Friday, 23 August 2019

3rd test

Day One
Work is too busy to contemplate the radio so following the game is purely down to clicking onto Cricinfo whenever I can.  there's lots of rain around in the grim north so I don't feel like I'm missing much.  Archer and Broad both strike early to reduce Australia to 25/2 but Scumbag Warner and Marky Funnyname counter attack, Woakes and Stokes go around the ground and at 120/2 the score looks grim.  Archer and Broad return and Warner goes which is the start of a batting crumble.  When I leave work the score is 139/5.

I get home just as Woakes removes the hapless Paine.  The next hour is very enjoyable, Archer bowling with reduced pace but great control, like Malcom Marshall often would.  I don't use that comparison lightly.  He's too good for the Aussie tail and when Stokes gets Funnyname with a full toss the game is up.  179 all out.  We'll take that!  Watching England's bowlers when they scent blood is a thrill and a joy.

Day Two
Once again I have to pop out before start of play and I'm an impatient bastard with all the obstructions conspiring to prevent me from getting home in time.  But I make it and settle into my armchair in front of the box.  I'm nervous, England may have had a good day but the Aussies can bowl, and we have a strange line up that doesn't inspire confidence.  It's like everyone knows the selectors haven't got it right but we have to let things play out.  It may come back to haunt us.  NO!  Today is the day for those batsmen to step up and show what they are made of and get us back into the series!

Play starts and the first over is comfortable, both openers get off the mark and Roy gets a thick edged four through gully.  A couple of tight overs, nerves start to ease...  Roy belts a boundary through cover and middles the next for no run.  I just feel an edge is coming...  And it does 10/1.  Root comes in, today will be his day!  No it won't but it's a great ball, Hazlewood has two.  Only a review from Denly prevents it being three.  Meanwhile dare I say Burns looks composed?  Fuck sake, Burns gloves a short ball and it's 20/3. Fuck.  We have two men on 0.  Denly takes an age to get off the mark but hits his 24th ball for four.  A period of calm but Stokes plays an awful shot to a rank ball and it's 34/4.  Three of our batsmen have got themselves out.  It feels like the Ashes are slipping away.

Another period of relative calm, Bairstow gets off the mark, can these two hang in until lunch?  No.  Denly has been tortured and eventually folds, playing a poor shot and getting an edge.  This brings Buttler to the crease which does nothing to improve my confidence.  I like Joss, he's great to watch in all formats but right now it's time to show us he's a test cricketer.  Bairstow is next to get out.  45/6.  Yes the Urn is slipping away.

From bad to worse.  Woakes goes to the first ball after lunch bringing Archer to the crease.  Hopes of a lead are long gone we'll be bowling again soon.  Buttler goes next over 56/8.  Then Archer unluckily. Then Leach is bowled around his legs, all out for 67.

The frustrating thing is this collapse was no surprise, we've seen this so often in recent years I almost expected it today.  Just look at the line up; Burns has done well enough to keep his place for the foreseeable future, he may have a reasonable test career but he doesn't look likely to ever be considered a great player.  Roy has the talent but not the mind set to make it as a test opener.  Root is class but I don't rate his captaincy and I bet if the stats were checked his batting has become less effective since becoming skipper.  Denly has had ample opportunity to prove he isn't good enough for test cricket.  For the second innings we might as well swap Roy and Denly over.  Stokes is a world class all rounder but is he batting in the right spot?  If Bairstow is considered a keeper then his record stands up but if he is a No. 6 batsmen then he should hand over the gloves to aid the improvement he will need.  And if Buttler is a test batsman then he is too low at 7!   Whoever is in the team, I want them to do well, even if (like Bairstow) I think they should be dropped.  England are a long way from having a decent test batting line up.  The truth is over the last few years our bowlers have been brilliant in English conditions and they have been the reason we have a good home record.

Now I wait for England to bowl again.  As good as Archer is we will get the best out of Woakes with a hard, shiny new ball.  He has to open up the hill with Broad or Archer bowling a short spell down the hill but I doubt that will happen.  It doesn't, Archer runs up the hill but next over Broad gets slimeball Warner for a duck and we have a wicket.  If we could just bowl them out for less than a hundred...  Woakes replaces Archer after a short spell meaning Jofra should come back after Broad's spell, that's sensible...  But it isn't Archer, it's Leach?  He bowls Harris first ball!  What do I know?  Australia edge a few runs and I'm getting the sinking feeling but Woakes strikes! 52/3.  The session then drifts, Australia bat well and England look flat, even Archer seems to have lost his mojo.  The batsmen haven't given the bowlers a rest.  At tea its 82/3.  I'm watching our hopes of an Ashes win fizzle away.  It doesn't hurt at the moment but it's grim viewing.

It's little better after tea but Leach seems tidy and Stokes is bowling with pace and rhythm.  He finds the edge of Funnyname's bat but Root drops it at first!  I sense that may be the signature scene of England's day.  The lead is passed 200.  But Stokes carries on and yorks Head with a superb ball.  Aus still tick over but the bowling is good, two reviews don't go our way...  Leach is given a rest after an expensive over but Woakes comes on and doesn't look like he'll take a wicket.  Stokes has bowled an excellent spell but he has to take a rest.  Archer comes on, bowls four deliveries then has to stop, it looks like cramp, let's hope it's nothing more!  That would just rub it in.  So Stokes just carries on bowling, in the end 15.2 straight overs taking 2/34.  He breaks a 60+ partnership between Wade and Funnyname and should have had more reward.  Broad gets the skipper for a duck and the day ends at 171/6.

England's bowlers stuck to it this afternoon and didn't let the game totally go, we're still in it in theory but only just.  The Aussie batsmen, limited as they are, still managed to give us a lesson in how to bat in test cricket.  They left well and put away the bad balls.  In all probability today was the day England let the Ashes slip away.

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