England vs. Australia, Third Test, Preview

So we head to Headingley, with the fallout of the Second Test still ringing in our ears. I must admit that I was not expecting the game at Lords to have been so close with the amount of rain and time lost on the test, but to the credit of each team, they fought to the bitter end. Day Five proved to be a day full of drama with Australia batting out for a draw but the main fallout from the game was naturally that of the Steve Smith concussion and the so-called reaction of Jofra Archer to the ball that fell Steve Smith.

I must admit it did leave a sour taste in the mouth with unfounded accusations and ugly behaviour from both sets of fans. The fact that Smith was booed after he had been hit was utterly disgusting but equally the individual that called Joe Root ‘a cheating wanker’ for claiming the catch of Marnus Labuschange was not exactly an upstanding individual of the game (I’m not even going to bother with the Andy Bichel comments). I’m also keen for us not to sully ourselves with those who question the nationality of certain players on both sides, which for me is a complete nonentity, but sadly common in the modern game now.

It has been a strange series so far, in that the game on the pitch has been played in a hard but fair manner, however the behaviour off the pitch from the opposing sets of fans has been anything but that. I get the tribalism from each set of supporters as the rivalry between England and Australia has gone back since the dawn of time, but at this point it does look like a race to the bottom between each sets of fans with each declaring that the other are more disgusting. I didn’t see the ball from Archer that hit Smith in real time, but I’d have been very surprised if Archer was laughing at the plight of his injured opponent. TLG mentioned in his piece about having a delayed reaction when he unwittingly hurt a player from his own side, with bewilderment turning to shock then then turn into horror. Indeed Mitchell Johnson, a scourge of many a former England Test Batsman wrote this piece in the ‘I’ paper yesterday:

One thing that may have opened his eyes is the dispute around his reaction to his blow to Smith’s head. For me, I just don’t think he knew how to react at that moment. To judge him without knowing the facts and on limited evidence is pretty poor.

Bowling with pace and hostility doesn’t happen without the intent to do so. You need the desire to do it in order to go through all the pain that comes with bowling at extreme speeds. I can say with absolute honesty that I used to run in wanting to take the batsman’s head off when I was trying to bowl a bouncer.

That’s not me saying that I ever wanted to hurt anyone. It was simply a way to trick my mind and get up for the battle.

I didn’t think that I would like Mitchell Johnson, as he took on the role of heavily moustachioed destroyer of England’s batsman in the past, but it has been a nice surprise to listen to his well-informed and erudite commentary, especially as he has past experiences of bowling with pace and venom and hitting one or two players in the process. It’s a shame we haven’t heard more from him as opposed to some other of his compatriots who are far less insightful.

It has now been confirmed that Steve Smith out of the Third Test, which is a great pity for those that want to see the best players playing in the Ashes, even if they are for the opposition. I’m not a doctor and hence can’t provide an informed view of the Smith concussion, but although he did look shaky when he returned to the crease, I am more than willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the Australian medical team and the concussion checks that they no doubt carried out; whether there should be an independent medical team for each Test Match is an argument that is potentially worth having in the future, but for now it’s a moot point and personally I seriously doubt the Australian medics would purposely endanger their own player. It is naturally a huge blow to Australia in losing their best player; however I don’t agree with those who now make England favourites for this match, it’s more the case that both teams are more equally matched now. In my opinion. I can’t see Australia making many changes to their side apart from the enforced change, with Marnus Labuschange likely to come in for Smith, though there could be a possible change in the bowling line up with either Starc or Pattinson potentially coming in for Siddle, who was not at his best at Lords.

As the England it looks like it will be an unchanged side despite the clear deficiencies of the batsmen. As Danny pointed out his last post, the fact that we only have a three day gap between this Test and the last Test and with the other English batsmen in the county set up not having played red ball cricket for a long while, it means that England are stuck with the batsmen they have. They may decide to tinker with the batting order, with Root maybe going down to his preferred position at number 4 with Denly replacing him at number 3, but it’s like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic anyway! One would expect that another failure for Roy or Denly will likely mean changes for the fourth test; however this is Ed Smith and I’m not sure if he has ever admitted that he has been wrong. The one major positive for England has been the performance of Ben Stokes, who looked a top-class batsman in the last Test and is hopefully now beginning to realise the major talent that he has in abundance. Stokes has been the backbone of the English batting line throughout the World Cup and has looked in fine fettle this series and boy do England need him to carry on with his form throughout the rest of the series if they are going to have any chance in re-claiming the urn.

