Posted by: tootingtrumpet | November 30, 2010

First Ashes Test – Australia Report card

Mean, moody, not magnificent.

Shane Watson – Saw off the new ball twice and timed the ball down the ground as well as anyone. His under-rated bowling (not by him of course) mixed up a still sharp bouncer with seamers, swingers and authentic off and leg cutters that will gain better reward later in the series. Like KP, if he reins in his ego, he can be a key player for his team.

Simon Katich – Becomes ever more extreme in his movement across the crease with his leg stump often exposed, but his method works for him and frustrates bowlers keen to see the off pole. Second time round inevitably fell to a tired stroke after being Cooked in the field.

Punter – After scratching about before lunch, failed to get going after the interval when his team were looking for him to set the tone. Gained some fluency in scoring an attractive, if rather meaningless fifty, in the second innings which he celebrated somewhat sheepishly. Chased the ball with his field setting, but it would be hard to criticise his captaincy with so little at his disposal. Will not have endeared himself to the umpires with his reaction to his half-hearted appeal for a catch being turned down by the TV umpire – “piss weak umpiring” may well describe the option to go to a referral, but, as non-walkers say, let the umpires do the umpiring.

Michael Clarke – There are many cricketers who play through niggles and once Pup declared himself fit, that excuse disappeared. Managed the considerable achievement of fielding worse than he batted. His technique has not broken down, so one can only surmise that his mind is not entirely focused.  Will stay in the side due to the failings of others, but batsmen equally vaunted in the past, have been discarded brutally for a lot less.

Michael Hussey – Under personal and scoreboard pressure, had a bit of luck, but used it to play as good an innings as one might see. He used the crease wonderfully well to go right back for his favourite horizontal bat strokes and fully forward for the drive. His targeting of Swanny was a perfect example of balancing risk and reward through clear decision-making and single-minded execution. Cemented his place for the series.

Marcus North – Lived down to expectations scoring just one before being dismissed by one of the very few balls that spun and bounced. Bowled with a pleasing loop to get flight and spin and looked much more of a threat than the full-time spinner. Does he really offer more than the two Steves, Smith and O’Keefe? If The Ashes go, surely so will he.

Brad Haddin – Judged the match position perfectly and negotiated the most challenging batting conditions of the match to set up his bowlers with an opportunity they failed to take. Only once allowed the dasher to trump the batter with a lovely six to raise his century. Had through no fault of his own, a torrid time behind the stumps with wayward bowling and returns to clean up hour after hour. Finished the match displaying something close to contempt, diving around in an effort to get a glove on Mitchell Johnson’s farcically uncontrolled bowling – not good for the team ethic, but who can blame him?

Mitchell Johnson – Incredibly his match figures of 42-7-170-0 and a duck flattered him. Less generous umpires would have called wide more frequently and had some of the half-volleys been reached, they would have gone to the fence. His captain has lost faith in him, as has his public. Towards the end of a match that tortured his mind and technique, he looked like he subconsciously wanted to fail to escape goldfish bowl of international sport. Any respite will cost Australia little with ball, but raises the spectre of a very English looking tail of two Number Tens and two Number Elevens.

Xavier Doherty – England’s batsmen have spent years in Australia looking up to see the diamond ear-ring glinting and the ball ripping off the pitch or shooting under the bat. And if it wasn’t SK Warne, it was SCG MacGill with even more extravagant turn, if more opportunities to score. Come 2010-11, they look up to find a man bowling left arm darts with only an even faster ball as a variation. If all those years on the county circuit had not prepared them for the latest spinner under the Baggy Green, they must have been asleep.

Peter Siddle – All bustling heart and snarling aggression, he showed plenty of brains to deliver three almost perfect deliveries for his hat-trick and do a fine job for his captain when he most needed it. Not yet as good as Craig McDermott, he shares his appetite for work, but was shielded a little by Punter on the fifth day for the work ahead in Adelaide.

Ben Hilfenhaus – Got off to a perfect start snaring Strauss with a wide long hop in his first over, but seemed strangely subdued after that, putting the ball on to the pitch rather than banging it in or kissing the turf. Did not get as much swing as Jimmy Anderson and lacked a Plan B. Match figures of 1-142 will exercise selectors’ minds, but surely dropping two pacemen would be a step too far?

The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.



  1. Not so sure about this English looking tail you speak of. Doherty’s 16 means all 11 average double figures with the bat. Siddle has the lowest average at 15 which is more than Finn and Anderson. But then that is just statistics.
    At the start I expected this series to be won or lost in a very similar fashion to the South African series in Oz. 4th innings run chases doing the business for either side. In that regard, England have the advantage of holding the urn, so Ponting will have to be the more adventurous, which will be a problem.

    • Yes Jim, perhaps I’m a little harsh, as Siddle can hang around and Hilfenhaus is a decent hitter. I know Harris is no mug either.

      Having said that, Saj Mahmood’s first class average is 16.32 and he is a Number Ten at best in Tests. Let’s see.

  2. Michael Hussey is lucky that Swann didn’t catch that ball… that didn’t carry.

    • Or that Swanny wasn’t standing a yard closer.

      • You can say that any ball that drops short. Has this really never happened on a field of play before?

        C’mon, Tooting, I expect a bit more from you than people like Agnew.

        • Maybe Lou – but one of my pet hates in cricket is slips standing too deep (along with mid-off / mid-on allowing a single and runs to a vacant Third Man). Especially for a batsman’s first ball, when he is unlikely to go hard at the ball, I feel stepping up is a good idea. When I played club cricket, I always asked the slips to stand closer too!

