After three days of largely attritional cricket, this match remains in the balance heading into the fourth day. Yet if England were fractionally ahead before yesterday, Australia are a little further in front today. Steve Smith’s patient century ground down England’s bowlers, before Josh Hazlewood bowled with more intent and hostility than anyone else has managed on this still placid surface to rip out a couple of wickets before England had wiped off the deficit.
England are effectively 7-2, and the third innings of a tight contest is the one where all the pressure is on the batting side – particularly as time begins to run out in the game. It is impossible to see England getting into a position where they could declare with any reasonable expectation of winning, and so their best chance is to be bowled out. But being bowled out will be forefront of their minds, which is why the third knock becomes so pressurised – score runs, don’t get becalmed, don’t take risks and don’t get out. England have got stuck on many an occasion when faced with that conundrum, reducing themselves to a strokeless defence that brings defeat anyway. Quite simply, they have to score runs.
The loss of Cook in the gloaming was probably more symbolic than anything else. He hasn’t looked in good form, and his record away from home over the last couple of years has been modest to say the least. Yet his wicket, along with Root’s, is still the most prized by opponents, and still the one that sends the most tremors through supporters in a position such as this one. The manner of his dismissal has been criticised by some, excused by others, but as ever the problem with Cook is not the cricket, it is the double standards applied. The hook shot was on, and there was absolutely nothing reckless about him playing it. He just played it poorly, and was caught. That happens to every player, where many get annoyed is that others doing the same thing receive bucketloads of opprobrium where Cook does not.
Even so, being out hooking is certainly no worse than the leaden footed push to which he was out in the first innings. He appears to once again be struggling with his technique – the familiar problem of his head going too far across, his front foot taking a step rather than a stride, and his back leg coming round to prevent himself toppling over. That’s why he ends up front on rather than side on and is so prone to being caught behind. He’s a player who spends his time battling his technique constantly, and has been here before, managing to put it right. The worry is that being in this place at the start of a series doesn’t bode well for the rest of it. He knows his game, and England will be praying he can make the adjustment, otherwise this is going to prove a very long tour.
That’s in the past as far as this game is concerned. The reality is that the ever critical first session here is one in which Australia can win the game. But last night’s hostility was with a new ball, one which will just be starting to lose its shine and hardness. The pitch remains slow, and the demons can only be in English minds. England are more than capable of getting a score here, and more than capable of putting Australia under real stress. The doubts surround England’s ability to withstand the pressure, rather than their ability to bat on this pitch. There is certainly the batting depth needed, and if Smith is an exceptional batsman, then so is Joe Root, and England badly need him to show it.
One fly in the ointment concerns the fitness of James Anderson – something that won’t remotely matter unless England bat well – given he was seen to be touching his side before taking a painkiller and seeming to limit his bowling the rest of the day. England insist he’s fine, but they do have a track record of not telling the whole truth (rightly so, in a match situation where there’s no need to give the opposition reason to cheer), and if Anderson really is struggling, it dramatically affects England’s chances, even if they do get a half reasonable total. Add to that the whispers about Moeen Ali’s fitness and if there’s anything in that, then a draw might represent the best England can hope for.
If England have a good day, then this game is well and truly on. But if they have so much as a bad hour, then it’s probably game over. There is some bad weather around, particularly tomorrow, which could also change the dynamic.
One last point about this game, just imagine for a moment that some of those who should know better had got their way and this was a four day Test.
As with yesterday, we’ll be live blogging the events for as long as we stay awake. The “we” refers to three of us, the other is showing worrying signs of being a vampire, and Danny will undoubtedly be the last one standing. As ever, come and join us for as long as you are able, and as long as we can keep our eyes open.
19:43 I don’t know about you lot, but I’m going to the pub…
19:58 Dmitri on his own as his beloved is going back to her homeland to meet her relatives. So, I look wistfully towards Brisbane for your now regular early evening snapshot from the Bureau of Meteorology:
20:03 Anyone a Telegraph subscriber to let us know the latest stunning insight from Shiny Toy?
21:11 While watching the Iron Bowl (look it up, and also check out the youtube clip of the Kick Six), let’s think back to some Day 4s at the Gabba. First up, and you are probably getting fed up with me going on about it, 2002. Matthew Hayden completed his second century of the match (it’s the picture in today’s header) and below. There’s a moment where Sir Peter is filming me for his tour video (no release) where I am reviewing the papers and you hear a huge crack of bat on ball. It’s Hayden hitting the first ball Craig White bowls for six. We left at lunchtime to meet Sir Peter’s mate down at the Gold Coast, and England collapsed. Our Day 5 tickets never mattered.
21:21 2006 and it’s a tale of missing it all. I was on a Singapore Airlines flight on the way to Adelaide to see the second test, and the first I heard of the day’s play came on the walkway at Changi. Four wickets lost at the end of play. 90 odd for Collingwood, KP in the 90s. Maybe the first three days were just a figment of our imagination or a rusty start. We might lose, but at least not without a fight. Good signs. Well, that’s what we thought.
21:31 Ah. Day 4 in 2010. One wicket lost all day, centuries for Strauss and Cook, the game made safe. I watched pretty much all of it that night. You actually never felt the Aussies were going to take a wicket. I have the whole of that day on DVD. Actually the whole series. It gets aired a bit.
21:37 It is pretty interesting to me that I have virtually no recollections of the early parts of the 2013/14 Ashes. None. So we may have taken the Brisbane test to the 4th day, but I just don’t remember. Now, if I were a member of some of the punditry that would be enough. But we don’t do that here. I have the highlights on my portable hard drive. We started at 24/2 with Cook and KP at the crease. They took it to 72/2 before KP holed out to long leg, so we’ll be looking up some of the match reports on that! England were bowled out for 179, Johnson took five wickets. We lost by a distance. You know the rest.
21:44 John Etheridge has noticed.
A “slow decline”. Well, it’s better for them to acknowledge it now, I suppose. And man alive, I smiled at this:
“Cook has three centuries in his last 54 Test innings spread across two years. If you want to look further, it is six hundreds in 105 innings stretching back to the summer of 2013.”
