Ashes 2nd Test: Day Three

When it’s all going hideously wrong, the temptation to cling grimly to any floating wreckage nearby is a strong one, and four wickets for England’s bowlers in the evening session has given rise to curious assertions that England are back in the game, a triumph of hope over experience.  In reality they are, taking the kindest, most sympathetic view possible, not totally out of it.  Since Australia’s lead already far exceeds England’s miserable first innings total, this is taking blind hope to unprecedented levels.

England weren’t in the worst position at the start of play, and a good batting day would have begun to transfer some pressure back onto Australia, with the usual third innings jitters a possibility.  Instead, England collapsed hideously to 142-7, and only got even close to saving the follow on thanks to Craig Overton making an unbeaten 41.  Irony of ironies – the England tail wagged this time around.

The batting order’s insistence on doing the same things and hoping for a different outcome is magnificently stubborn (perhaps the only way that adjective could be used about them) and once again it was poorly executed shots that did for them rather than brilliant bowling.  The pitch didn’t do much, and in the daylight there was little swing.  Only Malan could be said to have been got out, and whatever the merits of Australia’s bowling attack, the same level of carelessness that’s been present in England’s batting for a long time was once again to the fore.  When they come off, it’s certainly thrilling, but an inability to play the situation is becoming a real hallmark of this team and there’s so little evidence they are learning.

It is perhaps this, more than anything else, that justified the pessimism before the start of play, and highlights the increasing fear that this tour could get truly ugly.  Again.

Smith’s decision not to enforce the follow on was perhaps understandable given the time left in the game, but the principle of doing what the opposition would like least must surely apply – England would not have wanted to bat again, under lights, under the pump, and under pressure.  In defence of the decision, it’s unlikely to make that much difference to the outcome either way, for by the close of play a lead of 268 with six wickets remaining is the kind of marvellous position teams dream about, but it did at least offer England the chance to give Australia a bloody nose.  And yet even with the wickets taken, the same old flaws were there:  England still bowled too short, still bowled too wide.  At 53-4 it might seem a peculiar criticism, but both Anderson and Broad were consistently shorter in length than their Australian counterparts, and while it hardly went too badly on the field, it doesn’t suggest that the plans are either thought through, or alternatively that the bowlers want to apply them if they are.  There is no doubt at all that when Broad, Anderson and Woakes kept the length full, they looked extremely dangerous.  They usually do – which is why so much hair is pulled out at their continuing refusal to do it on a consistent basis.

Apparently, tomorrow morning is another “vital” first session.  It really isn’t.  It would need to go catastrophically wrong for Australia to allow England to have any kind of realistic sniff of a win.  It is of course just about possible that England will skittle the hosts and then bat out of their skins to chase down a total almost certain to be in excess of 300, but that’s barely enough to encourage even wildly unreasonable optimism, let alone genuine confidence.

The worst part about England’s predicament is that so much of it this series to date has been self-inflicted.  Australia are some way from being a really good side, but they have, to use the appropriate cliche, executed their skills well so far.  England haven’t.  Assuming they do, and in spades, it means that Australia will be bowled out for around 100 in a magnificent display of attacking bowling, while the English top order compile a couple of centuries to take them home in one of the top 20 run chases of all time in Test cricket.

That’s the miracle scenario.  And that says it all.




57 thoughts on “Ashes 2nd Test: Day Three

  1. Zephirine Dec 4, 2017 / 12:20 pm

    insistence on doing the same things and hoping for a different outcome
    This is the English cricket disease and has been for some time.

    Is it arrogance – “next time the opposition will be sensible and do what we want”? Is it complacency – “doing the same things gets me a few hundred grand a year so why change”? Is it over-reliance on ‘analysis’? Is it a lack of the real instinctive game awareness that I’d suggest you can see in, for example, Pakistan? And if so, where does that come from, and do we train it out of them? Does our system not encourage/promote players with initiative and imagination? Or do they play too much cricket and are always mentally tired to some extent?

    Basically, our players come across as not very bright, and obstinate with it.

