2nd Ashes Test: Day Three Review

It’s indicative of the mess England have got themselves in that this was probably the best day of the game so far for them. And they still well and truly lost it. In isolation, a total of 312 having been 30-4 isn’t that bad, but it represents a major fall off from 266-6 which had represented a decent recovery, albeit while still miles behind in the game.

The trouble is that having got off to such an awful, and frankly careless, start, each wicket was a huge blow further deteriorating the team position. The pressure on the batsmen in such circumstances is immense, knowing a single error cannot be made, while conversely the Australians simply have to be patient, waiting for that mistake.

Cook and Stokes both batted very well, but such was the disastrous state of the game, each needed another hundred on top of what they got to become significant. Doubtless Cook will receive his usual media adoration for his innings, because that’s just how it is, but it wasn’t anything exceptional. He batted well, as did Stokes, and both were deeply frustrated by their dismissals, but in neither case was it close to being enough, and simply that means it has no material effect on the game. It’s not being churlish about this, but the focus on Cook to the exclusion of all else is so tiresome, it becomes vexing when he scores runs to know that it’s coming. In today’s instance, there is absolutely no reason whatever the focus should be on Cook rather than Stokes. None whatever.  Both batted well, but it isn’t the story of the day.

Australia didn’t surprise anyone by refusing to enforce the follow on, and batted freely thereafter. That’s also not much of a surprise. But what this awful performance has done is to play a whole host of Australians into form. After Cardiff, the pressure was certainly on, Warner going so far as to publicly talk about the difficulties he was having. No longer, especially after he was given a life on 0 second time around.

As far as this particular game is concerned it is likely to matter little, as far as the series goes it could yet prove fatal. England had their foot in Australia’s throat after the first Test, to say they have released the pressure is an understatement, England have been every bit as awful at Lords as Australia were at Cardiff, Cook and Stokes the batsmen excepted.

Quite why this is is hard to pinpoint, but it’s not exactly hidden from view. Assuming England do go on to lose this game, it will the third time in a row that they have lost immediately after winning. And the third time in a row they’ve played poorly immediately after winning. Of course x the opposition in each case deserve the credit, but it isn’t coincidence that England don’t match up to their winning display, indeed don’t even begin to get close to matching their winning display.

Not that you’d know that from the media coverage, whi h on each occasion has got extremely giddy and made the customary ludicrous assertions that England are becoming a fine side, only to then brush that under the carpet with the subsequent collapse.

The game is now in one of those phoney war periods while we wait for the real action to begin. Australia will spend tomorrow winding up their attack on the England bowlers, and England will be forced into the position of simply trying to restrict the scoring to keep Australia batting as long as possible.  Clarke is in the enviable position of knowing that the lead is already far beyond what England can achieve, and so can simply tire out the England bowlers and turn an overwhelming position into a completely impregnable one.

Midway through the day, Australia will be over 500 ahead, and leave England around 130 overs to survive.   It’s not impossible that they do it either, this remains a very flat pitch, and is if anything dying for the bowlers rather than showing signs of wear. It’s that that is the risk for England, as the repeated drag ons today showed – the classic sign of a pitch that is getting even slower.

If Cook does an Atherton and bats through the last say and a half, that will indeed be worthy of note, for its hard to see too many others doing it.

In reality, England look a beaten side, it won’t cause paroxysms of shock if when they do come to bat they lose wickets early again.

@BlueEarthMngmnt

UPDATE – I hope TLG doesn’t mind me tapping on to the end of his post, but we are setting up a site to take on Century Watch and most of the photos, as well as things like book reviews etc. This is especially for the busy times so we don’t flood the main site with material.

The link is www.collythorpeii.wordpress.com – and I’ve just put up a couple of pics of batsmen walking off to start it up.

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39 thoughts on “2nd Ashes Test: Day Three Review

  1. Arron Wright Jul 18, 2015 / 6:54 pm

    “but the focus on Cook to the exclusion of all else is so tiresome, it becomes vexing when he scores runs to know that it’s coming. In today’s instance, there is absolutely no reason whatever the focus should be on Cook rather than Stokes. None whatever.”

    I can’t tell you how refreshing that is to read, SOMEWHERE.

