I Know I’m Not A Hopeless Case – Day 3 Live Blog

 

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Welcome to tonight’s live blog for as long as it goes for me. Having had a long afternoon sleep with this cold, I am not getting to proper sleep for a good while yet, and it’s always better to blog the England batting than the Australian. We start the day with England 135 in arrears with 8 second innings wickets standing, a twitterati who couldn’t wait to give it all that, a social media cadre too busy fighting four year old battles all too keen to give it back, and so on and so forth. Meanwhile there’s a perfectly good game going on, and a match to win.

England won a so-called dead rubber in 1998/9 (although that bought us back to 2-1 with 1 to play as the Ashes had gone) and it didn’t feel like it when Dean Headley had the spell of his life. England won a so-called dead rubber in 2003 in Sydney, when the Aussies were without Warne and McGrath and it didn’t feel like it. So it’s a bit cheeky to pick and choose that this is a dead rubber. That isn’t particularly fair. It’s a bit cheeky to pick the lack of Starc and a fit Cummins, and use it against Cook. But we have been a bit cheeky throughout the last few years, so why stop now? Or maybe that team we beat in those two “dead rubbers” had all time greats coming out of their ears. Cricket is never a perfect match, a like for like. And attitudes change too.

So join me, Dmitri, if you want for the first hour or two and see where we go. Suffer with me, the blogging antichrist! The only bleep test I’ll be doing is putting 10p in a jar each time I swear in the earshot of the beloved in the New Year! The only cult I’ll be joining is the Paddington Bear appreciation society. The only time I’ll be back to my best is when I’m fighting four year old battles. Love it.

23:00 I don’t know about you, but we’re all a little bit too cocky at the moment. Best exemplified by this Broad wibble…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/42491916

“I deserved criticism after the Perth defeat,” added the 31-year-old, who has 397 Test wickets and sits second on England’s all-time list.

“Since then, I’ve had one of those weeks where you get your tin hat on, duck down and don’t really see much. I’ve been very unaware of things been written or said.

“I’ve gone to that place where you have to go as a sportsman, where you find something within yourself, get support from people around you and build yourself back up again.”

Broad has been poor this tour and now he’s played well for a day or so. Now he’s got a bit of a spring in his step. Three games too late.

23:07 Interesting Cook interview. But I’ll keep my thoughts to myself.

23:23 Shiny Toy, who said 327 was a good score yesterday, is now saying we should bat the day out today. He’s winging it. Big time winging it.

23:25 In my opinion, with this start, and an Australia dealing with gastro issues, we should be looking at 400 minimum, 500 par. Bat out the day, at a half reasonable rate and it is game on. Let’s see.

23:30 Jackson Bird opens the bowling and Cook gets a single off the second ball of the day. Root is on 49 and has just one slip with some short fielders straight (ish). A dab to point off the last ball of the over gets Root to 50. 194 for 2.

23:34 Hazlewood on from the other end. Root clips him off the hip to midwicket for one off the first ball. 22 overs to the new ball. Hazlewood comes around the wicket for Cook. Probing line first up. Mitchell saying he (Cook) takes pride in coming out of the well, with no recognition that his place in the team is totally solid and has been for ages. Edges the last ball of the over into the ground and over finishes at 195 for 2.

23:39 Bird getting some shape. Conversion rate Klaxon from Mitchell. Bird’s 5th delivery is whipped off his legs by Root who hustles for 2. Over finishes at 197 for 2. Back in 2 minutes!

23:45 I suppose we have to put up with the eulogies for Cook. I’ve genuinely never heard the like of it for many a year. A bit of a streaky drive through backward point gets Cook 3 and it is 200 for 2. First betting advert is Ladbrokes tonight. The fishing celebration that if it happened in my day, someone would be getting lamped afterwards.

23:47 Bird carries on. Last ball was under 80 mph. The commentary is full Cook tribute at the moment, as the talismanic, well respected opener bats out a maiden.

23:50 Hazlewood gets Root to edge into the ground first ball of the 63rd over. The speedo says he’s at around 86mph at the moment. Appeal for a legside strangle after the third  ball, but not reviewed, but it smashed the thigh pad. 4th ball getting a bit of shape into the batsman (Root), as Hazlewood might be getting a little reverse? Another maiden keeps it at 200 for 2.

23:55 Shiny Toy on now. Cook starts with a lovely drive for no runs and a nice whip off his legs straight to the fielder. Another lovely shot into the V off the third, but again no runs. Warner was rotating the strike with shots like that. And again off the fourth ball. A leg whip to fine leg gets the first run for three overs. Cook 109, England 201 for 2.

