Ashes 3rd Test, Day Four: Utterly Ridiculous

Where do you even begin?  Perhaps with stating, no, insisting with the re-affirmation of what cricket fans have known all along – that Test cricket is the absolute pinnacle of the sport.  That the extraordinary World Cup win earlier this year had drama aplenty, but there is nothing, not in one day cricket, not in T20 cricket, and definitely not in Hundred cricket that can begin to match the slow burn intensity, the ever increasing pressure of a Test match.

The heart is pounding not in the final over, but an hour, two hours before the eventual finish.  The heart of the players, the heart of the spectators – in the ground, watching in England or Australia, listening to the radio.  Even more than that, it would have been for those watching in Chittagong or Colombo, for this is what this game can do.  Where every ball can bring a decisive swing, where all outcomes, even the vanishingly unlikely ones suddenly loom into view.

The endless sub-plots, a wicketkeeper as captain (and it is persistently understated just how hard a combination that is) losing the plot along with his team under the relentless pressure of a game already seemingly won beginning to get away from them.   The name Test cricket implies the scrutiny of not just ability, but the mental side of the game.  Keith Miller’s famous quote about real pressure being a Messerschmitt up his arse speaks to another world and a reminder of the realities outside a sporting contest, but it remains a truth that the tension of a Test match is unlike almost anything else, the gladiatorial individual contest in a team environment.

Stokes being an all rounder will always invite comparisons to the greats, and in England’s case Botham particularly.  He might be a different type of player in so many respects and ability wise it remains a pointless debate, but in the sense that he can seize an occasion, they are one of a kind.

There were of course plenty of moments where Australia could have won it.  Marcus Harris dropped Stokes in a manner eerily reminiscent of Simon Jones at Edgbaston in 2005, Cummins wasted Australia’s last review with a ludicrous lbw appeal that came back to bite them the following over when Stokes was given not out to Lyon with one showing three reds on DRS.  And right at the end, Australia missed a run out chance that was anything but difficult – the frantic moments of a game coming to a climax.

Ben Stokes’ hitting was beyond extraordinary.  The switch hit into the western terrace for six will live long in the memory, so bold the thinking, so exquisite the execution.  Length balls were disappearing over long off and deep midwicket, shorter ones smashed back past the bowler for four.  Jack Leach was the calmest man in the ground, defending his wicket and eventually scoring the priceless run to draw the scores level.

The earlier innings from Root and Denly gained in stature purely because of the outcome of the game, the problems in England’s cricket will be put aside for another day.  They shouldn’t be, for one freak innings from a player who knows how to seize the moment better than almost any does not alter the truth of the fragility of the English game.  The ECB will breathe a sigh of relief, that the focus will not be on them for another day.  But England will collapse again, the weaknesses Australia are exposing will come to the fore once more.  But just for today, just for now, it’s ok to bask in the brilliance of a player, and of the game of cricket.

It has to be said some have succumbed to the Greatest of All Time trap – emphasising why this remains such a stupid line to go down, because they’ve said it before.  And they’ve said it before so often.  It’s meaningless.  This was special, it doesn’t need to be ranked.

In the aftermath of the game, the Sky pundits talked about how this would inspire kids to play in the park, pretending to be Ben Stokes.  It hasn’t changed the invisibility of the sport, and if Stokes has a recognition factor, it’s because the World Cup final was available for all to see, while this final day remained a niche viewing opportunity.  Cricket needs exposure because a Ben Stokes can reach the parts hardly anyone can, as long as they see him.  This was something special, if only the nation truly had been gripped.

Somehow, ludicrously, this series is 1-1.  And now I need a lie down.

74 thoughts on “Ashes 3rd Test, Day Four: Utterly Ridiculous

    • OscarDaBosca Aug 25, 2019 / 4:43 pm

      Not sure – is this England’s highest ever run chase? Context is everything and Australia 2005/2006 team was the best team I have ever seen live. No weaknesses in bowling, Ponting, Ghilcrist (sorry I know I have spelt that wrong) and Hayden and Langer opening.
      However 359 – and to score 50+ with one wicket remaining??

      Like

      • Northern Light Aug 25, 2019 / 4:59 pm

        I was thinking more of the ridiculous attempt to make out that Edgbaston as a venue was a sort of fortress of noise. Though in the context of the particular matches, I’d say it was a close run thing. 2005 was tense because the first half of the morning was spent waiting for England to win, the second half waiting for England to lose only to be reprieved by a lucky gloved catch down the legside (!) – today, every delivery in the last couple of hours could have been the end but England came through and made the runs.