    Just read this, for example, and remember what was written when other prolific English batsmen found themselves one stroke short of a hundred and got out to a foolish shot. Hell, sometimes they might even have been trying to save a game, they might have been taking on a mediocre bowler, they might have been playing on a friendly surface.

    “Perhaps, in what is after all only a fleeting fraction of a second, the England captain had seen the glory shot, where for almost six hours of unwavering concentration he had eschewed anything of such frivolity, as if he could already see himself in his mind’s eye raising his bat and helmet in that familiar way and drinking in the applause. The ball was lengthish and had width, there to be ignored. But Cook drove vigorously and loosely and paid the price for a moment’s lapse.

    The crowd, though, rose and applauded him all the way into the pavilion, for the skipper, in as much as he ever sweats, had done so in blood.”

    I’m sorely tempted to resort to Anglo-Saxon invective.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SimonH Jul 18, 2015 / 6:57 pm

    England’s longest 4th innings batting for a draw of the last quarter century:

    http://goo.gl/J7mLcT

    Only the Atherton 185* match is likely to exceed what I’m expecting Clarke to set England here (weather permitting).

    Like

  3. Arron Wright Jul 18, 2015 / 6:59 pm

    “England have been every bit as awful at Lords as Australia were at Cardiff, Cook and Stokes the batsmen excepted.”

    Surely Broad deserves a pass?

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Jul 18, 2015 / 7:11 pm

      Newman…. belligerent

      If England are going to upset Australia and win the Ashes they cannot afford the continual collapse of their top order and unless Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance and Ian Bell combine to save this Test on Sunday changes must be made.

      Wow! Make changes, in with the new. Could we be thinking the unthinkable? Of course not. But Bairstow? Hales? Another opener…..

      Those changes will be in batting order rather than personnel, with all three deserving a longer opportunity to prove themselves in this series, and it will be a huge surprise if Joe Root is not promoted to three for the third Test.

      No. Rearrange the deck chairs.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. metatone Jul 18, 2015 / 7:17 pm

    It all comes down to swing. If there is some, we can compete. If not – no dice.
    That means the series isn’t over. But it’s not looking good right now.
    Have to guess that Lyth, Ballance, Bell in particular will be feeling the pressure in the 2nd innings.
    We’ll see who responds…

    Like

  5. Zephirine Jul 18, 2015 / 7:33 pm

    Excellent review, especially the third paragraph.

    Like

  6. Mark Jul 18, 2015 / 7:38 pm

    There is an element of the little boy that cried wolf about the English cricket media. They have shouted into their giant megaphones about so many average Cook innings over the last 2 years that when he does play a pretty decent knock, their over the top eulogising rings hollow.

    Great innings change matches. This one didn’t. If he and Stokes and the rest had added another 200 runs then maybe. Last night there were two possible options to save the game. 1 the weather might wash away Sunday. 2 England would match Australia’s score of 500 plus. Neither look like happening.

    So bar an England batting performance of 5 sessions England will lose. If you are going to chase down 500 in the first innings you need your top order to not have 3 batsman score a combined total of 2. Makes it very difficult.

    I am reminded of Duncan Fletchers theory about test match bowling attacks. You need top pace and/or mystery spin. We have neither. And if you are going to order up feather bed pitches we are going to struggle to bowl sides out for reasonable totals. Puts a lot of pressure on the batting unit.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. dvyk Jul 18, 2015 / 7:48 pm

    Just for a laugh….
    From the Mirror–
    Here are 5 things we learned on day three:
    Alastair Cook is England’s most important player
    Joe Root is the man in form and Ian Bell perhaps the most technically astute but the skipper is well and truly England’s most important player. The phrase captain’s innings is banded around far too often but Cook’s priceless 96 really was a superb dig in display.

    No comment needed. …And on another article there:
    A subdued full house at Lord’s at least witnessed the semblance of a scrap as captain Alastair Cook led from the front in a desperate rearguard action to save his country.
    But the inescapable truth is that the Second Test had moved far out of his reach.

    —-
    From the DM–
    Alastair Cook fell to one knee and bowed his head after falling in the 90s for the seventh time in Test cricket. It was not the failure to reach his 28th century that hurt Cook but the realisation that England’s Ashes lead was slipping away.
    While the captain was there England still had a chance of avoiding the huge first innings deficit that should lead to Australia levelling this series on Sunday but with him went his side’s best chance of somehow clinging on to that 1-0 lead.

