First of all, I want to echo the thoughts of Dmitri & TLG and take the opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas wherever you are in the world. Thank you once again to those that have read, contributed and commented on the blog in 2017, your support has once again been invaluable.
So, onto the cricket ahead of us and if you hadn’t watched any of the series so far, but had just listened to the thoughts of Empty Suit, then you’d have thought that England had just won the Ashes covincingly this year:
“The health of the game is more than just Ashes series overseas,” Harrison said. “We’ve had record-breaking attendances in domestic and international cricket, changed our governance structure, hosted two global events, won the women’s World Cup and launched a participation initiative for kids. We’ve had a successful entry into the broadcast rights market out of which we have secured the financial future of the game until 2024.
“It’s a shame this series hasn’t gone our way but there’s more to play for over the course of the winter. It’s also important to remember that in every one of the three games England have been in a position where things could have worked out differently.”
I think we can safely translate this as the ECB has plenty of money through our new TV deals and T20 competition, so stuff the fans and stuff the Ashes, as long as the mugs still turn up for the Lords Test next Summer. The lack of accountability and self-awareness, whilst not surprising is still absolutely breathtaking. Jobs for the boys and all that…
As for the next Test itself, there won’t be too many people betting on an England victory, not only as we’ve been consistently outplayed in the first 3 Tests, but also because England’s record in dead-rubber games is pretty appalling. It has been confirmed that Tom Curran will replace Craig Overton for England and Jackson Bird will replace Mitchell Starc for the Australians. Now, from the little I’ve seen of both Curran brothers, I do believe that they have something about them, but again if the MCG is a flat, quick pitch then I’m not sure that Tom Curran will have any more success than England’s other quick bowlers have had in the series so far. There has been some talk of Mason Crane playing, but surely that will only happen if Moeen, despite having a poor series, is injured. Certainly I think throwing Crane into one of the last 2 Tests, will be a form of hari-kari, as the Aussies smashed Yasir Shah to all parts of Australia last winter and Shah is a far better bowler than Crane.
We are going to try and live blog some of this Test and Dmitri will be in place to cover some of the first session, so if a whole day with the in-laws and eating far too much Turkey isn’t enough masochism for one day, then please do join us this evening to see if England can muster some fight in this Test and avoid the dreaded whitewash.
Thoughts and comments below as always…
LIVE BLOG TIME….
OK, Live blog time. Dmitri here for as long as I last. Yet again the media are setting the agenda and Joe Root is now defending himself as captain more than his predecessor had to on the incredible collapsing tour last time out in Australia.
I went to the MCG back in 2006. Victoria v Queensland in a one day cup match. A huge soulless bowl in my opinion. Of course, with a thousand or so in the ground it was always going to be so, but Brisbane gets stick where the “G” doesn’t.
22:58 Hello my hit person from Kyoto. Glad to see BT Sport have Michael Hussey in to replace Ricky Ponting. Hussey speaks far too fast but absolutely loves the game and he could be quite a decent replacement.
23:00 Australia bat first. Steve Smith wins the toss. At least I don’t have an England collapse to report on this evening. Just the one change – Curran in for Overton – and the point made by Shiny Toy in the preview isn’t quite the stupid one it appears. Again, we reward the failures to put it right. That said, we dropped Prior and Root at the tail end of 2013/14 so that worked!
23:08 Damien Fleming seems to think Joe Root won the toss?
23:14 The Voice being murdered again in the background. Absolutely slaughtered.
23:16 That Shiny Toy clip is in this tweet:
23:20 If I may be allowed to let my standards down, but this absolute prick repeatedly gets away with this bollocks. Usman Khawaja is in the Australian team.
He’s been brought up in England, educated in England, hasn’t been to his native country I would imagine for any length of time. It’s not a funny dig, it’s idiotic nativism. I think it’s great that Usman Khawaja, born of Pakistani parents in Islamabad is playing for Australia.
23:22 All good aboriginal stuff. She’s making the most of her two minutes of publicity. The anthems as dreadful as ever. Get on with it.
23:26 Michael Slater. Good luck everyone.
23:27 From James at TFT:
We’d have taken that today!
23:30 Loads of comments that Warner is going to get a ton today. We’ll see. Jimmy Anderson gets us underway with a wide one easily left by Bancroft. A rank ball second up is prodded through the covers for 3 second ball by Bancroft. Warner is a little fortunate off his second ball with a floaty one through gully for another three. 6/0 off the first over.
23:36 Broad gets booed before he bowls. Ah, remember those pious Aussies over Ponting? Never mind. Single for Warner off the third ball (as BT have a funky moment). 7/0 after 2 overs.
