Posted by: nestaquin | August 20, 2009

Ashes 2009: Fred’s First Farewell

Andrew Flintoff Final TestWith the fifth and final Ashes Test just hours away and with only a tiny window of opportunity to write, I’ll resist the temptation of falling behind schedule to pen a proper piece and instead ramble on with a series of seemingly unconnected aspects relevant to this final Test match of the series.

Andrew Flintoff

As everyone is well aware The Oval Test will be Fred’s last and a fairytale finish is what many will be hoping for. If England do happen to win, and that is a possibility, then the Ashes will have another romantic gushing moment to add to its luxuriant historical cornucopia.

I found his public announcement of Test retirement at the beginning of the series curious, even selfish, but there are many characteristics of English cricket that I find peculiar and self-defeating.

Perhaps it is portent of things to come but I cannot recall an Australian cricketer being given the luxury of choosing not to play Test cricket. Some have retired from the white ball formats to concentrate on the longer form of the game, Shane Warne is one example, but if memory serves me well, never the reverse.

Australian Team Selection

With Saqlain Mushtaq being drafted in to assist Nathan Hauritz this last week it seems a logical assumption to expect his inclusion in the XI when the teams are announced. Obviously, this would be at Stuart Clark’s expense but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brett Lee’s name appear either for his experience and shock value may be just the tonic to knock England over twice on what appears at this early stage to be a flat deck.

England Team Selection

Ian Bell at first drop appears a desperate and confused selection considering his lack of real form against the Australians and his previous outings in the position in the Caribbean. Conversely, Jonathan Trott’s inclusion looks a fine choice. He has the runs on the board and a decade of experience at First Class level. I expect him to do well.

The bowling attack is still uncertain from the outside with reports that Graeme Onions could lose his place to either Sidebottom or Panesar while strangely Harmison will be retained. For Australia’s sake I hope that is the case as Onions has shown that he is able to compete and excel at international level. His spells at Lord’s and Edgbaston were of the highest quality and I’m certain the Australian top order won’t mind seeing him carrying the drinks.

Mitchell Johnson

Those that have followed his career will know that Johnson is a slow starter early in the season but once he finds his groove he just keeps on getting better and better. He is joy to watch when on song for unlike most of the England bowlers who just wang it down hoping for an error or a jaffa, Johnson carefully constructs his overs and spells. It shouldn’t surprise considering his mentor is DK Lillee and England’s batsman can expect a thorough testing of technique and temperament when Mitch has ball in hand.


All is set for an emotional and memorable contest; a full house at Flintoff’s farewell with The Ashes up for grabs. Hopefully, both teams will produce some excellent cricket to honour the occasion.  If they do it will be a most welcome aberration.



  1. I cannot recall an Australian cricketer being given the luxury of choosing not to play Test cricket. Some have retired from the white ball formats to concentrate on the longer form of the game, Shane Warne is one example, but if memory serves me well, never the reverse.

    I agree with this, but retiring from Test cricket isn’t unique to England – Jonty Rhodes is the earliest example I can think of, Alan Donald, and more recently Jacob Oram.

  2. Toots,

    If we agree that Test cricket is tougher than the shorter formats, why is it unnatural for an ageing player who knows his body no longer has the required stamina for 5 days, decide that he will play only ODIs and T20s?

    It will be interesting to see if Freddie also opts out of the longer games in county cricket.

  3. Kumar – It’s Nesta not me who has written this piece, but I agree with your point and with Dave’s. Even if the IPL implodes tomorrow, we’ll see more bowlers especially just playing ODIs and T20s. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Brett Lee were to announce the same and if Aus were to pick him. Surely players like Michael Bevan were de facto ODI players only?

    Hazy sunshine just under four hours before the start of play just over five miles from The Oval. Very hot already though. Whilst it can be expected that England have a couple of selection quandries after a big defeat, I’m surprised that only MJ and Hilfy are certain picks for Aus.

    • Oops..didn’t realize I typed your name instead of Nesta’s :)

      Brett Lee still has a few test seasons ahead of him if he can get picked.Unfortunatley for him, the Aussie pace bowling stocks are quite strong.A friend bet with me that Lee won’t get picked in this Ashes.I think my friend’s gonna win.

  4. I still think the Bell selection is the selectors refusing to consider they made a mistake in recalling him. What with Giles being on the selection panel it was never likely that he’d miss out.

    Toots, what’s your thoughts on playing two spinners here. As a man who’s seen it a lot would you expect the track to favour it?