They don’t read us. Try the no centuries in 31 Ashes innings while you are at it, John.
21:52 Iron Bowl looks a great game – 7-7. #WarEagle . Back at the cricket, the fourth day in 1986 was one of attrition and at the end, worry for England. Having made Australia follow on, England took half of the wickets they needed, but at 243/5, the Aussies were in the lead and had an unbeaten centurion (Geoff Marsh) still there. Contrary to some people who said overseas cricket was never on terrestrial, Day 5 was covered live in the UK on BBC (introduced, if I recall correctly by David Icke).
22:22 Day 4 in 1982/3, and Graeme Fowler bats for just shy of six hours to make 83 and at least give England an opportunity to set the Aussies a meaningful target. 279 for 7, 208 runs in a day, Thomson taking five wickets. We may talk about Day 5 tomorrow.
22:50 The pre-match hour will be taken over by Sean, who has assured us his levels of light refreshment were not at last night’s level. That’s nice. Meanwhile there’s a Maxie sighting in the comments. He’s also been all over Twitter. Follow him. The Mentor.
22:53 Dmitri leaves you with memories of 1994. On the 4th day of Brisbane I woke up and England were 211 for 2. Thorpe and Hick with a really good partnership to give us a chance of saving the game. What we wouldn’t give for such resistance today. I’m pessimistic. Of course I am. Anyway, take it away Sean……
22:56 Good evening everyone (said in my best Richie Benaud accent). Apologies for my absence yesterday, I had one too many light refreshments at a leaving do and could only manage ‘pitch the fecking ball up you feckers’ by way of insight…
22:59 Not that i promise to that much more insightful this evening before you get your hopes up…
23:05 So what does everyone think we need? My own personal opinion is that a lead of 280 is the minimum requirement especially with fitness doubts over Jimmy and Moeen. If we lose a couple of wickets in the first hour, we could be cannon fodder.
23:18 Could be a bit of weather around today, wonder if that might juice up the pitch..
23:25 In other news, Danny should be just waking up now..
23:27:Really interesting comment from Maxie BTL re: BT Sport production. I think in general (from the small bits I’ve seen) is that it’s pretty slick; unfortunately it’s let down by poor personnel choices. I dare anyone to listen to Graeme Swann for half an hour and not feel slightly homicidal. It also shows how good Ian Ward is in my opinion.
23:37 I do have to concede having watched the highlights this afternoon that the Steve Smith innings was something special. With the technique he has honed, it really doesn’t seem logical that he can score runs, let alone be so consistently good but fair play to him, he was a class apart yesterday. Even if he has a tiny head..
23:49 I still randomly like Boycott’s commentary. There I’ve said it, it feels like a dirty secret…
23:58 Here we go then, can England get through the first session unscathed…
00:00 FIRST BALL and left alone
00:02 Alison Mitchell & Punter heading up the commentary. Perhaps Lovejoy has tonsillitis (says a little prayer)..
00:09 I’ve genuinely been amazed that Starc has been identified as the key Australian threat with the ball. For me Hazlewood is their gun bowler, despite his poor show in the first innings. His spell last night was unplayable at times.
00:13 This pitch doesn’t look like it has any demons in it, Root looks in decent touch too. I wonder how much spin might play a part later on. Lyon outbowled Moeen big time in the first innings.
00:18 Ricky Ponting is a very good commentator, no laddish jokes, just insightful opinion. He’ll never get a job on Channel 9 mind.
00:25 Australia’s attack looks a little toothless this morning. The pitch is still slow, but equally England have silenced the crowd in the first half hour. I wonder how long before Cummins is bought into the attack?
00:27 Oh feck, Swann is alive and well and joined by Shiny Toy. Might have to put the TV on mute…
00:32 An update on TLG, he’s just finished his Lambrini in the local park in Sussex and is off for a dirty donner. More on that later…
00:36 First over from Lyon, no real spin so far. Cummins at the other looks far more of a threat. If you’d have offered me this at the start of the day’s play, I’d have snapped your hand off
00:47 Some discontent about scoring rates BTL. I must admit that I’m delighted by this start. We all know that Kookaburra ball goes soft after 20 overs and there’s the option of increasing the scoring rate. I’d be very happy if England batted all day, but then i did worry we’d be blown away in the 3rd innings…
00:49 WICKET: Stoneman edges one off Lyon to slip. Australia’s bowling has looked innocuous all morning, but that was a decent delivery
00:52 TBF to Swann, he has got it spot on there. It was the arm ball at the end of the last over that led to some doubt in Stoneman’s mind. I just wish Swann would concentrate on commentating based on his own experience as a spinner. Rather than trying to be the funniest man in the world.
00:57 England looking nervous after that wicket. Cummins and Lyon both bowling well.
00:59, TLG is back from the park and is ready to take over. He has informed me that he wouldn’t feed Lambrini to his butler but the bottle of Blue Nun was lovely. Anyway, over to Chris…
01:00 Where I live we don’t have parks; we have countryside. Anyway…
Even with the loss of Stoneman, this has been a positive start from England today. They’re pushing for runs, being busy. The point about Root is that if he stays in, he will score. That’s probably the most striking thing about him. Lyon does look dangerous to the lefties though.
01:03 I need to ask a question. Who is reading the updates? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
01:12 Bueller’s taken a day off it seems. 70-3, a lead of 44. At what point will Australia start to get twitchy I wonder. If they put on 50 for this wicket, I suspect they’ll start getting concerned. In a compacted second half of the game like this, smaller numbers count for more.
01:15 Awww Trev….
01:18 WICKET! Malan goes to Lyon. One of those with loop and bounce and turn, that is so hard for the left hander. No blame, but England are 48 ahead and now four wickets down. Root is still there, but someone needs to stay with him.
01:21 Given how hard it is, I suspect Moeen might try and counter attack. Probably not the worst idea either. There are stories going around that he has a problem with his finger, hampering his bowling. The official line is that he was a blister.
