Posted by: tootingtrumpet | January 3, 2011

Fifth Ashes Test Day One – The Final Over of the Day

Like this rubber, neither alive nor dead

Ball One 1.28am – Philip Hughes may one day make a Test opener, but he has an enormous amount of work to do in order to learn what other batsmen learn in their teens. That he has not acquired the rudiments of a robust defensive technique is a function of his greatest asset – a gimlet eye. Fellow top order dashers, Tamim Iqbal and Virender Sehwag, have good eyes and little in the way of textbook technique, but have far fewer moving parts than young Hughes. Aiming to move as little as possible at the crease might be a good place for Justin Langer to start.

Ball Two 2.10am – Usman Khawaja cracked his second ball in Test cricket for four – exactly what a rare Tremlett long hop deserved. Like  David Gower’s first ball in Test cricket so imperiously swivel pulled, history will decide whether the shot is a portent of what is to come, or as forgotten as Graham Manou’s three boundaries.

Ball Three 2.53am – With the batsmen scoring more quickly than at any time in the first session and looking as secure as any Australian partnership since Hussey and Haddin at The Gabba, the umpires called the players off the fields for “bad light”. Here is the Law – 8. Fitness for play (a) It is solely for the umpires together to decide whether   either conditions of ground, weather or light  or exceptional circumstances mean that it would be dangerous or unreasonable for play to take place. Conditions shall not be regarded as either dangerous or unreasonable merely because they are not ideal.  (b) Conditions shall be regarded as dangerous if there is actual and foreseeable risk to the safety of any player or umpire.   (c) Conditions shall be regarded as unreasonable if, although posing no risk to safety, it would not be sensible for play to proceed. The players were back soon enough, but why were they ever taken off?

Ball Four 3.05am – For all the talk of “significance” surrounding Khawaja’s Asian roots, the young man looks like a typical Australian batsman. He leaves well, is compact and quick on his feet and eager to punish the bad ball. He may have been born overseas and answer to Usman rather than Brett or Brad or Bruce, but he looks a lot more like Australian cricketer than the man whom he replaced at the crease. The quicker he is thought of as “merely” the next Australian batsman, the better for him and the better for us.

Ball Five 3.20am – Shane Watson is approaching his danger mark with around fifty on the board and – just as I type those words – he’s out pushing hard at Tim Bresnan, gone for 45. Is an opener who seldom really fails but seldom really succeeds, doing his job or not? It would be very unkind to criticise Watson, since he has been much the best Australian batsman behind Hussey in this series, but batting in the top six demands scores not just scoring.

Ball Six 3.30am – With the talented, but rather green, Steve Finn out of the England attack for a while, there are very few genuine four balls on offer once the shine goes off the new cherry and fuller lengths are reined in. “Bowling dry” England call it and it’s a tactic that has worked well this series against an Australian batting line-up short on confidence and overly keen to get on with it. Whether it will work in the English summer against Sangakkara and Jaywardene, Tendulkar and Dravid remains to be seen, but those four men are, with Jacques Kallis, the most patient men in world cricket. Test cricket never stops testing and only the very best can keep coming up with right answers. By the end of next summer, we will know if this bowling squad is the best in world cricket.

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

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Responses

  1. Early stumps I see Toots. You’re knowledge of Sydney weather is impressive!

    On Hughes – too technically flawed for my tastes and his fall in the last over before lunch pretty much sums him up. Simon Katich is sorely missed.

    On Khawaja – Spent a wonderful afternoon chatting with his Dad during a Shield match last year and there’s no doubt in my mind that Usman will have a long and fruitful international career. Dills like Healy and Slater may not have noticed but Australia isn’t all white bread and bogans, it’s a multicultural society filled with people from every land on Earth.

    All this talk of where he was born is completely irrelevant as he could barely walk let alone hold a bat when his family settled in Sydney.

    Hobart has a vibrant and growing East African community from Kenya and Sudan and the first generation of lads have embraced cricket. Hopefully, in a decade or so some of these boys will progress through the system too.

    On Watson – He’s been a good makeshift opener but he doesn’t have the required concentration to bat for long periods consistently. If they cannot find a replacement they are confident with a straight swap with Hussey would be ideal.

    On England’s attack being the World’s best – I’m laughing too hard to write anything of substance!

  2. Shane Watson is Australia’s answer to such great sub continental talents as Mudassar Nazar and Manoj Prabhakar

  3. That was really funny golandaaz. It is quite a paradox – with that kind of results, you’d think putting Watson at #6 is the most logical thing to do but he doesnt have the kind of success one would like at #6 either.

    Khawaja is promising but let’s reserve judgement for now.

