Ball One 11.48pm – At the time of writing, England have delivered 24 maidens from 71 overs bowled. There might be instances in the last thirty years of such a proportion of maidens when the Aussies played Test cricket on the sub-continent, but I can’t imagine Australia have allowed so many maidens to be bowled to them on home territory since World Series Cricket reduced the ranks of the Baggy Greens. Three factors have come together to keep the maidens coming: Australia’s deliberate policy to learn from wickets thrown away by the overly aggressive approach earlier in the series; the seeming inability of so many Australian batsmen to rotate the strike; and, most important of the three, England’s disciplined bowling and fielding.
Ball Two 12.16 – The SCG’s “G” stands for Ground, and it still looks like a cricket ground, rather than a stadium in which cricket is played. Like Lord’s, the authorities appear to have eschewed the uniformity of the concrete bowls that proliferate in other sports and kept discrete structures for spectators’ accommodation. As I watch television, it’s easy to connect the images of 2010 with the grainy Black and White film and photos from the days of Bradman and Hammond, Miller and Hutton.
Ball Three 12.22am – The reward for England’s ultra-tight bowling and fielding is reaped with the dismissal of Mike Hussey – a case (if ever there was one) of someone bowling when a wicket falls. That someone was Colly, whom many believe to be playing in his last Test. If so, he has something indelible in the scorebook, fitting for a man who always seems to find a way to contribute.
Ball Four 12.42am – Unlike Philip Hughes, whom I don’t believe will ever make the grade, I do think Steve Smith will be a Test cricketer one day. But it is hard to believe that a man of such fragile technique can average 51 for NSW in the Shield, the much vaunted hard men’s finishing school. I’ve long believed that county cricket is not as soft as the pundits claim (not so loudly since 2009) as the players are a cosmopolitan collection of globetrotting pros and the pitches and conditions vary significantly, demanding a variety of skills and approaches. The Shield’s narrowness of player base and venues may not be the asset it once was.
Ball Five 1.00am – Mitchell Johnson has always had talent with the bat, but he is beginning to look like one of the better technicians in the Australian XI. Unlike almost all of his teammates, he is usually still at the crease and has fewer moving parts than most when attacking or defending. How Australian batsmanship has become so in thrall to twitchers and shufflers is a mystery to those who grew up watching ME Waugh and DR Martyn.
Ball Six 1.30am – The Australian tail is wagging, as the South African one did earlier today. Why bowlers refuse to go bouncer, bouncer, yorker to 9, 10, 11 is beyond me.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.