01:29 England’s lead is now up to 57, but of course they’ve lost two wickets this morning. Not enough runs, clearly, but neither have they collapsed (yet) so far. Another 100 gives England a slight chance, another 150 and it’s game on. England are well in the game, but it would probably be an idea to build a partnership sooner rather than later.
01:42 Runs are flowing a touch. Both Root and Moeen are playing a few shots – not recklessly, but they’re looking to score. This partnership is 28 from 33 balls, and that has to be what England need to do. It might not come off, but it’s more than worth a go.
01:48 Watching the groundstaff smack down the bowlers’ footmarks reminds me of how we used to wind up the bowlers about their preference for one end. “Oh I can’t bat at that end, it just doesn’t feel right. No, no, I can only bat at the other end. You don’t understand, it’s totally different”.
01:51 I don’t want to tempt fate, but Moeen is starting to tick here….
01:52 50! WICKET! Joe Root out in similar fashion to the first innings, and it looked very, very out on first viewing.
02:01 And that’ll be lunch. 119-5 means a lead of 93, and frankly, it’s not remotely enough. Still two frontline batsmen in of course, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali, the latter of which is clearly itching to go after the Australians. But another 100 would be needed to really make the hosts sweat a little, and that seems a long way off yet. It’s possible mind, it really is possible. But it’s heading towards the outer edge of what’s possible. Hope is the last thing to die…
02:11 Truly joyous moment in the lunch break where Swann berated the England left handers for not formulating a plan against Nathan Lyon while Geoff Boycott adopted his ‘You’re talking total shit, Swann’ expression. “I’m not sure I agree with that….” he politely said.
Keep your eye on Boycott’s expression.
02:30 There’s something particularly endearing about hearing Australians describe the Gabba as the fairest cricket wicket in the world, given how it’s 30 years since they’ve lost a Test there. Irony deficiency is entertaining to watch.
02:38 Players coming back out. This next session is crucial. Crucial I tell you! Or maybe vital. Definitely crucial though.
02:43 Moeen isn’t going to die wondering. First he comes down the track and belts Lyon over long on for four, then he goes down on one knee and nails a sweep through square leg. And the lead goes over 100.
02:55 Interesting to see Australia move a little on the defensive after a flurry of runs after lunch. Fielders disappearing out to the boundary suggests that the hosts are a tiny bit nervous about chasing any kind of reasonable total. 112 ahead.
03:06 This is good stuff from these two. Rotating the strike, picking up the singles, and then Bairstow sashays down the track and plants Lyon over deep midwicket for six. The lead goes to 123, and if Australia aren’t getting nervous yet, there’s definitely a bit of a twitch going on.
03:15 This Test is just starting to get fascinating. These two have turned a disastrous position into one of, well not promise exactly, but possibilities certainly. I’m going to quit while I’m ahead, and leave you in Danny’s company…
0319 Danny here, taking you through the graveyard shift. Promising session so far from England, but years of supporting them has told me that it’s the hope that make it hurt more…
0322 WICKET I think we can all agree that this was thelegglance’s fault. Moeen Ali plays forwards to a Lyon delivery which goes past the bat, and Tim Paine removes the stumps. Australia appeal, and after several replays the 3rd umpire gives him out as his back foot was on but not behind the line.
0335 Woakes is in, but not looking confident so far. England’s lead is just 132 and I fear this game might be over tonight.
0407 Australia keeping England very quiet, but no more wickets have fallen. Smith comes on to bowl, the first time he’s done so in a Test since January this year, which is surprising because Australia have toured both India and Bangladesh since then.
0427 WICKET Woakes attempts to defend a short ball from Mitchell Starc, but it slides off the shoulder of his bat to Smith at second slip. England lead by 159 with 7 wickets down.
0438 WICKET You understand that when batting with the tail, perhaps you should be more attacking. There is such a thing as too attacking though, and a prime example is this shot by Bairstow. Apparently looking to guide a short, wide ball from Starc over the slips, he instead sends it straight to third man with a shot more reminiscent of catching practice than Test cricket. England lead by 168 with 2 wickets remaining.
0444 WICKET 4 balls later from Starc and he bowls a full one outside off stump to Stuart Broad. The batsman plays inside it, and gets the faintest of nicks to the wicketkeeper. The umpire gave it not out, but Australia used a DRS appeal and both there was both a sound and a faint mark on HotSpot so he had to go.
0449 WICKET A bouncer from Cummins to tailender Jake Ball, who gets a glove on it and the ball loops behind the wicketkeeper where Handscomb catches it. England lost their last 4 wickets for just 4 runs, and Australia have a target of 169 runs with a minimum of 32 left in the day.
0509 All that typing has tired me out, so here’s Dmitri to open the Australian 2nd innings.
0510 Cheers Danny. 90 minutes sleep woken up by an absolute turd cold calling my number. I tried to get back to sleep, but gave up and am now assisting our night owl. Anderson’s first over is a maiden.
0513 Mitchell on comms says Warner can make any small total look inadequate through aggressive batting. That’s because that attitude is encouraged. I’ve not seen YJB’s dismissal yet, but he’s being crucified on social media as Cook was last night and all through Saturday. Warner off the mark 1st ball. Bancroft follows him second ball. Warner takes a single third ball. All runs we should not be conceding. A boundary off the 5th ball and you can almost sense a slump in the shoulders. 7/0
0518 I remember the Gabba run chase in 1990. When they won by 10 wickets after we chucked away a decent position. The only time the team with a first innings lead has lost at Brisbane. A beauty fifth ball does not catch the edge. England need an early breakthrough, if that ain’t stating the bloody obvious. 8/0 after the third over.
0524 Better over so far, with a play and miss (and hopeful appeal) by Warner. They know they need to see off Broad and Anderson because the support bowling is a massive drop-off. Maiden for Broad. 8/0. As Mitchell just said.
0527 I’m not sure I can put up with KP’s commentary at this time of the morning. Bancroft squirts one through the gully for a four off the fourth ball. Anderson throws the ball at the opener the following ball but no fuss. End of the over and it is 12/0.
