England vs Australia: 4th Test, Day Three: Snakes and Ladders

It was all going so well.  Surprisingly well, albeit if two batsmen in the top order were going to get set, settled and score runs, Burns and Root were by far the most likely.

Overton was an early loss, but while having him hang around would have been a bonus, he’d done his job last night.  The bulk of the day was all about the partnership of 141 which, if not comfortable, certainly looked in relative control.  It wasn’t easy, Cummins in particular bowled with pace, aggression and plenty of skill, while having very little luck.  But the two batsmen took England to the point where wild fantasies dreamed of a total decent enough to take England to some kind of position of safety.  Should have known better.

If nothing else, it demonstrated for the second innings in a row a greater level of batting responsibility from the England batsmen since the shambles of Headingley first time around.  To that extent, credit is due to them, for if 200-5 at the early close forced by bad light is some way of being a triumph -it did at least offer a relatively responsible example of batting at Test match pace, against challenging bowling.  It is to praise without context, for the times when England might be expected to respond to a big total by posting one of their own are receding rapidly into the past.

The late flurry of wickets, with both set batsmen departing and Roy joining them back in the pavilion wrecked a lot of the hard work that had been done, and with just 6 overs to go until the new ball, the possibility of a full blown collapse in the morning is distinct, but England’s first target of avoiding the follow on, which will take some time out of the game at least, is less than 100 away, and failing to get at least that far would represent a failure and a let down of the batting work done today.

Having been utterly dire yesterday, the problem England have is that they can’t afford a bad half hour for the rest of the Test, and that’s exactly what they suffered late after tea.  No one threw their wicket away, Burns and Root were both got out by excellent bowling, while Jason Roy had looked vastly more at home in the middle order than opening, before being undone by his technical looseness against a high quality Test match bowler. Perhaps if he’d been asked to bat in the middle order from the beginning, he’d have had a chance of getting into Test cricket, but his defence looks far too loose to allow him to stay in long enough to capitalise on his undoubted stroke making skill.  Even so, that he might never have been good enough to hold down a place is one thing, it is another altogether to select him as an opener which undermined fatally any chance he might have ever had.  There’s no disgrace in getting out to the ball that did for him, but how he got out, utterly beaten with stumps splayed everywhere wasn’t a good look.

Root will be picked up again for failing to convert a fifty into a hundred, but both he and Burns probably deserve credit for how they batted today more than criticism for not going on.  Losing them together was a huge blow for England’s chances of an escape, but the pressure had been increasing for some time, with Hazlewood, Cummins and Lyon turning the screw ever tighter.  For once, England’s predicament is less about the batsmen, though the flaws inherent in the order make handling facing a big total more daunting than it was and than it should be.

It makes tomorrow a designated Big Day for the destination of the Ashes – England are going to have to bat out of their skins to get remotely close to Australia’s total, and bat long enough to take sufficient time out of the game to put pressure on Australia to try to force the win.  But it’s hard to see England having to bat less than a day second time around at minimum in order to get a draw, and by the time day five rolls around, on a surface that’s taking ever increasing amounts of spin.  Rain and bad light might yet intervene, and provide England with a salvation that they will scarcely deserve, for although they are battling hard, and doing about as much as might be expected of them with the bat, they are looking a doomed team.  The performance of Smith has been the difference between the sides, and England are wilting in the face of the repeated pummeling.  Bairstow and Stokes are still at the crease, and given the latter’s preposterous predilection for pulling off the impossible, all hope is not lost, but it’s not just uphill from here, it’s getting steeper by the minute.

Late on today came the announcement of the sad death of Abdul Qadir, swiftly followed in the rugby world by that of Chester Williams.  Two sportsmen who were iconic in different ways, the latter an icon of the rainbow nation that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the former for carrying the banner of leg spin bowling at a time in the 1980s when it appeared virtually extinct, especially in England.  Shane Warne a decade later would gain the plaudits for being truly extraordinary, but for a certain age group, Abdul Qadir was leg spin bowling – a man who would demonstrate something that was sufficiently rare and exotic as to send a thrill through the observer in an age where pace bowling dominated.   His record is a fine one, but his impact around the cricketing world can scarcely be underestimated.



