Posted by: tootingtrumpet | December 19, 2010

Third Ashes Test – England Report Card

The most impressive British passport holder on show at the WACA

Andrew Strauss – At 78-0, trailing by just 190 and one-up in the series, even as hardnosed a pragmatist as Strauss must have allowed a little devil on his shoulder to whisper into his ear telling him that this Ashes business was really rather straightforward. Well, that devil won’t be heard again. As a batsman, he got two starts, then failed to go on, dismissed by balls that demanded rather more positive footwork than Strauss offered throughout this match. As captain, he reverted to the Big Book of How to be an England Captain, which says in bold, “Never trust your spinner”. In a match in which only Mike Hussey, Brad Haddin and Shane Watson looked really in for Australia, he spent more time saving runs rather than trying to take wickets. Needs to get his feet moving at the crease and his team moving in the field.

Alastair Cook – Inevitable reaction to the Bradmanesque feats of the First and Second Tests. Got two decent starts, then fell to the kind of heavy footed play that he thought he had left behind in England. Will need to look at the DVD of his defence and attack from 100 – 200 at Adelaide and spend Christmas Day having plenty of throwdowns to get up on to his toes and coming fully forward again.

Jonathan Trott – Got a good one early on in the first dig, but looked beaten for pace in the second innings having done all the hard work. Tends to get good and bad scores in, er… trots, so will be looking to get back into the scintillating form he often showed earlier in the series.

KP – Didn’t need a double hundred in the previous Test to have all eyes on him and was the centre of attention yet again. Walked into a hot Mitchell Johnson in the first innings and was done early, failing to get his bat round the front pad. Second time round, he was as angry as his legion of detractors after wafting indeterminately outside off stump, having spent half an hour resisting temptation.  Knows that he missed out at the business end of the 2009 series through injury and won’t want to be a bit part player at the sharp end this time.

Colly – Took one of the all-time great Ashes catches early in the piece, but then it all went wrong. The size of his heart has always compensated for the positions of his hands and feet, but the jury is out on whether his run of poor scores is terminal. MJ’s newly rediscovered inducker was too much in the first innings, but he looked vulnerable to any kind of delivery and Harris’ fast medium away drift was enough second time round. England don’t often drop players these days, but there’s a strong case for going with Monty at the SCG, so Colly could, once more, be in the last chance saloon come Melbourne.

Belly – Looks in the form of his life, but too often marooned with an out of form tail. Out trying to get quick runs in the first innings and joined in the lemming parade second time round. Surely has to go up to Five now.

Matt Prior – Kept athletically and confidently, but could not rebuild after collapses in the way that Adam Gilchrist made look easy. There’s just a feeling I catch that the Aussies might not think he can bat – okay, so McGrath and Warne would say that and prove it and Punter has no bowlers of their class, but Prior has a point to prove at the MCG.

Swanny – Was involved in both Mike Hussey’s dismissals, but the last laugh was a little hollow after he was somewhat hit out of the attack. Might be able to put this one down to the WACA’s unique pitch, but his sprinkler will be a little flatter this week than last. As Number 8, leads the tail effort for the last four wickets – Australia won that mini-battle by nearly 100 runs. Has scored just 201 first class runs since the South Africa tour twelve months ago and, with so little time in the middle, is now a Test 9 1/2 having started as an 8 1/2.

Chris Tremlett – Carried on where he left off in the Australia A game by bowling with real hostility and bounce from a rhythmic approach and delivery stride. Played a full part in reducing Aus to 69-5 in the first innings justifying his selection in just over one session, then took a maiden five-fer in the second innings. Will be happy to hear talk of a lively strip at the MCG.

Jimmy Anderson – Having been distracted by the very good reason of witnessing the birth of his first child last week, this week he was distracted by the very bad reason of mixing it with the verbals in the middle. Needs all his energy and concentration for the job of attack leader, so should leave it at that. Might leave the nightwatchman’s job to someone else too.

Steven Finn – Looked tired in body and mind and, at 21 playing his third huge Test in less than four weeks, has good reason. Still managed to conjure a few wickets, but lacks the discipline to bottle up proper batsmen like Hussey and Haddin and dangerous hitters like MJ and Siddle. We will learn a lot from how the young man reacts to selection (or non-selection) for the last two Tests.

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

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Responses

  1. Anderson should leave the verbals alone. He is not built for it, far better going about his job quietly and efficiently. Most fast bowlers look like idiots when they get into that stuff if they are not really suited to it, look at Johnson. Anderson is equally unconvincing.

    I think you are being harsh on Swann. It is very hard to be a matchwinner with bat and ball in one match, Freddy did it so rarely because it is hard and Swann has taken so many wickets in the past year.

    Tremlett is a good pick-up.