0531 Warner dinks one into the offside off the second ball of Broad’s third over for one. In Nagpur Virat Kohli has just gone through to his 19th test ton and you sense pulling away from Root (with Smith) at the top table of world batting. Broad’s over goes for 1, and it is 13/0. And I have to listen to Ray Winstone missing nuffink.
0535 and if that deep cover wasn’t there it would be 20/0. But anyway, no alarms so far. As i write that there is an LBW appeal fourth ball is too high and isn’t reviewed. One run from the over and it is 14/0.
0539 Bowling well without threatening, and some odd field placings so far, as Warner drops one into the leg side for a single off the second ball. One off that one, 15 for 0. Looks like, at this rate, we’ll be back tomorrow.
0545 Vaughan states the effing obvious that England need a wicket – we need 10 Shiny Toy. Warner takes a single off the third ball. He seems to have rumbled, Shiny, that is that the Aussies don’t rate our change bowlers and are just seeing off the openers. Bancroft takes a sharp single off the last ball to take Australia to 17/0.
0549 Another sharp single off the second ball of Broad’s over. This is annoying me more than anything, as it releases the pressure the bowlers are building, such as it is. A leg bye off the fifth with an appeal that was, sadly, nonsense. And the final ball of the over has another one of those bloody singles. 20/0, Anderson off and Moeen Ali on.
0553: Ali’s first ball is nudged for a single by Bancroft. Plus ca change. KP says Cook is the main concern. Another single off the third ball. Another bloody single off the 5th ball. KP is intimating Cook’s lost his mojo and his drive. Moeen’s first over ends, three runs from it. 23/0.
0557 PUJARA GONE FOR 143. Is that real?
0558 Woakes on for Broad. I don’t think it is a matter of Cook (who they are talking about) not caring, it’s that he is in decline. Appeal from behind the wicket off the fourth ball, but it’s not out. Maiden from Woakes. 23/0 from 12 overs. Minimum 22 to go. Sod off Kamara.
0602 Another bloody single off the third ball, again straight to a fielder. This is like the Old Jos, and no-one is mentioning it. After saying that Bancroft doesn’t know whether to stick or twist, Swann is made to look a little silly as the opener smacks a straight six. 30/0.
0606 Warner pulls the second ball of the over for a couple. He might not have hit a boundary but looks very comfortable to me. Nicks/glides the next one for four through third man. Actually probably a great shot. Cook “won’t say boo to a goose” says Lovejoy, which, I am sure, is why he should have remained captain for all those years. Warner has another single to point. I see it is the Buckethead Army this year as a promotion – it was Boony Army when I was out there. I love Aussie advertising. 37/0
0610 Excitement Machine Warner is tied down, but then cuffs a shot down the ground for four. I can sense the Moeen debate resurfacing. A single off the last ball and it is 41/0. And after my typing torrent, it is the more measured words of Danny for the rest of the day’s play. Get me a wicket Danny!
0615 I have to say that my last spell was terrible for England, so I wouldn’t expect anything.
0626 8 runs off the last Moeen Ali over, but it looks like Australia are happy to play steadily and come back tomorrow to finish things off.
0640 Nope, that’s all I can stand tonight, I’m off to bed.
1010 Dmitri back again with the end of play / chronic lack of sleep round-up. Danny will be producing a more full review of the day, so I thought I’d get in my twopenny worth.
This was stunningly predictable. I think something, a little bit, should be made about the lack of preparation on suitable playing surfaces and oppositions, because the team came in cold. That only goes so far. The players want shorter tours, they are on a treadmill and so on. The second, and much more important point, is that the team picked was so predictably going to pull up short. There’s not a lot that can be done about that either. The new intake are not as good as the old stagers, and it is showing. Stoneman, for instance, is getting praised to the hilt for basically giving us Michael Carberry returns. Vince makes 83, but that second innings dismissal didn’t look like a number 3 to me. Malan is going to tempt us, but fall short. We are greeting 50s like hundreds. And the world and his wife can see four right arm seamers is not the greatest variety. But let’s have the full inquest on another day.
Australia played really sensibly and not a lot could have changed the outcome once chasing a small total like this. What ground my gears is the way the two openers early in the innings were allowed to milk singles straight to fielders with no real chance of a run out. If we did that at schoolboy cricket we’d be told off. Come in a few paces. It’s just me, then.
Also, pace made the difference? I’m not totally buying that. The tail have taken to Starc and Hazlewood before so why worry now? One silly shot from YJB and everyone is in meltdown about the tail? Small sample size. Let us judge at the end of the tour.
So, in the words of Norwegian electronic music stars Royksopp, the Inevitable End will take place within an hour of the start of play and Australia will go 1-0 up. After the lack of sleep, was it all worth it. Of course it was, because for 3 and a half days it was a thoroughly absorbing test match. That’s the really important thing. There’s not a lot better in sport. The result is probably the cricket equivalent of the rugby international the week before. The better team won, the margin of victory could look a little flattering.
Wake up Danny (actually don’t, stay asleep). You review is awaited. I know I share my co-editors’ views that we owe our new man a lot for staying up through the night and producing the updates. Live blogging seems to have gone down well. We will see what we can do in the next tests.
It’s cliche time, but if they treat every ball on its merits, and are able to take it a session at a time, there’s no reason why they can’t bat out the day. As you say, the pitch isn’t particularly lively, and the ball will soften pretty quickly. There are 3 experienced test batsmen with many big scores, two Ashes debutants who did fine on day one, Woakes, who we know is better than his first innings shot, and Broad, who can bat.
Lyon worries me. He’s been beating the bat a lot. I don’t believe you are ‘due’ luck, but cricket is about fine margins. If he takes, rather than beats, a couple of edges early on today, England are in trouble.
Have a good evening one and all, and see you in the morning.
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2010 was a day of unfolding amazement. And the knowledge as I drifted in and out of sleep that they just weren’t going to get out. It was wonderful.
Is it wrong that, even though I was a fervent England fan at the time, my one and only abiding memory of Day 4 in 2010 is Nasser Hussain’s chair crushing David Gower’s foot?
That was extremely funny.