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        • nonoxcol Aug 26, 2019 / 8:01 am

          I am delighted for Headingley. Two and a half days of Ashes cricket since Butcher, having not missed an Ashes series for 80 years prior to that, and it’s gifted with a match/innings that people will talk about for another 80 years at least.

          The replay just started again by the way. On the hour every hour it seems.

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        • nonoxcol Aug 26, 2019 / 2:39 pm

          This is also the first time Headingley has hosted the third Ashes Test since …

          1981.

          And it’s only the third time since Packer that England have come back from 1-0 down to square an Ashes series, home or away. The other two occasions were…

          Headingley 81 and Edgbaston 05.

          It’s quite uncanny that, when you think about it.

          Like

  1. nonoxcol Aug 25, 2019 / 4:34 pm

    A very large part of me (the history buff) really wanted the tie. Not sure many of us will see an Ashes game get any closer to the ultimate rarity than this one.

    Also, I have infinitely less sympathy for Australia re the umpiring than I had for NZ five weeks ago. I can’t quite believe that, with one review left and Lyon bowling so well (especially compared to Cummins) they didn’t reserve it for him. I have justified withering contempt for Joel Wilson and the ICC’s dumb obsession with neutral umpires in a sport ruled by technology. But really, Australia have only themselves to blame, and I suspect if the roles were reversed Root would be fried (sic) this evening.

    One thing it might do is stop Australians claiming that if DRS had been in place they would have won at Edgbaston in 2005.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Aug 25, 2019 / 4:35 pm

      Kasprowicz was plumb lbw an hour earlier in that match wasn’t he?

      Like

      • nonoxcol Aug 25, 2019 / 4:50 pm

        😉

        Exactly (Boycott in commentary thinks he’s outside the line, Nicholas disagrees). It may have been umpire’s call. Point being no-one knows how DRS would have changed what went before. S Jones was definitely plumb to Warne in Eng’s 2nd innings, for instance (not given).

        Never disagreed that Eng had rub of the green in 2005; never been convinced DRS would have changed the result. The best counter-factual isn’t Edgbaston in my view: it’s Katich getting one of the worst lbw decisions ever seen in this galaxy at Trent Bridge.

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    • OscarDaBosca Aug 25, 2019 / 4:45 pm

      A tie would have still left the series open. Opportunity missed 😂😂

      Like

    • dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 5:05 pm

      I would not go as far as to say that Australia only have themselves to blame. They did not decide that Joel Wilson, who was atrocious three weeks ago, was going to stand in this Test. That is on the ICC, who really are struggling to get good umpires on the field (Reiffel is another one I am not exactly thrilled about), and they are not helping themselves with the insistence on neutral umpires.

      What are Australia / England (if it had gone the other way) supposed to do? Open umpiring schools in the West Indies, India, and Bangladesh? Seems a bit unrealistic, never mind a massive dereliction of duty by the ICC.

      Sure, Australia wasted their reviews, but that does not justify bad umpiring. For me that remains the crux of the matter. Two very important games effectively decided by the umpires, not the actual play on the field (and certain decisions, such as runs awarded, wide calls and such are outside of the scope of DRS).

      With the ludicrous DRS protocol in place, what would have happened if it had been umpire’s call on one count, and whichever Australian umpire had replaced Wilson, had given it – or in the case of an English umpire and three reds on DRS, not given it? And this is just the Ashes, can you imagine the controversy such “home side umpiring” would be generated by something like that in an important India – Pakistan clash? In order for neutral umpires to be a thing of the past, the ICC needs to invest in officiating. As if that is ever going to happen.

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      • dannycricket Aug 25, 2019 / 5:21 pm

        I wouldn’t say they were to blame, but mistakes by the Australian team in wrongly calling for reviews did leave them vulnerable to bad umpiring. I therefore think that Australian fans (and particularly journalists) could be more forgiving of the umpires and Joel Wilson in particular, because everyone makes mistakes. Australia lost 5 DRS appeals during the game, and they’re all professional athletes in their twenties and thirties with perfect vision. If they can get that many decisions wrong, what hope does 52 year old standing at least 22 yards away from the action have?

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        • man in a barrel Aug 25, 2019 / 6:44 pm

          That last review off Lyon… From someone who bowled a bit of spin a number of years ago, it looked plumb. DRS showed it was plumb. What was the umpire looking at?