    • Thanks for the comment Lolly. I don’t expect Swanny to be a matchwinner with bat and ball, but he should be looking to contribute. Had he got thirty more in the first dig while Belly got fifty more at the other end, things may have been different. At 8, you have to do more than just biff it.

  2. Top summary, Mouth. Grand to get a sense of what needs to be changed to regain our positive start. We thought we were busy burying the doubts of the past, but the players need to be focused even more on the work that needs to be done for them to be regarding as a top team. Hope Flower is raging at them as I type.

    • Cheers copers. I suspect Flower may let off a bit of steam about the folding in the second innings, but he needs to talk quietly to all the batsmen and get them to think about their individual responsibilities and how to bat for seven / eight sessions at the MCG. I know Boycott blames the bowlers for letting Aus off the hook first time round but 577 runs shouldn’t be enough to win a Test no matter how bouncy the pitch (and this was no terror track).

  3. Fair enough, but:
    “Colly…but he looked vulnerable to any kind of delivery and Harris’ fast medium away drift was enough second time round.”
    I think you missed what to me was a classic set up, much more than just fast medium drift. He made Colly duck and then dumped him on his backside with fast short balls, had the nightwatchman decline to run, and then played the sucker ball, the full one the had him groping and nicking. Textbook. Beautiful. And all this in the last few balls of the day.
    Thank Christ they didn’t play Beer, lets stay with the quicks and mongrel for the MCG.
    Great cricket from Australia. About time too.
    Talk about the result coming from the pitch is nonsense, the pitch didn’t make MJ bowl well. He cast the die with swing.

    • fred – that’s a good point. I’d say Colly was a rabbit in the headlights, but Harris did mow him down.

      Great cricket from Aus? Well, great cricket from some Aussies. Hughes, Clarke, Punter, Smith, Siddle, Hilfenhaus hardly contributed.

      Pitch was good – a 400 wicket in my opinion.

      • I know they are there to bowl and take wickets, but when others are doing that – to make 67 runs for the last two wickets (almost as much as the top 5) in the first innings and going for around 2.5 an over in the match is a bit more than hardly contributing for Siddle and Hilfenhaus.

        • Yes Jim – I was hasty in looking more at the twenty wickets than I ought to have been. I’m always keen on runs from the late order wickets and on tight bowling and I ought to have recognised that in my comment above.

  4. Well done to the Aussies. Jono and Harris were outstanding. I am sick of the sight of Mr Cricket. I always think his non-selection in 2005 cost Australia the Ashes so
    I have always had a soft spot for him.
    England will change nothing for melbourne but would be happy to see shazaad replace Finn.

  5. All this talk of Australia changing pitches in Melbourne to one with pace and extra bounce does make me laugh. I probably have a selective memory, but I reckon a guy with both hands amputated could count the number of pacey, bouncy drop in pitches they have managed to produce at the G. It just doesn’t happen. I’d love it if Collingwood was dropped as it’s guy’s like him and Watson with their cutters and the like (The Vics have guys like McDonald and Hastings) who do the damage after the new ball spells.

    • As a Victorian (albeit living in NT) strongly agree

      • I agree, they’ll have to dig the WACA wicket up and fly it over, but that still won’t work. It’s a puddin’.

    • Melbourne has had a few bouncy fast wickets Jim, when its been warm enough to dry out the sub-surface of the pitch and get some good rolling in. This is not one of those years. there has been excessive rain in Melbourne this summer, which is why the other pitch, left covered for too long, ended up with bare patches. The chosen pitch will be slow, and probably low. The choice is now between leaving a little grass to create seam, and offering nothing to the bowlers at all.

  6. Jim and japal – sounds like a job for Ajmal Shahzad,

  7. Very much looking forward to Christmas night – Australia v England from the G then South Africa v India from Durban. Cannot get much better than that. A great double bill – even if the G gets washed out.

  8. SA vs India seems a no contest now. Ashes, on the other hand, sparkles as ever.
    Looks like Ashes will be back as the pre-eminent cricketing contest, soon.

    India’s bowling cupboard is terribly bare. And Raina’s predicament shows how life after the big 3 will be like. Sehwag seems to be fo limited utility outside subcontinent as well(195 was against Australia minus McG and SKW). Gambhir is brave but limited.

    India seems to be a temporary #1.

    It still seems odd that SA will be long term #1 but they might, who knows?
    But what is sure is it will be SA, Eng and Aus at the top soon. The whole world cricket power balance might shift to the old powers again – one only hopes the veto is not restored when that happens :-)

  9. Ponting’s playing in Melbourne!

    Time to shut up the critics with a big 100+ score or atleast a half century under duress. Heck, he will shut up the critics.

    Win here, and England will roll over and die and surrender the Ashes.

    It is boiling down to a contest of nerves and determination – and I’d back any team led by the foremost exponent of that art, Ricky Ponting, to nail it.

    Come on, Australia!


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