    Still the chance of avoiding a huge first innings deficit as long as he was there??? Sorry, but even if Cook had batted another 6 hours, (for another 96) the deficit still would have been huge. Can these people really not read a scorecard?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arron Wright Jul 18, 2015 / 7:57 pm

      Ch-rist al-mighty, it’s ridiculous. I can’t support England while this nonsense continues, it’s that simple. I like Stokes a lot: did no-one notice him at all?

      Like

      • dvyk Jul 18, 2015 / 8:07 pm

        Yeh, the Australian press has been praising Stokes. They called Cook’s innings “obdurate”, rather than perfect, priceless or superb. There were headlines yesterday for Stokes “missing out on Lord’s Century” but no headlines for poor neglected Cooky today.

        Like

      • Zephirine Jul 18, 2015 / 8:08 pm

        I’m glad to say Ian Ward interviewed Stokes on Sky, and was careful to point out his achievements. Though Stokes himself was obviously just pissed off to be on the losing side.

        Like

      • Simon K Jul 18, 2015 / 8:12 pm

        The English cricket media noticed and disapproved of his attacking play, which is less morally virtuous than obstinate self-denial.

        Like

      • paulewart Jul 19, 2015 / 10:36 am

        Response to Simon:

        Cook’s ‘Austerity batting´?

        Like

    • Mark Jul 18, 2015 / 8:08 pm

      “It was not the failure to reach his 28th century that hurt Cook but the realisation that England’s Ashes lead was slipping away.”

      HA HA HA If you believe that I have some swamp land I’d like to sell you as prime real estate.

      I said yesterday that Cook played a good innings. It’s a shame it has to be ruined by the cretins of the ECB media. The grovelling is nauseating. It just makes people even more hostile.

      Liked by 2 people

      • dvyk Jul 18, 2015 / 9:42 pm

        If the stump mic had been turned up as he sank to his knees we would have heard “O Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

        And the idea that he “led from the front” — Stokes was scoring at triple his strike rate at one point, and scored 9 runs less in half the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Simon K Jul 18, 2015 / 7:54 pm

    Is 312 really a “major fall off” from 266-6? I know our tail doesn’t start till 9 but it was only a wicket away, and while you’d hope to do better than 46-4 you can’t really expect that much more – maybe 330-340 would be par but that wouldn’t have made much difference to the game situation.

    30-4 last night was when the test was lost IMO. You can’t keep making these crap starts and expecting the remaining batsmen to bail the side out.

    Like

    • thelegglance Jul 18, 2015 / 7:58 pm

      It is when you’ve added 236-2. But yes, no question 30-4 was what screwed it.

      Like

    • Zephirine Jul 18, 2015 / 8:13 pm

      Crap starts, if you recall, were the recurring pattern in the last Ashes series. Perhaps the Australian plan is to make sure England revisits that experience.

      Incidentally, now that the real Australia has turned up, I’d be fascinated to know why they sent life-size cardboard replicas along for the first Test.

      Like

  9. Arron Wright Jul 18, 2015 / 9:25 pm

    Right on cue, who do you think this BTLer is:

    “So for all the crap Cook has taken over the last year he’s the one guy who can deny the Aussie bowling. I thought you said he was going to get hammered, Pepper? You going to admit you were wrong, or is it going to take the whole series?”

    The one guy. The sixth English batsman to make a fifty this series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fred Jul 18, 2015 / 10:25 pm

      Australia turns pretty ferociously on players who are not living up to the expected standard. They’re not perfect, but generally they’re pragmatic in seelction. With all the Dads Army nonsense, they have selected very well in the last few years to blend youth with experience, and profited, and Rogers was the ultimate vindication that yesterday.
      England is an old country, an old civilisation. It didn’t get where it is by propping the likes of Cook up in leadership positions. Unless he had the right qualities in the first place, and just needed to be propped up long enough.
      Maybe I’m opening a can of worms far to complex for a cricket blog.

      Like

      • Zephirine Jul 18, 2015 / 10:41 pm

        “England is an old country, an old civilisation. It didn’t get where it is by propping the likes of Cook up in leadership positions.”