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          • nonoxcol Aug 25, 2019 / 6:47 pm

            I’ve now seen the review they burned.

            No sympathy.

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      • dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 5:42 pm

        Just as it is not the umpire’s job to bat, bowl or field, it is not the players job to make certain that the umpires get it right. Novel idea.

        Sure, people make mistakes. No matter what field of endeavour. For the longest time, I have maintained that FIFA deliberately had a myopic view of refereeing as well. No matter how dodgy the refereeing, the result was sacrosanct (and insofar there are exceptions to that, make certain that you are a bigger contributor to FIFA’s coffers than the one who cheats against you, as Ireland found out in a play-off against France). Undoubtedly they still do (the referees are not even full-time professionals in football, or have they finally changed that?) However, when a lot is riding on it, you expect that the utmost is done, to avoid match-defining howlers (and since the rights are worth billions, you cannot say it is just for peanuts, like it was in the 1980s or earlier).

        You would like to think that the powers that be do their utmost best to avoid these mistakes being career-defining. Instead, the ICC happily plods along, pretending that all is well. That is why we are stuck with a basically publicly untested DRS-system. That is why we are stuck with a bastardised cheating detection programme, otherwise known as home-board Broadcaster Advantage in hunting for dubious practices by the visiting team. As for the usefulness of ACSU, it is hard to think of a less useful body in international sports to detect and prosecute cheating.

        Obviously umpires can’t monitor 13 players on the field all the time. That is physically impossible. But the clear-cut refusal by the ICC to actually take responsibility for any of the problems in the game (such as cheating, and non-optimal umpiring when a lot is riding on it) while at the same time offering nothing more than a figleaf with regards to a broken review system is not good enough.

        Like

      • Rohan Aug 25, 2019 / 8:02 pm

        I can’t like this, apparently I’m not allowed, so I’ll like it by posting a reply 👏

        Like

        • Rohan Aug 25, 2019 / 8:03 pm

          In response to the 2 posts by Darthez!

          Like

        • jennyah46 Aug 27, 2019 / 5:12 am

          I can’t like any of the posts from Outside Cricket. I don’t know what I’ve done to upset WordPress.

          Anyway, it was a great offering. Thank you Chris.

          Like

  2. metatone Aug 25, 2019 / 5:50 pm

    Test cricket, bloody hell.
    I stayed away long enough to help England do the job.
    A record run chase covers up a lot of sins.
    England didn’t deserve to win after posting 67.
    Problems remain, but for now Stokes deserves praise.

    Like

  3. dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 6:14 pm

    Meanwhile in the West Indies, the hosts are seemingly desperate to make 67 look like a massive score.

    15/5 with the top 5 already gone, inside 7.3 overs.

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    • dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 9:03 pm

      The last pair doubled the score from 50/9 to 100 all out. Dreadful.

      Like

  4. Northern Light Aug 25, 2019 / 6:21 pm

    Apparently the ECB are now pushing a new narrative – Headingley 81 + Headingley 19 = The Headingley Hundred.
    It must be fate, they’re telling us.

    Ok, they’re not. But if they do, they can pay me as I thought of it first.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marek Aug 25, 2019 / 6:29 pm

      You’re probably safe there. this is, after all, the organisation that is launching its new tournament in 2020 and has moved it from T20 to a different format!

      But I guess they just weren’t ready 146 days into 2017….

      Liked by 1 person

  5. nonoxcol Aug 25, 2019 / 6:41 pm

    I know it can never be the same and I do hate people like Selvey telling us to shut up and be satisfied with it. But Channel 5 have done a great job with this highlights show. Nicholas and Boycott especially are channelling 2005 like a couple of excited children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elaine Simpson-Long Aug 25, 2019 / 9:22 pm

      I just hate Selvey

      Like

  6. Deep Purple Fred Aug 25, 2019 / 7:45 pm

    I didn’t find this match tense at all, because I didn’t believe for a moment England would get there, and all this was just yet another twist, before the final, inevitable, loss. It was only when Hussein said “he can do this in three strokes” that I started to take it seriously, given he’d started hitting sixes for fun.

    I think an investigation into betting patterns eminating from Canada is needed here. Someone seems to have had strangely prescient knowledge of an outcome with no rational explanation.

    What an utterly extraodinary innings, and this on the back of saving the last one for England at Lords.

    As for Australia, the utter muppets, they threw this game away half a dozen times. Regardless of Stokes’ heroism, all they had to do was get a few basics right, and it was finished.