  5. Percinho, if Bell manages to survive until Trott gets settled (big if, but always possible) then expect the two to feed off each other and post a decent score on this pitch in the first innings. They bat well together, if a little slowly.

  6. Pontings poor form with the coin continues.
    Interesting team selections. No spin of lee for Oz and no Onions for England.

  7. Super, super , Super, England into bat first.. I like it.

  8. where is toots?>? where is rajesh?? not behind the couch I hope? Perhaps they are waiting until England plays well before appearing?

    • Toots is at the ground today I think.

      As it’s the last test, part of me wants this test to last for ever. But as it’s the decider, part of me want to jump ahead to lunch on day 4 when England are 150 ahead with 4 wickets down and Australia are 6 over behind on their over rate for the day.

  9. awfully nice bowl from Siddle, and one of Ricky’s snappy catches..


  10. Gee, that is good bowling from Siddle. Nice tight line and good pace. No half bungers on leg stump yet.

  11. I think there muct be something wrong with the speed gun 94MPH? He is fired up, but he is not THAT quick

  12. Toots allows no one else to be at the ground, Jim. I get a lot of stick from Toots from going to a game, and NOT BLOGGING to Toots and Rajesh’s expectations. … and I go all the way to South Africa for them. Nope.. thats no excuse. I need a note from toots mum.

  13. I might get to see this mystery batter, Trott sooner than I expected. Hope so. At least before midnight Sydney time.

  14. I’m a ten minute walk away and there’s rain in the air. It’s pretty murky outside as well.

  15. Good start with the ball but then seem to have lost our way. Too many 4 balls (a bit like Lords)
    Need more patience on this pitch and really need to slow that run rate down. Only 12 overs in the second hour too.

  16. As Stauss is the dominate batsman, Australia need to find a way to keep him off strike. He’s faced nearly 60% of balls so far.

    Would also like to see the bowling pairs changed to Johnson and Hilfenhaus together and Clarke and Siddle together.

    • and that is why I never question Punter, even with hindsight. He makes the call and that’s all you can ask of a captain. If it comes off he’s a genius and if it doesn’t he’s a mug.

  17. Hilfy is starting to reverse it but I think he is overdoing it. He is trying to pin Bell LBW with just about every ball. Sometimes Bell looks vulnerable especially when he’s flicking it to leg rather than giving to a fuller face but I think Hilfy still has to threaten the outside edge more before trying the LBW ball.

  18. It looks like we have bad Mitch today, a few rip-snorters aside.

  19. could this be the much-awaited first first century from Bell?

  20. So of the 4 wickets, 3 have come very early on in a session to tentative prods. Otherwise it’s hard work.
    Have to say I’m very dissapointed. He’d done all the hard work and should have coasted to the ton.
    Does 72 on this wicket mean the selectors got it right?

  21. Clark’s been unimpressive so far. I guess you could say he’s been tight. Ronnie would probably bowl at a similar pace and could keep equally as tight, while promising more with the bat. We should have selected Hauritz I expect. Or Lee. Problem with Bing is he takes an eternity to bowl his overs. And we are crawling through our overs as is. Siddle’s been a warrior. If not for him we’d be in big trouble. If we aren’t already.

  22. Important 21 overs.
    Flintoff in now. If we can keep them to around 3 an over so about 315 , even at 5 down I’d say it’s Australia’s day given that England need to win. Have done well to bring the run rate back under control after the first session.

  23. OK Mr Broad. I reckon you have enough attributes to be the number 3 KP refuses to be. Prove it.

  24. We’ve bowled poorly (Siddle aside) and you have batted poorly. Uninspiring cricket all round. But I’ll take it.

    • Pete, was that directed at me? I’m a Victorian not a Pom! I guess that mean’s I’ve bowled well? Not bad 3-53 of 17 considering overs 5, 6 and 7 before lunch when for 29 runs.

      • Sorry Jim I thought you were a pom. Nice run out by Katich there!

        • The Great Hussey Decline could probably be traced back to a similar dismisal in India.

  25. Were drinks taken late? Australia have bowled 10 overs from drinks to 6pm with a spinner at one end. How is that even possible?

  26. Leading wicket taker in the series!
    you liddle beauty!

  27. Back from The Oval with a video report uploading.

    I agree with much of the comment here. Much of the cricket was uninspiring except for Katich’s dazzling run out of a very secure looking Trott and Siddle’s skill as well as heart. This is a piece I have written lauding Siddle for one of our television stations – – he was a beacon today. Hilfy looks tired (reasonably so), Clark was straight up and down and MJ mixed soem good balls in with a lot of rubbish. North got some turn, but England let him bowl too easily.

