Posted by: tootingtrumpet | September 16, 2019

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

Ball One – Broad mugs Harris

There is no good way to get out – okay, I’ll give you caught at long on setting up a declaration –  but there are bad and very bad ways to take the long walk, especially for openers. Marcus Harris has some mitigation, an injury picked up in shocking light late on Day Two and dreadful form, but an opener shouldn’t really be bowled failing to cover his off stump. Broad, knees pumping and confidence high, had delivered a good one, but even he must have expected the edge rather than the death rattle to see off his man.

Ball Two – Leach sucks a little more Australian resolve away

In a 21st century Test match that has seen plenty of 20th century style play, Jack Leach’s dismissal of Marnus Labuschagne was as old school as it gets in the age of DRS. The left-armer beat the defensive bat with a bit of flight and a bit of spin and Jonny Bairstow gathered, whipped and celebrated in the blinking of an eye. Everyone on the ground knew he was out, including all 13 players in the middle, with the TV umpire’s verdict a formality. Evidence again that Leach can deliver both elements of the 21st century spinner’s brief – holding an end in the first innings and taking wickets in the second.

I’ll be over there tomorrow, in the pavilion.

Ball Three – Warner and Smith

The return of David Warner and Steven Smith from their involuntary exile from Test cricket can be counted a success, the pair combining to score 869 runs at an average of 51. Justin Langer would have taken that as the pair felt their way back into the toughest form of the game. Which only goes to prove two things – Steven Smith’s genius and the old cliché about lies, damned lies and statistics.

Ball Four – Broad, Smith and Stokes

That it was Smith, Stokes and Broad who were the principals of the (other) defining moment of the match was no surprise, England’s great bowler getting one in the right place, England’s great hero swooping low to take a fine catch, cricket’s greatest post-war batsman having miscalculated for once, his deflection on the way down, but not quickly enough. So ends one of the greatest performances in Ashes history, a man who should have been feeling his way back into the Test arena, dominating it and retaining the Ashes for his country for the first time in 18 years. The crowd’s wholehearted standing ovation was thoroughly earned, the dismal booers of Edgbaston not even a footnote in history.

Ball Five – Fat lady gargling, but not singing just yet

By all accounts, when Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed, most of the crowd would file out – who would want to see VVS Laxman make a ton after all? There was something of that feeling after Smith retreated to the dressing room one last time, the match all over bar the shouting for most of a capacity crowd. Of course, it wasn’t, the Australians only four down, but such has been Smith’s towering pile of runs, that even the most professional of players must have relaxed a little. That change in atmosphere allowed first Matthew Wade and then Mitchell Marsh to play with the kind of freedom men who have spent their careers at 6 or 7 tend to enjoy. Their target was still almost as distant as Hobart, but they were going to have some fun en route.

Ball Six – Tosser

It’s easy to be wise after the event, but the astonishment that greeted Tim Paine’s decision to bowl first was fully vindicated by a pitch that was offering plenty of turn to the spinners and bounce to the pacers as the fourth day progressed. Maybe he would have done it differently had The Ashes been on the line (and maybe if the batting preparation had been more thorough, just three days between Old Trafford and The Oval with celebrating to be done), but the maxim of not doing what your opponent wants you to do, is never a bad thing to bear in mind. I’m pretty certain Joe Root would have batted – after all, it’s what you do in South London.

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