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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Australia win Test by by 381 runs as England fold a second time: T1D4

Australia 295 & 7/401dec beat England 136 & 179 (81.1ov, Cook 65/195b/3x4, Johnson 21.1-7-42-5) by 381 runs: T1/5 D4/5 at The Gabba, Brisbane. Australia lead series 1-0.

Despite weather interruptions, some stout resistance by Captain Cook and more modest support from Kevin Pietersen 26, Ian Bell 32 and, at the end, Joe Root 26*, Australia bowled out England a second time for a well below par score and registered a thumping victory.

Mitchell Johnson once again had the best bowling figures, and continued his impressive (and to me unexpected) career revival. But each of the other three main bowlers did something: Ryan Harris 2/49 again sustained his pace and his menace, Nathan Lyon 2/46 had Cook, when he seemed impregnable, caught at the wicket by a beauty which turned and bounced , and Peter Siddle  induced an edge from Ian Bell just as he seemed to have settled in.

Australia's win was certainly well merited, but it, or at least the margin of victory, surprised me. Why? Because so many players performed above what I thought them capable of. This was especially so of  the bowlers. Johnson & Harris were, or looked, quicker than any of their England counterparts except for Stuart Broad in the first innings, while Nathan Lyon extracted more turn and bounce than Graeme Swann.

In batting it was a relief to see Michael Clarke regroup with a ton after his first innings woes, but we all know what he's capable of. David Warner, Brad Haddin & Johnson did more than their bit, covering for the modest returns of other top order players, each of whom should be given another chance.

As for England they had several  - too many - passengers in both departments. It was hard to credit that so many of the batters failed to do justice to their reputations, while only Broad among the bowlers  enhanced his.

Australia will be hoping that they can field the same attack in Adelaide next week ie that there are no injuries to the likes of Harris and Johnson (or Lyon).

England  now will travel to Adelaide via Alice Springs, where they play a 2 day match against a scratch side. They will have to think seriously about changing the XI. Chris Tremlett, despite have the best figures in Australi's second innings, looked more honest trundler than the tearaway of some years ago, while Jonathon Trott, despite his formidable record and reputation, went through the batting horrors in this game.

I find it hard to believe that England can ( or will) play so badly again.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

England need 537 more to win after Clarke and Warner flog bowling: T1 D3

England 136 & 2/24 (15ov) need 537 runs with 8 2ndinns wickets in hand to defeat Australia 295 & 7/401dec (91ov, Warner 124/154b/1x6 13x4, Clarke 113/130b/1x6 9x4, Haddin 53/55b/5x4): T1/5 D3/5 at The Gabba Brisbane.

Michael Clarke's classy 113 put Stuart Broad the bowler back in his box while David Warner converted his previous day's good start to an authoritative century. They, with handy contributions from Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson and George Bailey, enabled Australia to declare with a massive lead and time to take two England wickets for a trifling 24. 

Three years ago at the Gabba, England made 1/517 in its second innings. It 's hard to see them coming close to that again unless Alistair Cook repeats his  2010 performance, or a frontline Australian bowler is incapacitated, or both. If the weather intervenes, as it did briefly today, and according to the forecast may do so again over the next two days, a draw is not out of the question. 

But so far Australia, having redeemed a first innings top order batting failure, and bowled with consistent hostility, are unquestionably are the better side.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Australia's attack eviscerates England on day of upsets: Ashes T1/5 D2/5

Australia 295 (97.1ov, Haddin 94/153b/1x6 8x4, Johnson 64, Warner 49, Broad 24-3-81-6) & 0/65 (22ov, Warner 45*)  lead England 136 (52.4ov, Carberry 40, Johnson 17-2-61-4, Harris 15-5-28-3, Lyon 9-4-17-2) by 224 with all 10 second inns wickets in hand: Ashes T1/5 D2/5 at the Gabba, Brisbane.