I just looked it up. It is *still* extremely funny.
Oh yes. As I recall, the ‘aaaaarrrrgghh’ was unexplained for a couple of minutes, as I remember wondering what on earth had happened
Nice post, chaps.
I’m interested in talking about the coverage by BT Sport – apologies if this has already been discussed at length on previous posts.
Now this may not be a popular view, but I think BT are doing a surprisingly good job so far. For a brand new operation, the coverage feels slick, relaxed, and authoritative. They’ve also resisted the temptation to indulge in gimmickry – a trap new rights-holders often fall into. It’s easy to try too hard to try to be too clever, or try too hard.
It takes time for any team of producers and commentators to mesh and gel, which is why I’m impressed so far, because the coverage doesn’t feel stilted, contrived or awkward – it sounds and feels pretty ‘knocked in’, if that makes sense.
Dmitri, on the first night you and I agreed that the commentators were talking far too much. This was and remains true, but it’s a fairy easy thing to fix as the production beds in. The other, linked, failing is that Michael Vaughan, Graeme Swann, and especially Alison Mitchell are still in radio mode, and as a result are over-describing things and stating the obvious.
Swann – natch – is my least favourite of the commentators, but (and again this may not be a popular view), I quite like Vaughan as a broadcaster. Ponting and Fleming are good, Gilchrist is tolerable, and Boycott, even at 77, remains a wonderful commentator.
Overall, the commentary has a refreshingly different feel from Sky – less boorish and blokey, less insular and jingoistic. Best of all, of course, is the total absence of Ian Botham.
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Did you ever do sport production? Just wondering
Yes, although I’ve not produced cricket on TV.
I wasn’t sure if you had or not. Can you give us any insight on what it’s like when you take something over?
I can’t claim to have direct comparable experience, but what I do know is that when you take something over there’s an implicit and often explicit pressure to ‘raise the bar’ and offer something new, inventive and fresh. In sport this can be very dangerous, because what viewers want is actually very simple – they want to see the action, without too much fuss or messing about. They don’t want gimmicks, but because of this pressure we end up with things like – do you remember Andy Townsend’s Tactics Truck when ITV took over Premiership highlights? Or the disaster which was Wimbledon 2day?
Anyway, credit to BT Sport for avoiding gimmicks and going for a strategy of keeping it simple, relaxed and professional.
It’s much better in broadcast sport to be dull but effective than flashy and annoying. This virtue goes generally unrecognised.
The other aspect is that it’s a brand new team, as I mentioned before, and everyone – the producers, gallery directors, and the commentary team, all have to get used to each other’s rhythms and nuances. Which takes time.
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Thank you, interesting to get the perspective from within.
Er – what happened to my comment? Did it need moderation?
Maxie!!! No, this is the first one that came through. As if we’d moderate you? When are you going to pen a rant for us?
It went into spam, no idea why. Now released…..
Thanks! Sorry. I don’t mind being moderated – was just worried I’d messed it up this end as WordPress didn’t like my e-mail address.
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He’s got a cracking holiday album. All pictures of sports stadiums and transport to and from said stadiums.
Can’t see The Mail allowing him and Samuel to stay for the whole jolly of the tour. They need them back to cover the greatest league in the world.
Maxine – to hear from you again.
Here is my prediction for today. I’m sorry but it’s very pessimistic. I will be delighted to be proved wrong.
There are six sessions left in this match, and unless the weather washes away two of them I believe England will lose. Even if they bat the day, and it’s a gigantic IF, I doubt they will score at a rate that will put the game safe. Particularly if both Anderson and Ali are carrying injuries.
I would remind everyone that on the second morning we started 4 down, and were bowled out at lunch time. We have two wickets more this time, but not a lead of 196. This test match just seems to have slipped away from England’s grasp. The pitch was not as fast as we feared, and the rookies played better than we could have hoped. But the big players Cook, Root, Bairstow didn’t perform first time round. Cook has already gone in the second dig.
Iam expecting an early night. I think it may well have been decided in all but name by lunch time. So there will be no point staying up for the last rights. We will see. If England fight, and bat the day it will be a great effort. If they get out of Brisbane without losing it will be a huge advantage for the chances of retaining the ashes. Can they do it? I doubt it. Happy to be proved wrong.
You don’t need me to point out that you were correct.
I disagree with Mark re scoring rate. If Root can stay in he is usually busy enough to score at a reasonable rate.
As an optimist (who is too tired to stay up after one late night I am hoping to find we have managed to bat all day.
The pitch doesn’t look too bad and whilst Lyon is looking good by having it turn and bounce, hopefully the pace of the pitch will negate this for the proper batsmen.
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I will be delighted if you are right!
Bright start at least.
Seems like Root and Stoneman are in one day mode.
I’ll stick to my argument England need runs first and foremost. Root always scores quickly.
If England can keep the scoreboard ticking over at some point Australia will have to revert to defensive mode to restrict the lead. I think will help England further if that happens.
Could you imagine sticking up a story about an 80s footballer mid-way through an England World Cup football match.
Cricket to his bootstraps.
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In total agreement
Pray he doesn’t go off to commentate on the BBL when it starts like he did last winter.
Good start. Punter disappointed by the Aussie attack this morning. As someone said previously, he and Alison are good listening.
Must pop in and out – booking for Tesco Christmas delivery slots opens tonight
But he did it without the Boycott drone, and jeepers he drones on, as if cricket is a fight with the neighbour, and he does it without the Botham impatience and snorting. It was anger, but focused and informative.
Liked him from Day 1 on commentary as much as I loathed him as a player (and I did).
Anyone else think that while in Australia, Root should banish all thoughts of driving off the back foot until he’s got 150?
Nervous of the Tundra.
If Stoneman doesn’t make a hundred in this innings, it will be the 14th consecutive Ashes Test in which no England opener has made a hundred. The last was Joe Root’s in 2013/14.
You want context though, right? Going back to 1981, the longest run without an Ashes century from an England opener was between Gooch at Old Trafford in 1993 and Mark Butcher at Brisbane in 1998/99. It was 16 Tests. (Gooch made his century at Trent Bridge from no.5)
So, in an era where our highest-ever run scorer is an opener, we’re in a barren spell almost comparable to the uniquely terrible 90s (TM). Funny old world.
