Ain’t That A Hole In The Boat? – The Second Ashes Panel

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Round 2

Dmitri – Good day. By the time you will be reading this three of the four members of the writing council will be in the midst of an editorial board meeting. So we have left the Second Test Ashes Panel with you for your delectation. We’ve lost Danny from last time, which might be just about forgivable if he’d stayed up to watch the end of Day 4 (only joking, he was a stalwart throughout), but we have six of the remaining cast members, including more poetry from the Bogfather. So thanks to Silk, Sri, Ian, Scrim, MiaB and TheBogfather (no space) for their contributions, their rapid responses, and excellent and varied insight. Really enjoyed it people.

 

Question 1 – So now the Brisbane result is in, what has it shown you about the relative strengths and weaknesses (and some perhaps not highlighted by the mainstream media)

Silk – I’ve not seen anything the media haven’t seen. Though Handscomb’s weakness against Anderson was unexpected (to me). Australia’s batting looks a lot less weak after Day 4 than it did in the middle of Day 2, with Marsh proving a good selection and Bancroft in the runs second dig. Worryingly, Hazelwood appears to have dusted the cobwebs off his bowling after a poor day one. Khawaja and the keeper aside, all looks rosy is Aussie world.

England’s batting was a lot better than I thought it might be. The bowling as ineffective as I feared it might be. The problem is, for England to win I thought we had to knock Aus over, cheaply, repeatedly, as our batting, while capable of 300, didn’t look capable of 500. On this display, Aus have nothing to fear.

Sri – I think the assessment that Oz batting is still Smith and Warner is still true. Likewise OZ bowling was expected to be good and it has proven to be good. 

However, Lyon’s impact was underestimated by me and maybe by the english mainstream media as well. He made a big difference by getting critical wickets. Seems to have improved significantly and with England’s Moeen who seems to have been injured a bit, the gap in this department and due to under performance of woakes, OZ could negate the advantage England had when they started their second innings. Lyon makes the OZ bowling stronger and if Moeen continues to struggle with injuries England will be weaker. 

However, the problem for England is really the support bowling and I certainly didn’t expect woakes especially to be so ineffective.

I still think England can outbat Oz. Their batsmen have got starts except cook and anyway my expectation was that cook would score around 210 runs if he plays all the tests. 

Scrim – Bowling depth seems to be England’s problem, not Australia’s as was (and still is) claimed by many in the media. Depth both in terms of quality, and diversity. There is no feeling that any Australian bowler is weaker than another, and between them they have tools at their disposal that England didn’t: genuine pace, a left armer, some reverse swing, and a spinner bowling brilliantly.

Despite having an omnipotent deity coming in at 4, there are still some question marks over the Australian batting line up. Khawaja and Handscomb will be desperate for runs.

MiaB – We knew already. Brittle batting. A pair of good batters on each side but Smith and Warner comprehensively did for Cook and Smith. The English bowling is useless without a Selvey green seamer track 

Ian – Weaknesses in both teams but more in the England team.   Steve Smith who is used to the pressure of captaincy is able to not let it affect him whilst of course the change bowling is a big strength for Australia too.

Rhyme Time from TB…

But the ‘roos fought harder than team Root

Was it battle plans pre-scored or radical idyllic thirst

A close shave became full beard fear, however hirsute…
Lack of forethought and testing preparation
Sent England to an eventual slaughter
A Stokesless fire, soon died in chilled perspiration
Spent pop-gun attack, enduring hid injuries, became pure plasticised mortar…

(Don’t know what he did with the formatting, but I’m not messing about with it after midnight)

 

Question 2  Adelaide at night? In favour of day-night in the Ashes, or are you a reactionary old fuddy duddy?

Scrim – 100% in favour of day-night tests. Given the importance of getting bums on seats and high TV ratings, both commercially and because ultimately cricket is played for spectators, it makes perfect sense to play when people aren’t at work. Can you imagine the Premier League scheduling Chelsea vs Arsenal at 1pm on a Thursday afternoon?

I love that they are being played at my home ground, Adelaide Oval. I haven’t been home for a day-night test yet, but from what mates tell me, the atmosphere is amazing. The evenings are usually beautifully balmy in Adelaide in December, as opposed to oppressively hot during the middle of the day.