  3. Good wraps, Eng with the moral victory and momentum for what it is worth. Possibly little. They do look like a good to very good side to me, with some real stability and belief. Hoping Aus can sneak a win in Adel or Perth to make it interesting. Johnson has to go.

    Toots you have been one of the ones under-rating Watsons bowling over the last year or so?

    • Japal = Thanks. I’ve come to appreciate Watson’s bowling since seeing him in England vs Pakistan. Now he is a proper third seamer who manipulates the ball and not a Brett Lee wannabee, he is much improved.

      • Knows how to hold the seam properly. He annoys me as he can bowl a beautiful yorker but so rarely does.

        • The yorker must be the most underused ball in cricket. The great pacemen always used it – McGrath’s was fantastic as was Waqar’s – but I have a theory about why it’s underused which I’ll write about soon!

          • Lou – my theory is in this piece

            • I read it. Very good article, are you a PG Wodehouse fan?

              • Guilty Lou. The Lord Emsworth stuff is amongst my favourite reading ever.

                On Spode – “The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you’re someone. You hear them shouting ‘Heil, Spode!’ and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: ‘Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?”

              • My favourite is Psmith.

                -“Take a seat,” said the immaculate one. “If you don’t mind dirtying your bags, that’s to say. Personally, I don’t see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. A Nursery Garden in the Home. That sort of idea. My name,” he added pensively, “is Smith. What’s yours?” –

                What brilliant opening lines for a character.

                But I do like the Blandings books as well as Jeeves and Bertie imbroglios. The episode with a drunken Gussie Fink-Nottle presenting the prizes for Market Snodsbury Grammar School is a scream.

  4. What on earth happened to this match? It was exciting there for a while, and then subsided into something very dull for the last couple of days. Poor pitch to blame and noone able to overcome it.

    • It was a Test saved by some high class batting aided by a dull pitch and less than penetrative bowling. England backed up their claim to be a decent side.

      • Pitch was crap for the second half. Shame on CA if this is the ‘financial plan’.

        • I think it’s a little too easy to blame the pitch. Test wickets should be tough to get and bowlers shouldn’t expect the ball to seam or swing just because they hold the seam up, nor to turn and bounce if they roll it out. I do think pitches should have as much pace and bounce as is not dangerous – the opposite appears to be the aim.

          I do think this ball is a problem though – I feel that we get better cricket with the Duke’s pronounced seam and its hardness. Last year wickets clattered all summer long in England not because of the pitches, but because the atmosphere aided swing and the ball went from conventional swing to reverse swing relatively quickly and bounced for the spinner – not sure that the Kookaburra would do that.

  5. There was something strangely subdued about Hilf. He strikes me as an unlucky bowler as well which is just how it goes for some. Especially guys who move it around a bit, beating edges. MJ has clearly been something of a lucky bowler – until people stopped slashing at him outside off stump.

    l am keen on some intensity, competition and form from Harris.

    • He still bowls too short and wide a lot of the time, which is weird as he should know his strengths by now.

      The Adelaide pitch isn’t making me hopeful of an interesting match. I have certain bets on this series and they are dependent on not having dead pitches for every test.

      • Lou – I feel there’s a collapse coming. I doubt Adelaide could be easier than Brisbane, but plenty of batsmen either didn’t or couldn’t get in at The ‘Gabba and neither tail looked competent. If sides keep being dismissed for less than 300 in first innings (and I think they might) there will be results.

        • l had a bet on the Poms (odds were ridiculously long in my view). l fervently hope l am wrong but l feel like l may make some money by the end of the Summer…

          Very happily taking a few days of leave (early Xmas) to drive out of the NT desert and get to Adelaide for days 3 and 4. Can;t wait to see some cricket at that lovely ground. And have a beer!

          • Have one for me Japal!

            • l shall nobly have one for all here :)

              • One each l mean!

              • Have 99.94 Japal!

          • I did too, in fact, I’ve spread my bets around a bit as the odds were ludicrously favourable.

            I hope that there are some collapses coming on. I always find them the most exciting part of cricket.

    • Japal – What I’ve seen of Harris suggests a Gough / Botham type trier with plenty of aggression and a bit more pace than meets the eye. Has to be a better bet than MJ.

      I was disappointed in Hilfenhaus, as I really rate him as a crafty bowler with a command of swing and changes of pace. He did look subdued and, as I wrote, putting the ball into the pitch rather than bowling it right at the batsman. Of course the pitch doesn’t help, but he’s played on plenty of roads before.

      Anyone can have a below par match and I’d be disappointed if the selectors discard him so soon.

  6. The best thing about Brisbane was the final half-day with England making the fatal mistake of allowing Australia to bat. Ricky promptly showed a trailer of what is to come in this series with a quick half-century. Some relief after nearly two shocking days – how can Australia let England to 500/1? What’s happening to the world?

    Thank God they retained their pomminess enough to give Ricky a chance to save face.
    Now for Adelaide – Remember 242 anyone? Looking for a Ricky masterclass and still optimistic – 551/6 to 5-0 was the last Ashes story in Australia, wasn’t it. It won’t be 5-0 this time and frankly, I guess the rabidest of Aussie supporters wouldnt have dreamt of it but it still can be 1-0, 2-0, 2-1 or 3-1 for Ricky’s team. Well, 3-0 or 4-0 would be nice, too but I’ll be happy with any of the former 4!

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