Root. 2013. Lord’s. 180. Origin of tedious Twitter hashtag. F**k knows why I wrote 2013/14 after spending twenty minutes researching this!
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Conn’s given up on the Aussies already.
“00:36 First over from Lyon, no real spin so far. Cummins at the other looks far more of a threat. If you’d have offered me this at the start of the day’s play, I’d have snapped your hand off”
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About bloody time. Maybe Australia will switch on now.
Don’t agree that Aus should be bouncing them again, because it worked well last night. Nothing wrong with reverting to a fuller length if you think that’s what is needed at this point.
Do agree though that neither here nor there balls and lack of intensity is unacceptable.
When you get a dismissal like Stoneman’s, it makes my blood absolutely boil at Cook and his awful choice of shot yesterday. Stoneman’s wicket (which was, after all, just a wicket – it happens) shows you simply can’t get away with dismissals like Cook’s and compete.
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Umm, Root looks like he’s in a fair bit of pain too. England’s medical department looking great again…
Morning! (Well, it is 1:15am) – It’s alright Chris, I’m reading the updates..but heading for the TMS pillow shortly
Is Root fully fit? Not like England need another injury concern…
Lyon bowling well but making him look like Murali at Galle.
Time to head for the (bed)covers…
Beads of sweat on your brow
the temperature’s hot
It’s a good length
ready for a shot
backlift defined, limbs all aligned
timing in place
concentration on your face
thrusting forward in an arc
sweetly connected, field dissected
straight through the covers
over the rope to bounteous applause
much more to come
can you cope with some more?
a flashing blade,a willow wand
magically waved, hands wrapped in a bond
flowing strokes, continue apace
sheer delight upon your face
lift your eyes, awaiting more
then you awake in a sweat
the only covers, are on the floor…
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Dayly shot of culture – ta!
Ps – With Stokes not playing, “strokes” had to move mid-verse hey..:)
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Thanks Bored, Perhaps it’s more a case of Cooking up a daily uncultured shot at the Mo’? 🙂
England looking fairly awful at the moment
Yikes. Lyon looking really good – spin, bounce and lefties!
Interesting that Root is in the same situation as Smith was and is looking good now. Moeen seems pretty relaxed
When has Moeen not been relaxed?? He’s so laid back he’s horizontal.
TBF, Moeen is probably the one English batsman I’d want to be facing Lyon
Think Swann has been massively unfair on Malan on that dismissal. He’s spent most of the last three days saying Lyon needed to attack the stumps – that pitched middle and off.
And wish he’d stop talking about bloody bodyline.
Root and Moeen making it look distinctly easy against the quicks at the moment.
Ah…two balls later…
Never tempt the cricket gods.
Pretty much what I feared. 3 wickets gone this morning. Lyon looking very dangerous. Not completely over, but very little chance of batting the day now. These two will have to bat till tea to give England any hope.
That extra 100 runs, and extra session I felt England missed out on in the first innings looks like coming back to haunt them. Oh well, off to bed.
Just got woken up by some mindless cold call prick. Happened twice in the last few weeks in the early hours.
Score hasn’t cheered me up either!
What was Bairstow thinking – the Aussies need some catching practice? What a waste, he was batting really well.
We’ve turned a test class batsman in to… something else.
Just one of them had to convert their start into an 80. Just not quite enough to create pressure. A fast start by Warner and it’s game over.
And now Cummins………………
And England are “goings”.
England’s tail blown away again. A few people posted comments before the series saying that England had the better lower order. That struck me as rather optimistic given not only the extra pace of the Australian fast bowlers but also the fact that both Cummins and Starc are actually quite useful with the bat. I know they’re aren’t picked for their batting but they have to do better than that if we are to win the series.
A small sample size over two innings on a peculiar wicket. But yes, until we get evidence otherwise this is what we have.
Cummins’s 42 supporting Smith was absolutely priceless.
It’s Tea. I think I can speak for all England followers when I say fuck, bollocks, shit.
Going to bed now.
Shall wake to hilarious Aussie collapse.
Ouch, thats gotta hurt. Console yourself with the fact it was inevitable. England is outgunned. Resistence is futile. Hope is cruel and misleading.
Im not winding you up. You will enjoy it more with lower expectations.
We are soooo not outgunned. Not because we have many guns, but because Australia don’t. In fact, there are more guns at a Texas baby shower than on display in Brisbane.
Smith is a big dirty howitzer of a gun, that’s undeniable, but we’ve really been done by the surprise hidden gun in the ladies handbag of a #9 batsman, and the perennially underestimated air rifle that is Nathan Lyon.
The best pace bowlers on display? Anderson and Broad, but the knowledge you don’t have to score off them and just see off each spell neutered them considerably. The most skittish batsman? Our two best. Biggest disappointment? Our second inning, led by Cook, and the absence of Stokes which seems to also have the effect of taking Jonny B out of the game.
Hindsight also tells us our best bowler on that pitch was Jack Leach.
It’s not so much ‘hope’, Fred, but that I know we can do better.
Meanwhile 19th hundred for virat. Of course, he is not as good as sunny or even Sachin as they played against better bowling but that is not his problem.
He is still weak when the ball swings and seams but given the current inclination to produce pitches that last 5 days in countries with such conditions, likely that he will continue to churn out Hundreds.
His love and respect for test cricket is keeping Indian cricket healthy and though he is prone to erratic behavior which I don’t like, respect his commitment and seriousness about the game.
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Was there any criticism in India of the timing of his declaration in the First Test?
Not really. No one barring a great seer would have expected SL to fold and be @ 75/7 over just 25+ overs.
There were some murmurs when he allowed rohit to get to a 100 though against SL this time. I can understand his logic. Rahane seems unable to buy a run and in any case Rohit maybe needed for cover in the away tests and so he probably wanted him to have a longer hit.
