Ashes 2nd Test: Day 2 review

Ballance is bowled by Johnson – look closely and you will see a bail in mid-air….

Now what was I saying about all those who piled in to complain about the pitch after one day?  In the Australian press it was all about England doctoring the surface, which apparently means creating one that Australia rack up a huge score on, and then rip through the England top order.  Indeed, it was wryly amusing to hear Stuart Broad imply that the surface very much aided Australia and not England.  Spin on both sides.

Meantime, the English press went big on the idea that it was a nailed on draw, that the groundsman should be shot and that it was impossible to get wickets on.  The old adage that you shouldn’t judge a pitch until both teams have batted on it is as true as it ever was.  Australia have bowled superbly on it, and have put themselves in prime position to square the series.

There did seem to be a little bit more in it today, but it remains excellent for batting, as Australia demonstrated all too well in their innings. Steve Smith led the way with 215, and as fabulous as that innings was, it was curiously less assertive than normal, and slightly more sketchy than at his best.  Which if anything should cause serious alarm in the England dressing room.  For Chris Rogers, it’s quite possible that his 173 is his last innings at a ground where he has served Middlesex so well.  If so, it’s quite a way to finish.

From there, the scorecard looks like Australia fell away somewhat, which is a good example of a scorecard not conveying a match situation.  Australia were pushing on and trying to score quickly.  Slow surfaces are often quite hard to score rapidly on, and the wickets fell at regular intervals.

England’s reply was a shambles.  As has been pointed out England keep finding themselves three down for very little, and sooner or later Joe Root wasn’t going to bail them out.  Adam Lyth’s poke at a wide ball was fairly typical of what often happens when a team has been in the field for the best part of two days, but it doesn’t make it any better a shot.  Ballance was again undone by a full ball, and while it is good to keep faith with a player, it’s at the point now where he’s not going to get anything else, so transparent are his difficulties.  He needs to work this out and fast.

Bell too was undone by a full ball, and once again this has become a notable weakness in his game.  Any player can be beaten by a full swinging ball, but not time and again. As for Root, he failed today.  It’s going to happen sometimes. From there, Cook and Stokes batted extremely well.  Broad again made a rather telling slip in the post play interview saying that it looked much better when England batted in a more disciplined way.  The implication of that was fairly clear.

There’s no reason whatever England can’t continue to bat that way, this remains a very easy paced, very flat surface. The trouble is that having lost four cheap wickets, they are 481 runs behind.  It is a huge ask for them to even reach the follow on point, no matter how flat the pitch might be. About the only positive they have is that they have frontline batsmen down to number eight in the form of Moeen Ali.  But to even get to within 200 runs, more than one player has to score a century.  All hopes really rest on Cook going very big and batting through.  It’s a big ask, but it’s what’s necessary.

England have got themselves in a horrible hole, and have been completely outplayed in the first two days.  The reality of their plight is that they can’t afford to lose so much as a single session if they want to get out of this one.  1-1 seems almost inevitable given the time left. @BlueEarthMngmnt

36 thoughts on “Ashes 2nd Test: Day 2 review

  1. Tony Bennett Jul 17, 2015 / 7:04 pm

    As those of us with any sense said after Cardiff, Australia will bounce back. Didn’t they half! What bothers me is the ease with which they dismantled England’s top order. It’s not, as the Sky pundits would have it, that Australia came out bowling with “energy” and “intention” – if that’s all it takes, everyone would be doing it. The Aussies bowled with pace and accuracy. Lyth, Ballance and Bell weren’t up to it and I wonder whether any of them will be. This leaves some big questions about England’s batting line-up.


  2. Arron Wright Jul 17, 2015 / 7:10 pm

    There must be some seriously embarrassed BTLers tonight. They would be wise never to show their face again.

    I laughed my ass off when I heard (on R5 in the car) England were 30-4. #notsorry


    • Mark Jul 17, 2015 / 7:18 pm

      It’s all being put down to mental tiredness.

      Nothing to do with how Englands top order struggle against pace bowling. No, nothing to see hear please move along.