00:00 Happy 28th December in the UK. Hazlewood continues, around the wicket to Cook. A drive slightly uppish through the covers gets Cook two runs. Actually wasn’t that uppish. Hazlewood getting a little bit of reverse again, bowling very tightly. Reminds me of my nephew, facially, if a bit older (my nephew is 7). 2 off the over, 203 for 2, Cook 111.

00:05 Root strokes Bird through the covers for 3 off his second ball of the over. Lovely shot. Cook gets a wide one and cuts it behind point for 4. 210 up. Off Nelson. Geoffrey isn’t going to recommend Bird signing for Yorkshire! Cook prods the last ball for 2 and it’s 212 for 2. Cook on 117. Up to his 23rd highest test score (early in his career he had a lot of low hundreds).

00:09 Here is Pat Cummins, a day after the illness.  First ball was 80.5 mph. Another really good hit day yesterday, we’ve been blessed in the last month. Thanks to you all. Cummins’ third ball (85 mph) whipped through the legside for a single by Root. Fourth ball, left alone, was a click under 84 mph. Cook knocks one behind point for a single, and moves on to 118. Root on 57. Last ball played back, and was nearly 87 mph. 214 for 2.

00:14 Here comes Nathan Lyon. England imploded to him on Day 3 last time out, if I recall. Cook whips one to midwicket, hitting it cleanly but no run off the second ball. Not leaving a lot, is Alastair. Bit “splicey” on the 5th ball, but no harm done. Maiden completed. 214 for 2. 22 runs in 46 minutes so far. But no wickets.

00:18 Cummins for his second over. Anyone at work tomorrow? Is it Thursday tomorrow? Root plays a gorgeous late dab through backward point for four off the second ball of the over. Root into the 60s. Third ball of the over slightly hurries Root with an 87 mph delivery. The next one is 87+ too. Is Shiny Toy following this blog – when I mention the speed, he does too?

WICKET – ROOT  Caught Lyon Bowled Cummins 61.  218 for 3

A pretty ordinary shot. Skies a pull shot and doesn’t convert again. Not really sure what you can say about that. Lyon takes a comfortable catch well in from the boundary. 218 for 3. In comes Malan.

00:24 Lyon back to bowl to Cook. Cook cuts for a single to go to 119, which I always remember as a Hilditch (he made it at Headingley in 1985). This wicket is as different as you get from Perth for Malan. Plays the rest of the over out. 219 for 3.

00:27 Root has made two hundreds in his first 11 test matches as captain. Cummins continues. Cook really wants to feel bat on ball, he’s leaving very little. Malan nicks through the slip into the ground for a lovely boundary to start his knock. Cummins now up to 88 mph. Bouncer off the fifth ball. End of the over, and it is drinks. So I can have a couple of minutes off. Enjoyed it so far. Cook looking really good, but Root has to be livid with that shot. Be back soon. 224 for 3. 32 for 1 in the first hour.

00:34 Lyon back to bowl to Cook who nurdles the second ball for a single. The irony of Swann saying Broad pulled up with an injury before Abu Dhabi. Malan dabs a single to leg to move on to 5. 2 off the over, 226 for 3. This is now Cook’s 18th highest score.

00:37 Optimistic appeal by Cummins against Malan which is ignored off his second ball. God Lovejoy is a prick. I can’t abide this clown. Volume down. Fed up with the dull bantz. Fifth ball and Malan hits one to a wide third man straight through gully / fifth slip in the air. Four for Malan, and then gets another boundary with a slightly more convincing prod to a finer third man. 8 off the over, and it is 234 for 3.

00:42 A sharp single for Cook off the first ball and he is on to 122. Malan uses his feet but pushes the ball back off the second ball. He’s keen to try that, but stays on his crease for the third. I make it 00:50 when Lovejoy leaves the box. End of the 74th and it is 235 for 3. And here comes Ray, missing nuffink.

00:45 Cummins carries on, as does Cook who nudges a single to backward square leg. Just passed the 122 he made in Mumbai in 2012 for his 17th best. Next target is 127 made at Old Trafford in 2006. Just realised it’s Mitchell Marsh bowling. Ooops. The future Surrey legend being used up until the new ball. Still managing 82 mph. Volume back up as Lovejoy is gone. One off the MM over and it is 236 for 3.

00:50 Cook pushes another slightly wide Lyon delivery through point for two. Some interest off the 4th ball, off an inside edge which did not go to hand. Cook puts that behind him with another single. Up to 126. 3 off the over. 239 for 3.

