surprised if they leave it unchanged. England have got bigger selectorial problems with Broad and Flintoff.

  7. England do have a selection headache since we have no back up as I posted a couple of weeks ago. I expect Flintoff to play and Sidebottom come in for Broad as you can’t have too amny swingers at Headingley.

    I don’t know if you saw the cards from The Oval yesterday, but there was over 1200 runs scored for less than ten wickets when last I looked. Neither attack looks potent enough to take 20 wickets at The Oval, so I expect a showdown between the showers in Leeds.

    Right now, I’d take Aus to win that and save The Ashes 1-1.

  8. Is that just English pessimism? Surely 1-0 is in the bag now.

    1-0 will see Australia slip from 1st to 4th in the ICC rankings! Forget all the other stories in the press, that is the one that should be pinned up in the dressing room to motivate the team.

    As much as it pains to have no Victorian in the side, I expect Siddle to make way for Lee or Clark. The injury to Haddin surely means any plan Australia had of playing an extra bowler are gone, so it’s 3 into 1.
    Watson was a great surprise with the bat, but had better pick up his game with the ball.

  9. Jim, the English are good losers, bad winners and great worriers and I worry.
    Last year we picked Darren Pattison at Headingley and got thumped by SA. I would get Harmison in to replace Flintoff and hope for the best.

  10. I am waiting for the Australia report card for this test.Can’t wait to gloat about Clarke doing well :)

    Over the next 2 tests, whilst Eng should look for a 2-0 or 3-0 series win, Aus should aim to make it 2-1.Why reduce the expectations and hope for a 1-0 (Eng) or a 1-1 (Aus)?

    If neither team looks like taking 20 wickets, it is because none of the bowlers are able to consistently perform at a high level.

    Anderson and Hilfy have bowled well in helpful conditions, and Swann and Hauritz were good without being exceptional.Flintoff looks like he is almost done for the series.And both the captains have made some ordinary decisions related to bowling changes.

    England have done the right thing by asking Sidebottom to be ready for Headingley. But questions still remain.

    If we accept that Sidebottom will replace Broad, what of Flintoff’s replacement? Is Trott supposed to be a possible replacement for Bopara with Bell moving up the order to No.3?

  11. I think it’s far from a given that Broad will be dropped. If Trott is in there in case of Flintoff not being fit it seems they might be looking to bat as deep as possible. Am I alone in thinking they’re eyeing up two draws? 6 batsman with Prior at 7 and Broad at 8 means you have a decent level of batting all down the order.

  12. I wasn’t planning on writing a report card on individual Australian performances but I will write some thoughts on the Third and Fourth Tests soon.

    To prompt some good vibes in Kumar here is what I would have written on M. Clarke.

    Michael Clarke

    The Australian second-in-command played another captain’s knock leading his team to safety with his second second innings ton in succession.

    His classical technique has come to the fore in the last 12 months in the contrasting conditions of India and England and his evolving maturity and consistent improvement has provided the evidence needed to convince the many doubters that he has the right stuff to lead the nation on the cricketing fields of the world.

    Unless Ponting quickly adjusts his batting to his slowing reflexes as SWaugh and Border before him, Pup will be the top dog by the end of the coming Australian summer, perhaps before if Australia do not win the next Test.

    And on the Fourth Test, three centuries in three Tests is a rare achievement so expectations should be lowered for Clarke at Headingley.

  13. Clarke reminds me of Allan Border in the way he’s saved our skin over the past year and a bit against India, South Africa and now England. I think with guys like Hayden and Symonds out of the team he will be able to exercise his authority and influence when he does get the gig.

  14. Thanks, Nesta.

    I am happy for Clarke.Not only because I named him as my pick for the max runs from an Aussie batsman in this Ashes.I am happy because he has silenced his critics emphatically.I hope people will stop saying that Clarke scores tons in largely irrelevant causes after this innings.

    If I remember correctly, Clarke scored two back to back centuries in the forgotten 2007 Ashes as well.

    The law of averages say that Clarke may not score a third consecutive ton, but if I am forced to bet on an Australian ton at Headingley, I see Clarke as a better choice than Punter or Katich or Hussey.

    I feel Mark Waugh was an under achiever inspite of scoring over 8000 runs. Will be interesting to see how Clarke goes about his batting when he becomes captain.

    Punter’s batting – There is nothing wrong.But he is increasingly getting out after getting a start.This is his best year to reach/cross Sachin because India doesn’t seem to play many tests in 2009.I don’t think it is playing on Punter’s mind, but if I were an English hack, I would ask him the question :)

    Just a line about Marcus North – He doesn’t play like a master batsman, even ugly at times, but he seems to be getting the scores on a regular basis.

    A pity that this Aussie side doesn’t have Andrew Symmonds though.

  15. Just a quick thought.

    When Clarke plays straight and doesn’t try to hit too much across his front pad (so many batsmen do), he looks very correct. He played well and is repaying Kumar’s faith.

    I was impressed with Hussey’s heart as he has no form but played an innings under big pressure to help save a Test. I was also impressed with North’s sang froid – he still looks a bit of a county pro, but I’ve alway been of the belief that the likes of van Jaarsveld, Murray Goodwin and (nowadays) Jacques Rudolph would make decent Test Sixes if the tempo is set and the consolidation or pressing on are needed. Because Gilchrist was Seven for so long, Six was a “free” position for Aus – it isn’t now.

    England? I see as few changes as possible as the way he selectors will go, but I’d favour Sidebottom for Broad. If Flintoff can walk, he’ll play.

    • Toots,

      Hussey’s heart reminded me of Dravid’s. When Ind played Aus down under last year, Dravid was woefully out of form, and yet he struggled on, and scored some fifties.Hussey’s form is not that bad.He just needs to relax a bit at the crease.

  16. Trumpet (what a great name) – I hope you are right – Freddy was innocuous at Edgbaston and will be even more hampered by injury if they play him in back to back tests.

    If MJ can continue to improve on line and length and Lee replaces Siddle (or Hauritz assuming no spin) then I fancy the Aussies against that England batting line up.

    Square the series and all to play for at the Oval,,,,,here’s hoping.

  17. Good times for we longer term Clarke fans Kumar – hes been showing the signs for a couple of years now hasn’t he. In the prime of his more mature powers of concentration.

    Surely Lee cannot be risked as fit to play?

    North has looked solid, composed and well balanced too me all along – knows his game. And how about that cover drive! Reliability at 6 is something we have lacked in this Hussey crisis era and is most welcome.

    Weather permitting l think there is real momentum with Australia at the moment. Glad we stayed out of the IPL…..


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