“Day 3 At The Gabba….” – LIVE BLOG and Preview.

 

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It’s a parallel universe, and in that wonderful place it is Day 3 at the Woolloongabba and England are batting. They are 165 for 4, with Joe Root on 64, Dawid Malan on 44. Australia have posted 302. The pitch is not easy to score on and the bowling side has two opening bowlers with 900 wickets between them.  In that parallel universe the headlines on the Courier Mail would be “Pommies Holding On For Life”. Or something much more crude.

England are in a really decent position, having reduced the hosts to 76 for 4 but seeing the late session play go the way of the home side. At this point they are in front, not by far, but ahead. Day 3 is set for a terrific contest in an interesting test match. One little aside, amazing how Trent Bridge 2013, played on a slow, low surface, was slated as a terrible wicket to diminish the terrific game that unfolded, yet the Gabba gets a pass. We’ve missed attritional, fighting cricket so much that when we see it, we go mad. This is classic test cricket, fascinating, enjoyable and slow to unwind. Great.

The Editorial Committee discussed what we would do about tonight’s proceedings. We are concerned for Danny’s wellbeing as he has stayed up all night for the first two days’ play and we can’t commit that he will do a third – even though he has told us he will (he has been promoted to Editor this week, I’m sure he is thrilled!). While there is no work for us tomorrow, I’ve got a bloody Heathrow run so won’t be up all night. Others may be in late from their evening’s entertainment. It’s a tough life.

But we also note that the Live Blogging went down quite well despite everyone else seemingly doing it. We can’t bring the corporate heft of ESPN Cricinfo, the legendary voices of TMS, the pageantry and self awareness of the Guardian or the ever so enjoyable Guerilla Cricket, but we can bring our own brand of, well, whatever our brand is, to the Ashes cauldron caukdrib  ( Puts on Frank Muir voice – a caukdrib is a pot used to cook liquids at low temperatures….). So we’ve decided to live blog tonight, for as long as we stay awake.

FOR AS LONG AS WE STAY AWAKE.

It might catch on as a motto.

So, you know the form. Chip in with your comments below, and one of your loving, charming hosts will be updating you from here.

So for post number 1, Dmitri is kicking it off….

2121 – The latest weather radar from the Bureau of Meteorology….

Brisbane Radar 24

21:28 – A couple of things. Who is the person who has his/her hits from Santa Caterina province in Brazil? Always mystified me that one. And secondly, if your column is a regular dose of snark, make sure you get his name right in the photo caption.

Cook

This never happens to John Cena.

2201 – We’ve solved the Brasilian conundrum – welcome Mark. We’ve also got the first of Oliver Holt’s Holiday Snaps for today.

Read Martin Samuel’s nonsense in the Mail as well. He won’t be happy with a 1-1 draw at home to Leicester. Shame.

22:41 Been editing the live coverage for transfer on to my records. So…. many….. betting….. adverts. I am a nerd and I keep a lot of cricket. Broke my heart that I didn’t get the VHS all onto DVD as I had tons of Lara, Thorpe, Sachin (though he wasn’t my fave) and others. Up to date now and feel a bit better.

22:44 While we are looking at our viewers from afar, who is the one in Santiago, Chile? And the Dallas Metro area. Everyone very welcome. It really amazes me our little old blog has this reach.

23:01 Day 3 in Brisbane on my visit. Hungover from a long day in the sun and lots of beer. England capitulated, not totally, but enough to allow the Aussies a big lead, and then they accumulated for the rest of the day. The Saturday night was the Manchester derby. Watched it in an open air bar with a bloke who came from Deptford, like me. City won 3-1. Feeding goats or something or other.

23:04 Day 3 in Brisbane on the 2010/11 tour. Hussey and Haddin completed their 300+ stand after one of the unluckiest bowling sessions I’ve ever seen England have. Australia post big lead. Strauss has our hearts in mouths with a very close LBW shout leaving it. The next two days went down in legend.

