He's back but England are ahead
After last week's loss at Edgbaston
, just about any Australian supporter (or England hater!) would have hoped that Lee and McGrath would be fit for the Old Trafford test. As it turned out, both of them were pronounced fit. Unfortunately, this meant that Stuart MacGill would be left out
. Given that the rules of test cricket are still intact, unlike in one-day cricket
, for now at least, MacGill's chances of being named in the side became very remote.
As we go to press three hours after the game started, having won the toss, England are 151/1
and scoring at over 4 an over. Lee first knocked Strauss over with a bouncer and one over later, had him yorked with a slower ball. McGrath has no wickets and is conceding nearly five an over. Warne has just started his spell. Gillespie is having a nightmare game, as usual. But Australia have contributed to England's position through some sloppy catching. Gilchrist has already dropped Trescothick and Vaughan. Vaughan was bowled off a no-ball from McGrath. The pitch really does not seem to pose any problems to the batsmen. England will hope to get 500 in a day and a half and make Australia do the running. I hope England are bowled out for any score between 250 and 300!
I'll take some credit for the happenings of the day. I was chatting with my co-blogger Ganesh earlier today and told him at 11:50 am IST that there were approximately three more hours for McGrath to be declared fit. Around 90 minutes before the game started, I told him that I badly wanted England's batsmen to be bruised by Australia's bowlers, obvious-Lee. I felt that Australia's batsmen had copped all the bouncers so far, so it was England's turn.
I've also predicted a pair for Flintoff on his home ground in his 50th test. I also predicted that Warne's 600th wicket would be one of Giles, Harmison or Jones. Let us see how the day progresses ...
I was telling Ganesh yesterday about how I'd probably rate Flintoff's achievements higher than Botham's summer of 1981 if by some freak happenings, such as the alignment of the stars, chicken-pox striking down all the Australian players etc., England won the Ashes this time around. Botham's achievements against the Australian side of the day were definitely heroic. While Australia are the best side now, they were not the number one side then. The West Indians were. Botham's performances against West Indies were quite hopeless. John Stern compares Flintoff and Botham and stacks up some numbers
Meanwhile, Will Luke
, a fellow cricket blogger who now works at Cricinfo, writes about Ashes tests which went down to the wire
. Seven of those ten games were won by England. Either this means Australia do not lose too many close Ashes games, or there're very few close Ashes tests ... or he's just plain myopic.Update
: Warne has just got his six hundredth wicket. Marcus Trescothick attempted a sweep, ball hits glove, pad etc. and caught by Gilchrist. England are 163/2.
Labels: ashes, ashes 2005