        We wouldn’t usually prop up the likes of Cook, Fred – the commentary boxes are full of England ex-captains who were pushed or jumped pretty sharpish when they didn’t deliver the results. That’s why the indulgence of Cook’s captaincy has been so weird, but England cricket has, as you know, been in a weird state for some time now.

        (You could say it reflects the state of the nation, but Dmitri doesn’t like us talking politics so we won’t go there.)

        Liked by 2 people

      • Fred Jul 18, 2015 / 11:12 pm

        “the commentary boxes are full of England ex-captains who were pushed or jumped pretty sharpish when they didn’t deliver the results. That’s why the indulgence of Cook’s captaincy has been so weird,”
        I’d love to know why the rules have changed for Cook.

        Like

      • LordCanisLupus Jul 18, 2015 / 11:21 pm

        There is a lot to chew on there, and in Zeph’s post. We’ve been round the tracks long enough on the Cook issue that I’m not sure there is a new angle any more. I think he was certainly helped by none of his partners since Strauss sticking around long enough, and the real canary in that goldmine is Joe Root, who looked ill at ease opening with Cook most of the time. With no opener sticking on major scores at the other end, the need to stick with Cook, who at least had evidence of a prolific career on his resume, was paramount even IF you take out the nonsense that Downton, aided and abetted by a compliant and initially unquestioning media, had created with L’Affaire KP.

        England is an old country and DOES prop up old institutions (today’s nonsense over the monarchy is evidence of that – any other country should be pissing themselves laughing over this ridiculous story) and to know that you only have to go to Lord’s. I was there yesterday and yes, I may seem hypocritical having enjoyed a day’s hospitality, but it’s full of people who are there to be there, not to watch a sporting contest. I find a lot of the paraphernalia around Lord’s nauseatingly pompous – and yet there are loads of people there who love the sport dearly (like the two people who invited me). It’s a lovely setting. But the pomposity, the class structure etc. is celebrated, not questioned in the media and ECB TV. An ECB TV owned by someone who professes to despise our upper classes. Lord’s is a private club for heaven’s sake. It’s a wonderful place to watch cricket, if only it wasn’t populated with the people there, and instead those who weren’t more interested in being seen. I don’t drink the Lord’s Kool Aid, let’s put it that way.

        I heard Boycott say on the radio that Australia needed the injection of youth and they had to get rid of Watson and Haddin to reinfuse some energy. Ignoring the irony of that from a man who had to be torn away from playing for Yorkshire, there’s an unhealthy obsession that once you get to 30 you are one bad streak from retirement. Hence we can get rid of the trust issue with KP once he gets to 36 or so, when he’ll be too old. Trott has one bad trot in a place he doesn’t bat, and boom… Cook, and let’s not forget, Strauss, though are indulged. It’s an interesting contrast.

        I’ve wibbled on a bit and it’s late. But there’s a lot to chew on, and we might do a bit more in detail at a later time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jul 19, 2015 / 1:15 am

        “An ECB TV owned by someone who professes to despise our upper classes. ”

        ECB TV is owned by Murdoch who is a sanctimonious hypercrite when it comes to hereditary wealth. He inherited from his father, and now wants to hand the running of his empire over to his sons.

        Murdoch would make a great Royal or aristocrat.. He would fit right in. It is amusing that he try’s to pretend otherwise.

        Liked by 1 person

      • dvyk Jul 19, 2015 / 5:14 am

        It is truly odd, the media/ECB’s obsession with Cook. I’ve never seen anything like it in sport. The closest thing is the obsession with the royal baby and which lucky lass will marry him when he comes of age. I thought it might be because they needed the captain to go along with the banishment and ritual humiliation of KP, but It had already started in Australia. But then again, maybe the destruction of KP had already been planned by then.

        It might all be down to someone in the ECB deciding they want to build up the status of the captain, whoever he might be, to improve sponsorship values, and it’s taken on its own momentum. Maybe Giles Clarke has taken him under his wing, for whatever twisted reasons, and praising Cook is part of the groveling ritual they have to go through.

        I saw a shot of Cook walking through the long room after the lunch break, raising his bat repeatedly in acknowledgement of their applause.

