After yesterday’s washout, we should get underway today at last. The match is reduced to four days, with the follow on target down to 150, and with 98 overs scheduled for each of the remaining days. Obviously, in terms of the latter, they won’t get 98 overs in, but that’s de rigeur these days, and no one cares about it anyway, but even so if the weather stays fair then there is a reasonable chance of a result.
England made it pretty clear yesterday that Jofra Archer was going to play, and while they could always change their minds, there’s no reason to assume they will. Pattinson is certainly out, rested, for Australia, while Hazlewood replaces Starc.
Other than that, it’s pretty much as you were – England are fretting about how to get rid of Steve Smith, who has moved from world class batsmen to batting God in the space of a Test, and will doubtless provoke wild celebrations just by showing signs of human weakness at any point. The two batting orders still look fragile, the two bowling attacks still look like they might run through the opposition. Australia have the upper hand largely because of Smith, but there is no reason at all England can’t skittle their visitors – the problem is the lack of confidence in the England batting order taking advantage of it.
There was some talk in the media about replacing Denly with Curran, drawing a furious response from Nasser Hussain about what that implies about the England batting order. He was right too, either England choose batsmen or not, and selecting a bowling all rounder on the basis of more runs would be a savage indictment on the selection process. Yet the wider issue is that even the suggestion of it already is that savage indictment – the possibility that an all rounder might contribute more to the run scoring than a selected batsman. And that it might well be true.
Let’s hope we have a full day’s play today, not least for those who have paid the £150 a ticket for their inadequate seating and the privilege of seeing on social media how the chosen people get to enjoy the dining options.
Comments as always below.