    Liked by 4 people

    • KidVicious Dec 4, 2017 / 1:00 pm

      I agree with this statement completely. I don’t think players need to be particularly smart, I just think they need to have the ability to make a decision for themselves. What made Kumar Sangakarra a great cricketer is not his eloquence, intelligence or his education, it was his ability to perfectly judge a situation and act accordingly.

      I think we see it more and more with professional sports setups, particularly in England. The players cannot think for themselves, and are overly reliant on coaches and there is no leadership. This is made all the worse when the pressure is on and the players brains just fog over. For example, England v Iceland at the Euros, Rugby (Union) against Australia in the World Cup and of course, when the wheels come off the cricket team it’s carnage.

      I think that’s why other teams like Pakistan and Sri Lanka do so well relative to their resources, they are ‘street smart’, very flexible and innovative. Coaches are there to advise not to instruct, and players have the responsibility of delivering. (Football) players in Germany and Spain are taught from a young age how to think. We are taught to obey authority and do what the overpaid administration instructs us. I think this is another reason KP was so reviled by those ‘inside cricket’.

      The fact that Anderson, despite 500 odd wickets, cannot adjust his length is one of the most infuriating things about this cricket team for me. I get pissed off with the media, with the batsman throwing their wickets away, with the ECB etc, but a supposed great either being unable to, or choosing not to, do what everybody else seems to be screaming at the tv/radio is the most repetitive frustration I have with England.

      Rant over. As ever, I will go to bed tonight thinking a result is possible. I won;t have to deal with reality until the morning.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Sri.Grins Dec 4, 2017 / 3:04 pm

      I think it is the occidental vs oriental mindset.

      In the sub continent, it is more or less always about the players being game aware. The players rule and the coaches are subservient. Also, the rigorousness of analysis is less. More often that not, it is ‘okay chalo let us go out there and see what we can do’.

      This obviously has its negatives too as a fan who has had almost 45 years of watching tests in India can vouch when as a fan you think ‘Why don’t they even analyze past data’ . 🙂 🙂


  2. OscarDaBosca Dec 4, 2017 / 12:27 pm

    I am more and more convinced that Broad and Anderson seem to love their economy rates more than their wickets.

    I watched this morning and Anderson was way too short for a lot of the time. It looked pretty when there was extravagant swing, the batsmen didn’t score so you could think ‘ooh 9 overs for not very many’ but at the same time Warner left 41 balls!!!

    41 balls that he didn’t have to play at.

    Is it the fear of being driven that stops them bowling fuller? Surely with the swing that was clearly on offer, the fuller length gives you more opportunities and makes them play??

    But we see it at least two test matches a series where they bowl very pretty, but entirely unthreatening spells.

    They need 6 wickets in the morning session to stand a chance (unlikely), because if they tarry any longer, they will end up having to bat in the evening with not many on the board and conditions in the bowlers favour.

    However as I have said countless times in the past few days, its an Adelaide pitch, it looks a pleasure to bat on, and as Overton and Woakes showed briefly, there are no demons even against hostile fast bowling.


  3. thelegglance Dec 4, 2017 / 12:33 pm

    Makes you wonder why he was so upset when they sacked him really.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Dec 4, 2017 / 12:41 pm


      That is probably the most honest thing he has written for a while. I can completely belive that conversation took place. TV and radio offices are full of charlatans with clip boards, and a degree in media studies, and are the reason why so much broadcasting is utter shite.

      Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Dec 4, 2017 / 12:53 pm

      Yep. Remember that one from the TMS dismissal piece. And when the Guardian did a hitpiece on TMS soon after. Can’t exactly accuse Aggers of this, can you?


    • nonoxcol Dec 4, 2017 / 1:19 pm

      It must be terrible to feel a burning, enduring sense of injustice when you are sacked.

      On the positive side, it probably makes you a more empathetic person.

      For example, the sort of person who doesn’t describe others feeling similarly wounded as “a fruit fly, a pest that won’t go away”.


  4. Miami Dad's Six Dec 4, 2017 / 1:16 pm

    Whilst I wouldn’t say that England are ‘in this game’, it was at least heartening that the second half of the day went their way – probably the first time we have clearly had the best of a session since Vince and Stoneman were batting on Day 1 at the Gabba.