00:53 Come on Smith. I’m sick and I’m doing this. Get on with it. Terrific straight drive from Cook for 4. Up to 130. He’s been out on that number twice in tests. Goes past this after a load of twaddle from Marsh is helped down to long leg for a single. 133 against Sri Lanka at Cardiff is next. End of the over 244 for 3. And here comes the Paddy Power ad.

00:59 Maiden from Lyon. I missed it.

01:00 Marsh throws one wide in what is probably his last over for a while, and Malan goes at it. No harm done. Nondescript filth thus far including a short wide one. 244 for 3.

01:04 Lyon bowls the 80th over. Cook takes a single off the first ball. Malan dabs one onto the legside for his 14th run. End of the 80th and it is 246 for 3. New ball being taken.

01:06 Back comes Josh Hazlewood. Second ball with the new ball, and Malan is LBW without a review.

WICKET  MALAN LBW Hazlewood 14   246 for 4

And it looks like he has bloody well inside edged it. What the hell is going on? Bairstow off the mark with a lovely push for three. Cook no doubt ran each run more efficiently. End of the over 249 for 4. I’ll bet my house if there’s an LBW against Cook he’s reviewing it. See also, Stuart Broad.

01:14 Jackson Bird to YJB with the new ball. An innocuous over ends with a glorious extra cover drive by YJB and the score moves to 253 for 4. I really think I knew when I nicked balls, but I’m not going to go mad about it. My good friend Johnny Mitch still has the hump about one I thought  I didn’t hit..

01:19 Cook takes a single off the third ball of the over to move to 133. Crisp on drive by YJB for none off the fourth ball. Tucks the fifth ball for three to get Bairstow into double figures and it 257 for 4. Cook leaves the last ball well alone.

01:22 Bairstow tucks a couple off Bird’s first ball. Hello Q. Nonsense shot off the third ball and lucky not to drag it on. Then he nicks the fourth ball through the gap and gets a boundary. 263 for 4.  That is the end of over score.

01:27 Possibly the last over before lunch when I’ll be calling it a day. Keep the comments coming throughout the night if you want. It’s been fun. Hazlewood is the man with the ball for this over, the 85th of the innings. Cook leaves a ball on height and possibly width off the second. A lot resting on Cook now. Pulls the third ball to long leg for a single, and moves to 134. Bairstow leaves a couple quite close to him, but that is lunch.

Two wickets lost in the session, with England making 72 for 2. Cook added 30 to his total, and looked pretty solid. Hazlewood is the main threat, though Cummins is looking back to himself. Well poised. Good night everyone.

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With My Undying, Death Defying, Love For You…. 4th Test, Day 2

Cook Love Letter

Alastair Cook made a test hundred. Against Australia. I’m not sure anything else is really needed, is it?

No. I’m not going to let you off that lightly. I have a bit of the old head cold at the moment so I didn’t watch last night. I’m watching the highlights now to see how it went. I’ve also got the whole of the day’s play on the hard drive so anyone who wants a copy of the hundred, please let me know!

I woke up this morning, having followed the action through broken sleep, to see Alastair Cook had completed a century, England are 192 for 2 chasing 327, and that Root is one more run from entering the conversion zone. I am sure there are many out there who think this has me clenching my fist in rage, anger that Cook has “proved me wrong” and that there is still life in the old opener yet. Anger that I can’t quote the no hundreds in 36 Ashes innings or whatever it is. That I’ve been shown up yet again by the master England batsman. I genuinely didn’t wake up feeling like that. I was genuinely pleased we’d bowled out the Australians for a wholly inadequate score, and that we have got a great base to take on a big first innings lead, put the Aussies under pressure and avoid a whitewash. For me, as it is for Alastair, it is all about the team position. England had a magnificent day.

It started with Tom Curran getting Smith to drag on for 76. That opened the floodgates a little. Marsh M, this winter’s Karun Nair, followed soon after, dragging on. Tim Paine went a bit later, dragging on. We can go on about bowling dry in a negative sense quite a lot but England applied a lot of pressure to a sporting team that have to attack, and the run rate was stagnant for long periods, so they can get impatient and wish to impose their will. It’s in their sporting psyche to do so. England stuck to their guns, took out the tail, kept Shaun from making a big one, and having not taken a wicket on a road yesterday before lunch, we took 10 for just over 200 in the intervening period (checks – 205 runs). That was an outstanding performance of discipline, persistence and a little bit of good fortune that we were probably due.