    • d'Arthez Jul 17, 2015 / 8:00 pm

      That is assuming that some of these folks are still capable of feeling embarrassed. I am not too sure. They’ll be back, spouting more nonsense when England are having a better day, possibly in the third Test, or if the weather gods let England escape with a draw here. In some cases, I’d argue that they are willfully ignorant / oblivious. Can’t reason with such people, and evidence means nothing to them. They simply live in la la land.

      And it is the willful stupidity from the press, the ECB, and such “fans” (not supporters), that encourage your sentiment Arron. It is not a place you’d like to be.

      This was more or less what I expected. Australia did better than 60/3 after 20 overs, but somehow Stokes and Cook managed to survive till stumps (85/4 after 29). Now if the weather does not ruin things, England are going to struggle to salvage a draw from this position.


      • Arron Wright Jul 17, 2015 / 8:13 pm

        Last night’s Guardian BTL was *shocking*. It’s that I’m referring to. MS may be one thing, but we’re used to that (and tbf he was in full retreat mode after that hubristic preview). The rest of the conversation – with some notable exceptions – was equally split between jingoistic drivel and whining about the pitch. Both sounded pre-programmed, as if none of them had a mind to call their own, or any awareness of the somewhat unpredictable history of Test cricket. Among those exceptions, Gary Naylor made a comment about very few Tests being decided on day one: my recommend doubled his tally! And someone (“IsawWiggins”, I think) was moved to swearing by the apparent inability of most to work out that “sometimes Test cricket produces an outstanding day for batting”, telling them to “f***ing get over it”.

        I’m sure there used to be a higher standard of debate.


      • thelegglance Jul 17, 2015 / 11:02 pm

        If there’s anything that really sends me into orbit, it’s whining about the pitch. If it’s on the basis of the cricket being crap fair enough. If it’s a whinge about unfairness…foxtrot Oscar. Whoever you are. From whichever country. It’s pathetic.


      • Arron Wright Jul 18, 2015 / 7:52 am

        It bores me rigid. The fact is that, since Lord’s 2008 against SA, I count only two Tests in this country where “the pitch won”. Eng v SL at Lord’s 2011, and obviously (the horror!) Eng v Ind at Trent Bridge last year. That’s two out of 44 matches played. Every other drawn match was due mainly to rain, and/or was closely fought and in doubt until the final session. That’s not half bad, yet day one moans about pitches are still a depressingly regular occurrence.

        Why not see what happens in the 45th match before proclaiming “the end of Test cricket is nigh”? That would be my attitude.


    • Fred Jul 17, 2015 / 8:53 pm

      “sometimes Test cricket produces an outstanding day for batting”, telling them to “f***ing get over it”.
      I thought that was a great comment too. Wild conclusions being jumped to everywhere.
      I didn’t join the debate as any sensible comment is just being swamped by all the nonsense.
      England, and Selvey especially (given he’s the designated expert) were foolish to have doubts about Australia after Cardiff. What else did you expect to happen?
      Equally, while todays four wickets probbaly mean Australia will win the test, I certainly wouldn’t bet on it, and you can be sure Clarke will be saying the same thing to his team.
      Nice to see the Australian bowlers doing what they do, although MJ especially fell away towards the end of the day, the pressure eased in the last hour.


      • LordCanisLupus Jul 17, 2015 / 9:09 pm

        I think you could have doubts. There were clear distress signals coming from the Aussies. But, this isn’t England. They can be quite a resilient bunch and our batting is fragile. There is a reason why only one Ashes test out of the last 11 has been won by the team bowling first.


      • Fred Jul 17, 2015 / 9:45 pm

        Australia had a few problems, but you could argue that Australia would be strengthened by the absence of Watson any time in the last few years. It wasn’t a McGrath-stepping-on-a-ball moment. Ditto Haddin, although he’s been great. As for the others, it was clear Australia underperformed in Cardiff, and while I didn’t predict Lords Day One, I always expected they would do better. Smith was always going to correct himself after that stupid dismissal.
        1/11 won by the team bowling first? Maybe true but it feels like there are other factors at play. 5-0 last year doesn’t feel like the luck of a coin toss. England’s dominant 2010 win in Australia was not chance either, it was undeniable.