23:07 Day 3 in Brisbane in the book I have out – the 1982/3 tour. Kepler Wessels had completed a century on debut the day before and almost carried his bat, making 162. England trailed by 122 runs, but Graeme Fowler dug in, we lost just one wicket in getting to 71 and England had half a shout.

23:30 Day 3 last time out in Brisbane. We’d been skittled. Warner and Clarke made tons, set us five hundred and plenty, and we were two down at the close, including Johnson getting Trott. Meanwhile Shiny Toy and Lovejoy are on the screen together, with the latter saying Woakes’s shot is “the worst of the Ashes so far”. My eyes roll.

23:42 The KP ESPN advert is drivel. He’s becoming a worrisome parody.

23:57 Game ready to resume, darker clouds above, James Anderson bowling, Dmitri on the keyboard for a bit. Danny is awake, and the first ball of the day goes for two.

0:00 No, not a clue.

0:02 Broad at the other end. Gilchrist finding out bantz with Boycs isn’t a long-term plan. Marsh square cuts Broad for four to get off to decent start.

00:07 Boycott getting on my nerves already. OK, we get your point. We don’t need to hear it every ball you frightful old bore. Marsh gets three behind point and completes a half century. Not sure why people thought he was a dodgy selection. He’s hit and miss, I know, but he does hit.

00:17 Anderson gets Smith to woosh at a shot outside off stump. First legit play and miss today? Meanwhile a usual suspect on Twitter goes all pseuds corner re Adam Gilchrist. It’s me. I find it if I was an ice cream I’d lick myself stuff. 175 for 4.

00:21 WICKET – Out of the blue Marsh checks a drive and lobs up a catch to Anderson at mid-off for 51. Broad gets the wicket, Marsh looks at the pitch with some disgust implying it held up for him. Marsh, Caught Anderson, Bowled Broad 51 – 175 for 5

00:24 Broad induces a thick edge from Paine, but no hint of a chance. Paine looks edgy, trying to push a single the following ball. Wicket maiden completed.

00:31 Woakes on for Broad after his wicket maiden. New ball due soon so sort of understand it, but isn’t the moment now? Woakes gives up a single to Smith first up, but then keeps Paine on 0 for the remainder. Vaughan does the Lehmann has scored a ton more recently than Paine stat as if no-one has heard of it. Jake Ball into the attack.

00:37 Jake Ball gives Smith a cracking ball at his throat and the captain is lucky to survive as the ball drops into no man’s land. He gets off strike with a single next ball. Paine gets a chance and plays a lovely cut shot for 4 to get off the mark.

00:43 Woakes and Ball now bowling short to Smith and Paine. It’s dull to watch, there’s funky field placings, and this sort of thing gets the pundits salivating. Smith, despite that one iffy little moment, really looks like he doesn’t give a toss. “Test match cricket at it’s finest”. Cut out the bloody hyperbole, Shiny Toy.

00:48 No slips. I can hear Botham chuntering. Shiny Toy moans about Aussie papers not being balanced. Should have seen the report of your ton in the lead up to the 2002 Ashes, Vaughan. They belted you for being rubbish, scratchy, all over the shop.

00:50 5 minutes to The Leg Glance. And we have Lovejoy. Says something to do with Bodyline. I want to cave my ears in for hearing it. Poor Alison Mitchell. Now a Tufnell joke story. Lord heaven above. Doing a Tuffers impression. Paine moves on to 6 during this low-grade variety act masquerading as cricket punditry.

00:55 And as Lovejoy completes his first over by at last concentrating on the action, I complete my stint and hand over to the incomparable Leg Glance for the next however long he stays awake period. Dmitri signing off…

01:00 TLG here.  Well now, in common with half the country, Friday night is “wander to the pub night”, and you know what?  Ashes cricket is made for that – head out, amble back, turn the cricket on.  Oh and then England take a wicket a few moments later.  Perfect.