What a day! In the middle session Australia's attack turned the Test on its head taking by  6/9 and reducing England from 2/82 to 8/91, and ultimately, after a very modest recovery, to 136.  David Warner and Chris Rogers' unbroken 65 stand rubbed salt into England's wounds and placed Australia in a position which, despite memories of a massive England recovery three years ago, looks impregnable.

The script written by many commentators (and me) had Brad Haddin scoring a valiant century and taking Australia to a total around 300, followed by England steadily making inroads into it. Neither happened:Haddin was run out for 94 leaving Australia 5 short of 300, then the visitors disintegrated spectacularly against Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Lyon. 

Harris removed Alistair Cook cheaply, then after a wayward opening spell Johnson returned to remove Jonathan Trott in the last over before lunch: 2/55. When Peter Siddle missed a sharp return catch from Kevin Pietersen I thought that England's fortunes may have turned. 

I was wrong, again. 

Harris had KP well caught by George Bailey at short mid wicket, then Johnson bowling round the wicket had Michael Carberry caught at slip off a beauty, Nathan Lyon extracted enough bounce and turn to dismiss Ian Bell and Matt Prior off successive deliveries, and in short order Johnson snaffled Joe Root and Graeme Swann, leaving England's innings in tatters.

After failing to separate Rogers and Warner England slipped further behind and now must be hoping for the rain, which was forecast for days 1 and 2 but which hasn't materialised, to truncate the Test and let them regroup for the Perth match.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Broad scythes through Australia and, despite Haddin-Johnson fightback, leads England to ascendancy. Ashes T1/5 D1/5

Australia 8/273 (90ov, Haddin 78*/132b/1x6 7x4, Johnson 64/143b/2x6 6x4, Warner 49/82b, Broad 20-3-65-5) v England; T1/5 D1/5 at The Gabba Brisbane. Australia won toss and chose to bat.

Stuart Broad, spurred on by the local paper's attempts to avoid mentioning him by name, cut through the Australia top order on a warm, sunny and, despite the weather forecast, dry Gabba Only a 7th wicket partnership between Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson prevented an embarrassing rout, but their efforts were not sufficient to deny the honours of the first day's play of this Ashes series to England.

Broad looked menacing from the outset. He extracted bounce from the Gabba pitch,dismissing Chris Rogers early in the piece and Shane Watson just before lunch.

 2/71 turned the first session's balance England's way but Broad wasn't finished. His master stroke was to induce Michael Clarke to pop a short ball limply up to short leg. 3/73: not a good look for the captain, Australia and quite likely the match. And things went from shaky to worse as David Warner who'd looked promising if not in peak form, fell to Broad for 49 and George Bailey on Test debut snicked Jimmy Anderson to slip.

Steve Smith also made a start but fell to Chris Tremlett, who generally bowled within himself and rarely troubled the batters. At 6/132, an embarrassing score given the favourable batting conditions, Haddin and Johnson began the fightback: welcome as the 114 runs they added were it was not enough to wipe all the egg off Australia's face.

 It will be hard to save the match, and possibly even the series, from this point.

<a href=""> Scorecard </a>

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ashes T2 harbinger? SA & WA draw after 4 high scoring days on Adelaide Oval's new drop in pitch.

Despite some good intentions, after hearing on ABC radio ( which despite stories floating around seems not to have just yet stopped broadcasting Sheffield Shield cricket, at least on weekends) that WA looked to be holding the SA attack at bay, I turned my mind to other, non  - cricketing, things.

A draw eventuated as expected,  and in its wake speculation about the Adelaide Oval wicket. Too much in favour of batting? Is the Pope a Catholic?

There is another Shield match - SA vTasmania - to be played on the Oval before Ashes T2, though at the same time as, and hence in the shadow of, T1 ( not to mention the just announced Rolling Stones concert to "open" the new Oval - as if T2 won't).  

I'd expect that one - the Shield fixture that is - to provide a further pointer to the likely result of T2: a draw.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Yesterday, as India completed an innings trouncing of the West Indies in Mumbai, Sachin Tendulkar left a Test match ground for the last time.