In terms of the on-field action: as long as there is a statsguru filter for it, who cares? Test cricket is played in all sorts of weather conditions, with all sorts of different balls, on all sorts of surfaces and that is one of the most fascinating things about it. Artificial light isn’t that much of a stretch. The best players will exploit and adapt, as they would to any other playing condition.

MiaB – As reactionary as they come. Only on a 1938 Durban track or 1930 west Indies track do you want dew to influence the result. 

Ian – I like the concept of D/N test cricket but more as a television viewer than somebody attending the test.  Depending on your timezone I think its great to get home from work and have a few hours test cricket to watch.  Although I wouldn’t be massively keen on attending a test in the UK or Australia that didn’t finish until late evening.

Silk – Fuddy duddy, if it changes the balance between bat and ball. The toss is already too big a factor in Tests. If day/night makes it more of a lottery, well, effectively you’ve got 2nd tier tests, which no one ‘properly’ wins, because of the lights.

If it’s just as easy to play under lights as it is without them, I’ve no problems with it.

Sri – In Favor. Loving T-20 can’t call myself a fuddy duddy 🙂

TB with the formatting nonsense, in prose..

My reaction is nary a thought now considered

As Test cricket is left to seek a reason for being
By the moneyed moguls of short-term, cash-cowed, highest-bidders
Bereft of history, a cleft wreaked by the me, me, me, unseeing
And once pink balls become coloured clothing
I will lose my true love, be in complete loathing.

Not a clue what he’s done..

 

Question 3 – Put that Steve Smith innings into context. Tell me an Ashes ton you thought was better.

MiaB – Maybe Greg Chappell’s 112 at Lords in 1972, the Massie match. Or Cowdrey’s 102 at Melbourne in 1954. Both innings head and shoulders beyond what anyone else managed.

Sri – Mark Taylor’s performances in England especially the century he made in the second innings in a losing cause when everyone had given up on him because of his poor form which then turned the ashes around.

Silk – The 235* was very, very good. England were under the hammer, and it needed fight. On every other tour we’d have lost that Test by tea. But the pitch was very very flat that day, as the other batsmen showed. Smith had batsmen falling around him, and stood tall.

Obviously for sheer panache, history, soaring while everyone around you stutters, etc., the 158 was remarkable.

Ponting at Old Trafford (158 I think I recall) was brilliant. I saw all of that one live. England bowled with genuine threat that day, and Punter saw them all off until very near the close.

Smith’s is up there with KP and Ponting of the ones in Tests I’ve followed. Butcher’s 173 doesn’t really count, does it? Dead rubber and all that.

Ian – Great question,  I’m trying to think of similar hundreds in similar circumstances where somebody batted the whole way through to finish unbeaten or was last out and the best I could come up with was Trott’s debut hundred.

Scrim – Maybe Ricky Ponting’s matchsaving 150 in 2005 at Old Trafford, falling just a few overs short of stumps and leaving Lee and McGrath just a few overs to bat out to keep the series level? I almost cried when he was given out.

It’s hard to put Smith’s innings into historical context just yet. It was brilliant. But it might not even be his best century this year – his 2nd innings in Pune still edges this one, I think.

TB – The formatting alien…

Relatively dismissive except for Steve Smith’s missive
To bat, to score, to crush and endure
He may not remotely excite the eye
But his results are team and Test batting so pure.
Now for an Ashes innings you ask
Such a flashback of winning memory task
I could go for Botham, either ton in ’81
Or KP 158 in ’05, edge of seat fear and fun
Yet my longest standing memory of a ton v Aus
Was not in an Ashes, but the Centenary Test, because…
Twas my first experience of radio under the bedcovers

McCosker, jaw-strapped and bold, daddy Marsh ton as game did unfold
Randall 174 v Lillee, Melbourne ’77, e’er since been a TMS lover
From doffed cap and backward roll to Knott lbw and 45 run loss, 100 year story told…

 

Question 4 – Lots mentioned that Alastair Cook’s form may be in decline. What are your thoughts on this Damascene conversion?

Ian – I have thought it for a while and your 7 in 110 or whatever it is highlights this.

Silk – It’s obviously in decline, as I think you, and some others, may have mentioned once or twice previously. That it’s being mentioned now as because (a) it’s too clear to pretend away now and (b) pretty obvious to continue throughout the series. What isn’t being said is that he’s only once had any sort of form in Australia, so this is hardly a remarkable turn-up for the books. No punter with any knowledge would have bet on him averaging more than 35 in this tour, even if on form.