23:41 Took a comfort break for most of that over. 3 runs off it. Anderson looking up an down. 10 for no loss. Could be a long one peeps.
23:45 First boundary of the day as Warner punches one down the ground from a full Broad ball. It looks to me as if Broad is floating it up there. He’s made a couple of twos on either side of the boundary. A single off the last straight to mid off (he’s too deep if he’s taking a single to you) makes it 19 for no loss off 4 overs.
23:48 Interesting Tweet on Warner’s flat track bully status:
No matter. Warner punches another four through the covers. Then drops it and a single is taken. The lessons we can learn from this sort of batting go beyond the T20 label. Push it. Run. End of the 5th over and it is 26 for 0.
23:52 First play and miss. Warner beaten by Broad. Call the press. Warner has gone from looking nervous to firm body language in 20 minutes. The commentators are charlatans dealing in cliche. Broad bowls the best over by a mile, calming Warner down with a maiden.
23:55 Anderson hurries Bancroft with an 83 mph short ball. Odd. Second consecutive maiden, remaining 26 for 0.
00:02 Broad fields well to ensure another maiden. 26/0 off 8. Not particularly threatening, but stemmed some of the early bleeding.
00:05 Bancroft again uncomfortable against a shorter ball. Hussey on comms reckons we’ve been a bit short, but when we are full we appear to be a bit “floaty” in my opinion. Fourth maiden on the trot. 26/0 after 9 overs.
00:08 A ball on leg stump ends the 28 balls without a run, as Warner moves on to 22. The only run off the over as Bancroft continues to look edgy. 27/0 after 10.
00:14 Anderson bowls a jollop ball and lets the shackles off Warner. Broad has been really disciplined this morning, but the genius has been off kilter. 31 for 0 after 11.
00:17 Good grief. Genuine nick, first morning, newish ball, doesn’t carry half way. Let’s hear none of best test wickets in the world from the Australians, eh? Broad bowled well, so far. Bancroft flaps at another short one. I’ve wanted a short leg from the first time that happened, but that’s me. Oh, and now we put one there! Broad goes full off the last ball and Bancroft gets a couple to get his score moving. 33 for no loss after 12 overs. Time for Anderson to have a rest? Looked pretty up and down this morning.
00:22 Woakes replaces Anderson. Sure, it’s a flat deck, but Anderson looked toothless. Broad has bowled and sat in well. Woakes bowls a wide on second up and Warner flaps it for two. Four runs in total from an innocuous opening over from Woakes.
00:27 At the moment I’m staying up only to watch Tom Curran. This is turgid stuff because England are bowling resourcefully with no reward. Broad continues a probing spell. 37 for 0 at the drinks break. Broad completes 7 overs for 13 runs. Sure, no wickets, but this is a flat deck and he kept the batsmen, including Warner when he started his flurry, honest. Outbowled Anderson. But it doesn’t matter when you don’t take wickets.
00:34 Woakes bowls a crap first ball after drinks which Warner wallops for a couple. An appeal off the 4th ball of the over, but too high. Bancroft looks horrific on strike. But he’s still there. 40 for 0.
00:39 Moeen Ali comes on. Tom Curran has to be feeling terrific already. Single off the third ball to Warner. Single milked by Bancroft off the fourth. Last ball is short filth and smashed for four through midwicket by Warner. 46 for 0.
00:42 Woakes bowling. BT sport miss the 4th ball of the over with a range shot (2nd ball they’ve missed today). 3 off the 5th ball as the 2 runs are added after the ball hits the stumps. 50 brought up as Woakes redefines unthreatening.
00:47 Warner pushes another couple through the offside off Moeen. 53 for 0, with Warner on 42. Get Curran on, Root, so I can go to bed.
00:51 Warner creams the second ball off Woakes for a boundary. Woakes going downhill quicker than Frank Klammer. Warner brings up a half-century with a disdainful smash through mid wicket to a ball just outside off stump but a little short. Woakes now gone for 21 in his first three (?) overs. 50 up off 64 balls.
00:55 Good luck Tom. 63 for 0. Flat deck. Warner in. Nice chance to perform. Bancroft a bit streaky off the third ball as he hits over the slips. Curran lucky to be bowling to Bancroft as he’s bowled a wide one, a half volley and got one nicked. With that, folks, I’m winding up the live blog for the evening and going to bed.
It’s a dreadfully flat wicket, England have been woeful on surfaces like this, and Australia are going to make a ton here. See you on the other side!