Since you ask (you haven’t) the chicken wings were fabulous.  Oh yes, cricket, I should mention that.  So far Tim Paine is failing to go anywhere, while Steve Smith is clearly going to be That Player England Can’t Get Out this series.

01:05 I need to point out the total absence of any cricket when I’ve been on writing duties so far.  If there’s a tropical downpour in the next 10 minutes, don’t be at all surprised.  So, where are we?  England are keeping decent control here, but they could really do with another wicket to put Australia under real pressure.  I’d fancy England would be thrilled with a lead of 50. Especially given Australia have to bat last – but 5 wickets down means a lot of work to do, and the naturally pessimistic England fan has the phrase “tits up” going through his (Or her.  Hmm, on reflection it probably just is “his”) head.

01:13 Graeme Swann and Alison Mitchell on commentary together is like listening to Joe Pasquale and Eric Morecambe doing a double act.

01:18 Joe Root slips in for an over as England await the new ball.

01:24 WICKET! Anderson strikes in the first over with the new ball.  A typical Jimmy dismissal really, a touch of swing, the outside edge, and Bairstow does the rest.  Tim Paine on his way, and it’s 202-6. 100 between the teams.

01:30 WICKET!  Broad nabs a sharp caught and bowled to remove Starc for 6.  Doesn’t even begin to describe it as two balls before the latest assorted Mitchell plays an extraordinary shot – straight driving Broad back over his head for six to get off the mark.  Broad got his revenge quickly, so the Brisbane crowd will thoroughly appreciate that no doubt.  209-7

01:35 England had kept the lid on nicely this morning, but hadn’t looked especially threatening, at least not until the new ball.  Then two quick wickets and all of a sudden it’s all happening.  Smith is still there though, and while he is England still have a problem.  While we’re at it, Australia are scoring at 2.52 an over, compared to boring negative England’s 2.58 an over.  We all love the Brisbane Courier Mail.

01:48 Steve Smith is playing a completely different game to anyone else.

01:57 Some concern over James Anderson.  He certainly reached for his side, and he’s been replaced by Jake Ball after a short spell.  He’s not gone off the field, but there are only  a few minutes to lunch.

02:01 And that’s lunch.  Australia are 213-7, still 89 adrift.  And perhaps the most notable thing about this match so far is that unlike the last two series, we’re into day three and we don’t know where this game is going.  It’s competitive, hard Test cricket.  Marvellous.  Steve Smith scored just 17 off 66 balls that session, while losing partners at the other end.  England get loads of stick for bowling “dry” but sometimes it’s exactly what is needed, and that was fine bowling.

02:09 My travel advice is to steal the mini-duvets off Emirates.  They’re so warm.

02:16  Just the 48 runs in that session.  Test cricket, absolutely.  Amusing given Australian whining about England’s run rate?  Oh yes.

02:17 Typically in a Test match, the side batting second need to have a runs advantage going into the second innings.  So England are currently in a very decent position.  If they can get a reasonable lead, especially so.  But equally the third innings of the match is full of pressure, for a side can lose the game in a session.  How this pitch will play is as open a question as it was on day one, for if it gets better then England have an issue.  If it gets worse then Australia have a crisis.  And how good is it not to know?  Test cricket.  You jut cannot beat it.

02:40 Jake Ball opens up after lunch.  Not exactly putting to bed those James Anderson fitness concerns.

02:47

Not sure what’s more unlikely – England fibbing or the English cricket press being cynical about what they’re told.

02:55 Let’s call this a quiet start to the afternoon session.

03:03 Aside from 4 overthrows via Cummins’ back (accidental), and one Steve Smith straight drive, it’s still quiet so far.  But not terribly threatening from England either.  It might be time for Moeen.

03:06 I’m a captaincy God.  The Bearded Brummie is on.