      • thelegglance Jul 17, 2015 / 11:05 pm

        Hmm. I’m more with Dmitri on this. Although I might not have been brave enough to include it in a report, Australia were definitely showing signs of distress after the first Test. England winning the toss, or a more balanced surface, and it could have been critical. Producing this dull track fave them a chance to regroup.


      • Fred Jul 18, 2015 / 12:08 am

        I think Australia would have better than England bowling on that day one pitch. But I’m just speculating, and that’s all we can do.


    • ianrsa Jul 18, 2015 / 9:05 am

      Arse Arron, it’s arse.


  3. Boz Jul 17, 2015 / 7:26 pm

    Please, I beg you, England are only 481 runs behind due to Cook’s unmeasurable mental strength – glorious aggression!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jul 17, 2015 / 7:44 pm

      In fairness to Cook, as I said below he did prove that you can play after being in the field for 5 sessions. He played pretty well today.

      Unless it rains all day Sunday I can’t see England getting out of this. And even if it does rain, there should be a full day’s play tomorrow. That may be all the time they need.


      • thelegglance Jul 17, 2015 / 11:08 pm

        Cook is realistically the only hope in this innings. He needs to bat long, and we need to hope someone stays with him.


      • Boz Jul 18, 2015 / 9:09 am

        In fairness to myself, after all that Cook has been involved in and allegedly involved in over the last 2 -3 years, I HATE HIM. I don’t care if he scores 10000 runs in the next week, captains with aplomb and verve and insight – he s no friend of mine – he, therefore will never do anything of note in my eyes until he pisses off back to his in-laws farm for good!


  4. metatone Jul 17, 2015 / 7:45 pm

    If I was superstitious, the fact that I noticed that Mrs M and Jr were away for Monday and thus I might conceivably slip off to Lords should have alerted me to the odds that this would be all over on Sunday…

    Most worrying is the signs that Ali is not fit and Wood also has a niggle.

    Someone needs to work out a way for Anderson to be effective on pitches like this, or avoiding the follow-on is going to make no difference – unless we bat for the best part of 2 days. Which seems a little unlikely…

    Having seen both sides bowl, well, I’m starting to think my original prediction (3-1 to the Aussies) is looking in better shape again.


  5. Pontiac Jul 17, 2015 / 8:37 pm

    One thing I will keep an eye on:

    If England bat first, England’s off spinners have one then two full innings worth of Mitchell footmarks to bowl into.

    If Australia bat first, there are no footmarks in the first innings and only one innings of Mitchwear the second time. In other words the footmarks effect is more uniform.

    Did Starc and Johnson mostly bowl from the same end so far?


    • LordCanisLupus Jul 17, 2015 / 9:07 pm

      Johnson, I think, bowled mainly from the Pavilion End. Starc bowled at both ends as did Hazelwood.


  6. dvyk Jul 17, 2015 / 9:29 pm

    I have to post a few retractions. Warne wasn’t banned from Sky by Cook like I suggested. He was in Las Vegas playing poker. Aust will indeed dominate more than “the odd isolated session during this series.” They are probably neither in disarray nor even panicking. They may well not win a test, but if they do it won’t be “because they were lucky”, rather, because they played like they have these last two days…. etc etc. Generally, anything I said here during the last month or so probably has to be retracted purely because of these two days’ play.
    As an excuse, I will say that I was distracted by the drinks break and the Lord’s slope, and I was tired, and KP was bothering me while I made those predictions, and nobody likes Michael Clarke.
    Anyway, from what I saw today, Broad bowled really well, Anderson didn’t (while I was watching) and had Johnson bowled like that the English press would have been ridiculing him. I don’t know what they wrote about Anderson, because I would have to read them to find out. Wood and Stokes seem to be slightly injured or something.
    If Nevill keeps okay, they can say thanks a lot to Haddin and let him go. He just looks like a test player to me. Really calm while batting.
    Lyth seems to know how dangerous it is to outscore Cook. Ballance has the average of a fine test player and the technique of someone who really hasn’t understood what batting is all about. I understand that you don’t drop someone who has an average of 50+, but as an Aussie, I’m happy to see him come in at 3. I can take the odd hard scrapped 50 to keep his place. I just hope he keeps it. Ironically, he might even do better on faster wickets which encourage the bowlers to bowl short. He looked quite happy to sit back and pick the gap between 3rd and 4th slip. And looked quite adept at it too. I saw the side on shot of the ball he got out to though — reaching forward till he was almost toppling over to what was basically a yorker.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Boz Jul 17, 2015 / 9:48 pm