As millions of others have pointed out he is by general agreement India's greatest ever cricketer, and among the best ever batsmen of all time. His Test career spanned an extraordinary 24 years, a length which it's hard to imagine being exceeded.

I was fortunate enough to see him play live and of course to watch much more of him on TV. Everyone will have their special memories of him: mine, oddly enough, is of him being given out lbw in an Adelaide Test when he ducked into a Glenn McGrath ball which kept - sort of - low and hit him on the shoulder. 

His farewell speech yesterday just after he'd walked off the field for the last time was masterly, delivered without apparent notes. watch it if you can.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hughes 204 leads S Aust to 1st inns points v WA: D3/4

South Australia 4/520 (153ov, Hughes 204/393b/23x4, Klinger 125/309b/16x4, Head 98/163b/11x4, Duffield 3/114) lead WA 434 (North 110, Agar 93, Whiteman 65, Botha 4/120, Zampa 3/93) by 86runs on 1st inns: Sheffield Shield D3/4 at Adelaide Oval.

Phil Hughes dominated the day's play as he moved first to a century, then doubled it (pic above shows him reaching his 200), and in doing so took SA to the brink of a 1st inns lead and surely kept his name near   ( or restored it to) the forefront of the national selectors' minds.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Redbacks start long chase well, but must keep going: SAvWA D2/4

I watched the second half of the day's play and didn't see a wicket fall.

This was because I arrived at the Oval just as Michael Klinger  and Phil Hughes began chasing WA's 434/132.2 ov, a larger total than looked looked likely at 6/200. But once again an opposition lower order confounded the Redbacks as Ashton Agar 93/146b and Sam Whiteman 65/147b added 147 for the 7th, and others chipped in, showing that the drop in wicket is a good one to bat on.

Spinners Johan Botha 4/120 and Adam Zampa 3/93 had the best figures. In this season's two home matches the quicks have not delivered wickets. A flat pitch only partly explains why.

The play that I did see intriguing viewing chiefly for connoisseurs of long form cricket. Hughes took to Nathan Coulter-Nile's first over, but then dropped a couple of gears to accumulate 63*/156b, mostly on the off side (though thankfully not through the slips). Klinger 76*/193b was also watchful  but played shots to more points of the compass. Coulter-Nile after his first over bowled zipping, the other five used were steady and rarely troubled the batsmen.

Well as Klinger and Hughes have batted thus far, everyone knows that they have only given SA a fighting chance of perhaps a draw. If they could take the total beyond 200 that would give supporters more hope, but there are not many big scorers to come.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Shield cricket returns to Adelaide Oval construction site

Yesterday I spent a bit of time at the Oval, together with a good, by Sheffield Shield standards, turnout of spectators  ( or rubberneckers keen to check out the progress of the redevelopment). 

The Southern Stand seems to be some way from completion. While the structure looks to be pretty much finished, and the shade cloth awnings which were torn in a burst of windy weather three weeks ago have been repaired or replaced, there's much to be done in the three weeks before the Test. Most of the seats still need to be installed: there were only three or four workers on that job yesterday afternoon. Fingers crossed.

The playing surface and pitch look OK, though the latter played slowly and gave some assistance to the spinners. Johan Botha  (4/71) and and Adam Zampa (2/63) took all 6 wickets to fall as Western Australia, anchored by Marcus North's 110/213 b, moved sedately to 6/269 from  96overs.
At 6/200 it was South Australia's day but Ashton Agar 39* - yet again looking very good with the bat - and Sam Whiteman 30* steadied the WA innings, leaving at least in my opinion, honours even.

The sunny, relatively mild, weather is forecast to continue for the rest of the match, so a result should be achievable. WA will be keen to revenge their loss at the WACA a few days ago, while SA will be hoping to fuel their Shield campaign, which began disappointingly against Queensland at Glenelg Oval, 
with another outright victory.