The final over of the day.
Ball One – Though the ability to make runs when under pressure from media, fans and selectors is a useful quality for an individual, is it good for the team? Fighters in the dressing room and on tour are good for morale, but a player who needs to save his career is probably a bit short on class. Marcus North, not for the first time, made a century under personal and team pressure – good for him, but is it good for the team that Marcus North keeps marching to the edge of the cliff before retreating?
Ball Two – Virender Sehwag has made the extraordinary commonplace, but hitting Mitchell Johnson over backward point for six is remarkable. There are batsmen who get on with it, but nobody plays like the Indian masterblaster. Even he needs to play the percentages a bit when there’s a man on the fence waiting for the catch.
Ball Three – Ben Hilfenhaus has worked hard on his batting and has shown the ability to biff quick runs and defend for his partner. Though never batting above Number 10, he has eight not outs in 18 innings. With Nathan Hauritz’s place under threat, Australia know they can select whichever bowler they feel best suited to the job, as the Number Nine position would be in good hands.
Ball Four – Rahul Dravid, all those years of service behind him, chases a very wide one from Mitchell Johnson and is caught at third slip. After his travails in Chandigarh, it’s hard to imagine a worse way for Dravid to go. It’s neither seemly nor advisable to write off an all-time great, but he can’t afford many more dismissals like that one – who can?
Ball Five – Can Australia play Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Hauritz in the same side? Neither seem able to bowl to plans nor build pressure and if the choice comes down to one or the other, surely Hauritz will be the one to go. But his replacement would be Steven Smith who, for all his potential with bat and ball, cannot be expected to keep is as tight as Punter would like. Would an attack of Hilfenhaus, Bollinger, Siddle and Hauritz do better than Hilfenhaus, Bollinger, Johnson and Smith? Or are other combinations available?
Ball Six – Is anyone coaching Mitchell Johnson, or is he uncoachable? That his faults are so persistent suggests that, after 38 Tests, he and Cricket Australia have accepted that MJ’s good, bad and the ugly bowling is the most they can get from their quickest bowler.
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