45 thoughts on “England vs Australia: 4th Test, Day Three: Snakes and Ladders

  1. metatone Sep 6, 2019 / 8:17 pm

    I’ve poured out a drink for Abdul Qadir.

    Personally I’ll judge the batting not on Aus’ total, but against a nominal par, which I reckon was around 350. As I raged earlier, I don’t see them measuring up.


    • thelegglance Sep 6, 2019 / 9:07 pm

      You’re generous. I have my nominal par at about 300, which is why I tend to think they’ve done ok. Just not against Australia.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. man in a barrel Sep 6, 2019 / 10:50 pm

    The Aussie bowling just seems more threatening than England. But then again they came in with 4 fit bowlers. England have Broad, Archer who’s probably 70%, Stokes at 10%, Leach, and Overton. Which team has home advantage?


  3. growltiger Sep 7, 2019 / 6:59 am

    Very difficult to hold out from here, even if they avoid the follow on. Actually, Australia will probably bat for a bit in any case, to give the bowlers some time off the park. But it will be difficult for England to bat for a day and a half, even so. The average number of overs per innings faced by Denly, Bairstow, Buttler and Roy combined in this series is a monumental 25.3, but there are something in the region of 180 overs left in the match.


    • dArthez Sep 7, 2019 / 7:30 am

      Since England trail by roughly 300 runs, and at best can achieve a run rate of around 3.2 per over (barring the Aussie bowlers losing the plot completely), that would basically mean England still have about 140-150 overs to bat, assuming there is no rain and we get all the overs in, and England do not bowl exceptionally well when the Australians are setting up a declaration.

      Also it is a bit unfair to lump Denly with Roy (average innings of 23 balls) and Buttler (32 balls), since he lasts 57 balls on average. In fact, only Burns, Root and Stokes have faced more balls per innings than Denly in this England team. Broad has lasted as long as Roy on average, and since Broad’s batting is not all that fantastic, you do wonder what a bowler has to do to get picked ahead of Roy (Woakes lasted 57 balls on average as well).

      Liked by 1 person

      • growltiger Sep 7, 2019 / 8:15 am

        All these arguments from very small data sets are somewhat dubious. However, with apologies to Denly, given the factual point you make, my expectation is that in the opening slot he will last no longer than he did in the first innings (24 balls) when he often looked like getting out more than one way to any given ball.


      • dArthez Sep 7, 2019 / 8:45 am

        Of course they’re small sample sets, just as the figure of 25.3 overs you mentioned for the four batsmen. The point is that the figures seem to suggest that even if Denly looks awful most of the time, he has displayed the ability to grind it out. Unlike batsmen like Buttler and Roy in particular. Not saying that Denly is Test class, but at least he is willing to fight for his runs.

        But honestly, with this playing eleven, England should simply open the batting with Burns and a bowler who has a bit of a defensive technique. Not saying that say Leach would be a success, but how much shorter can he last than Roy anyway? That way, with a bit of luck Denly and Root come in against a slightly older ball, which should make life a bit easier for the middle order. Then at least Denly and Roy are batting a bit more in their natural positions, and thus their contributions should / would be a bit higher as well. Far from ideal, but but the madness of sacrificing a specialist middle order batsman as an opener, just has to end.

        But that would require the people in charge to admit that they had it hopelessly wrong, and that there is a place in Test cricket for specialist batsmen. Not going to happen.

        If it were up to me, Roy and Buttler would not even have been in contention for this Test. Atrocious would be a compliment to them on the evidence thus far.


