Posted by: tootingtrumpet | July 17, 2010

Pakistan vs Australia First Test Day Four

Pakistan's batting made the one on the right look like he could walk on the stuff

My final “over” from this Test.

Ball One – At Lord’s, it’s hard to do things wrong, but MCC are doing things very, very right. Hosting a series for the first time in its 223 year history, one might have expected at least some teething problems. There were none. Lord’s is a picture, the weather has been good and the cricket is wonderfully competitive deep into the Test. The crowds have not been at capacity, but well above what most countries expect for home Tests. Since MCC became much more progressive about a decade or so ago, its beneficial effect on the game has grown and grown.

Ball Two – Mitchell Johnson is ranked the second best bowler in the world and is very much a senior pro in Punter’s new team. So why is he so untrustworthy with the ball? At the start of the fourth day, under cloud and with a debutant at the crease, he bowled such rubbish that Punter removed him from the attack after three overs and was later obliged to introduce the part-time spin of Marcus North before lunch. (with much success, as it transpired). In a four man attack – in any attack – a bowler as wayward as MJ is a luxury that few sides can accommodate for very long.

Ball Three – It’s often said that players should always play their natural game. Shahid Afridi’s two innings show that there are times when that is too trite a statement.

Ball Four – Whenever I hear the phrase, “You need to take twenty wickets to win a Test,” I question it because you don’t really. You need to be bowling when twenty wickets go down. Marcus North’s extraordinary spell has shown that today. Obviously, he gets some of the credit, but he was really only bowling when the wickets went down.

Ball Five – Test cricket is a tough sport in which technique and character are examined in detail. Perhaps it is too much to expect Pakistan to play Test matches as infrequently as they do and be anything other than incapable of putting a couple of good sessions together. But it’s the sheer brainlessness of much of Pakistan’s play that grates, because the talent is so obviously there.

Ball Six – Australia have won this Test largely through the runs scored by bowlers and the wickets taken by batsmen. That’s not a formula likely to win back the Ashes. Batting can look brittle and bowling either wayward (MJ and Dougie) or inexperienced (Smith). Australia’s squad looks shallower than it has done for a generation, but the First XI still look good enough to win more than they lose, especially at home.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for the overs, Toots. It’s a good format – also leaves your options open for the odd wide and the odd Billy Bowden 7 baller.

    Alas, I’ve already written off regaining the Ashes this summer. Especially if MJ keeps bowling like that. Six fer from Marker Snorth means he’ll be around for a while too, unfortunately. (Nicely put, that he “happened to be bowling when the wickets fell.)

    I didn’t actually watch a single ball of it. Had my fill of sport after watching a great world cup comp, from my happy home here in Germany. (Heh heh.)

    • GM – for such a weapon, MJ seems often to be blunt. And yes, the sport this summer can be overpowering!

  2. “Australia have won this Test largely through the runs scored by bowlers and the wickets taken by batsmen.”
    True but misses the point. Ponting threw the ball to North, and it worked, so he kept him on. Why would he bring back

  3. “Australia have won this Test largely through the runs scored by bowlers and the wickets taken by batsmen.”
    True but misses the point. Ponting threw the ball to North, and it worked, so he kept him on. Why would he bring back a bowler, which North apparently isn’t, according to you, when North keeps getting wickets? On a sunny day four of a test. Ponting followed the flow of the game. I know it jars purists to have Watson and North on the honours board, but two eternal truths have been proven yet again, Aus will find a way to win, and Pak will find a way to lose. Smith did well on debut at Lords too.

    Delighted to hear Afridi is retiring, again, from Test cricket. He and 2020 deserve each other. The schmuck.

    Cricinfo have a match report saying the Aus transition period is over and now it’s just polishing. That’s wildly optimistic, and about 5 years ahead of its time, the team still has alot to prove, but this ability to find new ways to win is invaluable (remember it was Clarke who spun Aus to victory against Ind in Sydney). And this with several key bowlers out with injury. They’re coming along.

    • Fred – Absolutely the case that Aus found a way to win and that Punter clearly did the right thing in backing a hunch and running with it. But, sat in the best seat in the ground, it was plain that Hilfenhaus was much, much more of a threat than MJ or Dougie (and I don’t think Hilfy was at his best all the time) and that Smith has potential, but a lot to learn. And the swagger is gone from the batting which, after years of looking so solid, is now like any other Test teams. It makes cricket more interesting and will, I hope, provide a tight series come Nov / Dec.

  4. My one big positive from the game is Tim Paine.

    I’d forgotten what it was like to have a wickie that takes the ball cleanly pretty much all the time. Can someone kneecap Haddin please?

    I’ve got to agree with Tooting. The Aussies, bowling and batting, looked like rubbish for a lot of this match with some honorable exceptions.

    The Pakistan team have an attack capable of winning them matches if only their batting wasn’t so messy. The Kid will get more consistent as he learns and fills out and what a talent.

    • Lou – Paine wasn’t faultless behind the stumps, but he does look a fine keeper and did pull off a really outstanding stumping at a time when a wicket was vital.

      Pakistan? They need brains and experience, which will take time. The bowlers are very good though!

  5. He wasn’t faultless but, as it was his first match and comparing him to Haddin and a lot of other keepers around (apart from that brilliant little guy in Sri Lanka), he was a breath of fresh air.

    He doesn’t look like he’ll need ‘time’.

  6. Vim – not as natural as Prasanna Jayawardene, but talented and can only get better.

  7. Agree with your views on MJ, seem to remember most off his wickets in 2009 Ashes came from very rare good balls, almost as if it took the batsman by surprise that he got one in the right place.

    He rarely bolwed a decent spell, more just a ripper of a ball in the middle of a heap of crap.

    With regard to the upcoming Ashes, and speaking as a pom, I can’t agree with GM that the Ashes are already gone for Australia.

    England may well have improved out of sight in limited overs cricket, but in the christmas test series in South Africa (our most recent proper test series), we were outplayed 3 tests to 1.

    And in the 3rd test we had SA on the ropes and were uable to finish them off, and then ended up with the No.11 at the crease to save the test.

    England have improved and possibly could retain the Ashes, but they will need to be ruthless and press home any chances they get, and I’m not convinced they are capable of that yet.

    Look at the recent ODI series, if Australia where 3-0 up (like England), they would have won that series 5-0, at the worst they might have lost the 5th game.

    England had a chance to demoralize Australia with a good thrashing and couldn’t finish the job.


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