3rd Ashes Test, Day Three: Inconsistent

England’s inconsistency with the bat finally worked in their favour today, with a couple of the batsmen finally showing an above-average Test performance. On a personal level it was slightly annoying, as I had already pencilled in what I was going to write in today’s report, and scheduled stuff to do tomorrow. Joe Root’s decision to actually bat longer than a session was, quite frankly, massively inconsiderate.

The first half of the day showed no deviation from the expected script. England’s tired bowlers struggled to take the final four Australian wickets, with an inadvisable run off a misfield eventually leading to Marnus Labuschagne’s dismissal. Archer was the main strike bowler for the hosts yet again, taking the wickets of two Australian tailenders plus giving Labuschagne’s grill another testing blow, but Stokes and Broad also bowled fairly well.

Puzzlingly, Chris Woakes didn’t get a chance with the ball this morning. It seems an odd choice on paper by Root, since Woakes has taken more wickets than Stokes at a lower average so far in this series. Given the lack of trust shown in his bowling, it seems likely Woakes will be the one expected to make way for Anderson if the veteran seamer is considered fit to return by England’s medical staff. Apart from a series of solid (but by no means amazing) bowling performances in the series, the allrounder also has the third-highest series batting average for England. He’s scored more runs than Bairstow, Roy and Buttler, and yet is more likely than any of those three to be dropped. Life is just not fair. Especially if you’re an English bowler.

England’s batting seemed to be following the pattern of recent games, with two quick wickets at the start. Burns was the first to go, fending a bouncer to the slips. Roy followed a few balls later after being bowled by Cummins after playing down the wrong line.

This left Root and Denly at the crease, with 69 overs left to survive in the day and (even more unlikely) 344 more runs needed to win the game. Denly rode his luck early, being lucky enough to miss the assorted wild drives to full and wide deliveries from the Australian quicks. But, over time, he settled down and made a partnership with Root which somehow lasted most of the day.

Eventually it was a bouncer which did for Denly. The Australian bowlers had targeted his head and body through the day with some success, and he finally fended one with his gloves which looped into the wicketkeeper’s welcoming hands. Having scored fifty runs in this innings, it’s hard to see England dropping him for the remaining two games. On one hand, Denly was under pressure, with many people (including myself) calling for him to be dropped, and he delivered. On the other hand, Australia might well think that he’s vulnerable to the short ball and bowl accordingly.

Joe Root’s 75* was no doubt a huge relief for England’s captain after he had made two consecutive ducks in his previous innings. We all know he’s an extraordinarily capable batsman, once compared to Steve Smith and Virat Kohli, but it’s been a lean couple of years for him. (It’s been even more lean for Smith, of course, due to his ban for cheating) Whatever the reason, his form has declined from ‘great’ to ‘good’, and then again from ‘good’ to ‘good enough for England’. Hopefully this innings will allow him to rebuild his confidence and Test batting, although I’ve seen too many flashes in the pan to be very optimistic on that score.

Root and Stokes were still there at the close of play, with England on 156/3 needing 203 more runs to win. It’s still massively unlikely that they can cause an upset, but at the same time it’s significantly more likely than it was this time yesterday.

It’s the hope that hurts the most, I find.

Finally, we were ‘just’ four overs short today. I think we saw that one coming…

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85 thoughts on “3rd Ashes Test, Day Three: Inconsistent

  1. metatone Aug 24, 2019 / 7:15 pm

    I refused to watch today and I’m not watching tomorrow – because it is the hope that kills. I might change my mind if we get close with some wickets in hand. But then, maybe superstition will warn me off.

    Like

    • dannycricket Aug 24, 2019 / 7:46 pm

      Yep. If you watch any of the game and England lose, I’m 100% blaming you.

      Like

    • growltiger Aug 25, 2019 / 8:43 am

      Hope is a terrible emotion, an irrational balancing act between expectation and desire. But superstition is more irrational yet. If you don’t watch, you just might miss something you would afterwards really have liked to see.

      Like

  2. Tony Bennett Aug 24, 2019 / 9:34 pm

    I was a bit surprised by Denly, expecting him to form part of a procession of cheap dismissals, but he gutsed it out. He had a load of luck, it’s true, but he did display the inclination for proper test match batting, and he certainly has an unruffled and phlegmatic approach. Root is a class act. He’s still averaging close to 50 in tests and it’s a bit churlish to relegate him to “good enough for England”. He might play a career-defining innings yet, though I can’t say I expect it.