        Liked by 1 person

      • paulewart Jul 19, 2015 / 9:54 am

        Class, ‘Englishness’, continuity and KP or, put another way, Giles Clarke, the political climate and Andy Flower.

        Like

      • Zephirine Jul 19, 2015 / 12:03 pm

        Dvyk, the Cook Cult Phenomenon seems to come from a combination of factors:

        1) Marketing. Giles Clarke made his money from, among other things, a wine-shop chain and a self-storage chain, Colin Graves got rich owning supermarkets – businesses that require relentless marketing in highly competitive sectors. Clarke saw Cook as the face of the brand, a perfect middle-market male model. All the PR centres round him, to an unprecedented extent. It’s now ‘Alastair Cook’s England’ and praise of Cook is praise of the team, the product.

        2) Old loyalties. Flower and Gooch go way back with Cook and have a lot invested in his success. Both are still influential with journalists and others ‘inside cricket’. Similarly Strauss, who may be not quite as loyal but is now even better placed.

        3) Personal charm. Cook must be charming in person. He seems remarkably good at winning over middle-aged men.

        4) Relentless ambition. Cook is all about the numbers and he wants those records. He will do what it takes.

        5) Journalistic myopia. A lot of English cricket writers seem unaware of other nations’ cricketers except when they turn up for a home series. They genuinely don’t seem able to put Cook’s achievements into the context of the global game.

        It all adds up. But to be honest, I think no (1) is what’s done it. The other factors have probably all been present with other captains.

        Like

      • Grumpy Gaz Jul 19, 2015 / 6:56 pm

        Ignoring the KP issues and the ‘right kind of family’ crap and all the other nonsense that went around 18 months ago it’s really very simple; Cook, as captain, lost an Ashes series 5-0 during which the team fell apart. It was a pretty clear example of a lack of strong leadership. He should have resigned then. If he wouldn’t resign he should have been fired. It wasn’t just 5-0 it was bloody embarrassing as well. Total capitulation from a formerly strong side and he took ZERO responsibility for it.

        Instead of being replaced, Cook got the full backing of the ECB and the press. He then promptly lost a test series at home to SRI LANKA! Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse. Despite that he STILL didn’t quit and they still didn’t sack him. Then we beat India at home and everything was ok… except everyone beats India at home. They haven’t won a series outside India since 2011 and that was the West Indies.

        Cook should have gone, simple as that. No way should anyone responsible for that steaming mess stay as the captain of his country. He took no responsibility for that and was not held to acount for it by the press. That seems to be a comon theme at the moment and the blame lies squarely in one place.

        The cricket press is such a bunch of corporate arse lickers that they simply will not rock the boast and do their jobs. Look at the current state of the ICC, the big three stitch up and the IPL bans. It’s all connected but no one is writing about it. Utterly shameful.

        Like

    • Fred Jul 19, 2015 / 1:37 pm

      Well said Zepherine.
      The hand of G Clarke lies heavy on this team.

      Like

  10. Arron Wright Jul 19, 2015 / 8:15 am

    Only one way I can see this innings panning out today: Australia bat until lunch, aiming for a lead of around 500, then Clarke repeats his Friday trick by dragging England out for a futile 10-15 minutes after the session break.

    Doubtless he will also know that Cook has a well-earned reputation for completely losing his grip in third innings on day four…

    Liked by 2 people

    • BoerInAustria Jul 19, 2015 / 9:40 am

      🙂

      Like

    • thebogfather Jul 19, 2015 / 9:41 am

      Good to see some real, unarguable stats – well done Arron

      Like

    • LordCanisLupus Jul 19, 2015 / 10:03 am

      Excellent work, but nowhere near enough to display a “mature understanding” of test cricket. Honestly, people want us to go soft on people who throw that sort of shit around?

      Liked by 1 person

    • paulewart Jul 19, 2015 / 10:43 am

      Nailed. Excellent work. They’re just a bunch of bigots.

      Like

    • Zephirine Jul 19, 2015 / 11:36 am

      Great stuff, Arron, really puts it into perspective.
      .
      There are some funny comments further on that thread now about ‘deserved’ events, the non-English posters finding the concept particularly hilarious.
      Sadly, even facts and ridicule combined do not shake those who have accepted Alastair Cook as their personal saviour.

      Like

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