1978. That was the last time an England cricket team won a Test match at the WACA against Australia. So only 39 years of history, woe and tears that this ragtag bunch of tourists have to correct in 2017 in order to keep the Ashes alive. A big task? Yes. A very unlikely ask? Yes. Is it possible? Yes, but you won’t find me throwing any money behind an England win. Much has been made of the Adelaide Test, also known as the Macbeth Test, in which Dmitri’s first blog took it’s name from; however for a Macbeth ground, then the WACA has the hopes and ghosts of many an English batsmen and bowlers as tortured skeletons under the square.
The good news, if there is some, is that this WACA pitch is unlikely to have the pace and bounce of previous WACA pitches and Australia are beatable there too, as South Africa proved last year on what was a bit of a turgid pitch, certainly compared to some of the lightning quick pitches of the past. Also whilst the English cricket team has been busy head-butting the opposition, throwing drinks over each other and generally being a bunch of drunken arses after a couple of sherbets, then at least they don’t seem to have picked up any injuries in their various drunken shenanigans. That being said, the performances at Brisbane and Adelaide don’t fill me with a massive sense of confidence.
I had doubts about the make up of England’s batting and bowling units before the tour started and my various fears have been actively confirmed from the performances of certain individuals from the first 2 Tests. The bowlers have once again either bowled too short (wow what a surprise) or have looked particularly toothless when the ball isn’t swinging i.e. any time apart from the 2nd innings at Adelaide. The batting line up still has more holes than the average sieve and I really don’t see how a middle order of Vince, Malan (who at least has looked to adapt his game, but still looks short of international class) and Moeen, who has always struggled with bounce and pace are going to be able to post a competitive score that allows our bowlers to attack what is an unconvincing Australian batting order. This coupled with Cook’s ongoing struggles against any bowling that is remotely international class (the fact that he keeps getting out to spin, which is supposed to be his strength, is symptomatic of the struggles he is going through), alongside Root who I feel is facing the challenge of being England’s best batsman and captain of a struggling side, has meant that England really haven’t been close to being that competitive in this Ashes series. There has been some talk around shuffling the batting order and bringing in another bowler, but I don’t see anything but an unchanged team for Perth, especially as most have had a nice week or so off after deciding to skip the two day game as they are in such good touch! Thankfully it appears that the English selectors have finally seen a little sense and decided not to chance an injury prone and massively undercooked Mark Wood into the equation. As for Gary Ballance and Mason Crane, then I hope they are enjoying their all expenses paid holiday to Australia, as let’s face it, there isn’t a cat in hells chance that either of them will play in this series.
As for Australia, no doubt they will simply wish for more of the same as they have pretty much got England where they want them. It is appears that we will have a sighting of a second Marsh at Perth, with many tipping Mitch Marsh to replace Handscomb, who has looked pretty horrible with the bat this series. Normally the sighting of a Marsh, let alone two in the Australia team would involve a huge cheers from the English supporters; however we lost at Adelaide due to Shaun’s century and Mitch is actually in pretty good form with the bat in Shield cricket. One can only hope that they revert to their standard approach of being fairly useless in the remaining Tests.
As an aside, I’m not sure if anyone saw the quite dull press conference from Cook yesterday responding to the jibes from Messr’s Pietersen & Johnson. Now, before I get shouted at by the Cook brigade, I think KP was pretty out of order in questioning Cook’s motivation, which to me appeared to be a bit of a cheap shot back. I personally have never questioned Cook’s work ethic or motivation, I simply have questioned whether he is good enough to hold down a place in the England team let alone being England’s greatest player (which he most certainly isn’t). So aside from the normal bland responses from Cook, he did let slip a quite frankly hilarious quote covering his standard self-pity and the chaos that revolves around our administrators:
“Could it be my last series? I’ve no idea. And I’ve said that since I gave up the captaincy. Things change incredibly quickly. I was taught a lesson in 2014 with that World Cup. In the morning I was expecting to lead England in that World Cup and in the afternoon I got a phone call saying they didn’t want me to do it. And that was an hour after a meeting when they said they wanted me to, so you end up living on the edge in professional cricket.”
Yep he still can’t let it go or admit that he is simply wasn’t pulling his weight in an England team that was behind the times and routinely getting hammered by the rest of the world who had embraced a different form of approaching ODI’s. I guess the batting average under 29 and a strike rate under 80 the previous calendar year didn’t resonate either, no wonder the poor little lamb is so still upset about this, he thought he was General Custer, when in reality, he was General Custard. I also guess this was the first time that someone had said had told him he wasn’t the messiah mind! That being said the fact that the ECB only managed to tell him an hour after they had confirmed they wanted to lead the team to the World Cup, shows once again the complete and utter incompetence by those who are running English cricket. Some of those clowns have since being pensioned off, so instead we now have new lunatics running the asylum instead though predictably the results have remained the same.
Anyway enough of that. I don’t think any of us are going to be able to make it up in time or stay up late to live blog this Test. TLG is out of commission this week and neither Dmitri or myself are mental enough to do that with work the next day and even Danny might not be trying to rinse every penny out of his trial BT subscription. As a result, thoughts and views on the first days play below: