Ashes: 3rd Test review

When the intellects of Sartre, Russell and Machiavelli considered potential locations in which to contemplate life and the unfairness of being, it is safe to say that somewhere around the Banbury junction of the M40 probably didn’t figure too highly in their considerations.  Yet it was here that a revelation was to be found, a dawning horror, and a mind forced to express a desire never yet felt by an English cricket fan.

The miles were eaten up, the air conditioning was keeping the cabin cool and pleasant, yet a painful thought kept surfacing as the TMS team chirped away in the background.  The previous day’s work had prevented watching more than the first morning of the Test, although it had been closely followed in mounting amazement.  Australia had won the toss, and though it was felt not to be a bad toss to lose, no one expected the carnage that would follow.  The pitch had offered a bit to the bowlers, but with the exception of Rogers, the lack of discipline in Australia’s batting was the principal cause of a side skittled out for 136.  Certainly England took advantage of what help there was, but a succession of dire shots had led to the pre-series favourites being bundled out in just over 36 overs.  Anderson might have been the chief destroyer, but while he might be nowhere near the best bowler in the world (he is very good – the Henman rule applies*), he is one of the cleverest.  A little bit of swing, a little bit of seam, and an Australian batting order that has long been vulnerable to both allied to an apparent inability to graft in such conditions all led to a total that looked woefully inadequate at the time, and proved to be so as the game unfolded.  Yet although Anderson rightly took the plaudits, the England bowler who caught the eye was Steven Finn, not because of how many wickets he took, but how he looked.

Finn has been in the highly promising category for many years, and perhaps more than anyone else still available to play has been the subject of ire directed at the management and coaching staff.  Finn is a wicket taker, first and foremost, and back in 2010/11 he was dropped from the England team because he was too expensive, despite being the leading wicket taker in the series to that point.  The frustration that the England set up preferred economy to wicket taking prowess was strongly felt at the time, and only became ever more magnified in the years following.

Finn has a Test strike rate of 46.2; he is in 16th place in all of Test history (minimum of 2000 balls) with that, and that takes into account a lost four year period when his run up was messed with, panic set in about his habit of occasionally striking the stumps with his knee – and the ludicrous rule change resulting – and a general focus on what he can’t do, not what he can.  Finn will go for runs sometimes, deal with it.  Two of the best fast n’ nasty bowlers of the last decade, Shane Bond and Dale Steyn, both have poor economy rates.  Better than Finn for sure, but neither of those have been comprehensively mangled by well meaning coaching staff.  That Finn goes for runs is of little relevance if he takes wickets.  The age old choice of whether 5-100 off 20 is better than 2-60 off the same shouldn’t even be a debate.  Yet for the England of the last few years it clearly was, and if the current approach is just to let him bloody bowl, that in itself is to be celebrated.  Strike bowlers are so rare, so valuable it is of incalculable frustration that England have spent years trying to wreck their one bona fide example of it in years.

How a bowler of such talent could have ever reached the point of being “unselectable” was disgraceful.  It’s also entirely unfair how Ashley Giles is now being criticised for saying so, when he was clearly right at the time, and his comments were rather obviously borne of annoyance it had reached that point rather than a dig at Finn himself.

As Warwick approached on the right, and an eye glanced down at the fuel gauge that visibly dropped with every passing mile (note to self – rotary engines and fuel economy don’t go well together), that mind considered England’s reply.  Having been so panic stricken at Lords, England instead did exactly what they said they would in the build up to the game, and went on the attack.  Lyth may be having a bad time of it at present, but nicks to wide half volleys are not evidence of a flawed technique but one of a simple mistake or a mind that feels under pressure.  Like with so many of the Australian team, it was poor batting, but not in itself an inherent fault in his game.  He is starting to run out of time to make an impact, even if it is entirely right to stick with him for the rest of the series.

Cook had been simply unlucky, but he hasn’t had a great series so far. There’s an irony here, he’s never captained better in his whole time as England’s leader, yet the runs have dried up.  His game still looks far sounder than it did, so it shouldn’t be a concern in and of itself, but it’s there in the background.  What is somewhat startling is that almost everyone, me included, thought that for England to have a chance in this series, Cook would have to be the one who led the batting.  It’s not turned out that way so far, but there are two Tests to go to make an impact.

Bell and Root responded by decisively going on the attack.  For all the ups and downs of England’s performance, it is pleasing to see that the intent is still there, and they set about turning an initially strong position into one where England could ram the advantage home.  Much has been said of Bell being promoted to number three, and after the match he himself referenced that it felt good to have been backed.  There’s been a school of thought that Bell is somehow a reluctant number three, but this re-writing of history does him a disservice, not for the first time.  When Trott’s troubles first appeared, Bell was the one who said he would be happy to do the job, and was roundly ignored.  Pretending that it didn’t happen and using it as yet another stick with which to beat him is sheer mendacity.  He clearly needs to feel valued, and it is no good brushing that off and saying he should be able to handle it; different people have different needs – good management is in accounting for that.

Bell’s dismissal at the end of the day was simply him going a touch far and picking the wrong ball to hit.  It is the same for him as it is for anyone else, if you want a positive approach, this is what is going to happen sometimes.   A Bell who counter-attacks is an outstanding asset.

On the morning of day two, as I headed for the car, tickets for day three safely secured, a horrible nagging thought surfaced.  With Australia dismissed in less than half a day, this could be a short match.  That nagging thought became loudly ringing alarm bells as Johnson produced two terrific short balls in the second over to account for Bairstow and Stokes.  Bairstow may or may not be good enough ultimately to hold down a Test place, yet the reaction to a ball that had “out” written all over it was excessive to say the least.  A player 80 not out might ride the bounce, one at the start of his innings, and also at the start of the day, might not.  It was a very good ball, as was the one Stokes got.  It doesn’t say a thing about the batsman except that he was unlucky to receive it.

Yet while England were ahead, they were losing wickets.  Before even reaching the motorway, Root had gone, and so had Buttler, in the latter case needlessly given a review would have saved him.  Buttler has thoroughly gone into his shell with the bat, though it must be said, he is keeping extremely well, and seems subdued by the problems he is having outside off stump.  It may just be one of those things, but such a destructive player prodding and poking isn’t going to do him any good.  It is to be hoped he is encouraged to go out and play his shots, and then be backed on those occasions it goes wrong.

As the variable speed limits on the M25 showed first 60, then 50, then 40, indicating that the never ending joys of a traffic queue were ahead, England were only 50 runs ahead, with Moeen and Broad at the crease.  Two thoughts sprung to mind, one strategic, and one utterly selfish.  In the first instance, England were throwing away their advantage with abandon, and on the second, the weather was good, and I needed England to get a grip and bat for as long as possible.  With the two of them going after the bowling, the latter seemed ever more unlikely, but the former was a possibility.  Broad’s batting woes over the last three years have been well documented, even if in far too many cases it’s simply been dated back to when he was hit rather than the way it had tailed off long before then, but there have been signs of improvement recently, even if the runs haven’t always reflected that.  He’s less legside of the ball, doesn’t flinch as he did, and is looking to play shots, not simply slog.

As for Moeen, he is peculiarly unappreciated.  To date in this series he has 9 wickets at 45.  Not great figures, for sure, yet perfectly comparable to those Swann got against Australia, and Swann was without question the best England spinner since the 1970s.  Simply put, he’s doing a job with the ball against a team who don’t tend to struggle against English finger spinners, and doing it well.  Australia clearly want to attack him, yet when they do, they get out.  I remain unsure what people expect of him.

Of course, a big difference between him and Swann is that Moeen can bat.  There is an innate desire to see him succeed anyway, because he’s so gorgeous to watch.  His batting is highly reminiscent of David Gower – if not quite in quality – and when batting at number eight, provides a source of quick runs, stylishly scored.  It appears also that he relishes batting with the tail, and it is in that his value can be found.  A less attacking batsman would be left high and dry all too often as the bowlers were dismissed, but a curiously counter-intuitive point is that Moeen is usually dismissed when attacking as the wickets fall around him, which is both unselfish and oddly maximising his contribution.

As Oxford Services hove into view, England had extended their lead to one that might prove decisive.  A pause for coffee ended with England having been dismissed 145 ahead, and Australia were back in.

At this point, rebellious, naughty thoughts were surfacing.  Surely Australia couldn’t bat so badly a second time?  Yet that wasn’t the worst of it.  For the first time, the need for Australia to bat well was apparent.  As England came out to field, a sudden rooting for Rogers and Warner could be felt.  A sudden wish for Anderson to lose his radar, preferably with wide balls outside off stump that were left alone but were no threat to anyone.  As the key was turned in the ignition, I reached for my cork hat, bedecked the cabin with green and gold and launched into a chorus of “Come on Aussie, C’mon”.

Over the last couple of years England – and more specifically the ECB – have enraged me, infuriated me, and led me to chuckle as the latest self-induced disaster unfolded.  Yet never before had England led me to actively become an Australian.  As Rogers played back, and Jim Maxwell announced with that gentle sorrow he does so well that the opener was on his way back to the pavilion, a loud expletive filled noise could be heard by anyone with half a mile of the silver car pulling onto the motorway slip road.  Even at England’s lowest moments, the incompetence and duplicitousness of the ECB included, never did I imagine myself actively cheering on Australia.  Australia for God’s sake!  As Finn roared in, his pace up, causing the top order no end of problems, a nagging feeling that now would be a good time for his hand to brush the stumps requiring him to go off and have it repaired for half an hour kept popping up at the back of my head.

There was hope.  David Warner seemed to be playing a different game to anyone else, but with the first day curtailed by rain, play could be extended until 7pm, meaning there was still four hours of play to go.  Finn beat Smith all ends up, and in came the captain.  Surely, despite all his problems, now would be the moment Clarke regained his mojo and made a game of it.

