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Monday, November 29, 2010

Huge England score leads to draw and poses many questions for Australia

England 260 & 1/517 dec (152 ov, A Cook 235*, J Trott 125*, A Strauss 110) drew with Australia 481 & 1/107 (26.0 ov, R Ponting 51*): T1 D5 at the Gabba Brisbane: series level 0-0 with 2 matches to play.

Yes, the First Test ended in a draw and, yes, England struggled for the early part of the match, but at the end it was they who had the measure of Australia.

For the record today England added 208 runs in 51 overs without losing a wicket against an increasingly dispirited and, to Australian supporters, dispiriting opposition. Several chances were offered but none accepted by the fielders, sapping even more of the bowlers' diminishing reserves of energy and,no doubt, motivation.

Enough of that. Let's give due praise to the magnificent batting of Alistair Cook 235*/428b (26x4) and Jonathan Trott 135*/266b (19x4) who added an unbroken 329 for the 2nd wicket, the highest partnership for any wicket by England in Australia.Had the match been a timeless Test the mind boggles at what the final total might have been: quite possibly (probably?) a four figure one. But it wasn't: England declared, left Australia up to 41 overs to make 297, and Shane Watson and an impressive looking, though hardly Cook or Trott standard, Ricky Ponting prevented England from causing even more embarassment.

The Second Test starts here in Adelaide on Friday. England has a few areas, eg middle order batting and perhaps Graeme Swann's bowling, requiring attention but these look minor issues compared to the home team;s woes. So what is Australia to do?

"Regroup" the pundits of the media, couch and pubs will say. What does this mean? For one thing there must be change(s) in the eleven: Mitchell Johnson and perhaps Marcus North and others must make way for Doug Bollinger or Ryan Harris, who've been added to the squad. But beyond these changes there needs to be a recovery of that elusive quality of self-belief, which has been a hallmark of so many Australian teams over the years. I know this sounds vague, but today at Bellerive in a Sheffield Shield match, overshadowed by events at the Gabba, bottom of the table South Australia beat Tasmania after being bowled out for in their first innings for 55 . Not a bad regrouping, eh?


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