MiaB – My TIMA method showed it quite clearly. Just glad that folks are catching up with the new cricket guru

Sri – Reality cannot be staved away for too long. Even hardcore supporters have to comprehend that cook is great against pace attacks that are mediocre but not against genuine pace and swing. Can’t blame the fans much. The english media? the less said about media the better. Most are highly biased and have their own pot to stir.

Scrim – Unsurprisingly, mainstream Australian opinion on Cook is rather different to  mainstream English opinion. We remember English players pretty much solely on Ashes performances, and apart from one two month period in his career that we all try to forget, he has been a walking wicket vs Australia, home and away. My thoughts on the change of tune? I wouldn’t mind if he is there in 2019, can’t they keep blowing his horn a bit longer?

TB – Poetry causing mayhem..

I do believe we’ve heard this somewhere before? (here, and how!)

Tho’ unbelievably, never from the MSM floor (until, vague hints, now…)
We’ve discussed this and been cussed by those insiders so devout

Perhaps the ECB web weaved now sussed, as Cookie hooks or snicks, so all will be out?

 

Question 5 – I was quite underwhelmed by the Aussie pace attack for much of the test match, yet now they “blow teams away”. What were your thoughts?

Scrim – It wasn’t the 13/14-style carnage that was promised, but on what was a slow pitch by Australian standards, I thought they did really well. They bowled them out twice for a combined 500 (with a fair bit of help from Lyon). Once the pitch quickened up a bit, the last 15 wickets fell for 250 runs, including 10 from short or shortish bowling. Hazlewood, in just his second first class game back from injury, found his rhythm in the second innings. Cummins was a constant threat. Starc struggled a bit, but still picked up wickets and did actually blow the bottom half of the English team away twice, and rocked Root with one in the grill. There’s more to come.

Silk – Starc is over-rated. He’s impressive, but he likes tail-enders, not batsmen. But Hazelwood is just an excellent bowler, not relying on pace, so he’ll be dangerous at any stage (as he showed against Root), and Cummins has something about him. Able to raise his game suddenly, just as it seems England might get away.

You can’t turn off. And England, Cook aside, switch off far too much. Ali does. Bairstow does. Root’s poor conversion stats show he does. Vince did, first innings. Say what you like about Cook (I’m not a fan of the man, though I don’t think he’s an awful person) but Cook the batsman stays switched on, once in. That’s his greatest strength, I think.

Plus, Australia have Lyon, and I told Mike Selvey, when Moeen Ali came on the scene, that he was not the answer to England’s loss of Graham Swann. He ignored me, but I had my say. For once, I was actually right. If you’ve got a spinner who can keep you in the game, you are, well, in the game.

Ian – It isn’t a vintage attack but its certainly good enough to do the job.  Hazlewood will take more of the top order wickets whilst Starc can finish the tail quickly.

Sri – Good attack given the poor quality of bowling attacks in the world now but not great. With Lyon, Starc, Cummins and Hazelwood they have a great balance and have to be one of the better attacks around. On their day, any bowling attack can blow teams away at home. India have often done so. The test for the Oz attack to be considered great would be away in England or India.

MiaB – The opening bowlers ripped out the English top order in both innings. They fulfilled the job description. 10 out of the 20 went to them. Compare the English attack.

Unaligned Bogfather..

The mind games were set by the press beforehand both there and here
The Aus attack was at last fit to blast as one, so Eng did fear
And even tho’, the pitch was slow, their plan did unfold
Stifle the upper order, bounce the tail into disorder, so over did England roll….

 

Question Six – If you have BT Sport – what did you think of their coverage. Try not to focus on Lovejoy.

Sri – No clue. I like Swann’s bowling but never liked his character off the field. Considered him a big hypocrite.

MiaB – Pass

Silk – Nup. TMS only for me. (I like Tufnell. In small doses, at least. Am I weird?)

And to those who watched it…..(Ed)

Ian – I made do with watching BT sport on the app and thought it was ok    Pleased to hear Ponting but I wish that they showed a bit more originality in their choices because of how many commentators they share with TMS.   If I’m bored of TMS I want to turn on the TV to hear somebody else not somebody I heard 5 minutes ago.