    England were poor, too many wickets given away after winning an important toss. So many batsmen had a hand in their dismissals, with only Cook (partially as he got a very good ball) and Trott totally blameless. If England can squeeze to 350 (and Broad might blaze away for another 50 tomorrow) they might restrict the Aus lead to double figures. The Oval is still the best wicket in England, but there is a bit of turn and, as Siddle showed, if you bend your back (he looked quick if not 93.5mph quick) and bowl a good line and length, there will be rewards.

    But Aus have one hand on The Urn, due almost entirely to Siddle, Katich and England.

    PS The over rate was terrible and must have made Punter bowl North more than he wanted (to new batsmen!) and delay the new ball – one more Siddle over could have seen off England.

    • Toots, I read your Five TV piece after I wrote my entry below. I agree that the over rate had a role to play in Ponting’s decision not to take the new ball immediately but I think there was another factor as well. Ponting, like myself, may have imagined Swann and Broad having a swing at the second new ball and plastering 50-60 quick runs. Ponting has been bitten before by these two and Australia has not bowled well to them in the past. Such a scenario would have been particulalry damaging late in the day. Neither batsmen were prepared to have a dip at North and I think Ponting liked that sense of control. When the close of play was nearer, the likelihood that Swann and Broad would launch an attack was reduced.

      I know it’s a bit sad to be wary of taking the second new ball to numbers 8 and 9 but I think that may have been a factor.

      I thought Watson threatened a little. He cut Broad (and Haddin) in half twice and Broad edged him on the half volley to Ponting at slip and then at catching height wide of second slip. Also, he had Trott LBW according to Hawkeye (just nicking the top of leg). So, it wasn’t out of the question that the old ball could have provided a wicket as well.

      If it was an over rate issue, better that it was Watson and North bowling than Hussey….

      • Fair enough Vernon. I felt that there was only ever time for 5 overs with the new ball and the damage Swanny and Broad could cause would be limited as a result. Very disappointed that no England bat took on North, even if he was bowling well with a bit of help from the surface.

  28. Mitch has those maddening moments when both me and the dog are torn between running round the room and hiding behind the door. Mitch, please.. please.. no more of that wild stuff. It’s hard to take in the early hours of Sydney mornings.

    Alistair Cook.. again. .. even though I have lowered my expectations there he still manages to be blancmange, Bell looked like he was batting for his very life, which isn’t true. He’ll be selected come what may, apparently. Collingwood.. obviously the forced captaincy of the other squad is tearing at him. I am still puzzled by his sudden resignation of Cap of the ODI’s the same day as Vaughan resigned, and maybe it’s the same reason now, it interferes with his Test concentration.

    But I wanted more from Collingwood, no denying it.

    Trott. .. lots of stuff about him being blameless for his clonking, but I disagree. Katich was on the ball earlier in the runout business. Brilliant stuff by Katich, though.

    Flintoff does not look well, and this saddens me, but that’s cricket.

    Strauss, I can’t be bothered with at all. He has potrayed himself as the Uriah Heep of cricket and his sheltering of Bell was ludicrous. Really. It was.

  29. Bells final exit, with him stomping off, swearing and telling all and sundry to F**k off was obviously the result of some unendurable and persistant serious stick shaken at him by Haddin, Clarke, Katich at one end, and Mitch from the other. Those three are becoming nifty at the sledging, with quite a few bullseyes on the board.

    Bell was a perfect candidate for it, though.

  30. The lovely Vettori is at it again, in Galle.

  31. Hard to know which team is on top after the first day because no one knows how the wicket is going to play. No one knows how the wicket will play because it is such an atypical Oval wicket and it’s been a while since such a surface has been seen at the Oval.

    Given it has been a road for this season up until this match, maybe it will not deteriorate as badly as most assume. While North got some turn I don’t think it was outrageous turn even when it went through the surface. If it does became a raging turner, will Swann bowl well enough to exploit it? The other bowlers of course can help by having the batsmen already under some pressure when Swann comes onto bowl.

    I thought Siddle’s first spell was very good. He bowled such a good line to the left handers and beat Strauss a couple of times before getting Cook. In this series, Siddle has ruined spells with too many half volleys often on the pads but he saved those until his second spell. He came good again later. I’d imagine that Siddle would be a pretty hard bowler to feel relaxed against.