    Today has clearly shown that Australia need Ricky Ponting(and perhaps Hussey as well) for a few more years – not just the 2013 Ashes.
    Clarke does look like needing a sting in the domestics(or perhaps, County Cricket) to get his mojo back. He is surely not going to captain a post-Ponting team, let alone one with Ricky in it?

    Hughes – sorry mate, you dont belong here. Australia need to find a better sticker, and Katich, I am afraid, is not the answer.
    It’s down to Hussey and Haddin again – I wouldnt wonder if a failure for Hussey here along with a failure in the first test in the Lanka tour later in August, and the knives are out for him? That’s the lot of the poor feller.

    3-1 for England? Who would have thought? Well played, England, you deserved the Series win, much as it burns my heart to admit so :(

  4. Given the current state of Australian cricket, regular 50s from Watson and Katich is more than enough right now. Their job is to create the platform and see off the new ball – let the middle order dashers score the big runs when the bowlers are tired.

    On that note, what do you guys think of batting Hughes at 5 or 6? Other batsmen with natural talent but unorthodox techniques and little patience (looking at you, KP) are hidden in the middle order and come in to flay tired bowlers after the others have done the hard yards. Why not Hughes? Am I mad?

  5. Not mad but very optimistic. Hughes’ flaws won’t disappear down the order.

    There are better middle-order batsman in the country than Hughes. A short list would include the experienced DHussey, classy GBailey or the youthful NMaddison. If I had to choose in a pinch you could play TPaine anywhere in the order. A Test century at Lord’s proves he can make the grade.

    The form opener in the country is Mark Cosgrove (510 runs @ 56) but I expect Brad Hodge to get a call up before the big fella. And don’t forget Callum Ferguson either who would already be in the Test squad if he hadn’t succumbed to injury last season.

    The Test team isn’t the place for batsmen like Hughes. Like Warner he should probably stick with the shorter forms because Test cricket is hard graft and anyone not up to it gets found out. Hughes did well at first because he was unknown but now teams know his strengths and weaknesses he never looks settled.

    Perhaps if the team was better they could carry him as a luxury but now is not the time for that. We need a couple of gritty blokes ala Boon/Marsh at the top of the order who can occupy the crease and grind out a score.

    Without a firm foundation at the top the middle-order will always be under scoreboard pressure with little chance of facing a tired bowler let alone flaying him around the paddock.

    No easy solutions I’m afraid but a fresh batch of selectors with no axes to grind and a thorough knowledge of Shield and Futures cricket would be a handy start. Also, as long as Neilsen is coach we can expect to keep going backwards. That’s been the direction ever since he got the job.

    • With you there Nesta. l really miss Kat in the side.

      Thought Usman played very well on debut. Was hoping for a promising 40-60 rather than a Hughes-hype-hundred. Thought he looked very composed and demonstrated that he deserves an extended run at test level. The start of the new era built around that rather than the streakier possibilities promised by Hughes and Smith.

      Watto simply flummoxes me on how to interpret his success/failure. Success but have you ever seen a guy actually bat his average so much!……….Naggingly he seems to make more sense at 6 but can it happen looking at the bigger picture – then are we looking at Hughes and Kat with one on the edge and one getting old. Khawaja could open but prefer not. Huss – don;t want to ruin him either? If Cosgrove spent a few months dropping a few kgs then a puff piece or two could see his number pushed a bit harder?

      • Khawaja looks very calm at the crease which is a great relief as he follows the Mexican jumping bean.

        Hughes does my head in, he seems to be playing more and more shots while jumping in the air! I know he’s not big but that’s silly. Can’t he just duck or lean out of the way?

        Everytime he jumps, he squares himself up at the same time. Makes for very uneasy viewing.

  6. Khawaja was very good and it was only experience that saw him lose his wicket. Ponting can now move down the order and allow Khawaja time to find his feet.

    Cossie did lose weight and his form went south. He is surprisingly quick for a big bloke and his form has been very good for Tassie. Hate to see him go but I reckon he’d do much better than Hughes in international cricket if the selectors want an attacking option as an opener.

  7. Cosgrove does well on English wickets too. Doesn’t look like a Test player – until he picks up his bat.

    Nesta – Even now, only SA has a better bowling attack than England and they have no spinner. Take twenty wickets regularly vs SL and Ind in the summer and it’s a fair call. Says more about world bowling resources though, which are pretty low just now.

  8. South Africa now have a legspinner and from what I hear he can play. 535 first class wickets at 25 is some record. England may well become a great bowling unit but beating up my mob hardly makes them World Class.

    India will be a stern examination in your summer but they’ll be at home while the best bowling line-ups in history took wickets and won matches in every country in all conditions.

    Time will tell but I reckon India have better bowlers on the whole than England at the moment too.

    • Imran Tahir is experienced and classy, but it’s always a big step up. If we line up ZK and Jimmy, I’d have the rest of our seamers ahead of the Indian seamers, but if Sreesanth learns consistency, he’d be very good. Swann is ahead of Harbhajan too.