    Like

    • quebecer Aug 24, 2019 / 9:53 pm

      Denly hung in there, no doubt. We do sometimes forget that in his previous incarnation he was considered a very talented stroke-player. TLC summed him up well on the previous thread, but it has to be said, his technique against the short ball looks like it could get him hurt when he says in for any length of time. Still, good for him today, as for whatever else, he’ll always have an Ashes 50.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance Aug 24, 2019 / 10:27 pm

        I’ve got a soft spot for him. I used to play with and against his Dad, Nick, and remember Joe playing on the boundary at Whitstable as a kid. I want him to succeed for entirely personal reasons.

        Nick was a bloody good player too, one of the best around in Kent at club level.

        Liked by 1 person

    • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 5:07 am

      So far in 2019, even including his current not out score, Root averages 29.53. I think that counts as good enough for England now, sadly, since that is still the highest average for an English specialist batsman. Leach (50.00) and Stokes (42.22) are the only two above him.

      Like

    • growltiger Aug 25, 2019 / 8:49 am

      I am afraid that I think we (and Joe Denly) should bank his 50 runs and move on. His want of technique against the short ball (all periscope and averted head) is terrifying. His Vince-like optimism to the sucker ball outside the off stump equally, although less likely to land him in intensive care.

      Like

      • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 8:52 am

        If his apparent weakness to the short ball proves to be a lasting issue, that might also make him unsuitable for swapping duties with Roy too. At least outside Asia…

        Like

  3. quebecer Aug 24, 2019 / 9:55 pm

    Is it my imagination or is Ben Stokes a much better 2nd innings bowler than 1st?

    P.S. Can’t wait for us to win this one.

    Like

    • Tony Bennett Aug 24, 2019 / 10:09 pm

      Win? If Root gets 150 England will be thereabouts. It would be fairly astonishing if it happened.

      Like

      • quebecer Aug 24, 2019 / 10:45 pm

        See? Nailed on.

        Like

        • Deep Purple Fred Aug 25, 2019 / 1:26 am

          Clear evidence you’ve lived in North America too long, you’ve caught the optimism disease.

          Still, seems there is life in the old dogs yet. Sunday will be fun, I expect Australia’s bowlers will be chastened and annoyed.

          It would be really funny if Australia won a test match without Steve Smith.

          Like

          • quebecer Aug 25, 2019 / 2:27 am

            We’re totally going to win, Fred.

            Like

          • quebecer Aug 25, 2019 / 3:05 am

            But yes, the Steve Smith thing had occurred to me.

            Like

      • dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 8:36 am

        Root’s best in fourth innings is 87 (Adelaide 2013). 75* is already his second best, so asking for a 150 or thereabouts is already quite optimistic.

        In fact since January 2013, there have been 4 4th innings tons by England batsmen (Stokes, Ali, Buttler and Prior). Only Prior’s was not in a losing cause.

        In a won match England have produced all of 3 50s (all unbeaten), 2 of which were in the same Test by Cook and Ballance against West Indies in 2015 (and the target was just a paltry 143). The other was Ian Bell’s 65* against Australia in the same year.

        In draws, Pietersen, Bell and Trott produced one 50 each. Root’s best (and he is by far the best of the lot) is just a 33*.

        So let’s just summarise to say that plenty of people who have had ample opportunity to produce some goods in the fourth innings have never raised their hands before.

        For example, Bairstow averages just 20 from 16 innings, with a best of 54 in a losing cause.

        Liked by 1 person

    • riverman21 Aug 25, 2019 / 8:22 am

      Hope he is a better 2nd innings batsman too.

      Like

    • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 8:29 am

      Over his career: yes. In the last two years: no.

      Interestingly though, his batting average over the last two years is better in the second innings than the first. So there is that straw to cling onto…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. riverman21 Aug 25, 2019 / 8:27 am

    In the words of Tim Vine – What we need is a miracle.

    We saw enough to know that 8-11 are going to be bounced out pretty quickly.

    I think this will be a close finish though.

    Like

  5. dlpthomas Aug 25, 2019 / 12:03 pm

    Great session for England. However, I refuse to get my hopes up. (maybe just a little)

    Like

    • thelegglance Aug 25, 2019 / 12:45 pm

      Up to now they’ve just been batting. Now they’ll be thinking about winning.

      Test cricket is a psychologist’s dream.

      Like

  6. thebogfather Aug 25, 2019 / 1:09 pm

    – Explains much of his written output over the past 6 years or so…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. man in a barrel Aug 25, 2019 / 2:15 pm

    Archer fell straight into the trap…. I imagine Stokes asked him to stop swiping… What a fool!