    People have been very critical of Bell’s mental strength but I think his biggest problem is his technique. He batted pretty well and hats off to him but I think I can see why he is unlikely to be consitently successful. He basically plays every shot with his feet in the same position. In this way he is quite similar to Collingwood although Collingwood looks different because he is more upright and his bat swing is different. Even when Bell plays a blistering cover drive he play a long way from his pads. When he defends off the back foot it’s the same. If the ball is a little wide his bat is along way from his body. He might think he was unlucky playing on but the gap on that shot was evident his whole innings.

    Australia seemed intent on trying to pin him LBW without bothering to set it up. This worked well for Bell as he milked the straight balls for many runs on the leg side.

    Hilfenhaus was trying to do this with reverse swing but I think he overdid it. He completely gave away the idea of trying to shape the odd one away.

    The contrast between the techniques of Bell and Collingwood on one hand and Trott’s on the other were stark. Trott played forward properly and also got across when required whether going forward or back. He looked good to me. OK he plays across it from time to time but that looks like it could be as a result of being in great form rather than something he will wrestle with his whole career.

    I don’t think the wrist band of the glove should be considered part of the glove.

    Collingwood was given not out when some of the Australians appealed for caught behind. Hot Spot showed nothing but Snicko shown a pretty clear edge. I wonder if that would have been given out if referred?

    I thought Johnson’s work on Flintoff was pretty good. He didn’t give him anything to drive for a long time and then threw one further up and wide, and it was a cutter. It was 85mph so it wasn’t his normal slower ball but it also wasn’t his normal angled-across-the-right-hander ball. He cut his fingers across it. It bounced a little more and Flintoff’s timing was all wrong after his eyes lit up when he saw something in his half of the wicket.

    To me it looks as though Broad has some serious talent. At 23, being able to play a kind of straight bat pull off Watson at 89mph is pretty handy. When he tightens up he is going to be a very useful number 7 and I would be tempted to give him that responsibility earlier rather than later.

    Watson bowled quite well. I couldn’t help thinking something was going to break when he hit the 90mph mark though. He needs to stay controlled or he’ll be batting with a runner.

    Siddle did well to get Swann out in the last over. He actually bowled him a good ball rather than an attempted yorker or bouncer. That tendency to stop bowling properly when the lower order comes in could be Brett Lee’s influence.

  32. I reckon this pitch appears similar to Cardiff. If Australia bat with the same purpose they showed when bowling in the middle session their first innings score could be similar too.

    Although it is always best to wait till both teams bat I’ll go out on a limb and say that 350 is well below par on that pitch and outfield. Virtually anything hit outside the ring is a boundary and that needs to be factored in when making assumptions about what is a good first innings total.

    Good summary again Vern. Thanks for the effort mate.

    • Nesta, I have not seen a wicket like it. It may well be like Cardiff and Australia will hope it is. A few people have said it is faster and bouncing more than Cardiff so spin will be more damaging. I thought it was quite slow.

      Sky showed some amazing footage of Johnson bowling and following through and every step seemed to gouge out a huge amount of “top soil” and kick it into the air. The bowlers footmarks on the popping crease are already quite deep. Also, just about every time a ball pitched it brought up a puff of dust, i.e., “going through the top” although the bounce was truer than usual for balls going through the top. Really astonishing. I don’t think it has been watered since mid afternoon of the first day of the fourth test.

      It might well hold together but there is a small chance it could deteriorate into a farce.

      • Vernon, I completely agree about Watson. I found myself wincing and saying ‘just lob it in there, mate.’ as I expected him to hit the turf clutching something with every delivery. Pretty ghastly viewing.

  33. Vernon – excellent summary, showing the value of a keen eye on the television screen, as you have seen far more than me from Third Man.

    I was a bit surprised to see that the Test pitch wasn’t dead centre of the square, but not surprised to see that the bounce was true, if lower than in the 709s and 80s. There was some reward for the ball dug right in, but good batsmen shouldn’t be troubled by that.

    There’s always a bit of turn in England in late August, but how helpful it will be, I don’t know. It’s bounce more than turn that seems to make spinners a more difficult prospect. But if Swanny can turn a few and get that skidding straight one working, the left-handers may find him tricky.

    And I completely agree re Bell! All the pundits talk about his technique as if it were perfect, but it’s not. I worry about players who look good in attacking strokes, but not in defence. Broad can look a bit vulnerable, but some of his strokemaking is fantastic – we need some today!!

    • Bell is an odd one. He can talk a really good game and he can look really stylish but somehow he is never convincing.