Not even the most ardent of Aussie fanatics let out as heartfelt a moan, as passionate an “oh no”, as angry an “Oh FFS” as I did when instead, that utter bastard Finn instead took out Clarke and Voges in consecutive balls.  Looking ahead, there were no signs of the violent thunderstorms now wished on Birmingham, all was sunny and pleasant.   That’s the trouble with tornadoes, they don’t happen when you need them to.

By the time Warner decided to play what I now considered the most irresponsible shot in the entire history of cricket and Mitchell Marsh had regarded the defence of his stumps to be an optional extra, the five stages of grief had rattled past the bargaining stage and had settled thoroughly on depression, occasionally leaping back to denial concerning the implausibility that buying a day three ticket could possibly be a risky enterprise.

By this stage, I’d also thoroughly blamed my friend Graham for suggesting we go to the Test in the first place.  Edgbaston is not exactly on my doorstep, so wincing at the £70 handed over to my best mates at Shell to get up there was looking the worst investment since Mr Enron had rung up offering a sure thing.

Having picked him up from his office, we headed to the hotel, just in time to see Mitchell Johnson conclusively prove he hates the English by hitting the ball aerially 180 degrees away from his intended destination.  23 runs ahead at the close of play, three wickets left.

What to do?

Well, we were there, so we might as well go and watch the conclusion.  Over a curry (what else?  It’s Birmingham after all) the decision was made to check out of the hotel in the morning, head over to Edgbaston and watch the last knockings of the game, before driving home.  The principal debate was whether it would be 100% refund for fewer than 10 overs, or just the 50% for fewer than 25.  Plus a disagreement as to whether the two overs lost for the change of innings would count or not.

Having consumed the world’s biggest breakfast (Graham’s colleague Dave Tait finished his before I’d even started – honestly, I’ve never seen anyone demolish a plate that fast) that comprehensively removed any desire for a £10 soggy burger at any point, we headed for the ground, idly wondering how many would be there.  It was packed.  Clearly, everyone had bought tickets in advance, but not everyone is local to the ground.  Still, England were going to win, and there were few empty seats.

And so it came to pass that Mitchell Starc became the hero of the day, along with Peter Nevill.  Australia certainly fought hard, and nearly got to a point where they had a chance of a highly unlikely victory.  Nevill himself was the subject of a fair bit of barracking for refusing to walk when he edged one down the legside, and then instantly reviewed one he’d middled.  None of this was serious, but made the endlessly repeatable point about the ludicrous hypocrisy of the Australian attacks on Broad for not walking in the 2013 Ashes.  Sauce for the goose.

It certainly didn’t feel a tense ground as England embarked on the short run chase, perhaps because those present were simply delighted to have seen so much play in the first place.  Cook and Lyth’s dismissals continued the match pattern of batsmen getting out to poor shots – the ball that bowled Cook was decent enough, but had more to do with playing back when he should have been forward than anything else, while Lyth simply played across the line.

It was Bell who removed any question of the chase being a nervy one by going out and playing his shots.  With a small target, teams get into trouble when they become fearful; each boundary knocks a significant percentage off the target, and Bell knew that and took the calculated risk of ensuring that the runs came sufficiently quickly to prevent that fear setting in.

And so instead of it being a short and sweet visit to see an England win, it became two full sessions to see England win.  The track had certainly flattened out, as evidenced by the relatively little difficulty Australia had in the morning.  The sun was out – the fourth of our cohort Paul Godfrey finished the day with an exceptional case of panda eyes due to leaving his sunglasses on all day, to much amusement – and the crowd was thoroughly involved in barracking Mitchell Johnson.

It’s actually an important point too.  When the crowd got on  his back, even given the match situation of England being about to win, his bowling fell apart, and the lengthy delay to his run up to make the crowd wait, plus running through the crease, were indications that he was listening to the crowd rather than concentrating on his bowling.  A note for the Trent Bridge crowd to pay attention to.

Two and a half days of play, and an England win.  A crazy, ridiculous match, which bore little resemblance to the norms of Test cricket, but a 2-1 scoreline after three in England’s favour.  Where next?

After the first Test, there were signs that there were cracks in the Australian side.  The hammering they dealt out to England at Lords didn’t change that, but it did show that they are no toothless tigers either.  After all the attempted cleverness about conditions that might suit England but not Australia, what this Test showed was that in English conditions, England can do well.  Who would have thought such a thing?  Of course, those conditions do also bring Australia’s bowlers into play too, but if you don’t back your own players to perform, what is the point in even competing?

The injury to James Anderson is unquestionably a blow, but Trent Bridge hasn’t swung quite as much as it used to, possibly because of the new stand built there – though the vagaries of swing make assuming correlation to equal causation as being even more unwise than normal.  England do have a chance to put the series and the Ashes to bed though, at a ground where they tend to perform well.  Certainly Australia are the side that have questions to ask of themselves after this one.  Mitchell Starc bowled poorly throughout which may be just one of those things, and the middle order in particular looks downright flaky.  Yet England are setting new international records with their habit of winning a game and losing a game, with the sequence now at seven matches.   It would be no surprise whatever if England were to repeat the dose by losing in Nottingham.