    Like

    • dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 2:24 pm

      To be fair, it was only his second Test, and he does not have that much FC experience either. Silly, but at least understandable.

      The Buttler runout was the real turning point in the innings, because that meant it was down to Stokes and the bowlers.

      Like

  8. dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 2:34 pm

    Silly bowling plans for the Aussies as they just need one wicket.

    Like

    • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 3:15 pm

      Or just take his job? Leach is a significantly better opener than Roy.

      Like

  9. man in a barrel Aug 25, 2019 / 2:47 pm

    Paine removes Lyon from the attack… Why? Why? Why? Take the pace off on this slow pitch

    Like

  10. nonoxcol Aug 25, 2019 / 2:49 pm

    One or two of this side don’t deserve to look Stokes in the eye later.

    It’s almost certainly just too much (even for him) and utterly infuriating that Aus didn’t even need to take a couple of valuable wickets.

    Like

  11. dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 2:52 pm

    Faf will have some competition for the Cricketing Imbecile of the Year Award. And he appeared to be a shoe-in.

    England will win this.

    Like

      • dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 3:17 pm

        I was accurate during the World Cup too.

        Like

  12. nonoxcol Aug 25, 2019 / 2:56 pm

    Big political and humanitarian issues aside, there is almost no group of human beings I feel more sorry for than people who think cricket is a dull sport.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. dlpthomas Aug 25, 2019 / 3:06 pm

    I can’t take any more of this

    Like

  14. dlpthomas Aug 25, 2019 / 3:13 pm

    And that’s why you don’t waste your reviews

    Liked by 1 person

  15. dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 3:16 pm

    Well, England AGAIN can’t complain about the umpiring. Stokes would have been out lbw, Australia winning by one run.

    Like

    • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 3:18 pm

      England also don’t need to complain about the umpiring either, because they didn’t piss away their reviews. But yeah, that was a HUGE stroke of luck for Stokes and England.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 3:49 pm

        Whether Australia wasted their reviews or not, that is not a justification for umpiring howlers.

        Whether New Zealand wasted their reviews or not, that is not a justification for an umpire not knowing how to apply the laws with regards to overthrows – and while we can doubt whether it impacted on the eventual result of the game, the end certainly does not justify the crappy means.

        Like

        • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 4:18 pm

          If people didn’t make mistakes, no one would ever lose their wicket. It’s not like they make bad decisions on purpose. But yeah, some umpires (like some players) make more mistakes than others.

          Like

    • dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 3:18 pm

      So thanks to the substandard level of the umpiring, the Ashes are still alive.

      Well done Joel Wilson and colleagues.

      Like

      • Grenville Aug 25, 2019 / 3:55 pm

        I also think well done England, or at least Root, Denley, Stokes, Leach, Archer, Broad and Woakes, but especially Stokes.

        Liked by 1 person

        • dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 4:20 pm

          Absolutely. Certainly well played by the abovementioned players – they really fought it out. And actually batted (I am talking about the batsmen here, who let England down two days ago) like it was a proper Test match – the bowling has usually been good. Test match batting is a dying phenomenon, so that was good to see.

          But it will be a once-off in all likelihood, as the march towards the destruction of Test cricket will only accelerate on the back of this result. And yes, the ECB will certainly use this fantastic game of cricket as a means to further destroy the County Championship. Not that they needed encouragement, but the push-back will be certainly be weakened by this.

          I called the game for England about 25 minutes before Stokes hit the winning runs.

          I wanted New Zealand to win the World Cup. New Zealand players must have been devastated to have lost the World Cup like they did (tie break rules, two dodgy umpire decisions going against them). Those things can be career defining or even career-destroying. So it matters, a lot. We’ll see how they bounce back from that disappointment, but I would not be surprised if several Kiwis fade into oblivion.

          If you decide a World Cup Final on the luck of an umpire not knowing how to apply the laws, and then win or lose this one on an umpire who was extremely dreadful in the First Test (8 wrong decisions, a record shared with Dharmasena), not giving a plumb lbw, you wonder just how much luck a team can have. Lack of reviews is no justification for dreadful umpiring being okay or even par for the course. Let alone decide games of such importance.

          Well played England; my 4-0 to toss prediction is still on.

          Like

    • dlpthomas Aug 25, 2019 / 3:35 pm

      Healy and Chappell are really pissed off about the wasting the review – with good reason. Still, Lyon missing the run out was also bad

      Like

  16. dlpthomas Aug 25, 2019 / 3:18 pm

    That is fucking insane. Good luck writing the days report. Seriously, how can anyone bat like that – my heart was beating so hard I thought it would explode through my chest. Ben Stokes – you fucking beauty.