  34. Am I the only one worried about Anderson’s swinging the ball today?

  35. Blimey, what is going on with Mitch? He used to be an excellent fielder, but he has deteriorated and he looks laboured in the field a lot of the time.

    Handy runs from the tail as always. Should be an interesting chase from Oz as the pitch still looks true at times if not at others.

  36. It is certainly clouding over, so Anderson may get some help.

  37. Jim – Hilfy swings it more often than Jimmy and it was a very smart move to give Broad the cutter – the most underused delivery in cricket. It might swing, it might not.

    MJ seems to lack conviction and belief – that he has 18 wickets says much more about England than it does about him.

  38. Nesta, Johnson’s big problem for me is that he can’t sustain a spell of good bowling. If things don’t happen quickly, his bowling falls away within a couple of overs.

    Does anyone else see him like that? It is very frustrating. His first over to Bell was a ripper, but he didn’t do anything else more than intermittently after that.

  39. tooting, I agree. He seems to have no confidence in himself. Which is really wierd as you don’t average 4 wickets a match by not being up to test cricket. But I am becoming more and more suspicious of his temperament. Almost any pressure seems to throw him.

    Am I being too harsh?

  40. Lou – I think MJ’s next series is a big one. Siddle has shown a real ability to learn and Hilfy is class. The pace MJ generates will always get a few wickets, but the four balls are too frequent.

    • Yes, if he keeps bowl so inconsistently, I think they should consider their options. Doug Bollydolly is another quick leftie and I suspect his attitude is a bit more like Siddle’s than Johnson.

      In fact, I am struggling to remember an Aussie bowler with Johnson’s talent that appeared such a head-case.

  41. Lou – Rodney Hogg?

    England can’t bowl straight! Why the hell not?

  42. Oh, lord yes. I’d forgotten about him, he looked completely barking at times on the field.

  43. Well Aus are getting some of the luck they didn’t get earlier in the series. After Strauss’ dismissal to a long no ball, Watson has just been given not out to a ball hitting middle. I shouted “out” at home and I hadn’t to the earlier ones – some just look out and that one did.

    Rough with the smooth I suppose.

    • Which umpire was at the Freddy end? Billy’s been tough on the LBWs this game, but it’s hard to tell from cricinfo this match who is at which end – at one point yesterday they even mentioned Dar was at one end.

      • Asad Rauf.

  44. Swann before Broad is a bit odd to me. It may well bring a wicket, but is the chance of Swann getting a wicket after 12 overs any more probable than for Broad?

    Toots, It’s the first sign that Australia know they do not have to force the pace – they can make England bowl to them and do not have to chase any width.

    • As openers, especiallly for Katich who is not in great nick, I don’t want to see them chasing too many wide balls regardless of the match situation before lunch.

  45. Important time for Katich I think. He wasted some excellent form a few times this series but he is still playing the odd woofty shot, which suggests he is not quite as calm as he often is. I think he owes his team mates not to throw it away today.

    • Anyone else think this Australian innings has Shield Final written all over it?

  46. I must say Shane Warne’s commentary confuses me often. “Patience is the key for the bowlers but they must be aggressive and England must chase the game”. In the next breath “There’s still so much time left in this game”.

    I interpret his incessant talk about the importance of body language as meaning that it is causal, i.e. if you strut around with good body language you will play better. He might be right but at best it is controversial and it does sound a little like the talk of a self-help guru or high performance consultant.

    • Vernon, he never shuts up which makes him tiresome. He can be quite engaging, funny plus he is very interesting when he talks about spin bowling, but if only he would shut up occasionally he would be more effective.

      He must have driven the rest of the slips cordon nuts when he played for Oz.

      • Lou – I reckon most of that stuff was in his head rather than spoken as he convinced himself (successfully) that something was happening, when it wasn’t!

      • Lou – I’d say they got him to focus on other things like his next good sledge.

        • I read somewhere that during a County match he made Katich laugh so much that Katich couldn’t finish an over and had to be replaced.

  47. Vernon – I agree re Warne. It’s like having six or seven short speeches on a loop that plays regardless of the action in the middle.

    • He definitely hasn;t grasped he isn’t playing. He is still trying to exert his will over the contest. Got to admire his competitive nature but its overblown for a position grounded in analysis!

  48. thanks for the comments everyone, its a great source of information while I am remote and almost disconnected and wondering whats actually happening. great summary vernon, but i’ll have to look up woofty when i get home.
    same with your video toots, something to look forward to when i have a pc again.
    aus is doing fine, no need to rush this. be patient and eng will crack. just like langer said.
    and be patient with mj, hes relatively new to this.