    Yes, it was bullshit the final plumb LBW was not given, but Australia shouldn’t have been in a position to care. It should never have come down to an umpire’s competence (appalling as that was). They had every opportunity.

    Good. 1-1. The next two will be fun. I expect with Smith and Anderson participating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • quebecer Aug 25, 2019 / 9:56 pm

      Would you like to know how I knew we ‘d win? I’ll tell you if you like.

      Like

    • Deep Purple Fred Aug 25, 2019 / 10:16 pm

      The trouble is, I couldn’t trust your answer. Alright, I’ll bite.
      Because Smith was out?
      Because it’s been, oh I don’t know, weeks, since England had a bit of outrageous good fortune that gave them the break and the game?
      Because of that other Headingly thing happened before?
      Because the arctic gyrfalcons were congregating in strange groups on your roof?

      Like

      • quebecer Aug 26, 2019 / 1:35 am

        🙂

        Actually, it was because I knew I was going to be in the car all day driving across open tundra where there wouldn’t be any wifi. They were bound to win.

        Like

      • Deep Purple Fred Aug 26, 2019 / 10:44 am

        Oh, unlucky!
        Please remain glued to your screen for the next two.

        Like

  7. Rohan Aug 25, 2019 / 7:48 pm

    Interesting, wish I could have watched it, but alas I was climbing Castle St George in Lisbon. There was, however, an English family of 6, excitedly watching it (on SKY go I presume), huddled into the corner of one of the castle towers as my family and I climbed it. I overheard them mention the score and then I repeatedly checked the BBC updates every few minutes until the result came through. What a great test match, a real cracker and well done Ben Stokes, it needed a century to win and he delivered, he’s a very, very, very good batsman when he wants to be……

    Like

  8. Deep Purple Fred Aug 25, 2019 / 7:57 pm

    DRS was introduced to avoid howlers. It’s now being used strategically by teams, based not just on the liklihood of a mistake, but also the value of the batsman and the state of the game.

    Given the umpires are suppossed to make correct decisions, and they have the technology to help them, they should just take over the whole process of getting to the truth themselves. Bowlers can bowl and appeal, batsmen can bat, and umpires will decide what’s out, what needs reviewing. If we accept that ball tracking for LBW is authoritative, then the three umpires should decide between them what actually happened, and stop the players having to make these judgement calls. It seems silly to accept wrong decisions when we have the ability to correct them.

    Australia did their best to lose the game today, but if the information we had was used correctly, their efforts would have been foiled.

    Like

    • Rohan Aug 25, 2019 / 8:09 pm

      Genuine question, but what is stopping a move down that path? It makes sense, so why not go the ‘whole’ way and use ball tracking as and when needed?

      I get the feeling there are many who still don’t trust ball tracking. You still hear the old pros on commentary disagreeing with it/expressing their scepticism….

      Like

      • dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 9:22 pm

        Probably money.

        Since it takes a bit of computational power to process all the data and come up with a projection. If you want it done quicker, you need to up the computational power. But since the models for DRS are not in the public domain, we actually don’t know how much more additional computational power is needed, and whether or not the existing model can be simplified to make the same quality projections (in terms of accuracy). We don’t even really know how accurate DRS is, since the ICC’s argument is “trust us …”, more or less.

        But the current model is certainly not without flaw. Umpire’s call on whether or not a ball pitched outside leg or not is a philosophical absurdity. Yes, it makes sense when you are projecting stuff that might have happened if the pads did not get in the way, but it makes little sense with regards to an observed event that actually transpired.

        And again, we may distrust ball tracking (sometimes it just seems plain wrong), but since we have no actual verifiable data in the public domain, nor access to the code, we cannot actually improve ball tracking. We just have to trust the manufacturer (as if they are neutral on this).

        I would venture to guess that it would maybe be a few thousand dollars a day to get DRS sped up to the point that the data is analyzed and projections generated within 20 seconds of the actual delivery. I could be wrong of course (due to the above mentioned reasons). It might even be significantly cheaper than that.

        Likewise with the no ball checks. Can be automated, and it would help improve umpiring, since then the umpires can focus on what happens at the striker’s end. Furthermore it should not be too expensive to come up with something that works.

        Like

        • thelegglance Aug 25, 2019 / 9:28 pm

          As I understand it, the major reason for the delay is not computing power, but because the ball tracking has to be manually spliced to each frame. Which takes a few seconds.