Scrim – Pretty good for a first try. It was good to have an even balance of Australians and English to keep cheerleading in check, and to commentate from the perspective of both teams. They picked three good Australian commentators. This was the first I’d heard of Alison Mitchell and she was really good. I don’t think Vaughan is as bad as many here think. Swann was unbearable at times.

I don’t like Boycott, never have. He has some good insights, but as one BOC reader perfectly put it, he always sounds like he’s in an argument with a neighbour. He also didn’t seem to appreciate having to commentate with a woman (or maybe it is because Mitchell isn’t a former player). He commentated together with Mitchell on day 1. It seemed quite awkward. Boycott was disagreeing with her at every turn, and I don’t remember them paired together again after that. Maybe Danny or someone else who watched a lot can comment on whether they did and whether they improved together.

Finally, TheBogfather

No BT, but am thankful for their choice
Of LoveJoy and ShinyToy, expending their voice
Leaving TMS with only occasional interruptions
Of their verbal self-loving commentary corruptions…

 

That’s all folks. We will run a panel for the third test, which will also be a little more relaxed as I think there is a small gap between the two tests. Apologies if the formatting is a little awry – it did not scan over to Word as well as the previous panel. There are a couple of numerical errors which I’ve not totally rectified, so be gentle with the respondents who reacted to these questions in a remarkably short time. My heartfelt thanks to the contributors. We will no doubt delight in the responses at the quarterly Editorial Board meeting this evening.

Comments below, as always…

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29 thoughts on “Ain’t That A Hole In The Boat? – The Second Ashes Panel

  1. metatone November 30, 2017 / 7:50 pm

    Lots of good stuff here.

    Not much to add. Other than I hope England can outperform how it looks on paper, otherwise it’s going to be a very boring series.

    Like

  2. SimonH November 30, 2017 / 8:13 pm

    Starc was a bit disappointing and probably the least impressive of the Australian attack – but I wouldn’t draw the conclusion from one match that all he can do is blast out the tail.

    Starc’s Test career wickets break down as follows: Openers 29%; Middle order (3-5) 25%; Lower middle order (6-8) 22%; the tail (9-11) 19%. The six batsmen he’s dismissed most in Tests are: Cook (Stephen), Root, Asad Shafiq, Mendis, Cook (Sheep) and Karunaratne – none of who are tail-enders.

    He’s just come back from an ankle operation and the pitch was desperately slow on the first three days at least. If his ankle holds up (and there were some signs it was still troubling him), he’ll bowl better.

    Like

    • Silk November 30, 2017 / 8:44 pm

      Fair enough. I maligned him unfairly.

      You stood up for Starc like I stood up for Peter Such, and for that you should be applauded. 😉

      Like

      • man in a barrel November 30, 2017 / 8:59 pm

        Starc took 6 wickets. Poor show. They included Cook, Malan and Bairstow.

        Like

        • Silk November 30, 2017 / 9:34 pm

          Peter Such took 6 on debut! And his 6 included Boon, Border, Taylor, Waugh (S) and Julien! So I think we’ve established who the better bowler is…

          Like

          • thelegglance November 30, 2017 / 9:48 pm

            Peter Such made my teenage self want to shoot him for the way he’d throw his hands up EVERY SODDING BALL. As for my middle aged self, bring the AK47.

            Like

  3. Mark November 30, 2017 / 9:45 pm

    Panic over……..

    Lovejoy just told 5 live that Alastair Cook got his first hole in one yesterday. 148 yards.

    So they are all congratulating him………Which is nice!

    This is unbelievably bad……Shinny toy and Lovejoy together. Radio for people on speed.

    Like

  4. OscarDaBosca December 1, 2017 / 7:30 am

    Re: Boycott and Mitchell
    They have definitely worked together on TMS before. When Boycott sets his mind against someone it is awkward listening. He clearly hated Simon Mann for years and would contradict him at every turn, and give that harrumph he does when Mann tried to give a players perspective (the clear indication from Boycott that he thinks non former professionals don’t understand the game at the highest level)
    He seems to like Ebony Rainford-Brent (I think that’s her name) so I don’t think it’s sexism.

    I quite like him, albeit in small doses. He is consistent unlike someone like Botham who will contradict his own opinions in the same 30
    minute commentary stint, and he calls other commentators out.
    I would love to hear him with Lovejoy, I notice TMS rarely put them together, because Boycott probably can’t stand him.