      Steyn + Morkel trump any attack though. If this pitch stays as it is, surely even the stellar Indian batting won’t have an answer.

  9. Agree with Tooting Trumpet. Indian bowling is a joke, if you remove Zaheer from the equation – and they proved it in Centurion.

    Swann is way ahead of Harbhajan
    Anderson is getting to where Zaheer is today

    Sreesanth and Ishant – they cant buy a wicket to save their lives.

    Back up pace bowling? What backup medium pacers? Absolutely zilch.

    England are certainly better bowling wise. Saffers are good, too.

    • Didn’t you just see Sreesanth’s spell. You won’t see many better.

      • Thats the problem with him, nesta. You have a blue moon like this and then it is back to tripe again.

        Same is the case with Harbhajan. When he took 6 wickets last match, we Indians were well prepared for his performance in this match and he duly obliged. predictable, so utterly predictably poor.

        The problem is what we wish for is for these guys to fail utterly for as many matches as it takes for the selectors to get rid of them for good – and that never happens. Something like a marcus north situation.

        • Something like the whole Australian team!!

          Did you see Dravid run out after a dropped catch in the gully? I’ve only ever seen something like that in the Under 10s. Amazing stuff from de Villiers and poor running from Dravid considering it was his call.

          • Dravid’s running has always been suspect. Great as he is, he has got into schoolboyish Runout situations once too often.

            Sad, and given the sentiment prevailing in India about the fearless new generation, I fear for his career now that he has had a bad tour to SA.

  10. South Africa now have a spinner and an experienced leggie at that. Don’t forget Kallis either. That makes their line-up very dangerous and much improved on what is already on show. I can’t see England matching that group this year.

    As for every England bowler being better or equal than their Indian counterpart I’m not convinced. Tremlett and Bresnan have played about a dozen tests between them. And if Swann goes down who’s next Panesar, Rashid? I wonder what our Indian friends think of that statement? Soon you’ll be trying to convince us that Trott is better than Dravid and Pietersen better than VVS.

    All this reminds me of English scribes writing reams about Flintoff being better than Kallis. That always brought a smile to my face too.

    • No, nesta

      I’ll put it this way
      Zaheer slightly ahead of Anderson. This will change as Zaheer enters his last legs, and Anderson matures further.
      Ishant < Broad
      Sreesanth ~= Bresnan (on the balance – they are different types of bowlers but in terms of results, Sree is way behind despite considerably more experience)
      Harbhajan <<<<<< Swann
      Backup bowlers?

      Unadkat vs Tremlett? Tremlett
      Munaf/Yadav vs Finn? Finn
      Mishra vs Rashid? I dont know, not much of a contest that gives any edge anyway
      Ojha vs Panesar? Panesar, I'd say

      There's Ashwin but his strike rate in first class matches is not that great and he has to target LOIs to have a reasonably succesful international career – dont think he'll make a big splash in tests like Swann.

      I really would think England trumps India in bowling depth and strength.

      Maybe, SA vs England is more equal.

  11. I’d take Trott ahead of Dravid 2010 version, as I think time is catching up with him. England’s bowling strength is that everyone knows their role and sticks to it. And, while we may not have true greats, we have at least 9 bowlers (Broad, Bresnan, Tremlett, Anderson, Monty, Swanny Finn, Onions, Shahzad) who look comfortable in Test cricket.

    • True.
      If we want to map out

      Gambhir(2011) < Cook(2011) but a fairly equal contest otherwise
      Sehwag(2011) ~= Strauss(2011), except in conditions likE SA where Sehwag has consistently been crap since 2006, and Subcontinent where Sehwag has had good form in the last 3 years. So, on the balance, not much to choose
      Dravid(2011) Pietersen(2010)
      Laxman(2011) > Collingwood(2011)
      Bell(2011)>> Pujara/Raina
      Dhoni(2011) > Prior(2011)

  12. Kam – for next summer, in English conditions, here’s how I see it.

    Sehwag > Cook
    Gambhir > Strauss
    Dravid KP
    Laxman > Bell
    Pujara = Morgan
    Dhoni = Prior
    Harbhajan < Swanny
    ZK = Anderson
    Sreesanth < Broad
    Sharma < Tremlett

    Of course, much can happen before the teams meet.

    • Not sure it is as easy as that, India have for a number of years been poor starters and strong finishers to series. It could come down to the type of conditions England allow india to be exposed to as the series unfolds.

  13. So Clarke is in for one game and already he is molding the team in his image. I just wish they had chosen something other than his knack of falling right at the end of a session. Maybe they will comeout in the second innings and all score face saving half centuries.

    Well it might be premature, but I’m happy to call it that we have found 1 player. 10 more to go then.


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