The weather looks set fair for Headingley, which is no doubt a relief for both sets of batsmen as the ball can swing round trees with sufficient overhead conditions. Here’s hoping for another edge of the seat game at Yorkshire, perhaps without the controversy and mudslinging that we saw at Lords. Oh and one more thing, can someone please ask Joe Root to try and not ruin our new fast bowling hope? If i see Archer being given any more 12 over spells, then I might just combust.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts on the game or anything else below.






65 thoughts on “England vs. Australia, Third Test, Preview

  1. alecpaton Aug 21, 2019 / 8:47 am

    Following the Surrey v Hampshire match, I was wondering if a better top/middle order might look more like:


    I can see the justification for not selecting Hildreth given his age (although it never stopped Chris Rogers), but Denley is hardly any less of a sticking plaster. If one insists that Root should bat at 3, then Ballance could be considered for number 5.


    • Burly Aug 21, 2019 / 9:22 am

      I’m not sure I understand dropping the opener who’s doing alright but keeping the one who isn’t!

      Liked by 2 people

      • alecpaton Aug 21, 2019 / 10:33 am

        Yes, sorry. I meant to say Burns and not Roy. This is why I’m not a national selector.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Aug 21, 2019 / 9:37 am

      As Sean says there has been hardly any country cricket recently and so who can you pick that is in form? Take yesterday’s game where top team Essex played Kent. ….

      Kent 226 & 40 plays Essex 114 & 153/7. Essex win by three wickets. On day three 275 runs scored for the loss of 26 wickets.

      This will help enormously to create future England test batsman. (Snark)

      For some reason they don’t fancy Hildreth. So I think he has been passed over. England have picked the same team so the only two options are

      1 Ask Root to open in an emergency situation, and bat Denley at three and drop Roy to four. I would leave Stokes where he is as he is actually scoring some runs.

      2 If Root won’t do that, drop him to Four and ask Denley to go on a Kamikaze mission for the good of the team and open with Roy dropping to three.

      I can’t help thinking Bairstow should be involved somewhere in the top order, but he seems to get very chippy if he can’t wicket keep.

      3 Ask the spinner to go up the order and try and blunt the new ball.

      I don’t think any of this will happen, and it will be as you where.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Marek Aug 21, 2019 / 10:25 am

      One good reason for not picking Hildreth now is that–one unbeaten hundred against university opposition apart–he averages 26 this season.

      Picking him would seem to me like picking Glen Chapple in 2009–basically a public apology for not picking him eight or ten years earlier!


      • alecpaton Aug 21, 2019 / 10:35 am

        You’re probably right about Hildreth, I just reckon he’s better placed to score runs than Denly.


    • dannycricket Aug 21, 2019 / 11:25 am

      There’s an argument to be made that there’s a better England top 5 using players outside the current team than the Roy, Burns, Root, Denly and Stokes. It’s not an inspiring batting line up.


      • Mark Aug 21, 2019 / 11:41 am

        Talking about those out of the team…..I kid you not, this was tweeted by an ex player the other day……

        Don Topley (Toppers) 18 Aug

        “Out of the box…….Sir Alastair ? Please please please please just for three Tests. Go and plead with Mrs Alice C, his Mum and Dad before speaking with him.”


        • Sean Aug 21, 2019 / 11:42 am

          FFS 🤦🏻‍♂️


          • Mark Aug 21, 2019 / 12:04 pm

            I keep telling people, it’s an illness. “Cook derangement syndrome.”

            There are large outbreaks of it around the county of Essex.

            Liked by 1 person

        • Benny Aug 21, 2019 / 8:01 pm

          Yeah. Because he’s scored so many runs for Essex this summer …….


      • metatone Aug 21, 2019 / 12:19 pm

        I don’t think there’s a better batsman than Root out there? And while I can agree that Stokes should ideally be at 6 rather than 5, I think that means replacing Buttler rather than Stokes?


        • dannycricket Aug 21, 2019 / 3:41 pm

          There’s no single batsman better than Root, but collectively England’s current top 5 average 32.95 over the last two years whilst in those positions. There are probably 5 English batsmen capable of averaging 33 in Tests out there.


        • Marek Aug 21, 2019 / 8:55 pm

          So you’d think, Danny, wouldn’t you? But who exactly?