    To be blunt, England have looked overawed and passive, in a game where a bit of positivity and being assured in what you do can really make such a huge difference. Sure, Woakes and Overton batting for 66 won’t change the game, or even the series, and I wouldn’t even bet against Lyon making 30 odd in the morning and the game being over – but it was at least something.

    I don’t believe in momentum, but I do believe in mindset – let’s go at this Australian side. “Bowling dry” is a tactic that has it’s place, but in Australia, with the new ball that does nothing after the first 8-10 overs, it makes me apoplectic with rage seeing us not attacking either the stumps or the head with the new cherry. The way they’ve bowled until tonight, it seems to me that England would be happier seeing Australia 28-0 after 15 overs, instead of 70-3. Likewise the nothing shots by the top order. They’re trying to nudge balls rather than hit them.


    • Miami Dad's Six Dec 4, 2017 / 1:22 pm

      It’s weird typing ‘tonight’ at 1:20pm, having awoken at 5:30am to catch some cricket before work.


  5. Silk Dec 4, 2017 / 1:26 pm

    I think we are being a bit negative here. We aren’t quite in miracle territory yet, though I admit we are close.

    England bowled well tonight. They could have bowled better, but Woakes, in particular, was much improved and both of Australia’s best batsmen are out.

    Handscombe might hang around, but he won’t score many. Marsh, Paine and Cummins are big threats. Removing all 3 cheaply (or at least 2, plus Starc and Hazelwood, to leave someone stranded) is a big ask, particularly as it will be a lot easier to bat tomorrow morning than it will be tonight. But…

    It will be pretty easy to bat tomorrow, until the last hour or so. Overton and Woakes, batting, showed there are no demons in this pitch. 320, with 7 ‘proper’ batsmen in the side, is an achievable total.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, if Australia can stratch out another 100, any which way, then you are talking about one of the greatest chases of all time. But fewer than that, and England are in with a sniff, /if/ they remember how to bat.

    Big /if/, there.

    For the record, I think Australia will score 120 – 150 tomorrow. But who knows…?

    (I also think tomorrows first session may justify Smith’s decision to not enforce. If batting tomorrow morning is a lot easier, that is)


  6. Silk Dec 4, 2017 / 1:28 pm

    Of course, 24 hours ago England were in a position where, the next morning, they could come out and make a statement. (Bat the day, see you in Perth).

    They blew it. Big time.

    So every chance the bowlers will do the same tomorrow.


    • nonoxcol Dec 4, 2017 / 2:05 pm

      This is the most entertaining he’s been in quite some time.

      But like the Murphy’s…..

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mark Dec 4, 2017 / 3:03 pm

        Was he replaced by Lovejoy? If so that must leave a very bitter taste. Replaced by a clown.


        • LordCanisLupus Dec 4, 2017 / 3:05 pm

          No. There was a fair old gap between the two. I think it is about the time Tufnell got the full-time gig.


      • LordCanisLupus Dec 4, 2017 / 3:13 pm

        Not quite grasped that the large tv rights fees need adverts to help pay for them or even fewer people will have access.

        And Sky has more of them.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mark Dec 4, 2017 / 3:24 pm

          He’s on a roll now. Trying to get most commentators the sack. Why have them if everyone pushes the red button?

          I have to say that he had little or no sympathy for those that did not have Sky. So why should we care if he has to endure some annoying adverts?

          It is interesting when he is faced with having to pay along like every other sucker that he’s not quite so sanguine about how crickets finances work.

          Liked by 1 person

        • thelegglance Dec 4, 2017 / 3:26 pm

          I wonder if he thinks this should apply to his new employers at Sky as well, or just the competition?


          • Mark Dec 4, 2017 / 3:53 pm

            Dangerous territory when you start openly critiquing the opposition broadcasters. Haven’t heard Mike Atherton or Nasser do it publically.


        • man in a barrel Dec 4, 2017 / 3:50 pm

          I might tweet him to point out that, now he is retired, he could travel down under and watch the match while contributing to the crowd noise he values so highly


        • nonoxcol Dec 4, 2017 / 4:08 pm

          Prescient rhetorical question from “Patrick Bateman” fourth down!!!!


