Posted by: tootingtrumpet | July 22, 2010

Pakistan vs Australia Second Test Day One

A man with much to scowl about

My first “over” of observations on each day of this Test.

Ball One – It’s long been a bit of an obsession of mine that bowlers, especially opening bowlers, do not bowl at the stumps as often as they should. In England, and this is more the case at Headingley than anywhere, the new ball must not be wasted flung down the leg side or simply left outside off stump. Targeting the stumps was just one of the reasons why Glenn McGrath and Curtly Ambrose were so effective in English conditions  – the tactic reached its apotheosis at The Oval in 1976, when Michael Holding delivered one of the greatest performances in Test history, taking 14 wickets of which 11 were LBW or bowled. Mohammad Asif , Mohammad Amir and Umar Gul looked up, saw the clouds and bowled straight – and that was enough to see off the cream of Australian batting.

Ball Two – Possibly a parochial point, but Australia’s last six Tests in England have yielded first innings totals of 215, 263, 445, 160, 253 and 88.  If the  next Ashes series were held in England, such evidence would lead to England being big favourites, for nothing is more important than first innings runs, but in Australia things will be different… won’t they?

Ball Three – Despite being rated Number 3 in the world, Mitchell Johnson does not have a stock ball – he’s pretty much a mix of wicket-taking deliveries and four-balls. Ben Hilfenhaus, after some exemplary performances in England, couldn’t bowl to a plan at the start of Pakistan’s innings and a swing bowler without a plan is a danger to his own team. Dougie Bollinger was predictably admirable, but with only the handy seam-up of Shane Watson and the tyro spinner, Steven Smith to call upon for variation, Punter’s attack looks a little unbalanced. Peter Siddle will be available for selection soon, but unless he replaces MJ (which seems unlikely) Punter may still be short of options come The Ashes.

Ball Four – I guess that Australia must have had worse days in Tests, but I can’t recall one. It’s not just the scorecard, but the Australian body language (by which the likes of Stephen Waugh set great store) has been poor and, always a mark of a bad day, but Australia’s extra count is currently 21 from a total of 131/1. That’s the sign of a side ill at ease.

Ball Five – Is this day of disciplined bowling and batting the start of a new dawn under Salman Butt? Of course such judgements are formed over years rather than days, but there are precedents of captains picked young who shape their teams into their image. Salman Butt is not yet Graeme Smith, nor Hansie Cronje, but there’s just a twinkling of hope that he might be.

Ball Six – Test cricket is as unpredictable as it has ever been – and it’s all the better for it.

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Responses

  1. I didn’t think Bolly was admirable. Far too much wide stuff early on. He got his maidens because they didn’t have to play at much.

    The reason Mitchell Johnson doesn’t have a stock ball is because he can’t bowl in one place for more than one ball in a row. He just doesn’t have enough control.

    Hilfy was all over the shop early which was very disappointing.

    The Pakistan bowling WAS admirable. Their pitch maps were admirable. Their ability to swing both ways and also get whatever seam movement was around was admirable and I found it bloody marvellous to watch which makes me admirable as I am an Aus fan.

    Use words like admirable for those that deserve it.

  2. Lou – you have a point re Dougie, but he was charging in and if he had gone for as many as Hilfy and MJ, Punter really would have been in trouble.

    Aus need to dismiss Pak for 250 and make 400 – not impossible at all.

  3. Depends what conditions the Pakistan bowlers get.

    I am rather partial to watching them bowl in these helpful conditions. Makes you feel like test cricket is worthwhile.

  4. Pak bowlers really use conditions well. MJ has taken 30 mins to find a line this morning.

  5. Watson striking? l had been meaning to write post Lords that l thought that some of the commentary here and in broader cricket media of late had been fairly shallow regarding his bowling.

    l am far from a fan of some of the ways he goes about his cricket but he has been playing very good cricket for some time…

  6. Japal – There is no doubt that Watson has been effective, but he is irrefutably the kind of medium pace seamer that county cricket produces in droves and is disparaged by Aussies. He is re-inventing his bowling from a speedster to a fifth bowler who does a job.

    I have praised his batting consistently and was not a sceptic when he assumed opening duties twelve months ago. Watson is annoying in lots of ways, but he’s a proper Test cricketer.

    Good to hear from you again.

  7. Tooting,Watson’s bowling is still disparaged by many of the Aussies.

    But to give him his due, he appears to understand that pitching it up is a good idea in these conditions.

  8. Hi

    I work with the Barmy Army and saw your post.

    For anyone travelling out to Australia this winter for the Ashes or just for some fun check The Barmy Army’s guide to the Ashes. It includes information on the best places to hang out, accommodation and things to see in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. To down load your free copy, please go to http://tiny.cc/933cn

  9. Well if it is irrefutable then l won’t bother…:)

    l don;t think he is ever going to lead the attack but l think he has bowled with considerable intelligence for about 18 months – including last Summer in Australia. And the media reports linking him with the scoffing of North making the honour roll was a bit poor l thought.

    That aside l almost hope Pakistan win this match (even though it is biologically forbidden). World cricket needs a strong Pakistan and they play a beautiful game.


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