There is some talent in this England side, and like a lot of unformed talent, it is inconsistent.  If they want to become a good side, finding that consistency is going to be the difference.  But the momentum is all with England……and that makes as little difference as it ever has, though it won’t stop some saying that it does, or being wise after the event should England win.

It is almost impossible to draw conclusions from such a ridiculous Test match, except to say the series is being played by two flawed teams, and anything could happen.

Hopefully one thing that won’t is having to cheer on Australia, because that felt dirty.  And wrong.  So very, very wrong.

*Reaching fourth best in the world is not failure

@BlueEarthMngmnt

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63 thoughts on “Ashes: 3rd Test review

  1. Fred Aug 1, 2015 / 1:36 pm

    Great piece.

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  2. Fred Aug 1, 2015 / 1:42 pm

    It’s actually an important point too. When the crowd got on his back, even given the match situation of England being about to win, his bowling fell apart, and the lengthy delay to his run up to make the crowd wait, plus running through the crease, were indications that he was listening to the crowd rather than concentrating on his bowling. A note for the Trent Bridge crowd to pay attention to.

    I doubt it. I suspect he was just playing around because the match was lost and he decided to play with the crowd. But I could be mistaken because I wasnt paying close attention.

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    • thelegglance Aug 1, 2015 / 1:44 pm

      If he hadn’t bowled an absolute pile of poo that over when he was getting stick, I’d agree with you.

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      • Fred Aug 1, 2015 / 3:18 pm

        Oh, I ddin’t see that. Fair enough then.

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      • Fred Aug 1, 2015 / 3:32 pm

        Actually, no, I take that back. If the match was over by then I don’t care how he bowled. It’s all irrelevent. What matters is what he does under pressure, and he’s coped with that OK.
        I’m a bit surprised he wasn’t used more on the third and final day when Australia needed a miracle.
        I’m also surprised to find myself typing “the third and final day”.

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    • OscarDaBosca Aug 1, 2015 / 9:41 pm

      I was in the Hollies stand on the first day and the barracking was good natured (well as good natured as calling someone’s skill that allows them to perform at the highest level, shite), but he took it well and when he came over to field he played us the worlds smallest violin. For that he got a ‘there’s only one Mitchell Johnson’ chant for his response. However by day 3 he looked distinctly rattled. I would suggest that if the Trent bridge crowd are as partisan as Edgbaston it will aid England greatly.

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      • hatmallet Aug 2, 2015 / 9:12 am

        Sat on the other side the ground, I was trying to work out what he was doing. Thought it was a violin.

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  3. jennyah46 Aug 1, 2015 / 2:58 pm

    A lovely tale Chris. Enjoyed reading all about it.

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  4. paulewart Aug 1, 2015 / 3:11 pm

    Cook had been simply unlucky, but he hasn’t had a great series so far. There’s an irony here, he’s never captained better in his whole time as England’s leader, yet the runs have dried up.

    I struggle to see the irony: he’s never performed with conviction against top bowling attacks and his captaincy is of such a low standard that, to quote the unlamented Yazz and her plastic population, the only was is up. I maintain that this is now Joe Root’s side: he is captain in all but name – watch the body language.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Aug 1, 2015 / 4:37 pm

      The irony refers to the endless and ludicrous defence of his captaincy (which was dire) in the usual quarters when he wasn’t scoring any runs. Now it’s actually this series been pretty competent, the runs have gone again, For the moment anyway. He doesn’t look out of nick.

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      • paulewart Aug 1, 2015 / 4:56 pm

        Quite right, apologies. Was commenting in The Guardian earlier and forgot to change mindset 🙂

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      • thelegglance Aug 1, 2015 / 5:58 pm

        Usually, I object to comments that are so non-constructive….but he has had it coming! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • paulewart Aug 1, 2015 / 6:16 pm

        Braivo Fred, he really is a prize prick. Imagine wasting all that time and energy loathing a cricketer who has done nothing more than inspire and entertain millions of cricket lovers. One can only imagine what he’d have thought of Botham.

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      • Fred Aug 1, 2015 / 9:46 pm

        I don’t normally respond like that, and I don’t feel good for having done so. But I guess we all lash out at times.
        Mostly I ignore all the looneys on the gaurdian, but the reason I can’t stand him is because he dares to judge how other people should experience cricket. His attitude encapsulates the Big 3 heist, and therefore he must be resisted at all costs. He may be a lovely bloke personally, but it’s his attitude that apparently I must experience cricket on his terms that I can’t swallow.