          A prerequisite for averaging 33 in Tests would probably be averaging over 40 in f-c cricket–preferably in division one where (despite the recent wisdom of one Mike Selvey) there are simply more Test bowlers, especially spinners. After all, England have picked many, many batsmen in the last two or three years with averages of between 35 and 40, and they’ve virtually all ended with averages in the 20s–or less.

          I can only think of 11 current players with averages over 40 apart from people who’ve only really started this season (ie Hassan Azad might be the next Cook but he might equally be the next Stoneman!) Of those, three are already in the side (Burns, Bairstow, Root) and three are ex-England players (Bell, Cook, Trescothick). That only leaves five: Hildreth (might average 33 but at this stage in his career equally might not, especially since he’s out of form at the moment); Ballance (averages 21 in his last eight Tests), Pope (almost certainly will), Foakes (will be picked in a different role if he’s picked), and Livingstone (has exactly the drawbacks that concern people with the current lot in Tests, namely that he’s an attacking white-ball-style player).

          Anyone else? I don’t think that Statsguru does this, so I may have missed some out.

          And I can think of almost no-one who at the moment could do any better, other than Sibley. It’s interesting that the ones being mentioned/picked for the Lions are Northeast (average 39 despite having played two-thirds of his cricket in the second division–sure he averages 60-odd this season but he averaged 25 last season), Crawley (averages 40 this season, a lot less before, and has been comfortably outperformed by Joe Denly for Kent), Bracey (season average around 30, career average 34) and Hain (essentially has had one very good match this year, but hasn’t been in generally good red-ball form since 2015).

          That’s the most worrying thing. Your argument looks like it should be an open-or-shut one…but sadly I’m not sure it is!


          • quebecer Aug 21, 2019 / 9:45 pm

            I must say, Marek, I think you’ve nailed it there. I don’t know the averages either, but if you think of Lyth, Robson, Duckett, Vince, Westley, Malan, Stoneman, and now Roy and Denly, who the hell else is left? And whoever is left, are they really better than those listed?

            Sam Hain is interesting, as whenever I’ve seen him he’s looked really classy until the moment he gets out. If he just left it longer until the getting out phase. Ah well. Northeast doesn’t seem to fit in face-wise for some reason and I’m really not sure he’s better than any others we’ve tried, Hildreth got pegged years ago as preferring to be a big fish in a small pond (that’s a quote from Selvey a while back), which leaves, er…

            And here I am disagreeing with Danny again! Sorry Danny!!!!


          • dannycricket Aug 22, 2019 / 4:14 am

            Hildreth, Livingstone, Ballance and Pope all have first-class averages over 40. Them plus Crawley would at least be competitive against their England counterparts, I think. Unless they were all played out of position as well, like 4 out of England’s top 5 are right now…


          • Marek Aug 22, 2019 / 10:36 am

            Yes, they were four of the eleven I mentioned.

            But, as I said–while you COULD be right about any of them–Livingstone is exactly the kind of player that has the style that has led everyone to conclude that the current crop are not likely to get much better; Ballance hasn’t been a success in his recent Tests–and he was in great form when he was last picked; Hildreth is probably past his best, and in poor form at the moment; and with Crawley, there’s no reason to assume that someone who has been outperformed in county cricket (including this season) by a player who currently averages 23 in tests, is going to be a huge success AT THE MOMENT.

            As I said, about Pope I agree. About most other players–excepting Sibley and Foakes–, I’m sceptical.


  2. Metatone Aug 21, 2019 / 9:43 am

    Headingley in recent years has been a real Jekyll/Hyde of a pitch – if the weather is right, it hoops around, if it isn’t it means grim toil for the bowlers.

    If the pitch flattens out, you’d probably make Aus the favourites, alongside a side bet on Archer being bowled into the ground.

    Re: England selection – Alas Ed Smith’s ego is a huge problem. Bairstow and Buttler have both started to get over their WC hangover, so there’s no obvious player to stand aside for Roy to move down the order, given that Ed will also refuse to drop Denly. So Roy’s torture continues and England will keep being 1 down for not very much.

    I support Root batting at 4, it’s a losing compromise to put him at 3.


  3. LordCanisLupus Aug 21, 2019 / 4:23 pm

    OK. You lot.

    A man can’t have a bout of manflu without things going off around here! But robust discussion is our stock in trade, so let’s keep it that way. I would hate for us to be considered all click-baity and looking for cheap thrills so blatant that I have to suffix any tweet inviting comment.