          Incidentally, on the Stokes lbw, it seemed to me that Hawkeye showed the ball continuing to curve after bouncing and after impact. It could be an optical illusion on my part, but in itself it’s a whole set of assumptions – not least that if so that tracking brought it back into the stumps and away from fine leg.

          Obviously they have to make assumptions, and they do so on the basis of the ball continuing on its same path. But it does perhaps explain a difference between a human interpretation (I thought it was probably going to be umpire’s call) and the DRS representation.

          Liked by 1 person

          • OscarDaBosca Aug 25, 2019 / 9:58 pm

            I thought in real-time it looked as if it hit the front pad first and was going to be umpires call on leg stump.
            The replay seemed to show it hitting the front pad and then the back leg, and the tracking seemed to straighten almost as much as the deflection.
            I know it’s derived from ‘missile tracking’ technology, but I’m confused as to how it reacts to overhead conditions? We know that if it’s overcast the ball can swing more, but the scientists seem to say that there isn’t any scientific reason for this (apart from what we see (almost quantum!!)).
            So what I’ve always wondered is how does Hawkeye deal with overhead conditions that visibly make the ball move more. Does it incorporate this? If so, what’s the physics based on?
            Anyway all moot, move on to Old Trafford with all to play for.

            Like

          • dArthez Aug 25, 2019 / 10:03 pm

            The splicing can be automated. It will take some computational power (as anything does), but at least it takes out the human element (and how many of the dodgy lbws on Hawkeye given / not given are a result of human error – I don’t know, and no one in the public does). I am sure the ICC and the people producing DRS prefer to be mum about it.

            Like

          • Deep Purple Fred Aug 25, 2019 / 10:23 pm

            Cricket has decided it accepts the authority of the DRS, otherwise it wouldn’t have this referral system in place. Given that, we should take the whole process out of the hands of the players, and let the umpires use it so they can control the game to the best of their ability.

            It’s not a question of whether it works, it does, it’s a question of how it is applied on the field.

            There may well be arguements that it doesn’t actually work, but so far those arguments have not carried the day, as DRS is currently considered the final arbiter.

            Like

          • thelegglance Aug 25, 2019 / 10:26 pm

            Well you could argue that they don’t, simply because they haven’t handed it all over to Hawkeye, and they have kept the umpire’s call element.

            Personally I seem to be one of few on here that likes and accepts the umpire’s call principle. But either way, the fact that it exists hardly implies fully accepting ball tracking.

            Like

          • dannycricket Aug 26, 2019 / 6:01 am

            The problem with that is that umpires would refer every decision upstairs, like they do with almost all run outs and stumping. Even if they don’t think it’s out, just in case. So you might have 10 or more DRS appeals in a session, and teams already have enough trouble getting 90 overs in a day. More importantly, from the viewpoint of the ICC and the host countries, that constant slowing of the game with needless reviews would annoy the TV companies and perhaps slightly lower the value of cricket coverage.

            Like

          • dArthez Aug 26, 2019 / 9:48 am

            Fact is they don’t Danny.

            It is not just umpires missing dismissals. They also miss no-balls (very important in ODIs), they forget to count to six on occasion (Wilson was guilty of that in the last Test), and even when a wicket is taken, no-ball checks which are supposedly mandatory do not happen all the time. Again, it is not the batsman’s job to make certain that the umpires call no-balls correctly or are able to count six for the over.

            Now, I have long argued that umpires are overburdened by what they have to do and check for (no-balls from both the front and back foot), leg befores, catches, wides height, making certain players don’t sandpaper the ball, etc). So makes sense to take some of the more difficult tasks out of their hands (no ball checks would be a prime candidate).

            Besides, we already have the travesty of umpire’s reviews when they are uncertain of what transpired in a particular passage of play (mostly with bump balls and low catches). So they have the authority to request for reviews when they are not certain of what transpired anyway. Oh and despite being uncertain of what actually transpired, we’re still depending on an umpire’s call, despite them having admitted to the uncertainty by requesting for the review in the first place.

            Another obvious issue is that if someone tickles a ball past the fielder for a couple of runs, but the umpire gives it out (won’t happen often of course, but it happens frequently with leg byes), it will be a dead ball, and the batting side won’t get the leg byes they might have run. Which is not so much a problem in Tests (though it still can end up deciding a match), but a problem in ODIs, which would actually be avoided with an automated review system.

            And let’s not even mention third umpire SNAFUs, which absurdly lead to the situation that the side that lost the review for correctly reviewing a decision, gets the review back, but not the wicket they would have had if the third umpire did their job properly.