    • I think the grandeur of his series in SA just freaked him out overall. He doesn’t have a big enough ego to just go ‘yep, that’s me. I’m the man.’

      It is more like ‘shit, will people think I can do that again?’

  49. 0/61 at lunch. Aus will be happy with the start, most of all Ricky at not having to come out yet. The failure of ENG players, as compared to AUS, to turn good scores into hundreds could be critical in this match and indeed the series. Kat needs to bolt on to this innings.

    • Japal, not having Ricky out there yet is a biggie for me.

      I think that LBW from Fred sounded sort of clicky so I think the umps may have thought it hit something wooden on its way.

  50. England really must bowl straight more or less every ball and have a bit of protection in the field.

  51. Raining hard 5 miles away in Tooting.

  52. England have bowled pretty well and Australia had a bit of luck but have also hung in there. The bowlers’ speeds seem to be down. Not suggesting that is important in itself but does it say something about their level of “arousal” if I can use that term here? Maybe it’s a conscious effort to bowl better lines and lengths rather than get too pumped up and spray it.

    • Did they recalibrate or reposition the speed gun from yesterday? It seemed to be giving over inflated readings all day on day 1. Possibly giving figures a mile or two below today?

      • Watson was clocked at 89 yesterday and I just can’t believe that was correct.

        • Me neither.

  53. Watson used to bowl faster that that. Maybe 5 years ago he was considered to be the second fastest bowler in Australia after Lee. His injuries has made him reluctant to really stretch out.

    Siddle bowled a ball at 91.5 this morning and he would have been a bit stiff after bowling yesterday. So, I don’t think the gun has been recalibrated.

  54. Broad has just gone over 90mph too.

    And a wicket from a full straight ball at last.

  55. Well bowled, Stu.

  56. Big game for Stuart Broad.

    • Maybe going from new ball bowler to last to bowl in one series has annoyed him in a good way.

  57. It was a bit early for him to be new ball bowler, it was more lack of options than anything else that gave him that role.

    But if he keeps developing, he’ll get there. Nice bowling from him so far.

  58. And there goes Punter. Great stuff from Broad. Repaying in spades the faith shown in him.

  59. I have a horrible feeling about this.

  60. Broad looks the real thing so far this morning (and I wrote that before he got Ponting). It looks to me Australia has tried very hard to destroy him as they have many promising young players (e.g. Bopara) but Broad has gotten better and better as the series has progressed. Probably says something about his character.

    • He has bags of confidence, Vernon, has done since he first came into the team. No problems with him there.

  61. Ooooh, that’s nice.

    Broad has worked Punter over the way Ishant Sharma has done. Brilliant bowling.

  62. Wasn’t quite like that, tooting, Ishant had him hopping all over the place with short stuff.

  63. Mr Hussey, oh, Mr Hussey if ever you wanted to resuscitate your career…

  64. Had him playing on I think?

    Warne has just said that it’s the kind of wicket where it’s hard to get a start but once you’re in, you’re okay. Yesterday’s and today’s evidence says otherwise. Batsman have got in and got out, with good bowling from Siddle and Broad getting wickets and poor shots accounting for the others. The shooters and fliers just aren’t there.

    • Tooting, I don’t think Warne was right. Batsmen never seem to be properly in on this pitch.

  65. or maybe not!

    He’ll always get the close ones against him. Blimey, it may be follow on action.

  66. I was bigging up Broad at the start of the series as I had seen how big and how fast he was in the T20 and he let me down – not now!

    • He is on a roll! Amazing stuff from Stu.

  67. Lou – I have a bit of sympathy form Hussey, but he keeps planting that front foot and leaving or missing straight ones. There are just too many chances for the umpire to raise the finger.

  68. Sad to say Hussey’s wicket was not really a surprise.

  69. I have sympathy for him too, but it is international cricket, they can’t keep backing him as his judgement appears shot.

    If Broad keeps going in this innings, it will be a real passing of the torch moment.

  70. The situation with Hussey reminds me of the first test of the 97 series at Edgbaston. I remember saying it was going to be Mark Taylor’s last test match. He scored not many in the first innings but somehow conjured 129 in the second innings despite rarely hitting the ball past the stumps at the other end. Hussey will have to do the same otherwise it is time to go.