    On the incident of the ball on the neck, I was taken by an excerpt from a book I am reading. An individual is playing in his 100th test match, but gets sconed on the head first ball. He does not take part in the first innings after that, but the match gets close. Chasing down a 4th innings total just under 300, wickets start falling. The concussed batsman is keen to go out to bat. His captain says, according to the quote “we can’t send him out there, no way, he’ll die. He gets hit on the head so much”. When that message is relayed by the author to the batsman, he says that he will ignore the captain and go out to bat. “I’m not a weak prick” he is supposed to have said. The captain stays firm. Thankfully the resolve is never tested. The 9th wicket does not fall. We will never know the answer.

    As you may know – the author trying to get the wounded player to bat is Matthew Hayden. The stubborn captain protecting his own player’s health is Ricky Ponting. The batsman not wanting to be thought of as a “weak prick” is Justin Langer, now coach of Australia.

    It interested me.


    • Sean Aug 21, 2019 / 6:50 pm

      Didn’t Langer once go out to bat with a concussion in South Africa? Or was this the incident you’re referring too? I certainly remember seeing him padded up on the balcony when he should’ve been nowhere near the ground.


      • LordCanisLupus Aug 21, 2019 / 7:43 pm

        It was probably this test match, which I probably have recorded somewhere or other. Would fit the bill.

        Hayden’s book is just as you would imagine. Massively insufferable throughout, a contradiction in living form, but actually far more interesting than I thought it would be.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sean Aug 21, 2019 / 7:46 pm

          I want to say 2009, but I really can’t remember.


          • LordCanisLupus Aug 21, 2019 / 7:48 pm

            No, he packed it (test cricket) in after the 2006-7 Ashes. It would have been 2006.


          • Sean Aug 21, 2019 / 7:51 pm

            Yep you’re absolutely right there.


  4. P Aug 22, 2019 / 1:19 am

    Should England bowl first, look at how many overs Archer bowls and how the rest of them are distributed over the other members of the attack.

    I sure hope he knows that it is 100% on him to ensure his longevity in the game, because


    • Pontiac Aug 22, 2019 / 1:23 am

      (whoops. anyway.)

      … because there is absolutely nobody else in the setup who is going to look at workload with a view ranging more than the end of the next session.

      Likewise, my goodness, Leach, could he really be capable of holding down an end going for 2 and a bit and taking a wicket once in a while? He sure hasn’t indicated he can’t do this but I suspect that Root will only remember he exists just before starting to warm up for his own spell.


  5. riverman21 Aug 22, 2019 / 7:12 am

    Loving the Ed Smith Maverick Twitter account.
    Obviously not connected to anyone in the BOC dressing room!


  6. dlpthomas Aug 22, 2019 / 2:07 pm

    Archer well down on pace so far today. Has Root broken him already?


    • dArthez Aug 22, 2019 / 2:28 pm

      Think it is bowling to the conditions. I hope.

      Australia won’t really mind if this day is a washout from now. The worst thing that could happen for them is that there is enough time to bowl them out, and tomorrow it is sunshine.


      • dArthez Aug 22, 2019 / 3:03 pm

        I know there have been plenty of rain breaks and all that, but surely these conditions ask for someone like Woakes to bowl.

        18 overs in, and Archer has bowled 9 of them. Might end up with a spell of 16 overs on the rain-interrupted trot.


    • Mark Aug 22, 2019 / 2:51 pm

      I would like to see Woakes come on and bowl in these conditions for a few overs while the ball is still relatively new.

      Oh, as I write that he is coming on. See how he gets on


  7. metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 3:09 pm

    Going off for the light is really unfortunate as there’s no particular reason to expect that (being 4pm) it will get any lighter… May turn out to have been an unlucky decision with the toss. 2 down is better than 0 down for England, but if it is sunny tomorrow, definitely advantage Australia.


    • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 3:30 pm

      Seems like we’ll squeeze in one more opportunity for Root to try and break Archer…


      • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 3:38 pm

        Good news, Stokes is finally replacing Archer.


    • Mark Aug 22, 2019 / 4:10 pm

      I saw a stat that said the last five test matches at Leeds we’re lost by the team that won the toss.

      Warner was due some runs at some stage in this series. . I do worry that Roots captaincy is like a one club golfer.


