Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 4, 2019

First Ashes Test Day Three – The Final Over of the Day

Ball One – Who’s winning?

They call the third round of a golf major “Moving Day” but I’ve never really understood why the others are static. At the start of Day Three of this Test, it certainly looked like a moving day, as England sat poised to take a lead and (probably) to “go ahead” in the match around lunch. Of course, Australia’s bowlers, with a pitch that looks more like a fourth day one than a third day strip, might have something to say about that. Throwing the match even further forward, one has to think that if England are ahead at the end of the day (barring a freakishly unlikely score like Australia 100-0, 2 runs behind), then Joe Root will fancy his chances of closing out the win. And if Steven Smith is out before the Sunday roast is carved, Root can start rehearsing his victory speech. Hubris, though Gary, hubris…

Ball Two – Starc staring and mad not to be playing

Australia didn’t do much more with the ball than they did the previous day, but four wickets came along in one session rather than three, as Ben Stokes swished, Rory Burns missed one that bowled him and Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow… well, let’s not go there. But England’s collection of all-rounders and batsmen who bowl aren’t often going to fail so dismally collectively and Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad joined forces to add a few. And a few in a low scoring match can make quite a difference. I suspect Mitchell Starc might have restricted that few to a handful, but he was only watching, his feet up and his powder dry – I suspect we might see more of him at Lord’s.

Not in fancy dress, not singing nor having bantz with David Warner.

Ball Three – Hollering Hollies Stand

There’s always a lot of talk about the impact of the crowd on a sporting occasion: winners say they are inspired; non-winners say it doesn’t bother them. After two and a half days of raucous support for England from the Hollies Stand, it would be disingenuous to say that the shouts, the cheers, the applause and, yes, the boos, make no difference. During an impressive ninth wicket stand, Woakes and Broad were in no doubt that their efforts were appreciated and that every run was vital. No professional should ever allow complacency to creep into their work, but we all know that it can – though not with that crowd behind you.

Ball Four – Umpires’ empire collapsing

Umpiring is really difficult. I’ve umpired countless overs in club cricket and the concentration alone is demanding, never mind the judgements. The hardest ones to call were the run outs – how are you supposed to look at the wicket being broken at the same time as seeing bat and dust fly in the air as a barely visible whitish grey line is crossed? But these are the best umpires in the world (who are not English or Australian) and they have had an absolute shocker. How Joel Wilson failed to see or hear a firm edge from the bat of David Warner as the ball went through to Bairstow beggars belief. Aleem Dar is due to stand at Lord’s and Wilson at Headingley, but both look like they need a spell out of the limelight – or for each team to have six reviews per innings.

Ball Five – Batsman of the Day

Unsurprisingly, on a disjointed day in which neither side batted with much fluency, Steven Smith looked by far the most assured batsman on show. Not quite as twitchy in the second dig as he was first time round, he just got in behind the ball and watched it all the way on to a straight bat. Even his most troublesome delivery – slowish bouncer from Ben Stokes which bopped him on the helmet – was the product of his willingness to get in behind the ball and wear one if necessary. He really is playing a different game to anyone else, quite something after over a year out of Test cricket.

Ball Six – Bowler of the Day

Nathan Lyon, as sometimes happens to class bowlers, got the rewards today that his work deserved yesterday, the combination of sidespin, overspin and dip accounting for a weary Rory Burns, a hopelessly out of touch Moeen Ali and a hobbled Jimmy Anderson. Lyon, for all the absence of luck on Friday, never let his head drop and his figures of 43.5 – 8 – 112 – 3 were a fair reflection of a bowler who knows his craft and how to make the most of it on any wicket even if things go against him. Ominously, despite England being well placed in this match, Australia have much the most accomplished batsman and spinner on show, both of whom are only likely to get better as the series progresses.


  1. Ball 2; was thinking the same myself as the tail wagged.

    And 7: Root isn’t a Test skipper.

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