Ball One 7.44am – Throughout the Test series, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle were picked as the most likely men to bowl out England players, something that they did only intermittently. Come the ODIs, Brett Lee and Dougie Bollinger have been selected (and Shaun Tait in the T20Is) as wicket-taking bowlers. None of those six named offer a great deal of control in any format (too quick in ODIs, too full or wayward in Tests) but it’s also clear that all six cannot be authentic strike bowlers, for the simple reason that, with the exception of the West Indies in the 70s and 80s, no side can produce so many such bowlers at one time. As with much of Australia’s batting over this long southern hemisphere summer, Warnesquely believing that aggressive cricket is the way to go in all match situations has not served Australia well.
Ball Two 7.57am – Those of us who believe Matt Prior has a role in the ODI side base that belief in the opinion that he is one of the best six batsmen in England. Consequently, he should play like that, rather than play as a tricksy improviser hitting the ball into unusual places. On the vast outfields of Australia, there is enough space for Prior’s brand of hard-hit orthodoxy to get the job done – especially when the job is only 250 in 50 overs.
Ball Three 8.05am – One of the reasons I use this format for writing up a day’s play (other than to avoid duplicating match reports available elsewhere) is the way it can capture some of the ebbs and flows even one day cricket can provide. No sooner do I write of the penalties attendant on aggressive cricket than wickets clatter. I might, in my defence, suggest that anyone could have been bowling, so poor / tired / misconceived were the shots played by three Ashes heroes – Prior, Strauss and Trott.
Ball Four 8.20am – It’s often said, with more than a hint of truth, that if the bowler doesn’t know where it’s going, then neither does the batsmen. That can be a useful trait in Test cricket, where winning requires 20 wickets, but in ODIs, where winning can require as few as half a dozen wickets, the captain needs to know where to place his fielders. How to set a field to Mitchell Johnson, is a question that will tax Australian captains – until, perhaps, their patience expires and more reliable bowlers are favoured.
Ball Five 8.36am – The free hit makes all the players look a bit stupid. Batsmen charge, bowlers favour the horrible slow long hop and the field cannot be changed, so the captain looks a bit foolish too. Perhaps the most stupid looking of all is the bowler who delivered the no ball in the first place – why get so close to the line, especially in ODI cricket? The free hit penalty’s artifice should act as a big deterrent, meaning that we seldom see them – but the same players that dive with such risk of injury to save a run on the boundary, seem happy to risk being called for no balls – don’t ask me why.
Ball Six 8.46am – Smiles all round as KP backs up a long way before scurrying back to his ground and thwarting Mitchell Johnson’s chance to throw down the stumps. David Gower praises KP’s getting his body between the fielder and the stumps, but is such play praiseworthy? I have no issue with batsmen running a straight line along the edge of the cut strip, but I object to batsmen who run at the stumps, all but colliding with them (as KP did in this instance). No batsman would do so if he is not intending to block the throw and isn’t that what the mode of dismissal “obstructing the field” is designed to avoid?
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.