            Besides, if it just takes 20 seconds to come up with the projection, that is not much of a delay in a fast bowler’s over (delays between balls bowled are of the magnitude of 30 – 45 seconds). Obviously, if a ball has been hit for a four, there is no need to wait for a review either. 10 instances at most would equate to three minutes, which is the same allowance made for one batsman’s entry after a wicket has fallen.

            Like

    • jomesy Aug 26, 2019 / 12:01 am

      Fred – if we go with your suggestion, who will police “the line”? (That’s not a DRS question btw).

      Like

      • Deep Purple Fred Aug 26, 2019 / 10:43 am

        Steve Waugh.

        Like

  9. riverman21 Aug 25, 2019 / 8:09 pm

    Growing up watching I T Botham I never imagined I’d live to see a better performance by an English all Rounder.

    On reflection Ben Stokes gave us the greatest one man rescue act to win a test match that I’ve ever seen.

    From the moment he came on to bowl on Friday evening in the 2nd innings and bowled those overs on the reel to that extraordinary innings played like a classical piece of music moving from slow to incredibly fast but still with precision and accuracy.

    My favourite shot – with 8 to get the straight six where he surveyed it like Reardon surveying a particularly tricky snooker pot as it sailed over the rope.

    Cricket – bloody hell.

    Like

  10. Sherwick Aug 25, 2019 / 8:52 pm

    I must be the only person on earth who thinks that the plumb lbw wasnt5 plumb (other than Umpire Wilson of course!

    On first glance I thought it was going down leg, but was shocked to see it hitting middlenqnd leg on DRS.

    Magnificent play by Stokes. Quite unbelievable really.

    Like

    • growltiger Aug 26, 2019 / 8:55 am

      I thought, in real time, that it might just have pitched outside leg, and that it flicked the front pad (also just possibly outside leg). Consensus, and the running of the DRS model, suggest I was wrong about both of these, like Umpire Wilson. I would have expected at least one Umpire’s Call. Like you, I don’t think this was Wilson’s worst decision of the match, or series.

      Like

  11. Elaine Simpson-Long Aug 25, 2019 / 9:19 pm

    I went out for a walk at one stage. My nerves were shredded

    Like

  12. Julie Gould Aug 25, 2019 / 11:01 pm

    Am not bitter OZ lost. Just can’t believe they threw it away the way they did. Should never have got to the umpires error although somehow umpiring has to improve. First World Cup and then this.Think it would have taken a brave umpire to give Stokes out at that stage with the crowd baying the way they were. Of course if OZ had won the last 2 games would have been ” dead rubbers”. Was amazed how poor the field placements were as the runs added up.If you want to stop batsmen crossing , you don’t have all your fielders out near the boundaries.Was not Paine’s finest hour.

    Like

    • dArthez Aug 26, 2019 / 5:14 am

      Paine had the example of Faf messing up the exact same situation against Sri Lanka (70-odd runs needed, 1 wicket left). Paine did exactly the same thing. So in that sense, little sympathy. It clearly shows how much cricketing intelligence of captains has deteriorated in the last few years.

      As for the umpiring, well.a World Cup and an Ashes probably regained, on the basis of umpiring error is more than just lucky. it is extraordinarily lucky. I would not yet go as far as to suspect dodgy practices to the same extent as the ICC fixing groups in global events, but if this kind of nonsense persists, well …). It clearly points to the broken nature of umpiring these days as well. Sure, one can say that mistakes will be made, but then again, the ICC does not care to reduce mistakes that much, or take steps to avoid the same umpiring mistakes being made over and over. A guy who made a record 8 plain errors in the first Test, was still deemed good enough by the ICC to stand in the third, and subsequently proved to be the difference between the sides.

      Like

    • riverman21 Aug 26, 2019 / 6:40 am

      To be fair to Tim Paine, I felt the same way about Root when Smith was batting in the 1st innings at Edgbaston. We were having 1 ball an over at Siddle for an hour.
      It’s poor strategy but both sides have done it at key moments.

      Like

  13. jomesy Aug 25, 2019 / 11:57 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

    • jennyah46 Aug 27, 2019 / 5:30 am

      The VC was given back to him because since his return he has been self disciplined and his behaviour beyond reproach. It’s good to see a bad boy coming good, after being given a second chance.

      Like

  14. Benny Aug 26, 2019 / 12:21 am

    Just to say I’m loving this Ashes series. Anything might happen at any moment (apart from Smith getting out of course).