  4. BobW Sep 7, 2019 / 9:08 am

    Nice words about Abdul Qadir. He was a legend for me. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, he was the leg spinner my mates and I impersonated down the local park. Getting to see him live was something else. I know Warne was the best. But Qadir, he had the mystique. The fabulous bowling action, arms all over the shop.
    Good article as ever but as said in yesterdays blog. In a way it seems like we are going over old ground again. Same players, same failures. The definition of madness comes to mind watching the England team play these days. Ed Smith has had a shocking series as a selector backed up by the incompetence of the ECB and the mis-management of the county game. I’m probably sounding like a broken record here too.
    I thought for a brief moment that after Stokes’s magical innings, momentum might give us an edge but Steve Smith knocked that out of the park as well.
    That said I think the Australian bowling attack were very good yesterday, always asking questions. Cummings and Hazlewood are something else. I do like watching them bowl. They just never give up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tom Sep 7, 2019 / 9:22 am

    I’m completely confident England will survive.

    What’s the weather forecast by the way? 😉


  6. Miami Dad's Six Sep 7, 2019 / 10:58 am

    Wow the size of that gate from Bairstow. Technically awful. Both he and Roy have gotten out to, well, good balls, but certainly not great balls or anything unplayable. It isn’t good enough.

    I’ve criticised Bairstow on this blog before, so I want to qualify this comment by stating that, unlike Roy (and probably Buttler), I do actually have faith that there is an adept Test cricketer (batsman) in Bairstow. Its probably the reason I have singled him out but had nothing to say yesterday on Roy’s dismissal. Whether you blame his mindset, the coaching staff, the scheduling, the World Cup, the number he comes in the order or his wicket keeping…whatever, that sort of loose drive does not belong in the format.


    • Sophie Sep 7, 2019 / 12:26 pm

      I think it’s as simple as Bairstow playing too much international cricket and not enough red-ball cricket. Also, England seem to have been taking him for granted and ignored that he’s struggled.


  7. man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 11:21 am

    Why the flying f*** are they trying to bounce Archer with the ball swinging round corners?


    • Miami Dad's Six Sep 7, 2019 / 11:44 am

      Archer looks a number 11 to me.


      • man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 11:55 am

        That stab outside off stump to the lifting ball is number 11 territory, I agree


  8. Grenville Sep 7, 2019 / 12:46 pm

    I know that the smart money is on blaming the ECB’s destruction of the county championship for the shambles that is England’s test team, but I blame the Flower dominated coaching set-up. There are not many test class bats in any generation. When Colly retired, Bopara should have had a good run. He was the obvious replacement, but they didn’t like him. Try Morgan, try Taylor, never Ravi. Stokes should be in that role now. KP was pushed out too soon. Root could have taken that slot. Cook stayed too long, but Carberry, Robson, Lyth, Hameed, Compton are all potential replacements/partners. Bell and Trott could have made way for Compton (again), Moen, Taylor or Hales. Prior has an obvious replacement in Bairstow and Butler is around. Right now there are Sibley, Northeast and Westley floating about. The county championship is producing potential test players. The set-up is breaking them or rejecting them. Now there is a massive loss of institutional knowledge, so it is going to be harder to step in and step up. To be clear, I’m not saying that there wouldn’t have been a step down in quality from some astonishing teams or that every one of those players would have been good enough. What I am claiming is that batting talent is being generated, but wasted by Flower and co.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dArthez Sep 7, 2019 / 1:15 pm

      But with regards to Flower, is the reason that he dominates the setup not that psychologically speaking he is exactly what the ECB desire? That is, a logical extension of the kind of culture that the ECB actively promotes?


      • Grenville Sep 7, 2019 / 1:26 pm

        Happy to have the ECB take the blame. I think that the sidelining of the county championship is both bad in its own right and not the primary cause of England’s inability to bat.


    • man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 2:47 pm

      In industry, how many tribunals would an abusive twat like Flower have had to front up to?


  9. dArthez Sep 7, 2019 / 1:09 pm

    Erasmus misses a leg before. Australia already wasted their reviews, so Leach survives. Should not make too much difference.