      • dlpthomas Aug 22, 2019 / 4:18 pm

        Looks like it could be Warner’s day and Labuschagne is looking good again. Maybe time for Leach to tie up an end?


      • dannycricket Aug 22, 2019 / 4:28 pm

        Choosing someone to lead the England Test team with the nickname “craptain” is really working out well for the ECB…


      • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 4:31 pm

        This is looking a lot like the session that loses the Ashes…

        Liked by 1 person

        • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 4:33 pm

          I’m particularly miffed about this as for once it looked like I’d have some real watching time this weekend, but by then this game is going to be yet another “can England avoid the follow on/scramble enough runs to make it a draw” thing.


          • LordCanisLupus Aug 22, 2019 / 5:13 pm

            Meanwhile, I drift back to 2014


          • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 5:18 pm

            LCL – The Brass Neck


          • Mark Aug 22, 2019 / 5:22 pm

            How about we call out the journalists who lie? And the ones who don’t disclose their conflicts of interest. You know, like when they are writing about their mates?


  8. dlpthomas Aug 22, 2019 / 4:38 pm

    Good bowling from Archer but Root’s going to bowl him into the ground now.


    • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 4:42 pm



  9. dlpthomas Aug 22, 2019 / 4:46 pm

    I believe I have mentioned more than once my undying love for Stuart Broad.


    • quebecer Aug 22, 2019 / 4:49 pm

      He’s been brilliant again. That delivery to get Head (chuckle) was superb.


  10. dlpthomas Aug 22, 2019 / 4:53 pm

    The ball is still doing plenty. Let’s just hope the light doesn’t get any worse.


    • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 4:57 pm

      Yes, England have probably 20 mins at most, if they can get one more wicket (ideally Marnus) then they can feel they are ahead.


  11. quebecer Aug 22, 2019 / 5:20 pm

    Erm, os there a Mrs Marnus?

    Liked by 1 person

    • dlpthomas Aug 22, 2019 / 5:36 pm

      If she’s anything like my wife, Mrs Marnus would be laughing along with everyone else.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 6:19 pm

    So the really good news is I was wrong, we got enough play and (mainly) Archer bowled well enough that it is game on! Although I worry about how we’re wearing Archer out again.


    • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 6:21 pm

      17 over so far. Ameliorated a little by the stop start earlier in the day. But… it’s a lot given he’ll probably get a few more overs before this innings is over.


      • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 6:29 pm

        oh ffs, Root can’t resist, last over of the day


        • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 6:30 pm

          on the bright side, it only took him 1 ball


      • Mark Aug 22, 2019 / 6:44 pm

        In the short term I think he will be ok, say for this series, but I fear for him over the next three to five years. The temptation will be for just one more over every spell, and it will be too much for captains to resist.

        In addition as out batting has been incapable of batting for long periods he will be back out there in a few hours.


        • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 6:50 pm

          New selectorial incentive policy, for every time Archer finds himself bowling on less than a day’s rest, EdS gets to face him in the nets for a few overs…


  13. metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 6:26 pm

    Stokes tries some baseball and Marnus falls for it and falls over and LBW


    • quebecer Aug 22, 2019 / 6:30 pm

      Even Punter was struggling not to giggle on a few of those replays. Poor old Marnus. Bad one to the jewels and then an ignominious end. Not exactly fair rewards for batting so well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 6:37 pm

        I guess he was chuntering about the light? I mean typically we don’t expect a set batsman to miss a full toss…


        • quebecer Aug 22, 2019 / 6:43 pm

          Didn’t Imran used to get quite a few wickets with that kind of delivery?


          • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 6:48 pm

            True – but when Imran did it, it was a high yorker, not a low full toss… 😉


          • Quebecer Aug 22, 2019 / 7:03 pm

            I think we can safely presume Marnus would fall over then too.


          • metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 7:06 pm

            obligatory – does hitting him in the fork count as intimidatory bowling?


  14. quebecer Aug 22, 2019 / 6:34 pm

    Ends up a very good day indeed for England – especially given we don’t have to bat tonight at all. Perfect ending for us, and if the clouds clear tomorrow, that looks like a flat slow track.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. metatone Aug 22, 2019 / 6:36 pm

    So, I think we can call Archer the genuine article, despite some sneering from Aussie commentators (yes Geoff Lemon, I’m looking at you) – he’s not just a Devon Malcolm, he can take wickets in a lot of ways, with control and thought as well as pace.


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