Australia vs England - Fifth Test - Day 3
Australia a tail in front...
The total first innings runs scored by batsmen at numbers 7 through 11, for Australia, 173, for England, 4!!! Australia's lead, 102!
They often say that batting is all about building partnerships - today we saw a few valuable partnerships, some built in a disciplined manner, some built with gay-abandon by players with confidence that if they did so, the guys below them were capable and motivated to do the same. Gilchrist and Symonds in particular batted very well, when they would've far preferred to belt the opposition attack into submission they instead batted with care and constraint to ensure Australia made it close to England's total - this discipline, belief and commitment highlighted a major difference between the two sides today.
Then, enter Shane Warne, as only Warne can...it was always going to happen quickly, or not at all. He was going to enjoy it, one way or the other. We all flirted with the idea (dream) of that elusive 100 in his last test, but the dream died with an over ambitious shot on 71. At least he wasn't left wondering...
Australia went passed England's first innings total in style, then England immediately went defensive. I think they were basically saying, if you're going to get a lead, you're going to do it slowly, to give us a chance of a draw. When you're 4 nil down I suppose this is understandable, but really - it's Day 3!?! With Australia batting last a small first innings lead may not be enough for them. To immediately drop out the slips, where you've picked up Gilchrist so often, was very negative and a sign of Flintoff's defeatist attitude this series. Going negative at this point could just have snuffed out any chance of a win here for England. Australia's tail chipped and lobbed the ball around as Clark was played in nicely, by England's defensive field positions, helped too by some smashing from Warne and a lead was built - big enough to fill the dressing room with enthusiasm and energy - which spilled onto the field and saw Cook fall early.
So we get down to 2 results for England - a draw or a loss.
Australia hit the field, full of beans, England, again frustrated and despondent at the prospect of chasing down a lead then trying to give their tired bowling attack something to work with. Australia knowing, early in-roads will set up a victory. Early in roads it was, followed by middle order in roads. Then, Monty Panesar at number 7! I can't believe, as the Channel 9 commentators would have us believe, this was at night watchman - what for?? To protect Read?? Unlikely. I think perhaps the bottom 5 for England are simply drawing straws these days, and it was Monty's turn...surely they can't seriously be trying to protect anyone in that tail...
Steve Waugh proved to us all, you have to be prepared to lose, in order to win. England don't appear to have learned this, although they have certainly learnt to lose this summer, they don't appear to be prepared to risk one more, in an attempt to chalk up a victory. If this lack of confidence and fight spills over to the ODI series it's going to be a miserable World Cup campaign as well. This is supposed to be the second ranked Test Nation in the World - I find that hard to believe just at the moment.
Labels: ashes, ashes 2006, australia, england, warne