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    November 25, 2006

    Australia vs England - First Test - Day Three

    This has been England's most humiliating day of the three so far. Their much publicised lack-luster bowling performance was worse than ordinary on Day 1, but things can go wrong in a session or two. We were willing to forgive in the hope of better to come.

    Day 2, Australia capitalised on a great situation as either side probably would have.

    Day 3 was their chance to bat their way to a big total and negate all of Australia's good work.

    When cracks opened up in the wicket and McGrath started jagging the ball all over the place, I started to feel a little sorry for England (well not really but I did have to note the apparent possibly result changing advantage given to Australia by winning the toss). Batting was difficult and Bell was the only one who looked prepared to battle it out to earn a score. Pietersen battled hard for awhile but you sensed Australia always fancied their chances with him. Strauss needs to adjust the way he hooks here in Australia as will Bell although I repeat, Bell did well and I may be forced to reassess my opinion of him as the summer progresses. However then away the rest fell - all out 157. But the most humiliating part was still to come. Despite a 475 run deficit and no chance of winning the Test, Harmison, Flintoff, Anderson and Hoggard had their chance on a wicket that was now starting to play tricks. They could walk away from this match with something. Nothing short of a miracle would save them now, but surely, they could bowl well, and limit the difference in this Test, to just that one massive first innings and maybe even attribute it all to a great knock by Ponting.

    It wasn't to be. One of the best (supposedly) seam attacks in the world were in-effectual on a pitch that only hours before had looked close to unplayable. The only Australian wicket to fall was the suicidal run out of Hayden - who was looking in great 'nic', and even then, it took every bit of technology to proove that he was out by less than a centimetre.

    A disappointing day, a disappointing effort and an anti-climax. The question now is can England regroup, on a tour that, give the tight time frames, is going to offer very little time to do so, and give a big advantage to the side with the mometum. We know Freddie Flintoff has the heart, courage and ability to do so, but his effort has already been momentus. On a personal front, he can't do much more than he has. He needs some mates, and he needs them quickly.

    Maybe now, people will stop talking about the ageing Australian side and start calling them battle hardened and experienced, and also start talking about the inexperience nnd under-prepared English side who doesn't really have the hard knocks under their belts to go with the Aussies.

    (Cross posted on STUmpcam)

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    Thus spake Stuart Helwig @ 4:12 PM |
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    4 sledge(s):

    Surely age was always more likely to be a factor later, rather than earlier, in the series? Last time Matthew Hoggard wondered if McGrath would make it through the series. McGrath decimated England at Lord's and everyone laughed at Hoggard. Later, McGrath missed a Test due to injury (and I'm not talking about the ankle injury), England won the Test and drew the last to win the Ashes.

    Having said that, England's players, although younger, are arguably less fit. Anderson, Giles, Harmison, Plunkett and Flintoff are all recovering from injuries, and only one of those isn't playing in this match (although Harmison may as well not have played). Pretty much all of the Australian players have a clean bill of health.

    By Blogger Geoff (25-Nov-2006, 4:40:00 PM)  

    A good point Geoff. Let's hope for the sake of the series, it's still alive by the time their age catches up with them, say, Fourth and fifth Test ;-)

    Seriously though (that was just me playing the role of cocky Australian), do you think England will make any drastic changes, or, like 2005, show faith in this line up for Adelaide? Panesar in? Harmisson out for Mahmood?

    By Anonymous Anonymous (26-Nov-2006, 3:24:00 AM)  

    I guess it depends on how this match finishes. If it's all over by 1am British time tomorrow, then Panesar might find his way in, possibly to play with Giles and in place of Anderson. That would be a shame as from the commentary, Anderson bowled quite a lot of good balls in the first innings - certainly more than Harmison - but he bowled a lot of four-balls as well. I don't think England will drop Harmison, partly because of the message it would send, partly because Harmison will probably have a devastating spell in this series at some point. Panesar is only likely to play if Mahmood comes in or Giles stays. And although it sounds ridiculous, a good innings from Giles tomorrow could seal his place.

    To be honest, I'm not sure that I've known England's best attack even before they set off for the tour. I'm even less sure now.

    By Blogger Geoff (26-Nov-2006, 7:40:00 PM)  

    It perhaps comes down to how much rest the bowlers get. I suspect aging batsmen find it a tad easier to play international cricket compared to aging bowlers, primarily because bowling is a far more physically strenuous activity and there're not enough quicks around to seriously test aging batsmen. From what I know about Adelaide, the square boundaries are really short. Which means spinners _could_ get tonked around if they bowl the wrong length. Playing 2 spinners may be a luxury. I fully expect Fletcher & co. to persist with His Royal Hopelessness though!

    By Blogger Jagadish (27-Nov-2006, 11:30:00 AM)  

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