    Like

    • Sophie December 1, 2017 / 8:02 am

      I liked Boycott when he did those 5-minute recaps at the end of the day and I was disappointed when he didn’t do that anymore. Turns out half an hour of him gets a bit tiresome at times.

      Like

    • Scrim December 1, 2017 / 10:31 am

      Thanks for that. I haven’t listened to TMS, that all makes sense

      Like

    • nonoxcol December 1, 2017 / 5:39 pm

      “But the manner…” was particularly ugly I thought. An ugly 64 (worder) to follow last week’s ugly 95 (worder).

      Sounds somehow familiar…

      Like

    • Miami Dad's Six December 1, 2017 / 11:23 am

      So on that evidence, Keaton Jennings is going to replace Stokes as the all-rounder in the side. Amar Virdi will be pleased with his figures. The rest we terrible..!

      Like

    • Silk December 1, 2017 / 12:04 pm

      An incomplete scorecard. Queensland were 198-2 second dig!

      Like

  5. BoredInAustria December 1, 2017 / 10:28 am

    From the Dobell article on Woakes:

    “Woakes plays alongside such mild-mannered men as Alastair Cook, Moeen Ali and Dawid Malan. He is captained by Joe Root who, like James Vince, has his family alongside him on the tour.”

    So another Flower principle has given way – Family on the tour…

    Like

    • BoredInAustria December 1, 2017 / 10:33 am

      and further … “So, rather than tightening up on his players, Strauss could have said: this incident is a nonsense; my players are blameless; we’re not going to be manipulated by fake news and those with an agenda. Instead, he inadvertently gave the story further legs by instigating a change in behaviour and policy. ”

      Strauss throwing someone under a bus? Who would have thought…

      Like

  6. Scrim December 1, 2017 / 10:36 am

    Steketee, Rimmington, Cutting, Forrest, Heazlett, Floris… Not a terrible side for Queensland there. At least two who have played ODIs. That bowling card for England doesn’t look pretty though.

    Like

  7. Tom December 1, 2017 / 12:14 pm

    It’s been a while since I commented here and my personal life has been taken over by a very seriously ill loved one, so hope you forgive me for being brief and not reading everything here.

    I managed to catch some of the commentaries on cricinfo during the first test where England did OK for 3.5 days but then fell to pieces. Doesn’t bode well for me. But I’m more concerned with the rest of the series. The day-night game coming up is a good chance for our bowlers, but what’s been said isn’t.

    Anderson sayin the bowling is dangerous to tailenders. I think that just means they’ll get more of it as it sends out a message late order is scared of short-pitched bowling. Maybe it’s reverse psychology but I don’t think so.

    Root claiming the Aussies laughing at Bairstow’s way of saying hello will motivate England? No. I don’t see that at all. It’s a bit of a joke but I think Root is taking it to the extreme. He could have just used the interview to motivate Bairstow but making it public’s not good in my opinion.

    Hope to be proved wrong and we end up 1-1.

    Nice to talk to you all again, but unfortunately have more serious issues to attend to right now.

    Like

      • Tom December 2, 2017 / 10:24 am

        Thank you, that means a lot. It’s Pam who is ill, my partner for almost 20 years and am having a somewhat difficult time dealing with everything right now. I think she may have posted here in the past (probably as beepbeep). A US woman living in California who I actually managed to get to enjoy and even understand cricket! It’s taken nearly 20 years to get that far though…

        Like

  8. thebogfather December 1, 2017 / 4:29 pm

    Apologies for the headache I gave your formatting
    I’ve not a clue as to why this time
    Seems a couple of lines fell off the cliff like Cookie’s batting
    Tho’ it may also have been due to the wine…

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus December 1, 2017 / 6:50 pm

      Trying to do it Wednesday after a night out was super fun. But content trumps format. Always.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. man in a barrel December 1, 2017 / 6:48 pm

    It seems that Moeen might not be able to bowl, which brings a tricky selection issue to the fore

    Like

  10. Mark December 1, 2017 / 8:06 pm

    So….we are going to win the world cup in Russia now according the media.

    Happy days. Is there another industry that gets it wrong so often, and no one ever gets held to account?

    Never mind power without responsibility…..Punditry without responsibility! It’s money for old rope.

    Like

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