  7. "IronBalls" McGinty Dec 4, 2017 / 2:57 pm

    Loughborough is our secret weapon. Awash with money, technology, and the finest coaches money can buy. No other country has a school of excellence such as this, guaranteed to turn out fast bowlers, spin bowlers and multifunctional batsmen on a production line of highly schooled talent!
    On the other hand, sack the lot of em, burn it to the ground, and hold it up as the moneypit of mediocrity that has the rest of world cricket laughing their arses off!!


    • oreston Dec 4, 2017 / 3:22 pm

      Loughborough is but one of a herd of elephants in the ECB room. The stench of dung is overpowering.

      Liked by 1 person

      • BoredInAustria Dec 4, 2017 / 8:33 pm

        Or a Rhino lodge??


  8. Sri.Grins Dec 4, 2017 / 3:00 pm

    England are definitely not in a great position but not in a totally hopeless position either. 268 ahead with only 6 wickets left is not too bad. While 350 is a tough chase, no reason why it can’t be done. WI did chase a large score in England and India almost did so in Adelaide against Oz.

    So, I would put it as 20-30% probability that England may have to chase 350 or less . If that happens England stand a good chance (30%+) that they can make Smith look foolish to have batted under lights.

    Smith’s choice is difficult to quibble too much about. If England had made 350+ in the second innings, it would have given Oz a very tricky chase with the start under lights and with the pitch being tougher to bat on and the pressure on Oz.

    England’s good session today means that barring rain dances :-), a draw is ruled out. If Oz had made 50-1 today and carried on to 200+ by the end of two sessions tomorrow, England would have had only the draw to hope for and 2 sessions under lights to play.

    Now it is a possible win they can play for which should enthuse them.


    • thelegglance Dec 4, 2017 / 3:03 pm

      350+ is not just a ‘tough chase’, it’s only been achieved 10 times in 150 years of Test cricket. It’s possible, in the sense that anything is possible, but it’s always puzzled me why run chases of that magnitude are always thought more feasible than they really are.

      Liked by 3 people

      • man in a barrel Dec 4, 2017 / 3:17 pm

        The fact that Lyon got 4 wickets in the first innings and the pitch is not likely to get better to bat on is the most obvious reason why it would be unlikely (not impossible) for England to get more than 300 second time around. And, although Handscombe looks like a walking wicket, his first innings was only beaten by 3 of the English team! He got through the evening session under lights and was out cheaply the next day.


      • Sri.Grins Dec 4, 2017 / 3:56 pm

        A better fit maybe how many times good scores have been made by the team batting last in Adelaide in the last 10 years. I make it 5 good scores out of 10 tests played since 2008 where the team batting last has done well (either not all out or lost but scored 300+)

        2008 India 269/7
        2009 Oz 212/5
        2010 Oz 304
        2013 Eng 312
        2014 India 315

        Hardly dismal reading when you think a team can score 350.



        • thelegglance Dec 4, 2017 / 4:04 pm

          Well, putting that in context if it was chasing over 350 it would be:

          Probably lost
          Probably lost

          It’s also a day/night match where batting is more difficult under lights.


          • Sri.Grins Dec 4, 2017 / 4:14 pm

            🙂 . if you assign a statistical 50-50 chance to the incomplete innings (this is the right way to go), it gives you a 20% chance of a win in 5 tries and 80% chance of losing.


          • thelegglance Dec 4, 2017 / 4:20 pm

            It’s never been done there. Highest run chases at Adelaide:

            315-6: Australia v England, 1902
            239-5: West Indies v Australia, 1982
            233-6: India v Australia, 2003
            233-4: West Indies v Australia, 1951
            187-7: Australia v New Zealand, 2015
            182-3: Australia v West Indies, 2005
            172-0: Australia v West Indies, 1930
            168-4: Australia v England, 2006
            127-3: Australia v South Africa, 2016

            And again, 350+ has been done 10 times, in history, anywhere in the world. Ever.

            There’s being optimistic and there’s a Hail Mary.


