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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Australia waiting to collect Ashes after pummelling England

There are some things that the scorecard doesn't say, for example that the weather in Perth was hot , that some difficult catches weren't taken and that the close umpiring decisions, as they've done throughout the series, favoured the home side.

Put those points aside and look at the facts: in 75 overs Australia went from 1/119 to 5/527 dec; Adam Gilchrist's 102 not out in 59 balls was one of the most destructive innings ever played in test cricket, yet it was preceded and supported by four other innings of high quality played by Ricky Ponting (75) , Matthew Hayden (92), Michael Hussey (103) and Michael Clarke (135 no ).
And of course England are 1/19, Strauss, as the Cricinfo commentary, which concurred with the view from my armchair put it:

Lee to Strauss, OUT, poor judgment, this time, shocking in fact and Australia strike! Lee swung that one in at him again, the ball at full length, and for some inexplicable reason Strauss shoulders arms to that one. Plumb. Actually, on second thoughts (courtesy of the replay), that looked to be going over the top...

Despite the hammering it received the England bowling never really fell apart until late in the innings, when Gilchrist took 24 off a Monty Panesar over and belted the others for the slightest lapse in line or length. Nothing can replace the images in my mind's eye of his powerful hitting but the Cricinfo commentary describes each ball he faced (it's also far superior to the Cricket Australia commentary which doesn't even describe each ball of the 24 run over).

What next? The weather forecast is good, or rather doesn't indicate rain, just more heat. Can England bat out the next two days? No, but they must try to make as good a fist of the challenge as they can. If they can bat through tomorrow that will be a giant step towards refreshing their self-respect (and the respect of all cricket followers). If they can do so and only lose two or three wickets I'll accept this as confirmation of a miracle.

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