    I’ve just received a preview copy of Mike Selvey’s new book – “The Art of Leaving the Ball” A medium sizes tome with a funny cover picturing himself leaving a ball to smash down his stumps. What a selfefacing character Mike is!

    The book outlines a history of ball leavers including W.G.Brace’s famous episode where the scoreboard shows him as only scoring 3 runs. What is missing is the fact that Brace, in his prime a wonder to behold, left 74 balls. He remained staunch in his defence of his wicket that most people had gone home hours before he was out, in fading light. lbw.

    Selvey suggests that the current England captain is mercurial in his ability to leave the ball. he claims nobody does it it quite like Cooky. He claims to have had many a beer with Cook to elaborate on his technique but would not say when this took place, prefering to keep the reaser guessing. Cook had been totally unaware in the interest of his ball leaving skills up to the point he heard the crowd at Lords chanting “Leave It, Leave It, Leave It’. Since the Cook has spent hours in the nets and, of course, hours on the pitch perfecting his art.

    Selvey draws on his own Test Match experience and asks the reader to use their imagination of how he endeavoured to leave the ball. An amazingly unbelievable read, Mike has another hit on his hands, totally unbelievable stuff!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Sherwick Jul 17, 2015 / 10:02 pm

    WTF?!? I’ve just seen GaryBallanceGaryBallanceGaryBallanceGaryBallance’s innings and have never seen such a rubbish technique in a Test top order batsman before. A huge step back right in front of his stumps to every ball wayyyy BEFORE the ball has been bowled and then… he just stays there!! It’s absolutely incredible!!


    • thelegglance Jul 17, 2015 / 11:15 pm

      He’s got himself in a tangle between playing back and not playing forward. There’s not a thing wrong with his basic technique, whether in the crease or out of the crease is of no relevance. What he’s doing is playing back when he should be forward. He’s lost the judgement of length and how to play it.

      No one gets to this level with a poor technique, it’s how you apply it. Hence he needs to quickly find a method.


  9. Rohan Jul 18, 2015 / 12:10 am

    A few salient points I heard from Boycs today, which I quite liked ‘England hoisted by their own petard’ in relation to the pitch. He then noted how Broad got something from the pitch bowling at 82/83mph and how Johnson and Starc bowling at 90mph were likely to get more. As usual he also commented on the poor shot selection by England players, including Root and there was some merit to this.

    For me the difference is quite simple. Scoreboard pressure and 2 proper quicks, 90 clicks plus more. England will do well to concede less than 150 on first innings from this position.


  10. BoerInAustria Jul 18, 2015 / 5:14 am

    Ahh – Nothing better than a cup of coffee and coming here in the morning . Thank you all for the passionate and insightfull discussions. Test cricket – Fascinating stuff.

    PS – I know I do not want to get in Cooking things up, but I do get the impression the general meanness (bordering on the ridiculious) in the England team is gone, and everyone is behaving fairly “normal ” (e.g. congratulating Smith at the end of the day?). Is this correct?


    • emasl Jul 18, 2015 / 7:50 am

      Yes it was good to see the team shaking Smith’s hand and congratulating him. And so far there seems to be no signs of sledging. Long may it continue


      • LordCanisLupus Jul 18, 2015 / 8:52 am

        I was busy taking pics when he actually got to 200, and I noticed only one England player clapping. As I say, I may have missed the other players doing it.


    • dvyk Jul 18, 2015 / 8:38 am

      I perceive a change. English bowlers screaming red-faced at cowed fielders was one thing I used to hate about the English team, and they don’t seem to be doing that anymore. I don’t see anyone in the team who is clearly marked “outsider” and “scapegoat”, except maybe for Bell, but that seems to come more from the management and press.