          • Sri.Grins Dec 4, 2017 / 4:36 pm

            Let me also put it in a different context.

            Imagine that your son or daughter is writing a set of exams spread over 5 days. each day’s result is known EOD.

            At the end of 3 days, you realize that on the 4th and 5th days, your kid has to perform out of his/her skin to qualify. You would encourage your kid right and look for bright spots? you would not go around telling everyone you know, the kid’s chance is gone and he/she is unlikely to qualify.

            You would be quietly encouraging him/her and pointing out instances when people turned things around from such a situation. It may be unlikely but as long as it is possible, you would never give up hoping your kid would just do it.



          • LordCanisLupus Dec 4, 2017 / 4:41 pm

            Bloody optimists.

            Adelaide 2006, Sri. Enough to put you off optimism for life. No cure. No chance of remission. Condemned to live a life of pessimism. (not just for the cricket, which I was there for, but everything else around it).

            Optimists are always disappointed. Pessimists can only be surprised.


          • thelegglance Dec 4, 2017 / 4:48 pm

            And realists don’t pretend things are better than they are…


          • thelegglance Dec 4, 2017 / 4:49 pm

            Possible but highly unlikely is exactly what I’m saying Sri 😉


          • Quebecer Dec 4, 2017 / 4:56 pm

            Believe me, optimism? Thing of the past.


          • Mark Dec 4, 2017 / 5:10 pm

            You are a lovely person Sri, but to compare hard bitten professional sportsman with kids taking an exam. Sorry, not a good comparison.

            I will start having more sympathy for well paid sports superstars when they give me a refund if they don’t perform.

            There are many fans who pay a lot of money who work in jobs where they are paid poor wages and are monitored by the minute, and if they don’t perform they are sacked. Don’t expect them to motivate players to perform.


      • stephenfh Dec 4, 2017 / 6:37 pm

        Does that include the chases in matches which weren’t in the end in a winning cause? Gavaskar at the Oval and may be others might increase the numbers at least a bit??

        “Realistically” how much of a dent can England make in the first inning deficit… if they can reduce it to anything like 100, or less, or take it well into the final day, hopefully they will be frustrated enough with themselves that they go better the third time of asking.


    • nonoxcol Dec 4, 2017 / 3:19 pm

      I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but England don’t exactly have Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar in home conditions out there (Chennai 2008/09)…and nor do they quite have Smith, Amla, Kallis and de Villiers (Perth 2008/09).

      I suppose you could look to Headingley last summer, but even so, a 30%+ chance of chasing 350 is absurdly overstating it.


      • Sri.Grins Dec 4, 2017 / 4:10 pm

        It is not required that you have big stars. You just need the luck and focus and attitude. WI did not have any great stars. Nor did India in Adelaide last time. Virat, Vijay etc were unknowns.

        Virat has mentioned in a press conference that he called a meeting of the team in Adelaide nand said that if Oz declare, we are going for the target whatever it is.

        India almost did it (I thought at the tea break that we would win and the end result really fouled up my day) but this effort marked the beginning of the change in mindset to tests from the other members of the team.

        So, it is basically up to Root to inspire and the other English batsmen to focus on getting into the best possible position for a win.

        If you keep looking at history and thinking it is not possible, you are defeated even before you start. You need to look at things with belief that you will do your best and that you stand a great chance of making it. Then you may not make it but at least you would have set a benchmark which would take the team forward.

        This is my personal belief system as well which contributes to my optimism and energy 🙂


        • thelegglance Dec 4, 2017 / 4:13 pm

          No one is saying it isn’t possible, just that it’s very unlikely. I would love for England to prove all the scepticism wrong and romp home to an astounding win.


          • Sri.Grins Dec 4, 2017 / 4:21 pm

            I am very sure that all English fans would love such a result irrespective of the pessimism they may have shown on posts here.

            Likewise I am sure all OZ fans would not love such a miraculous turn around 🙂

            That is different.

            I think that the more a team feels that it is likely to achieve tough targets, the more likely it will. Fans mindset and support on the ground counts a lot.

            Nowadays players are more exposed to media and the more negative thoughts publicly expressed, the more likely negative thoughts creep in.