    Like

    • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 3:21 pm

      It’s @thelegglance doing today’s report. I expect it’ll be a while coming though, he needs a bit of time to recover first…

      Like

  17. Distinct Aug 25, 2019 / 3:19 pm

    Test cricket. And the ECB dont care

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Quebecer Aug 25, 2019 / 3:19 pm

    Fred, you really should trust me by now.

    Like

    • nonoxcol Aug 25, 2019 / 3:25 pm

      Well, no Olympics, no major football, nothing at Wimbledon or the golf.

      If Ben Stokes doesn’t win the BBC SPOTY the only thing you can possibly blame is the decision to remove cricket from free to air TV.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Zephirine Aug 25, 2019 / 3:57 pm

        Sadly, when the Sky commentators just now were saying “This’ll set the country alight, you’ll see kids in the park playing cricket”, I thought “Nope. They won’t have seen it. They won’t know it happened.”

        Replays and YouTube highlights are no good for an innings like that, you need to experience the real time ticking away. You need to sit there chewing your nails while Jack Leach cleans his glasses.

        Liked by 3 people

        • nonoxcol Aug 25, 2019 / 4:03 pm

          Man their lack of self-awareness is incredible. All of them enjoyed their great moments during FTA. I didn’t even see many kids in the park playing cricket after the World Cup final which was shared with C4. I did however see Tom Harrison deliberately quoting misleading figures about the number of people watching the match on Sky.

          Wonderful as these two Sundays were, they change nothing about systemic, structural issues. When I’ve calmed down I’ll even be slightly annoyed that Stokes and Leach have covered for the horrors revealed by the 67 all out.

          Liked by 2 people

          • dlpthomas Aug 25, 2019 / 4:12 pm

            I suspect that had we lost, the ECB wouldn’t have done anything anyway so we might as well just enjoy the win.

            Liked by 1 person

          • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 4:22 pm

            Yeah. I wonder if the win makes it easier for England to change the batting. If they had lost, the series was lost and, you could argue, bringing new players into a losing team would do more harm than good. Now, the series in the balance and England need to win both remaining games to win back the Ashes. Does anyone really think that opening with Roy is the best way to achieve that?

            Like

          • dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 4:27 pm

            England only need to win one more than Australia to bring back the Ashes. A win and a draw will suffice Danny.

            Like

          • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 4:36 pm

            Well yes, but I still find it hard to believe that England can bat long enough for a draw to be a likely result, even with a bit of rain.

            Like

        • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 4:19 pm

          Yeah. Of course, he also has the World Cup performance which was actually seen by a lot of people, thanks to Channel 4.

          Like

    • dlpthomas Aug 25, 2019 / 3:32 pm

      There is much to admire about Leach

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Deep Purple Fred Aug 25, 2019 / 3:27 pm

    The most astounding this about this is that Quebecer was right, dammit.

    What a force of nature Stokes is.

    Like

  20. nonoxcol Aug 25, 2019 / 3:38 pm

    Ben Stokes just said bollocks on TMS.

    Refreshingly, Agnew didn’t do the immediate puritanical BBC apology. He still hasn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine Aug 25, 2019 / 4:03 pm

      Haven’t the Liberal Democrats established that ‘bollocks’ is officially not a swear?

      Liked by 1 person

      • dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 4:28 pm

        Is that how they try to remain relevant?

        Like

  21. Metatone Aug 25, 2019 / 3:40 pm

    Well, I kept away until about 3:45pm.
    Fortunately, my malign presence was balanced out by Aus wasting their review.
    Had to look away every time Leach had to face a ball.

    What a win. Ridiculous.
    Highest ever run chase for England.

    Of course they were lucky… but luck is a big part of this ridiculous game.

    Stokes is having a very special year.

    Like

    • dlpthomas Aug 25, 2019 / 3:45 pm

      England have had a bit of luck this year. Long may it continue.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. dlpthomas Aug 25, 2019 / 3:41 pm

    How hard must it be for Tim Paine to give an interview after loosing that game? He’s a class act

    Liked by 2 people

    • dlpthomas Aug 25, 2019 / 4:00 pm

      Pain was just asked by Mark Taylor “looking back..would you have done anything differently”
      and he immediately replied “Yep, one thing. I wouldn’t have referred that LBW….. My eyes must be going. The only thing Patty Cummings thought was wrong with it was that he might have hit it and it pitched a mile outside leg. I have a different appreciation for umpires now because we get it as wrong as they do at times.”