    It didn’t take long for the Sky pundits to discuss whether it was the greatest match, innings, win etc. I can never see the point. After all, there is no trophy to be handed over. I watched Botham 81 and now Stokes. I’m not comparing them. Just delighted to have seen both. I heard on radio but didn’t see Peter May’s 285 v West Indies in 1957, which again was a great recovery, although I suspect Sky pundits’ cricket knowledge doesn’t go back that far.

    Like

    • nonoxcol Aug 26, 2019 / 5:12 am

      That (the extent of their knowledge) is half my problem with the likes of Vaughan. When he comes out with the “greatest of all time” stuff it’s even money the only innings he’s comparing it to is Botham at Headingley in 1981. And most observers regarded his Old Trafford innings as superior anyway! Gooch in 1991 was very different in context and character but it’s always my benchmark for English innings. It was also very similar in terms of being a huge statistical outlier in a low scoring game, and indeed within the England innings (two thirds of runs off the bat, next highest score 27). It took Andrew Samson at the very end of TMS to mention Gilbert Jessop. Fair enough no-one has seen it, but I’ve known about it since I was 16 and expect it to be worth consideration (the main difference being that he wasn’t there at the end and the target was about 100 fewer).

      And you have to wonder whether Lara or Perera would even occur to people like Vaughan, simply because they’re not English. Those two are the only direct comparatives in my lifetime, unless you want to include Graeme Smith in 2008. I wouldn’t because there were more wickets in hand. Vaughan wouldn’t for other reasons, and I think even he can be forgiven for that…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marek Aug 26, 2019 / 10:47 am

        “And you have to wonder whether Lara or Perera would even occur to people like Vaughan, simply because they’re not English”.

        Absolutely. Those people talking about the uniqueness of this game–as you say, leave alone Lara, the first tied test, Jessop or whatever–are overlooking that it’s not even the first time this year that it’s happened. That should be a bit of a check to most-amazing-ever-itis–amazing as it was!

        The parallels with Perera and Fernando are uncanny. It was even the same in that Perera scored a large percentage of his runs during the last wicket partnership, substantially by hitting sixes. (The stats bloke from Cricinfo who did the greatest-ever-innings chart from a statistical point of view has Perera’s innings as better than Gooch’s–Lara’s is sixth. Will be interesting to see where Stokes’s goes…)

        Incidentally, looking at the Colombo scorecard, SL under Karunaratne are becoming a very fine example of how to bat with the tail/be that tail which is being batted with. As I write, Dickwella and Lakmal–again!–have 27 more overs to survive, having already batted for 16. Given their batting in the last Test–and yesterday!–, I’m not sure I’d bet against it.

        Like

        • Marek Aug 26, 2019 / 11:04 am

          “…I’m not sure I’d bet against it…”

          Oops.

          Like

          • dArthez Aug 26, 2019 / 11:14 am

            Hope you bet against it. New Zealand won, on the back of a massive top order collapse from Sri Lanka, more than anything else.

            Like

  15. zephirine Aug 26, 2019 / 12:31 am

    Not having watched much cricket lately, I was quite startled to see Root in interview. Talk about hollow-eyed, he looks as if he hasn’t slept for weeks. Looks older than 28 and much too thin. Pity there isn’t anyone else who could take the captaincy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dlpthomas Aug 26, 2019 / 5:53 am

      I don’t understand why anyone would want to be captain – it must be an incredibly difficult job. I wonder if when England appoint a new coach, they will also appoint a new captain. (though God knows who)

      Like

  16. nonoxcol Aug 26, 2019 / 6:10 am

    R5 Sports Extra currently replaying the 10th wicket stand, for any early risers who still can’t quite believe it all happened.

    Like

    • nonoxcol Aug 26, 2019 / 6:52 am

      I recommend it to anyone who had the TV on. They really did a tremendous job… then came the Lyon fumble and Joel Wilson shambles and everyone (Agnew, Cook, McGrath) goes apeshit.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. metatone Aug 26, 2019 / 6:31 am

    As a side note, I know they want everyone watching the Test on TV, but that doesn’t happen, so I’m a bit irritated that it’s Bank Holiday Monday, I might actually be able to get to some live cricket and my options are: Cardiff, Old Trafford or nominally Headingley – only of course the Test is over and even if it weren’t tickets wouldn’t be easy to get.