Kohli is very very keen to perform in the away tours as a team. India may succeed or fail but for the first time we have a captain who think he has a serious chance of winning and looks at the away tours as an opportunity.
The rest is in the lap of the gods. 🙂
Q, time for rain dance at the end of the day?
You forget i live on the tundra. Any rain dance this time of year produces 30cms of snow. I’d rather lose the test.
I’ve seen this before. Is it just a bad repeat?
Interesting comparison between kohli, smith, root and williamson over the last two years (excluding the current tests going on ind sl and oz eng)
Kohli has the highest average of the four but has been the least consistent of the four just 10 scores over 50 out of 32 innings (31%) . But of those 10, 8 have been hundreds. (80%)
Smith is close to Kohli’s average 68.xx to kohli’s 71.xx but has made 15 scores over 50 in 33 innings (45%). 8 of them have been hundreds (53%)
Root and Kane fall well below in averages.
Root has played 46 innings but has been pretty consistent with 21 innings over 50.(46%).But only 5 out of 21 have become 100s. (24%). Given his consistency, he has a good chance of being as good as smith if he is able to figure out what causes him to lose concentration and give his wicket away.
Kane has played 25 and has made 11 scores over 50 out of these (44%). But has made 4 hundreds only (36%)
So, Virat is actually the least consistent but where he brings a big advantage to India is that once he has crossed 50, tends to make a hundred almost certainly.
Smith is of course ideal from the consistency perspective and his conversion from 50s to 100s is also good which is why he should be the first in the rankings of most cricket fans.
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I’ve kept to myself, because I’ve felt like I’ve been banging on the same old issue for years now. But here we are again. We only succeed Down Under when we pick bowlers that suit the terrain. There’s an irony to me that the selectors were able to think that way about the batting (e.g. Vince who I wasn’t sure about, but I did appreciate the logic) but never about bowling.
It’s probably going to have to wait until Jimmy retires isn’t it?
And why am I talking about bowling after yet another crappy batting performance? Well, maybe, just maybe we need to acknowledge that on these pitches wicket taking threat makes a lot of difference to how much pressure the batsmen are under. 1st innings at least we under performed with the bat a bit, but also with the ball.
One word on the batting – time to replace Cook, he’s not going to do it against this bowling. I’d love to be proven wrong, but I just don’t see it.
[Of course, you can argue that one of the key figures of our last victory Down Under, Swann, is just not the kind of bowler who will come along very often. But even in that series, Tremlett was not first pick but made a huge impact.]
I do wonder that if Cook has a very poor tour, the sort that gets ordinary mortals dropped, whether we will see either, or both, of two things.
(1) The articles intimating his eyes have gone or he’s lost his desire. KP was stirring that pot last night, but he’s hardly a disinterested, or is it uninterested, witness. Lovejoy, like a modern day gentleman, threw his coat over the puddle and said KP was wrong. He also said when bemoaning the lack of leaders on the field that Cook “wouldn’t say boo to a goose”. Again, Lovejoy is a tainted witness for many reasons (one being he “exaggerates” things). But let’s see if Cook gets the free pass IF this happens. If he hits a century, then watch the media go; and/or
(2) The ECB say “Thanks, Cook” and go full in to blood youngsters for the next Ashes cycle without a senior pro, ex-captain, declining before their eyes with no certainty of making 2019 (because we are an Ashes based team, like it or not) so why keep him on? After all, that was some of the reasoning behind other players (and not just KP).
We’ve got some of them to admit he’s in decline. Now the blood is in the water, will the media beasts and pundits circle, or strike?
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Not going to happen.
Cook is now very susceptible to top quality bowling attacks. Australia have some good quicks, and a very good spinner (in Aus conditions) That is not where Cook plays most of his cricket. He plays in England against average bowling attacks.
There are very few top level test bowling attacks around the world. There is plenty more runs if he wants them. And despite the endless clap trap about how he is ever so selfless and only plays for the team first, there is a vanity about him. He was the one who was allowed to get 10,000 runs as a personal achievement. When KP talked about the same goal it was presented as an indulgence.
Many would still have him as captain even after losing 4-0 in India. “It’s up to him” was the general consensus. He will go on as long as he wants to. He gets to make his own rules. Cook is a irrelevence now. He just carries on until one day he fancies doing a bit more farming. That is the way English cricket is run.
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I don’t believe that if Cook has a series averaging low to mid 20s that the ECB bosses will take him aside. I doubt they have the backbone to do that. However I do think that if Cook goes below a level that he thinks is acceptable that he might call it quits. I take your point about easy pickings next year but even then he doesn’t consistently batter sides like he used to. The last time he scored more than one ton in a series was India in 2012. Even when the usual suspects praised his ongoing appetite after he scored the double ton v Windies it was missed that he didn’t gather many more runs in his next 4 innings when Windies resembled a more respectable bowling lineup with Shannon Gabriel. I expect continuing diminishing returns v all comers if he does continue. He even looked susceptible v seam in India last winter to the respectable but hardly amazing Shami and Yadav.
To move away from Cook, I am neither surprised that all our other players are not converting fifties or that our seam attack doesn’t have it in Oz. Perhaps one or two of the newer guard might do enough over this series to become part of the side moving forward. Yet we will still be looking to bed in at least 3 or 4 new players moving on from this series. Hopefully there is more thought about who can really make it and not be a real part of the future rather than too much at the whim of Andy Flower deciding whose face fits.
This is going to sound odd to many, but the Cook stuff this week is an over-reaction. Everyone has a bad test match. So people thinking we are blaming him for the loss are way off. I’m not even that mad at the shot he got out to. There’s a load of old bollocks going on that we need to occupy the crease and not concentrate on scoring but surviving. You aren’t going to win in Australia playing like that. Cook, when playing well, scores well.
But the press and other media seeing the light now about his decline? Ha Ha. I’m in bits. That’s why their game is in jeopardy. Why pay for this behind the curve analysis when you can get it for free from a load of jobbing amateurs?
