Posted by: tootingtrumpet | September 15, 2019

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

“Now, darling, let’s see that Glasto after two nights on the MDMA look.”

Ball One – The root of Root’s problems

Take a look at that photograph on the front of the official programme. It’s a look I know, the look of too much stress at work, of too many hours of fitful sleep, of not enough time to do too many things. Now there are many who will say that England’s captain is not working down t’pit or doing double shifts in an A&E department, but his job has broken many before him – and it’ll break a few that come after him too. 57 and 21 are two tired scores, the products of two tired dismissals, goodish balls that the Root of 2015 would have defended decisively. Give him a winter off to have his sleep disrupted by his family not by his job.

Ball Two – Denly a convincing version of Vince

Watching Joe Denly feels a lot like watching James Vince – the cover drives flow, there are oohs and aahs from the crowd who appreciate the aesthetics of the batting and… he could get out at any moment. It may not be his fault and, for a man with 29 first class centuries, it might not even be fair, but there’s a “luxury player” tag that seems to cling to the Kent man as much as it did to the Hampshire captain. And being a luxury player is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is in a batting order that is needs the grit rather than the pearls just now.

Ball Three – Lyon looking for a big game

If Nathan Lyon were a batsman, he’d be said to be out of nick. Against a batting order that sometimes gives the impression that any ball, any time could be good enough to induce a collapse, he started the second innings on the back of 0-12, 2-51, 0-89, 2-114, 0-2, 0-102 and 3-68 since Edgbaston. Phil Tufnell, who, when not playing class clown, has much to say about spin bowling, speculated on his losing his action a little, not quite driving over the front leg, not quite following through. Those mechanics are more critical for a bowler like Lyon, who is as much an over-spinner as an off-spinner and who needs the revs to generate the dip. England may have had similar thoughts about Lyon being out of sorts, with Joe Denly smacking him back over his head for six early on to add a few more doubts. But you don’t play 90 Tests without learning a bit about the game and a lot about yourself – Lyon had two wickets before the morning session was out.

Ball Four – Paine’s call, umpire’s call and Denly having a ball

Half way through the day, I was wondering what felt strange about the cricket. 133-2, run rate about 3, 50 overs left to bowl, sun out, crowd calm and in conventional dress. What was strange was, of course, the lack of strangeness, the day progressing as so many Test days once did – until we were catapulted out of the 20th century and into the 21st when Tim Paine refuse to review an LBW decision that looked Umpire’s Call at the very worst. It wasn’t – it was three red lights and out, but Denly lived on, Tim Paine’s review record besmirched still further.

Ball Five – Four day Tests and six week series

If the umpiring was tired last night and Joe Root tired this morning, Australia looked collectively tired this afternoon, the fielding scrappy, the decision-making muddled, the game drifting. Credit to Joe Denly and Ben Stokes (who have played a fair bit of cricket themselves in the last seven weeks), but batting on a hot day is an easier gig than bowling and fielding. Just 45 days after the first shot in the battle was fired and six days after the Australians’ mission was accomplished, 22 players are half way through another Test match – and we’re really expecting them to give of their very best? If the ECB had an employee Well-Being policy (such things do exist elsewhere as, would you believe it, they improve productivity) such scheduling would never happen again. But you just know there’s a management consultant type who’ll soon be presenting a powerpoint on how five Tests in six weeks is perfectly possible and might help when negotiating next TV contract. Four days comprising three 35 overs sessions = one Test match anyone?

Ball Six – Champagne moment and Labuschagne moment

After a wicketless, mojo-free afternoon, Australia reined it in a little in the evening as England sought quick runs against a flagging attack. Joe Denly will be kicking himself for missing out on a maiden century, while Ben Stokes will eye his 67 as only a partial success – after all, there were catches dropped and reviews left uncalled. Not even a sensational brace of catches from Smith and Labuschagne matters that much in the context of the match, which sees England go into Day Four with a lead of 382 runs and two wickets in hand. The batsmen have done their jobs, now it’s up to the bowlers to do theirs.


  1. Geoffrey Boycott on TMS commented that Denly looks at his weakest when the ball is just away from his body – which is similar to Vince, and perhaps part of what you’re getting at. His point being that Australia were bowling to close to him and helping him be a compact player.

    However, he seems more patient than Vince, and perhaps better at learning / problem-solving ? The 50 at Headingley seemed easy to distinguish from a Vince half-century.

    • I think that’s fair – he was very Vincey at times today!

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