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      • OscarDaBosca Aug 1, 2015 / 9:50 pm

        He was genuinely unlucky in the first innings, he looked untroubled, and the crack the bat made when he hit the ball suggested he had given a poor ball the treatment. It was a genuine surprise that he had been caught off the midriff.

        His captaincy was excellent in the first innings, the rain and the Australian profiligacy helped, but for long periods he had four slips, two gullys, fine leg, mid on and either point or mid off. It was very aggressive and just said drive me. England appeared to bowl good lengths, and Finn’s action and run up from side on looked smooth and repeatable.
        Ironically on day 2 with a 140 run lead, he was more defensive with three slips and two gullys or four slips and a gully.

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      • Fred Aug 1, 2015 / 9:54 pm

        I should add that the most pleasing thing, aside from calling a prick a prick, is it that the Guardian has let it stand. I was only hoping it would remain long enough for him to see it before it was moderated, but my expectations have been exceeded.

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      • thelegglance Aug 1, 2015 / 11:36 pm

        Oscar’s point raises a fundamentally important one. In fact a critical one which is a notable, and irrefutable one that those who write in certain newspapers, or carp at places like this cannot see – which is that his view changes as the facts change. There is no qualm saying Cook has captained well, because he has.

        Those that bitch and whine about people daring to criticise show themselves unable to do that. It’s an extremely important point of difference.

        I can be wrong. I have no problem admitting that. Those that can’t are the fanatics.

        Liked by 1 person

      • dvyk Aug 3, 2015 / 2:02 pm

        @Fred,
        The Gu has now deleted it.

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  5. SimonH Aug 1, 2015 / 4:54 pm

    “As for Moeen, he is peculiarly unappreciated. To date in this series he has 9 wickets at 45. Not great figures, for sure, yet perfectly comparable to those Swann got against Australia, and Swann was without question the best England spinner since the 1970s. Simply put, he’s doing a job with the ball against a team who don’t tend to struggle against English finger spinners, and doing it well”.

    Swann took his wickets at 40 in 2009 and 29 in 2013 so it’s rather stretching it to say Moeen Ali’s figures are “perfectly comparable” (Swann also averaged 35 and 25 with the bat in those two series which would, on the same basis, be comparable to Ali’s).

    Ali’s Test career bowling average is now over 35. Panesar’s is 34.7.

    I’m not sure comparing Ali’s figures with past English spinners is particularly meaningful as a combination of changes in pitches and DRS have made conditions in England rather more spinner-friendly than they were in the 80s and 90s. More importantly, because of the WC he hasn’t played much abroad yet (and when he has the results weren’t great – although it would be fair to say not disastrous either).

    Overall, he’s doing an okay job – but the issue of the lack of a specialist spinner has been more papered over than resolved and it isn’t one we’ve heard the last of I think.

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    • thelegglance Aug 1, 2015 / 5:02 pm

      Yes, I thought about that with Swann, but the 2013 series was on wickets that couldn’t have been more tailored to his strengths. His overall record against Australia is one with an average of 40, which of course includes the away matches too. In other words, with the exception of a single outlying series, he wasn’t terribly effective against Australia – which shouldn’t be surprising, because finger spinners rarely are. Moeen isn’t anywhere near as good as Swann was, but nor is anyone else available, unless we go down the route of picking a leg spinner, which may be different.

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      • Rohan Aug 1, 2015 / 10:57 pm

        If we talk about this series, however, then Lyon is way out in front. He has 12 wickets at 26.00. Is Lyon as good as Swann? What this highlights to me then, is that the other spinner in the series is outperforming Ali quite considerably. The other spinner is better than Ali yes, but 12 wickets at 26 compared to 9 at 45 better? I don’t think so. So either Ali is under performing or Lyon is over performing, unless he is a much better spinner, maybe even in Swann’s league, than he gets credit for.

        I don’t think criticism of Ali’s bowling in the above context is unfair, after all he is being picked as our spinner, so shouldn’t we primarily judge him on that? Whether that is fair or not, is surely down to those who are picking him in this role, not us.

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      • thelegglance Aug 1, 2015 / 11:39 pm

        Lyon is an extremely good bowler. Isn’t the point the same as it ever was – that what an opponent does is of no relevance, it’s what we can do that matters, in the same way that Ashley Giles had no chance of competing with Warne in 2005, but he was the best we had and did the job required of him.

        I take all the points that Moeen is no superstar with the ball, what I query is whether anyone else would do any better. And my argument (which you may attack at your leisure) is that that is the fundamental point about selection.

        Now go for your lives…. 🙂

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      • Rohan Aug 2, 2015 / 10:42 am

        I don’t think what Lyon has done is an irrelevance at this point. He is on the only other frontline finger spinner playing in the series and, therefore, I don’t think it’s unfair to compare his and Ali’s overall figures. Comparing Ali to previous series figures from Swann is very tricky as there are so many extraneous factors which have a huge impact and will be completely different for both Swann and Ali. So for me, a more crdedible comparison is Ali to Lyon. Based on that Ali has not done so well. The impact they have both had on the matches so far etc. is a different scenario.