I know what you are saying D but even the press picked up on the way he had been playing in the warm ups. He looks more fidgety earlier in his innings than he used to. I recall TLG post the other day explaining very well his technical issues. There is still time for him to pull it back of course, but I’m not much betting on it
Interesting thoughts about the bowling. Would you have picked Overton, for instance, who was loose at times in the warmup games but took a few wickets, ahead of Ball, who was being described as tight and consistent before his minor injury curtailed his preparation?
I know “bowling dry” is generally looked upon in these parts with scorn because its success led England to become a bit one-dimensional in their bowling plans, but I wouldn’t say – in the first innings at any rate, second’s been pretty disappointing – it let them down that badly. In general England showed more proactivity and thoughtfulness in the field and bowling plans than they have in some of their recent tests in Australia, although after 2013/14 I admit it’s a pretty low bar.
Besides, consider Steve Smith, without whom Australia would have struggled to get into the winning position initially: his unusual technique, combined with how superb he is playing off his pads, means that bowling at the stumps too much can be very dangerous (as opposed to a lesser player like Handscomb in this game, for instance). I’m not saying I have the answers on how to get him out, but it’s easy to say England should attack the stumps more when in Smith’s case it’s less likely to work simply because of how outstanding he is off his legs.
On a more general point, hello again everyone. Haven’t commented for a while, but I’m glad (not saying this to sound trite) to see the fire and passions haven’t subsided. Cricket is nothing without people who care, whether they’re happy or unhappy about what they’re seeing.
I think the criticisms of “bowling dry” around here have been a bit more nuanced than a blanket scorn for the idea. In particular:
1) It felt too much in the past like Plan A and not Plan C or D when other more attacking ideas had been exhautsed.
2) It’s fair enough if your bowlers can’t do anything else in the conditions – but it felt that more attacking bowlers were never selected or too quickly sawn off because they didn’t fit in with the plan. Think of the treatment handed out at times to Finn, Tremlett, Panesar and Rashid compared to how they’d take any quarter-chance to select Bresnan (and that’s not meant to disrespect Bresnan – fully fit and in the right conditions he was well worth his place – but he was repeatedly picked when not fit [eg Perth 2013/14] or when conditions were manifestly unsuitable [eg Ahmedabad 2011/12]).
By the way, I’m sure you’re right about Smith suckering bowlers in to bowling too straight – but there’s a world of difference between bowling a fourth stump line and a fifth/sixth stump line (or bouncing it over his head for ten overs as Ball and Woakes did in that particularly wretched session of play early in the Smith-Cummins partnership. Again, I’m not against some bouncers at Smith – a mis-hook was the nearest he came to getting out – but they were obviously just trying to hide the ball and that’s not good enough at Test level).
Yeah, I may have generalised a bit unfairly – can’t really disagree with anything you’ve said here. You’re right that there’s a difference between “hiding” the ball where it isn’t really going to threaten but your economy looks a bit better and closer to the stumps where it poses more of a threat to the outside edge – I think Anderson is sometimes a bit guilty of it in particular, but several of his teammates have said he’s surprisingly defensive in his tactics. Given everything he’s achieved, you’d think he’d trust his ability a bit more – when he attacks the fourth stump line he miraculously starts picking up wickets again.
I agree with pretty much everything said in your end of post round up LCL, nothing that has happened is a surprise.
May I congratulate you all on the live-blog too, well done all, from Vampire to sticky hot wings and cold call cretins – Cheers!
I’m not adding much insight but I’ll say it anyway. 4 of our top 5 made 50s. 6 and 7 made 40. None of them cashed in.
Cook’s a problem but in Australia (and England) openers fall cheaply, often.
The failure to turn good starts into big scores cost us this match. Lyon takes some credit for that but we were authors of too much of our own misfortune.
Stories going around that Bairstow headbutted Cam Bancroft during a night out in Perth early in the tour.
Source is a FoxSports AU reporter. Fox not known for high quality cricket journalism. However if true, would be amazingly stupid in the wake of the Stokes punch.
I guess we now just wait for a tabloid to publish the grainy video of the incident.
There is a purity about the Brisbane pitch. No sideways movement, no swing, no low bounce. If you want to get wickets you have to be good. You either have to be express quick, or fantastically accurate or you have to be able to spin the ball.
Anderson and Broad bowled very accurately and economically. They got wickets in the first innings. But they are ageing, and there is no back up. We don’t have a proper spinner. We have a batsman who bowls off spin. This is acceptable in England because there is sideways movement for the seamers, and a bit of turn for the spinner. He can take a few wickets. We don’t have express pace. All our fast men are crocked. Or they don’t bat a bit.
Englands flakey top order batting means the balance of the side is always having to be determined by all rounders. We missed Stokes, we can’t fit in another bowler. A specialist spinner like Rashid. (Not that they would pick him. Face fitting is more important than being able to take wickets.).
This result will be written off just like India. We move on to perhaps more friendly
conditions. A day night game where maybe there will be more movement and swing. Conditions that will level the playing field. Its the way we play.
I actually managed to watch the first session last night – the first significant slice of action I’ve seen in the match so far. “It’ll be OK,” I told myself as I went to bed a little after 2.00 am, “it just needs Mo or Bairstow, or even Woakes, to get to fifty and the others to chip in and we’ll be setting a reasonable total.”
Deep down I suppose I knew that was just the Merlot talking and ’twas never going to happen – although with the start Warner and Bancroft got it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I haven’t any deep insights to share at all, but what I think England should take away from this game is that the batting – although more than capable of crashing and burning – does have some potential (with the possible exception of an opener who may be rapidly approaching his sell by date). However this time around it’s the bowling attack’s inability to take wickets or present much of a threat in Aussie conditions that’ll seal our fate far more surely. Feck knows how they’re going to address that with the available options.
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Our bowling was pretty toothless on the last tour, if I recall correctly. We may overlook that because of how bad our batting was on that tour, but even so…
And won’t be, on this tour, I suspect. Broad’s a quality bowler, in any conditions.
Last time Anderson, Panesar, Swann, Bresnan and Rankin (shudder) were all awful. Tremlett was better than I remember (looking at the stats now) but only played once due to fitness, and Stokes did alright.