      Class.

      Like

    • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 4:27 pm

      It could be his last game. Someone has to be dropped from the Australian side for Smith’s return (assuming he’s fully recovered), and he has the lowest batting average of the Aussie batsmen.

      Like

  23. nonoxcol Aug 25, 2019 / 3:54 pm

    He’s gone there. Of course he has.

    I don’t think it’s mean-spirited to add qualifications. Personally I’m only prepared to say “since Gooch in 1991” among English Test innings. I might say GOAT for an English 4th innings but there is no way I’m going to put it ahead of Lara in Bridgetown in 1999 given the attack he was batting against.

    Of course, I watched that one in a pub and I’ve only listened to this one on the radio. But my point is that the constant use of “greatest of all-time” without qualifications is deeply tiresome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dlpthomas Aug 25, 2019 / 4:04 pm

      Ian Healy just said it was the greatest innings he has ever seen. To be fair, it was a bit special.

      Like

      • mdpayne87 Aug 25, 2019 / 4:06 pm

        Jim Maxwell did too. Put it above the Lara innings mentioned above, interestingly.

        Like

        • nonoxcol Aug 25, 2019 / 4:14 pm

          I’m quite prepared to believe it. Without having seen it, the best argument in its favour seems to be the three distinct gears he went through: ultra-Tavare, standard senior player Test batting; extraordinarily well- judged attack with 1 wicket left. He had 7 off 80 balls at one stage I’m told. That’s phenomenal mental strength and resilience as well as native once in a generation talent.

          Liked by 3 people

    • metatone Aug 25, 2019 / 4:10 pm

      I think there is something special about 4th innings performances with bat or ball. The pressure is simply greater. That’s why I’d take Stokes over Gooch 1991, but not over Lara 1999.

      Like

  24. man in a barrel Aug 25, 2019 / 4:37 pm

    What kind of game is cricket? England were out of the match after their first innings and yet could still pull through to victory. The umpiring at key points was an aid but it probably evened out over the course of the game. Root set the tone, Bairstow gave momentum and Stokes had the maturity to win it despite the brainless batting of WOAKES, Archer and Broad. Leach played a fine hand. What is wrong with Woakes… Failing time after time with bat and ball

    Like

    • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 4:41 pm

      That’s a bit harsh on Woakes. He’s averaging more than Bairstow, Denly, Roy and Buttler in this series with the bat, and taken more wickets than Stokes at a lower bowling average.

      Like

      • growltiger Aug 25, 2019 / 4:54 pm

        Averages pretty misleading, sometimes. Woakes doesn’t seem to make critical runs or take crucial wickets. I expect that this idea could be statistically tested, because it is an argument of this sort that is said to have kept Starc out of the side (they know he is good at skittling the tail, but takes few top order wickets and leaks runs against the top order).

        Like

        • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 5:03 pm

          Woakes’ wickets: Khawaja x3, Smith x2, Head, Wade, Paine, Siddle
          Stokes’ wickets: Khawaja, Labuschagne, Head x2, Wade x2, Cummins x2

          So it appears that Woakes has taken more specialist batsmen’s wickets at higher batting positions, including Smith twice. All whilst maintaining a lower bowling average.

          Like

          • growltiger Aug 25, 2019 / 7:08 pm

            Well done – and by hand too! Point well made. I still lack that impression of a truly influential cricketer, and I suspect there is something in it that isn’t captured by the stat that we’ve proposed and investigated.

            Like

          • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 7:23 pm

            You could argue that Stokes’ average is higher because he’s more likely to be brought in when there’s a set partnership which needs breaking. Set batsmen are more likely to score runs, and harder to dismiss. Certainly, when Stokes is bowling he *seems* more threatening than Woakes. He’s faster, he includes more bouncers and the like.

            Like

  25. edbayliss Aug 25, 2019 / 7:10 pm

    Really enjoyed this article: insightful and entertaining. I half-listened to most of the day’s play and this piece filled in the gaps and added some context I’d missed.

    Keep up the good work!
    Ed.

    Like

  26. jomesy Aug 25, 2019 / 11:53 pm

    I’ve not seen any of today’s play…actually not seen any of the match. On holiday. Seems I’ve missed a cracker.

    I’ll still say, I can’t get behind Ben Stokes. I said it after the WC final.

    Appreciate I may be in a (very small) minority. The guy is clearly hugely talented but he’s a scumbag.

    Perhaps he’ll grow up now. We’ll see

    Like

    • Zephirine Aug 26, 2019 / 12:06 am

      I think he has grown up quite a bit.

      Like

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