    Anyway I live a long way away from both Cardiff and Headingley. Seems like a waste of Bank Holiday, there’s no football, rugby, etc on. – when will the ECB learn? If you’re going to turn over this time of year to T20, at least take advantage of the times people are actually off…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. dArthez Aug 26, 2019 / 7:37 am

    Meanwhile in Sri Lanka, the hosts are struggling at 33/5 in the third innings of a water ballet of a match (about 160 overs lost already), while they just have to bat two whole sessions in all likelihood to get a draw. Yes, there is assistance to the spin bowlers, but nothing excessive (roughly 50 per cent of the wickets thus far have been taken by pacers).

    Test match batting is dead, pretty much the world over. England’s fourth innings in the last couple of days was simply the exception to the general rule. And that happened on a flat deck.

    Like

    • Burly Aug 26, 2019 / 9:01 am

      I’m not sure flat is the best way to describe it given the scores in that match.

      Like

    • growltiger Aug 26, 2019 / 9:04 am

      Agreed, test match batting is not generally in great shape. And, yes, by day four it was a remarkably flat deck. Day one it was swinging, day two there was liberal seam movement and slightly varying bounce, day three it was settling down. So the Australian quicks did not actually have much going for them apart from discipline of line and length. Lyon bowled a couple of balls that went off line, but there wasn’t much for him to work with, and he didn’t make much of what there was. Stokes was able to trust the pitch, and that must have made a great difference when he decided to strike for the line.

      Like

  19. Tom Aug 26, 2019 / 8:58 am

    What’s all the fuss? I predicted the result two days ago right here in the comments.

    “It’s 1981 all over again. England lose the first test, draw the second (at Lord’s) and look as though they’ll be beaten in the third (at Headingly!) until the great allrounder Botham (Stokes) scores an unbeaten century and Bob Willis (Archer) takes 8 wickets. History does repeat itself you know! Obviously, this translates to Archer taking all four wickets early in the morning and Stokes heroically scoring a century and winning the test for England. ”

    OK, I got one or two minor details wrong but you have to admit I wasn’t far off!

    Like

    • Marek Aug 26, 2019 / 11:00 am

      Here’s where it gets complicated though. Does Stokes get five wickets for next to nothing at Old Trafford, because it’s the next Test; or score a run-a-ball hundred because it’s Old Trafford?! Or Both?

      Like

      • Tom Aug 27, 2019 / 5:45 am

        The way Stokes is playing, probably both and a couple of run outs!

        Like

    • LordCanisLupus Aug 26, 2019 / 11:59 am

      I missed the lot. No updates. Nothing. Landed at JFK and switched on the phone and…

      After the preceding 30 hours where my flight had to make an emergency landing in Ireland, and the resulting hell that ensued, it was nice. But I have missed something special, and that stings.

      Like

  20. Miami Dad's Six Aug 26, 2019 / 9:19 am

    Bloody heck. It seemed most of the sixes he hit seemed to only clear the rope by about 2 metres, in fact on connection it seemed like he’d be caught at long off/mid wicket 4 or 5 times. Talented, very…mentally strong, sure…lucky sod, definitely.

    So.

    Moving on.

    Roy, Denly, Buttler. Woakes. Who survives for the 4th Test?

    Like

    • Miami Dad's Six Aug 26, 2019 / 1:29 pm

      Also. *that* switch hit…was mental. If I pilloried Bairstow for getting out in that area vs Lyon as a low-percentage shot in the last Test, then Stokes needs locking up. It isn’t like point and third man were up, they were both on the boundary. And yet…it was the cleanest strike of them all, comfortably into the Western Terrace.

      Like

      • thelegglance Aug 26, 2019 / 1:44 pm

        On that one, both radio and tv commentary mentioned Kevin Pietersen doing it to Scott Styris in an ODI, with the implication that doing it in a Test was vastly different.
        Presumably him doing it to Murali also in a Test has been completely forgotten.

        Like

        • nonoxcol Aug 26, 2019 / 2:32 pm

          Wasn’t Murali two years earlier as well?

          Edgbaston 2006.

          Like

      • growltiger Sep 1, 2019 / 8:44 am

        Just for the record (a week late, and therefore unlikely to be much read) the Stokes shot off Lyon was a reverse sweep, not a switch hit, as he didn’t swap his hands over. KP’s innovation remains in some ways more puzzling, as the genuine switch hit resulted in his weaker left hand becoming the bottom hand in the shot. Stokes clubbed it over cover point with his weight going through his normal bottom hand – making it the easier of two improbable shots to comprehend.

        Like

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