        I think Ali is under performing, do we have a better finger spinner, no, you are probably right about that. We then go back to the WI tour and the shoddy selection policy and the missed chance to blood Rashid. It’s all ifs and buts, I appreciate this, but if Rashid had been tested we may now have a wicket taking wrist spinner who had been tested at test level. He may be costly, a la Finn, but I think Rashid could run through a team, whereas Ali probably won’t.

        Again I appreciate your last point, which is to compare Ali and Rashid, two different spinner types, is probably unfair. 😀

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      • Rohan Aug 2, 2015 / 10:54 am

        Sorry TLG, not sure what I meant about ‘your last point’ in the last bit of my post above, ignore it! Anyway Rashid and Ali are different, not a straightforward comparison.😜

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      • thelegglance Aug 3, 2015 / 9:28 am

        Is 12 wickets and 9 wickets that big a difference – particularly when you take into account how many left handers England have compared to Australia?

        I do agree about Rashid as an option by the way, that they didn’t pick him in the Windies was ludicrous.

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  6. SimonH Aug 1, 2015 / 5:47 pm

    Australia have struggled against some finger spinners away from home – Ashwin/Ojha/Jadeja bowled India to their 4-0 and of those I’d only rate Ashwin near the class of previous Indian spinners. Zulfiqar Babar demolished Australia in UAE and hasn’t been that successful against other teams.

    Part of the trouble with assessing Australian batsmen against spin is that they had such a great crop of batsmen in the 1990s and early 2000s. They didn’t struggle against spin (except Harbhajan perhaps) – but they didn’t struggle against anything very much! I think it might be more a case that Hayden and Steve Waugh (for example) were great players rather than drawing any wider conclusions about Australian batsmanship. I can remember Underwood and Emburey causing Australians plenty of problems in the 70s and 80s.

    Some of Australia’s home pitches seldom offer much to finger spinners (eg Perth, Brisbane) but that’s a different matter.

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  7. Sean B Aug 1, 2015 / 5:58 pm

    I was at the game too on Friday and thought it was the best atmosphere I’ve seen a test match played in. Properly partisan without going (too) far over the top. We’ll never get it at Lords but would love to see it at other venues, as I do think it helped England and intimidated one or two of the Aussies.

    As for the game and series – it’s bonkers. 2 sides who either play brilliantly or wretchedly. Really can’t call the rest of the series, but it’s a massive blow to lose Jimmy for Trent Bridge. They’ll play Wood if fit, but would be interested to listen into a call from the ECB to Trent Bridge

    Liked by 1 person

  8. thelegglance Aug 1, 2015 / 6:44 pm

    Errant reference to Adam Voges rather than Mitchell Marsh in the post now corrected…

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  9. Sean B Aug 1, 2015 / 7:41 pm

    Just seen this rubbish by Jonathan Liew…

    The ECB and Saker were the major reason why Finn has lost 2 years of international cricket and numerous other bowlers have complained about the meddling from Loughborough (see James Harris as an example).

    Like

  10. Sean B Aug 1, 2015 / 9:06 pm

    Yep fair enough. Have had a discussion on Twitter with Steve James and Jonathan liew tonight about Richard Johnson’s contribution to get Finn back on track. One thing they won’t admit is the state that England left him in a couple of years ago. I mean jeez, the guy was thinking about jacking it in. Well played David Saker and Loughborough- how to try and destroy a bowler in 3 easy steps….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rohan Aug 1, 2015 / 9:28 pm

      Glad your bringing up the Finn stuff and holding the journalists to task. I was worried the normal ECB airbrushing and changing of the truth was taking place.

      On TMS live updates for example, I saw a tweet included from a Cricinfo journalist, which seemed to imply Finn’s 2 year hiatus was due to injury!! Then every journalist/commentator I heard on the TMS referred to his ‘troubles’ as if they were some mysteriously appearing problem. Not a single sky presenter, that I saw, mentioned his run-up etc. being meddled with by Flower/Saker. The closest they got was mentioning his leg knocking the stumps in his delivery stride as the problem….

      Throw into the mix the Giles issue, as mentioned by TLG, where folk have tried to attribute Finn’s problems to Giles’s comments and it all makes my blood boil.

      It was truly heartwarming to see Finn bowl so well, yet I found the whole omerta surrounding the cause of his previous problems appalling and actually bordering on disgusting. I associate Cook with this and it is, therefore, one of the reasons I cannot ‘get behind the captain’!

      Anyway, as I said I revelled in Finn’s bowling it was great to see. Add that to Root, Bell, Butler and Ali and there are some regulars to really like and support……

      Liked by 1 person

      • emasl Aug 2, 2015 / 12:27 am

        I took issue with Me Liew about this as well

        Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Aug 1, 2015 / 11:48 pm

      I’m not his guardian angel, and feel free to disagree with him and point out the error of his ways, but if there’s one thing that can be said with certainty about Jonathan Liew, it’s that he’s no defender of the ECB. Not even close to being so.