  10. dArthez Sep 7, 2019 / 1:50 pm

    If Warner does not come out in a bunny suit next Test (if he is picked, and he should not be), I am sure a few England supporters are happy to give it to him.


    • dlpthomas Sep 7, 2019 / 1:59 pm

      He’s 32 so if he is dropped that may have been his last test innings in England. I am going to get howled down but I feel a bit sorry for him.


    • dArthez Sep 7, 2019 / 2:05 pm

      Not sure if I feel sorry for him. Don’t like the guy. He is clearly not the same since returning from Sandpapergate. Which was also evident in the World Cup.

      Honestly, other than Burns, the openers have been extremely poor this series. I’d rather pick Khawaja as a makeshift opener next Test than retain Warner. I would not call it the end of the line for Warner, but a bit of Shield Cricket might be what is best for him, before the Australian home season starts.


  11. dlpthomas Sep 7, 2019 / 2:01 pm

    Broad on fire.


  12. dlpthomas Sep 7, 2019 / 2:32 pm

    Archer’s pace is back. Root is probably keen to keep bowling him but probably time for a rest.


    • mdpayne87 Sep 7, 2019 / 2:42 pm

      Riling up Archer something of a mistake. Bowled his quickest balls of the Test after that.


    • dArthez Sep 7, 2019 / 2:53 pm

      Does Overton even play? Seriously long spells. And while there is certainly some justification for that, it is also a risky strategy. If these two see Archer and Broad off, then they won’t be back for quite some time I think.

      And given the time left in the game, Australia don’t need that many runs to declare with a healthy target.


  13. man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 2:49 pm

    Archer blocking Wade like that? What an arse, I would have hit him with my bat


  14. man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 3:06 pm

    Is Leach attacking the left handers with the rough? Not sure from that field placement. Archer did not throw in from that Smith shot… Must have a dodgy shoulder?


    • dlpthomas Sep 7, 2019 / 3:21 pm

      Maybe some-body hit him with their bat,


      • man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 3:35 pm

        If so, it would serve him right for blocking a batsman running. Imagine how WGGrace would have dealt with a bowler blocking his run


        • dArthez Sep 7, 2019 / 3:50 pm

          Well, we know that if WG Grace was batting instead of Stokes in the last Test, England would have won, even if the umpire raised his finger …

          Liked by 1 person

        • dlpthomas Sep 7, 2019 / 3:50 pm

          I thought the rule was the bowler can stand his ground and the batsman has to go round him. (though I’m not sure that Archer turning round constitutes “standing your ground”)


          • man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 4:12 pm

            Moving to block the run, as Archer seemed to do, merits an attack with the bat 😊


  15. man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 4:13 pm

    Wade’s struggles to score while Smith is cruising… The gap in class is colossal


    • dArthez Sep 7, 2019 / 4:30 pm

      Credit to Wade; he stayed in, and after 44/4 it could have developed in a real horror show for Australia.

      If a wicket falls, probably best to send someone like Starc; quick runs are in order now for Australia. If that does not come off, they can always send in Paine for a bit.


  16. dArthez Sep 7, 2019 / 5:24 pm

    Australia could declare here. Target would be 380 to be defended in 98 overs, plus however many they can get in in 30 minutes or so.

    But I guess the Australians are still a bit scarred by the last Test.

    And they did, just as I write this.


  17. man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 5:30 pm

    It does not look like an easy pitch to score fast on. The Aussie stroke players struggled a bit there. It’s a good gamble


  18. man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 5:37 pm

    I wonder how many batsmen would have handled that first ball to Root. That was a tough one


  19. dArthez Sep 7, 2019 / 5:37 pm

    Yeah, Roy is protected at 4, and still has to come in in the first over. Dreadful start for England.


  20. man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 5:46 pm

    Roy is playing French cricket against Cummins. He could well get pinned by a bouncer. OUCH!!!


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