            While i don’t admire Swann the person, his optimistic take is the way to go for a media personality supporting England.


          • Mark Dec 4, 2017 / 4:34 pm

            “Fans mindset and support on the ground counts a lot.”

            Oh no, no, no, no you are not putting the blame on the poor hard paying fan. The players have to give the fans something to believe in.

            Many England fans have travelled around the world at huge expense to watch their team. They will get behind them if they prove they are trying their best.

            They have given their fans next to nothing so far in this series. Poor bowling, and bad shot selection.


          • Sri.Grins Dec 4, 2017 / 4:42 pm


            I am an Indian fan who has got almost nothing for decades compared to English fans. 🙂 . I have still got nothing from Indian cricket teams away from home. :-). It doesn’t change my love.

            As far as blaming the fan is concerned, why would i blame the fans? I only mean that the way fans support the team is critical in terms of motivation.

            If you interpreted it as blaming the fan in general or the English fan in particular my apologies. I didn’t mean to blame the English fan for England’s performances.


          • Mark Dec 4, 2017 / 5:00 pm

            SRI.GRINS You don’t have to appologise for anything.

            I don’t think professional sportsman can claim that they can’t perform unless the crowd motivates them to do so. They are very well paid, they have wonderful lives that most people would love to be able to do what they do.

            Yes, they have with things that are a pain. Social media for example. Although you don’t have to read it. You don’t have to have a Twitter account.

            Sport has got very expensive to watch in the last decade. Both on TV and tickets and travelling. Players have to motivate themselves and perform. It’s why they get paid to do so. If they perfom they will get plenty of support from the fans. And fans don’t expect them all to peform all the time. But they haven’t performed at all so far on this tour.


  9. Mark Dec 4, 2017 / 3:10 pm

    I wonder what it says in the Sandhurst military handbook about bowling too short? Or giving your wicket away? This is the absurdity of trendy management theories, and trying to look “cool.” By just assuming if you rock up at Sandhurst it will translate into a language sportsman can understand you leave yourself open to the whole thing looking like a complete waste of time.

    It’s pointless going on these jaunts if you dont understand what you are trying to learn, and what you can take away from them. When the army tells you to “be prepared…”.. it doesn’t mean as an international cricket team that you have a rifle and backpack. It means you are prepared to bowl and bat with some technical skill and assurance.

    Another pile of cash poured down the drain. It’s money for old rope.


      • Mark Dec 4, 2017 / 3:47 pm

        This is an example of the indulgence of a civilisation on its last legs. Where’s my red button?


      • thelegglance Dec 4, 2017 / 4:14 pm

        You can just imagine Smith’s defence at a court martial can’t you?

        “But those aren’t my orders. I didn’t write those orders”.


        • Mark Dec 4, 2017 / 4:26 pm

          Iam amazed that people, or more like companies will pay to send their poor put upon staff to go and listen to these things. Smith and the Ping pong man are living the dream. It’s like the music of Yoko Ono.


          • BoredInAustria Dec 4, 2017 / 8:45 pm


            I really disagreed with your post yesterday, but the Sandhurts and Yoko Ono comments get a thumbs up…


  10. SimonH Dec 4, 2017 / 6:57 pm

    Not seen many media sources mentioning it – but Paine’s catch to dismiss Broad was a lovely piece of glovework.

    Meanwhile the decline in YJB’s batting gets ever more worrying and it’s the second keeper running where they seem to have improved his keeping but in the process somehow have wrecked his batting.


    • man in a barrel Dec 4, 2017 / 9:03 pm

      It’s something my analysis shook out too. It might be a temperamental thing, ie he thinks he is a batsman and hasn’t worked out a way of playing down the order. This could be a matter of coaching. It could be that he is in decline. In an earlier thread I wrote of how the nets footage showed him whacking everything to mid-wicket, practising bad habits. Surely there is a case now for giving Foakes a try, but the big problem is that the attack is too old and uneven in impact to reduce to 4


      • man in a barrel Dec 4, 2017 / 9:04 pm

        Oh and yes, it was a neatly taken catch, none of this Bairstow-style clutching and fumbling


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