      Steve James is more establishment, but open to discourse. Which is to his credit – people can disagree and discuss, and he does.

      Like

      • Sean B Aug 2, 2015 / 9:09 am

        Yep agreed, perfectly reasonable conversation on Twitter last night, once we’d got past the ‘who are you to question me’ stage

        Like

      • paulewart Aug 2, 2015 / 5:51 pm

        Never a good sign though, the ‘who are you’ line. Inside/Outside etc.

        Like

  11. Mark Aug 2, 2015 / 7:50 am

    England had a strike bowler who was, I believe, the first bowler to 50 wickets in the shortest number of tests. The management did not seem to understand how important this was. Instead they were obssesed with data and what the computer says. Well, the computer said he was too expensive. So they tried to get him to bowl dry, and become more accurate.

    SAVING RUNS RATHER THAN GETTING WICKETS should be written on Flower’s tombstone.

    In typical England fashion they became fixated with what he couldn’t do instead of what he could do. A classic case of not managing talent. But as we know the most important thing with England at this time is “TRUST”

    George Dobell was saying the other day he calls Loughborough ” Bluffborough” he sees no evidence they have improved any fast bowlers. In fact he pointed out they put the fasted speeds on the wall. One bowler was the fastest when he went to Bluffborough and has got progressively slower since they started messing around with him.

    It will be interesting to see if they keep faith with Finn if he has a few expensive matches.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Aug 2, 2015 / 7:52 am

      Contemplating whether the watch CWOTV.

      Peter Hayter is on.

      Might give it a go. See how long before I switch off.

      Like

      • Mark Aug 2, 2015 / 8:22 am

        End of part 1

        Absolutely no blame for Finns problems to be levelled at England managememt. That’s the meme. Focus on the positive.

        Oh great, they are going off to Fox sport in Aus next. “To get an Aussie perspective.”

        Why not just invite one of the travelling Aussie journos currently in England onto the snow?

        Oh great the line has gone down. So that’s the end of the feature.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Aug 2, 2015 / 8:43 am

        End of part 2.

        Next up, as the line to Australia is not working we are going to hear from Nick Night. Oh goody!

        In part 3 we will be talking to anybody else we can find.

        Like

      • Mark Aug 2, 2015 / 9:00 am

        Well done to Hayter for writing a piece about why Compton was dropped and pointing out that he and Cook were averaging over 50 per innings. And he had scored a hundred 5 matches before. Oh and Cook has had numerous partners since.

        Etheridge quick to jump in and inform us it was about a dispute about an injury after the Leeds test. So once again another non cricket issue? Alott wants to quickly gloss over that, time for a break. Must keep to the positives!!

        Like

      • SimonH Aug 2, 2015 / 9:33 am

        Thanks for the updates Mark – I’m giving it a miss this morning.

        Like

    • Sean B Aug 2, 2015 / 9:12 am

      Great comments, this was what I was trying to get across to the journos last night, who had been harping on how the ECB had saved Finn. No, you were the ones that broke him in the first place!

      Like

      • Arron Wright Aug 2, 2015 / 6:02 pm

        I saw one conversation in which someone asked “Who broke him?”

        One guess who piped up with “not England”.

        Like

    • Tuffers86 Aug 2, 2015 / 1:26 pm

      Great stuff from Dennis. I was trying to figure out what the categories (categgories?) were and the Jamshed one is the worst! I hope that one was a double-yoker.

      Really warmed to Dennis over the past year, listen to his podcast more than our English ones.

      Like

  12. hatmallet Aug 2, 2015 / 9:21 am

    Despite the quick day you feared, you still saw 56.3 overs. I got 65.4 on day one, less than an hour more, thanks to the rain delays. Not that I’m complaining, got a lot for those 65 overs.

    Like

  13. SimonH Aug 2, 2015 / 9:32 am

    Michael Calvin knows what’s wrong with Michael Clarke, Australian cricket and Australian manhood generally. Read all about it at the Indy. It’s as bad as it sounds.

    Elsewhere, with no actual play to report and the old adage that “nature abhors a vacuum” in operation, there is plenty of nonsense about. I wouldn’t mind some gloating at Australia’s travails if it was accompanied by some slight acknowledgement that England have been through something similar not so very long ago. But, of course, it isn’t.

    Guess who this is –
    “When Alastair Cook was going through the toughest of times last year his position was solidified by the support of all his team-mates, coaching staff and the selectors and he has come through to blossom as a batsman and captain”.

    That’s the Cook who is 2-1 up with 2 to play. The Cook who ‘led’ England to a 5-0 defeat when the positions were reversed and which, no matter what happens now, Australia can’t emulate. The Cook who has won one of his last five series. The Cook who acquiesced (at least) in the sacking of his team’s best player. The Cook who was so supported by the selectors they sacked him before the World Cup. The Cook for whom “the toughest of times” constitutes the entire MSM calling him “a man of steel”, “possessing a huge iron rod”, “England’s greatest ever batsman” and the rest of it whatever he was doing on the pitch. The Cook for whom a series average of 30 constitutes a blossoming.