    The really disturbing part for me is that, watching that dismissal at normal speed, I think Hussey’s initial reaction was to leave it. Seriously. That’s one of the reasons he was stuffed when it came back (great piece of bowling though). You cannot see it in slow motion.

    • Vernon, his reaction is to leave everything. He is in so much trouble now as he has to play at everything late due to trigger movements and not wanting to hit anything.

  71. But Clarke’s was. What is going on?

  72. Well that’s pressure done for Clarke there. He pushed too hard at the ball with a bit of anxiety and excellent captaincy to have Trott in close there. Had the collapse not been underway, he’d just have left that.

    Have two more fragile teams ever contested The Ashes?

    • Really good captaincy and Clarke played right into it.

      It is good bowling from Broad here. The best bowling I have seen from him this series as he is zeroing in on him and making them play. (Well maybe Clarke could have left that.)

      A five test series really deserves more class than either team has shown.

      • But out of the last 20 Ashes contests, how many have been between 2 class teams? Evenly matched teams are much more exciting.
        At least given the level of these two teams, Australia know if they can ride this out, it should get easier as there have been few instances of one outstanding performance being followed by another.

        • It’s not so much the class as the fragility. Collectively batting or bowling, the pendulum swings so far one way and then so far the other. It seems that we have tight matches made up of alternate one-sided sessions.

  73. Collapse is on well and truly. Big nick and it sounded like it.

    • Amazing how the worm turns some times.
      Now what can Haddin do?

  74. That decision from Rauf was as inexplicable as the not out in the morning that Watson survived. I just watched it hit the bat and suddenly the players were appealing. I really thought they were appealing for caught.

    • And it sounded so woody. But the Aus players can’t complain too much after the no-balls wickets yesterday.

      Another great ball from Broad. This is far and away the most accurate and smart bowling I have seen from him.

  75. Kat walks!

  76. Surely Strauss will make them follow on if they don’t save it? Freshish bowlers and why bat yourself on this pitch?

  77. I think the follow-on will be saved, but I’m worried about my ticket on Sunday! Having said that, I think it’s a 400 pitch!

  78. This is a career-making spell from Broad, I feel.

  79. I hate watching this happen to the Aussies but blimey, collapses are exciting.

  80. So what is it that has brought this on?
    The bowling, the batting or the pressure?

    Annoying as I had Broad as a shoein for most wickets in the next Ashes in Oz but his price will be prohibitive now.

  81. They are prone to collapsing, though. In this series , this is their third first innings collapse so it is not like it is out of the blue. I think it is the pressure and the wicket probably playing on their minds.

  82. But also, Broad and Swann have been excellent this session. Really good quality bowling.

  83. After Haddin, may be the follow-on is on! I think England gave away seven wickets yesterday, but they have taken seven today (okay, Rauf took North’s wicket).

  84. Better now than while chasing 150 in the 4th I suppose. As much as it is making me bug eyed and totally unproductive following cricinfo. If this was to happen chasing a smallish total I’d be totally crushed.

  85. I wonder if the rain has had something to do with the movement that Broad has been able to get. I am not suggesting he doesn’t deserve his succes because he has bowled superbly but it did start to move around more after that break.

    The moisture coming out of the ground?

    • Possibly just that he wasn’t bowled before the break. Other than a few Flintoff deliveries, the other two quicks didn’t offer that much.

      • No I would agree with Vernon. I think the rain definitely helped, but Broad helped himself by bowling so accurately and with a nice shape.

  86. Oh and thats 11 overs unchanged since the rain for Broad. Would it be worth a change before tea?

  87. And Broad has sustained his good lines and length throughout his session.

    I hope Mitchell Johnson is watching.

  88. Wow – that was some session.
    Interesting to see how both teams handle the massive momentum shift.

  89. I am not sure that it is in the Aussie batsmen’s hands anymore. The pitch is spitting for Swann now and the ball is keeping low for Broad and probably for the others, that is, if they can prize the ball out of his paws.

  90. Well the pressure of the follow on is gone and hopefully the 20 minutes off has quelled the crowd and these two can start playing the ball on is merit again. We need to find a way of taking the confidence out of the English team again. bit by bit.

  91. Siddle is earning his keep and he isn’t considered a bowler who bats by any means. Maybe he’ll nick 8 as well as the new ball from MJ.

  92. So Collingwood was out off a no-ball. It was close but definitely a no-ball. I think a number of balls Johnson had bowled before that were similarly no-balls but they were not called. If they are not called, then Johnson is not going to adjust because he thinks he has it right. If they were called he probably would have made an adjustment.