      The Australians don’t seem to be carrying like complete and utter idiots either, so maybe something has rubbed off on them too. (I could be wrong about that. I might be de-sensitised to it.)


  11. BoerInAustria Jul 18, 2015 / 7:29 am

    Dobell on Cricinfo

    “Whatever happens over the next three days at Lord’s, England can no longer ignore the mountain of evidence that is building about the top order. They cannot ask for slower wickets. They cannot squeeze any more batsmen into their XI. There have been too many failures to dismiss it as an aberration. ”

    Lots of batters
    Slow pitches
    All just not to talk about … ehh… mmm.. gggrrr …that CLINT


  12. pktroll (@pktroll) Jul 18, 2015 / 7:29 am

    Like most folk on here I was ultra concerned about England’s top 4 and that they failed under scoreboard pressure is hardly a surprise. They are going to have to do something about Ballance and Bell in particular because both look like walking wickets in positions that they have never been at home in and not against top class pace bowling certainly.

    Both Cook and Stokes deserve a bit of credit. I missed watching the Lyth wicket but caught the other 3. I then had to go out for an hour and saw the last 30 minutes of play where those two batted pretty well to stem the tide a bit. The concern too that England would follow up a good performance with a poor one was a factor that was well made both here and elsewhere. The problem is, how do they plan ahead after this game has finished as there are more than a couple of issues to confront.

    When I say issues, apart from a couple of batting positions, the performance of Ali as a spinner, and Wood and his ability to play tests so close together. Anyway lets see if there can be some more resilience from the team. I have been offered a ticket for Monday and I would like to be able to see a few hours. The only Ashes test on day 5 I have watched at Lord’s was back in 97 when the Aussies had a fair shot at trying to win after a considerable amount of rain washed out a fair chunk of play.


    • SimonH Jul 18, 2015 / 8:45 am

      “The concern too that England would follow up a good performance with a poor one was a factor that was well made both here and elsewhere”.

      WLWLW. England’s last five Test results. Anyone see a pattern there? It’s so bleedin’ obvious but I can’t recall one in the MSM pointing it out. But then if you spend all your time pretending Headingley and Bridgetown didn’t happen then perhaps you’re going to miss it. Of course that pattern won’t last forever and will be broken somewhen.

      “The problem is, how do they plan ahead after this game has finished as there are more than a couple of issues to confront”.

      Strauss is the key player here – whether he formally has a role in selecting the team or not. Strauss is part of the Flower culture of obsessive continuity plus his reputation rests on the notion he is Mr Unflappable. It could also be pointed out that Australia have turned things around not ny ripping the team up but by their big players playing better. Conclusion: expect minimal changes from England. (That’s assuming England lose or are only bailed out by the weather).

      Alternatively, as a witty Tweet quoted in yesterday’s Guardian OBO put it, Hales, Morgan and KP in for Edgbaston.


      • metatone Jul 18, 2015 / 9:03 am

        Not sure Morgan is a good bet against this bowling attack, but equally it’s not like they are going to consider the player who top-scored against this attack last time around…


      • SimonH Jul 18, 2015 / 9:31 am

        The Tweet wasn’t exactly serious!

        On Morgan and Hales, their form since the ODI series has been pretty mediocre. It’s a little surprising at least one of them hasn’t carried the momentum from the ODIs on to the county circuit. Does this prove:
        a) They are big occasion players
        b) County pitches aren’t much cop for attacking batsmen
        c) The NZ attack was worse than some county attacks
        d) They are much better one-day than f/c players
        e) Nothing very much.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Jul 18, 2015 / 9:57 am

        Amusingly and accurately put Simon! I guess we like a reality check on here…

        I don’t think Strauss should have any role in what happens with the team regarding selection, that is between the selectors and the coaching staff. If he does, he can **** right off.

        The change of emphasis with Aussies has been that they’ve turned up, but that they did need to drop Watson. The Haddin thing was more forced and all I can do is wish him and his family well.

        I do think England need to consider bringing Root further up the order with either of Bell and Ballance going to 5. England are going to continue to be a few wickets down for not many if things are kept the same.


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