    That’s why I can’t experience any joy at England’s win (except for individual players like Finn and Bell). It’s regarded as vindication for all that has happened – and all we’ll get is more of the same.

    Like

    • Mark Aug 2, 2015 / 9:45 am

      You will be pleased to know Simon that according to Etheridge (who is the only person who has spoken to Jimmy Anderson, or so he says) that the great Cook has invited him to Nottinghamshire for the next test.

      He will be there to help and inspire the other bowlers. A sort of assistant to the bowling coach. No one knows if Jimmy has any talent for coaching but hey ho. This is the New England. Where they can’t wait to inform everyone how inclusive they all are now.

      Happy smiling faces. They are all going out for Sunday lunch at a pub near Trent Bridge. Happy days are here again!!!!

      And it’s all down to Strauss apparently……………they are going to have old players brought into the dressing room. Botham has already been, and maybe Bob Willis will be invited as well. Can’t you just feel the luuuuve?

      Or is it just another way of shutting down any criticism?

      Like

      • SimonH Aug 2, 2015 / 10:05 am

        “They are going to have old players brought into the dressing room”.

        With a few exceptions……

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rohan Aug 2, 2015 / 10:51 am

        Mark and Simon. Very much enjoyed reading your comments, cheers guys. You express what I try to say in my posts far better than I can! I agree completely with your sentiments.

        Like

      • thebogfather Aug 2, 2015 / 11:31 am

        If Jimmy is going to be around at TB then that means the ECB will be micro-managing his injury
        ( I thought he was carrying a niggle at Lords) – so, with their record of injury management, he’ll either end up worse, or be rushed back for the Oval and then miss the UAE trip..

        Like

  14. SimonH Aug 2, 2015 / 10:14 am

    NZ’s ODI series in Zimbabwe is under way (with McCullum sitting it out and Williamson captain).

    Good to see Neesham back for NZ although several other bowlers are still missing (anyone heard anything about Boult?). Interesting to see them trying Ish Sodhi as their ODI spinner – could he become their Imran Tahir?

    NZ are putting on a good first innings’ score – but not the kind of stratospheric scores we saw in the ODIs in England. Whether that’s the new rule changes having some effect or Zimbabwean pitches remains to be seen.

    Like

    • SimonH Aug 2, 2015 / 3:20 pm

      Zimbabwe chased down the total fairly easily.

      Maybe we might now get a bit more perspective that beating NZ without their best bowlers and away from home didn’t mean England had suddenly become the best one-day side since Clive Lloyd’s West Indies.

      I’m sure also all NZ’s new fans in the English media were terribly disappointed. Undoubtedly they were glued to the match – or knew that it was taking place.

      Like

  15. SimonH Aug 2, 2015 / 2:15 pm

    Selective stat watch #327 – “Michael Clarke has the most away defeats of any Australian captain”. I’ve seen this one in a couple of articles. Yes he has, but…..

    http://goo.gl/vLhhA9

    In W/L terms (a much more meaningful stat), he has better records than Kim Hughes, Bob Simpson, Bill Lawry and Greg Chappell. That’s without getting into issues of how strong were the teams certain captains led.

    Here’s the same table for England:

    http://goo.gl/mgGGZF

    Well, look who’s third and one whitewash in UAE away from going top. Think we’ll hear much about that?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. SimonH Aug 2, 2015 / 2:35 pm

    “I’m a big fan of Woody [Mark Wood]…. For me, if he’s fit, he plays at Trent Bridge”.

    Errr, should senior players (Broad) be writing things like this in the media?

    Like

    • Pontiac Aug 2, 2015 / 3:49 pm

      Wouldn’t it be in their ECB contract that whatever they write in such columns get reviewed by ECB prior to publication?

      Like

    • Mark Aug 2, 2015 / 5:18 pm

      It depends if you are an insider or an outsider.

      The rules aply to different people.

      Like

      • SimonH Aug 2, 2015 / 5:30 pm

        It’s nothing serious – only telling the selectors their job and implying that he doesn’t particularly rate two potential teammates.

        Now if he’d been rude about Nick Knight…..

        Liked by 1 person

      • Boz Aug 2, 2015 / 8:08 pm

        whenever I see Nick Knight I always think of Christmas pantomimes – and figure that when the audience shout out ‘ it’s behind you’ he wouldn’t have a clue what was going on …. and would look befuddled and bemused in an other worldly sort of way

        Like

  17. dvyk Aug 3, 2015 / 10:51 pm

    Didn’t see a ball of this test as I was holidaying away from the internet. I checked in on the day 1 post here during the second session and that was all I needed/ wanted to know. I don’t usually like reading English perspectives on Aust losses (I confess), but this is an excellent piece of writing! Thanks, TLG.

    Like

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