The good fortune extended to the afternoon and evening sessions. With Starc out and Bird replacing him, the Anderson jibe that the bowling strengths in depth in Australia weren’t all they are made up to be could be being proved right. That Pat Cummins wasn’t right was also a fair result too. No sympathy is given to England when this happens and this should certainly not be reciprocated. The point then is that with advantages like this, with a flat deck, with a lovely outfield, an ailing bowling attack is to cash in. Really good players do that. Alastair Cook, when he pulls his technique together, is a really good player. He cashed in. Joe Root is a really good player, and he’s off to a very decent start. England need them both to cash in for a really big one. As I write this, Cook has passed 50 on the highlights, and it is pointed out that it’s his first 50 of the series. More on this a little later.

Stoneman got a start again, looked decent against the opening bowlers, and then gave it away to Lyon. Vince got a decent start, and was then out LBW when it looked like he nicked it (and he didn’t review). Cook got a piece of fortune on 66 when Smith dropped him off Mitchell Marsh. Cricket is a game of fine lines and fate many times, and you grab this with both hands if you are good enough. Stoneman may be running out of chances, Vince is going to be the man who promises you the world, but will let you down, and Cook is the one who can make you really pay. He scored at a really fluent rate, he looked so much better, with so much more confidence and aura. Chris thinks he’s seen some major technical shift – he can explain – but this was a good, important hundred.

So tomorrow will start with England in a good position but with a lot of work to do. Can Cook make it another double, another big one? Can Root convert? Will Malan carry on his Perth form on a polar opposite wicket? How about YJB? Can Moeen save his tour with the bat. One thinks we might need three or four of these to happen. England need a lot more than a 100 run lead in my view.

So that’s the cricket. We should be pleased if we are England fans. We should relish the chance to stick one to the Australians at their biggest test match. While it is perfectly reasonable to point out the limitations of the attack, the possibility the Aussies have eased off the gas, that the series is a dead rubber, we must also recognise in previous incarnations we haven’t lifted ourselves, players deserted or were injured, and England got whitewashed. So while the article headlined “Nice of you to turn up at last” is harsh, it isn’t entirely fair. But I have to say when I see absolute rot like this tweet, you wonder why I (and others on here) get angry:

He scored the square root of nothing on this tour thus far. He hadn’t scored an Ashes ton since January 2011. So if you weren’t a doubter I would suggest that there’s something amiss in your statistical analysis. This came from nowhere. Instead of enjoying it, this lot, and others had to make a point.

For the haters and naysayers. That’s what we’ve become. You are either with him or against him. If you criticise his performance, his captaincy, his role in the debacle four years ago and its aftermath, may you be slapped down. May you be damned, you haters. May you never speak again, May your view never be aired again. He’s made a hundred now. Shut up.

That’s it. A few days ago Tom Harrison, in an interview covered in detail by George Dobell, basically said there was nothing to see here when it came to this Ashes. That winning in Australia is difficult because of home advantage. That because the money is now taken care of, and we aren’t a national embarrassment at white ball cricket any more, we are in a safe place, a nice place, a place to build upon and make hay when the sun shines. The complacency was immense, as teeth itching as Downton calling the 2013-14 series a “difficult winter”. The media fell asleep at this wheel. Nothing to bother their pretty little heads about, concerned more with what he didn’t say about Stokes than what he did say about how great Tom Harrison was while we lost the main test prize we seem to care about.

An Alastair Cook ton when the series has gone is the cricket pundit equivalent. It’s a wonderful moment for him, to end a barren run, to end a personal nightmare. It’s come in a cause for the team, and they’ll be delighted. It’s lifted the fans out there, who have paid good money to go there and have a great day. It’s been a super day. It doesn’t paper over the cracks. Today the media did what they always did. Always do. Team Alastair. Love letters. Personal feelings. If you have the temerity to disagree you are the haters. You are the naysayers. You have been proved wrong.

And you wonder why we find it hard to support England. Look at a day like today. I woke up feeling pretty pleased for Cook. Now I feel he’s the useful tool again. That’s the current England set up. You might want to come back inside? You aren’t allowed. This is Cook’s world and if you doubt him, you aren’t allowed in. Once again, he’s the lightning rod. Those who hate us, who feel we are disloyal will never understand. Just when you thought the schism was potentially going to be healed, it had to be spoiled. It’s just the way these days. Forget him, it is Cook who divides English cricket down the middle.

Comments on tonight’s play below. If I feel up to it, with this poxy head cold, I might live blog the early exchanges. I quite like watching England bat. Maybe we need to turn down the Twitter feed. Maybe someone should have a word with the person who put that GN tweet up.