    So, I am not sure you can take one ball in isolation and say it should not have been given out.

  93. Big call by Ponting to take Johnson off after taking two quick wickets and beating Trott. Wicket looks too slow for Katich.

    • He did it in the first innings as well. MJ had Broad in trouble and promptly got taken off. Punter just won’t give him elongated spells and I don’t really blame him.

  94. The umpiring has been a bit off all series. But them’s the breaks.

  95. Quite a day – I think the umpiring has just become random.

  96. I’m disappointed to read of accusations in the Aus Press of pitch doctoring. Siddle, Broad and Swanny have bowled well and Hilfy did this morning, but the other bowlers have carried little threat, indeed the umpires have been significantly more dangerous. I saw few real shooters nor snorters, just a few gripping and turning and a bit of movement both ways in the air. It’s not a road, but it’s a pitch where either of the 2005 line-ups should make 400.

    It’s the brittleness in confidence that’s the problem for both batting sides, not the brittleness of the surface.

  97. Flipping heck, have I just woken up from a bad dream? Missed the action last night, luckily. Oh how Ricky may come to regret Cardiff.

  98. Japal – If Aus get Strauss tomorrow morning, don’t be surprised to be batting before tea with 320 to get. If Flintoff comes in with anything above 350 as a lead, expect it to go to 450 very quickly indeed.

    Broad really did deliver today, because even Swann needed umpiring help for two of his wickets. Anderson, Harmison and Flintoff will need to improve second time around. If Punter gets a ton, and he’ll need to quell his anxiety to do it, he only needs batsmen to play around him and 350 is chased down quickly on this outfield.

  99. Never underestimate Englands ability to shoot itself in the foot.

  100. The pitch looks like a 400 wicket now. It’s rubbish all this about the pitch being difficult to unplayable. If Aus get their heads down, 400 is definitely on – fortunately I don’t think that’ll be enough.

  101. 72 overs gone in the second innings and North has bowled more overs than Siddle and Hilfy combined. I’ll never work Punter’s decision-making out if he plays ’til he’s fifty.

  102. Trott Cardiff looks Cardiff very Cardiff good Cardiff! l think Skipper Punter has been ok, all in all. Not strategically stunning, of course, but Hussey and a loose MJ the real disappointments of the series for AUS. Last knock for Hussey coming up?

  103. MJ just seems to have given up trying to bowl properly here – it doesn’t augur well for a two day batting effort. The difference between North’s attitude and MJ’s is very marked.

  104. Pitch looks like it’s lost enough of the top to be 1 paced again. Then problem yesterday and a bit on day one seemed to be it was two paced. That of course could be down to lack luster bowling, but even if it’s now a one paced pitch, I think 500 is too many, even with 6 1/2 sessions to get them.

  105. Something on your mind japaljarri?:)
    540 to win, no chance.
    If MJ had been even just OK instead of dismall, we wouldn’t have lost to this England. We were one bowler short.

  106. He’ll hit oneday!

  107. Forgive me for sounding too much like Botham at Leeds on day 2, but with this outfield it’s a 400ish total. Just keep the ball down, and don’t play across the line. The pitch is puffing dust today not chunks, the pace is slower and more importantly truer. Spin and cutters will be tough but this is doable

  108. JIm – I agree. Sensible old-fashioned Test batsmanship is rewarded on this wicket. The character assassination of the groundsman by the punditocracy has been disgraceful.

    • I have to say I haven’t read any papers, or web sites, only this site today. You have to admit Oval wickets do not break up like this and he had 2 fairly perfect weeks to get it ready, but it was way way too dry.
      But I always believe it’s the home teams perogative to produce a wicket the home team needs – that is why there is a toss of the coin to start with. It’s a result wicket rather than anything else.
      If Australia won the toss, and it was reversed, would England be on about the pitch or their middle order once again?
      Oh, and enjoy tomorrow.

  109. Cheers Jim. I’ll link to a piece later that I’ve written about the pitch.

    It’s a Chanderpaul of a pitch – ugly and you can’t quite see how it works, but it does. It’s a result wicket in that a positive result is possible – not so different to the other wickets in this series in that sense.

  110. All well and good about the pitch, but can this team bat out two days, under even the most favourable conditions? Or score the runs? Weve learnt not to expect a sustained performance. Notwithstanding 0/80.

    • Can we? Yes. We. Can.

  111. My defence of an unfairly maligned groundsman –

  112. link’s not working, tt – the facebook one does, though.

  113. Thanks Rajesh – I’ve fixed it now.

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