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    December 16, 2006

    Australia vs England - Third Test - Days 1,2 & 3

    Well, of all the tests to go missing in action from the "blogosphere". What a cracker so far!

    When Australia battled their way to 240 odd in the first innings, I was hesitating to make any big calls - so often we see the opposition come out and struggle, after the side batting first does this. And again this was the case. Cricket is always more exciting when wickets are falling, and fall they did.

    When England were rolled on Day 2, I was at a work Christmas party and asked what I thought the Aussies would do here. I replied, "I think they'll score fast, knock up about 380, lead by just over 400 and win from there..." - well, I missed by a factor of...Gilchrist! It's a game of inches they say, Gillie edged one through slips to get off the mark, (and off a pair) and look what happens - 50 in 40 balls, the second 50 in 18 balls! Only two wides from a desperate Harmison and Hoggard could stop him breaking Viv's 58 ball "fastest century" record.

    Can't say I would not have been throwing a bit wide in this situation too though - no-one would've known anything about the record, Harmison and Hoggard's actions were perfectly reasonable, defensive tactics - if not "self-defensive". It was a little disappointing sitting in front of the TV though, hoping to witness a record. Awesome stuff.

    So where to from here for England. The 300 thousand + fans that have tickets for the Melbourne Test are probably hoping the series is still alive for them, but somehow I doubt it.

    I can't see England defending for two days, especially now they've lost Strauss already. If they attack, they probably won't bat for two days either so really, their only hope is to win. This is going to take something special from all and sundry - Pietersen, another "Oval spectacular" - Flintoff, a scintillating return to form, Gilchrist style, and a couple of backup performances from Bell and Collingwood. This too, would probably have to see a mighty wag in the tail and perhaps Monty to hit the winnings runs in his Ashes debut.

    There you go, there's a script for the most optimistic English fans - but if one thing is for sure, in these Ashes Tests, nothing is for sure. The smart money is on Australia, my heart says Australia retain the Ashes in Perth tomorrow - but who would dare make a prediction in an Ashes Test these days. Let's wait, hope and see - just maybe, we can all awake from the bad dream that started at the Oval, 15 months ago.

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    Thus spake Stuart Helwig @ 4:23 PM |
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