03:13 England have let Cummins play himself in.  Danger.  In other news, the Rugby League World Cup semi-final is little over an hour away – the titanic battle between England and Tonga to decide who has the privilege of being stuffed by Australia.

03:23 Australia aren’t exactly rattling along, but this partnership is becoming  problem.  The gap is now down to 61, and England simply don’t look like taking a wicket.  Smith is closing in a 100 and looks serene, and Cummins looks secure. Anderson has gone off the ground – for bowling boots?  Let’s hope.

03:29 Anderson is back on the field.  And that’s my lot too – handing over to Danny who hasn’t seen the sun in several days.

0331 Danny here. Sad and almost completely true comments from thelegglance. Almost an hour after lunch, Broad finally gets the ball back.

0336 And Anderson from the other end, all eyes looking to see if there’s any sign of injury from the highest rated Test bowler in the world.

0352 Still nothing to report, although Broad & Anderson have at least kept it tighter than the other bowlers. The ball is now 25 overs old and I worry about England finishing off the tail…

0403 Smith drives through the off side for four, and brings up his century. That’s his 21st century, and his 6th against England.

0417 Still awake. Still no wickets in the session.

0431 WICKET About 10 minutes left in the session, and England finally take a wicket. Cummins plays a loose drive to a wide, full ball from Woakes and he edges it to Cook at first slip. A very useful 42 runs from the Australian bowler, and Hazlewood comes in.

0442 TEA Australia are 287/8, just 15 runs behind with 2 wickets remaining, and crucially with Smith still at the crease.

0518 Quiet start to the evening session, 7 runs from the first 4 overs and England’s lead is just 8 runs.

0528 WICKET Moeen Ali bowls left-hander Josh Hazlewood, who was trying to hit it on the leg side but completely missed it. Australia 298/9 and 4 runs behind England’s score.

0539 Smith whips a short delivery from Jake Ball to the fine leg boundary and Australia go into the lead.

0605 WICKET In the first over after the drinks break Root is bowling to Lyon, who inside edges a ball to leg slip. Smith finishes the innings on 141* and Australia have 328 runs with a lead of 26 runs.

0630 WICKET Hazlewood bowls a quick bouncer to Alastair Cook, who top edges it to Starc at long leg. England are still 15 runs behind.

0642 WICKET And Vince has gone as well, squared up on the back foot by a quick Hazlewood delivery and edging it to Smith at second slip. England still 9 runs behind, and 2 wickets gone.

0649 Fast bouncer from Mitchell Starc and it hits Joe Root on the helmet, breaking a piece off. England’s doctor comes out and gives him the concussion test, but Root dons a new helmet and carries on.

0713 Root turns Lyon behind square for a single, and THE SCORES ARE LEVEL with England already 2 wickets down.

0720 Cummins works Stoneman over with an over of short bowling, 10 minutes left for England to hold on.

0732 STUMPS England survive the last over against Nathan Lyon, and finish the day on 33/2 with a lead of just 7 runs.

Ashes First Test Review – Day 2

As the only one of the group to actually watch last night’s play (bloody part-timers), it falls to me to write the review after a few hours sleep. I’m still suffering a bit, so please forgive me if I missed something.

The day began with England on 196/4, and with England hoping to really cash in and keep the Aussie bowlers toiling for most of the day. Those plans seemed to be working through the first hour, as Malan and Moeen looked fairly comfortable at the crease facing the second new ball. There was also an injury scare for Australia as Shaun Marsh ran his spikes across Mitchell Starc’s knee in the field, causing the bowler to leave the field for some treatment and a new pair of  trousers. Starc returned to the field quickly though, as it was just a scratch.

At some point during the hour Australia switched up their tactics and went from bowling full to short as they peppered Dawid Malan and Moeen Ali with bouncers, whilst Lyon targeted the two left-handers from the other end. Neither batsman seemed comfortable with the aggressive bowling, particularly Moeen, but it was Malan who fell to it after top edging a pull from a Mitchell Starc bouncer to deep square leg. It was a disappointing dismissal in some ways as the field was clearly set for that shot, but before the match started I’d have snapped your hand off if you offered me Malan scoring 56.

The very next over, Nathan Lyon dismissed Moeen Ali LBW as the batsman played for spin that wasn’t there. In a matter of minutes, England had gone from two set batsmen at the crease to there been two bits of fresh meat at the crease for the Aussies to attack. Two overs later Lyon bowled Woakes through the gate to a very loose drive, and the familiar England Test collapse was on.

Jonny Bairstow had been pushed down the order to “bat with the tail”, and after having faced only 7 balls for no runs that’s exactly what he was doing. With Broad at the other end and two number 11s to come in, Bairstow took the not unreasonable choice of attacking the Aussie bowlers at every opportunity. Unfortunately for him (and us), he skied a short ball from Cummins and wicketkeeper Paine collected it.

Jake Ball then came in, and actually looked pretty good as he seemed to time the ball better than the other England batsmen. He hit 3 boundaries before glancing a ball from Starc off his hip and straight into the hands of David Warner at second slip. Anderson and Broad added another 13 runs between them before Broad pulled a short ball from Hazlewood to deep square leg, and the innings was over with England finishing on 302.

Australia’s innings began broadly how you’d expect, with the experienced David Warner looking fairly comfortable whilst the debutant Cameron Bancroft looked more hesitant and nervous. The nerves clearly got to him, as Bancroft edged a full Stuart Broad outside the off stump low to the wicketkeeper. This brought in Usman Khawaja, who is considered weak against spin bowling. Joe Root switched to Moeen early, and in just the 11th over, Moeen trapped Khawaja plumb LBW as the Aussie played for spin that wasn’t there.

This dismissal brought Steve Smith to partner David Warner, and this seemed like the most crucial partnership for England to break. The early signs didn’t look good for England, as Smith seemed able to score singles at will and the set Warner looking comfortable facing England’s bowling. If anything Warner became too confident, as he got himself out playing a loose shot to a shortish delivery from Jake Ball straight to Malan at short midwicket. This was a massive blow for Australia, as this partnership had the very real potential to bat England out of the game.

This brought in Peter Handscomb, whose stance deep in the crease caused problems for Anderson and especially Ball as they struggled to bowl the fuller line required to drag him onto the front foot. Anderson did get a few on target though and one got through Handscomb’s defences to hit him on the pads just inches in front of the wicket. The umpire gave it not out, but England reviewed it straight away and it was successful.

This wicket left Australia on the ropes at 76/4, and in real danger of conceding a 100-150 run first innings lead. The next batsman in was Shaun Marsh, who has been dropped more times than a slip chance to Ian Bell and has a Test average of just 36.00. Unfortunately for England, he looked in good form and they seemed to have no answers. Australia were helped by loose bowling which meant that Moeen Ali wasn’t able to concentrate his bowling against the left-handed Marsh.

The other significant factor is that England have not shown the ability to take wickets with the old Kookaburra ball so far in this tour. Even against very inexperienced “Cricket Australia XI” teams, the bowlers couldn’t make frequent breakthroughs. Against the highest rated batsman in the world (and Shaun Marsh), those difficulties seem even more acute. Unless England coax some reverse swing from the ball, they appear to be waiting for the second new ball to actually make some progress in the game.

And so it went that Smith and Marsh batted for 37 overs through the evening session, all the way through to Stumps. England managed to rein the scoring in at least after the Australians started scoring quite quickly early on in the partnership.

The day ended with Australia 165/4. On paper they’d still be considered behind England, especially with their relatively weak tail, but I won’t feel in any way confident until England can get Steve Smith out. He looked in awesome form today, and that will worry England for the series ahead. Apparently Smith averages 95 once he passes 20 runs, so England have to find a way to get him out early several times this series to keep Australia’s talismanic batsman out of the picture. It’s not looking good for that plan so far…

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