England v Australia – 4th Test Day 4 – Wows Are Few, Frustration More Common


What can I say?

I’m not surprised, let’s be honest. I’ve said during the summer that this is a mad scientist’s experiment of a cricket team, and while a freak compound came together for a day and a bit at Leeds, as I said many times in the past few years, pretty little half centuries, or grinding 70s aren’t going to win test matches. Double hundreds on good surfaces that decline do. So while we raised Steve Smith’s pedestal yet further, we see Joe Root pale in comparison. Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes must be absolutely livid at what they are seeing. Both are near, or close to, the top of their game, but we persisted with this twisted, mangled wreck of a batting line-up and the rewards are shown for all to see this evening.

Tomorrow Australia will wrap up the Ashes for another couple of years, and given we travel about as well as English wine, probably another four before we get a crack again at our old foe on home soil. That would be another crack at test cricket, because Australia are over here next year for some hit, giggle and white ball contest again. It’s what we want. An hors d’oeuvre for the Hundred.

Back to the start of the day, and England started on 200 for 5. Bairstow got cleaned up pretty early on, and it’s hard to argue with the reaction of one of this parish…

Stokes couldn’t repeat the miracle of Headingley, nicking off to slip, and Archer did not detain us for too long with another low score. Dobell is getting a little impatient, thinking Jofra should bat at number 11. Stuart Broad did his best, which is far from what his best used to be, but he’s bloody trying, and stuck with Jos almost up to the follow on mark, before some blows got England past the follow-on, but not much more. Jos has not yet made 100 runs in 7 digs for England in this series and is played as a specialist batsman. Not much use when he’s coming in at number 8, due to the nightwatchman, but hey, I’m not a Dean of Sports History, so what the hell do I know?

Broad and Archer bowled superbly to start with, removing Warner for a duck, Harris soon after, and then Marnus for fewer than 50 for the first time this series. Head didn’t last too long. But despite looking more vulnerable than nearly any time in this series, Smith wasn’t out, and he accelerated the pace of the innings in an 82 that allowed Australia to declare and set England 383 to win. Or more reasonably a full day and a half an hour to bat out time and take the series to the Oval.

BOOM! Cummins induces a poor legside shot attempt from Rory Burns and the ball skewed off the leading edge to mid-off. Third ball, 0 for 1

CRASH! Root gets a decent one first up and has his off stump pegged back by Cummins. His second first ball duck of the series. Root’s average drops to barely above 48. After a dodgy spell captaining after tea, where he clearly needed to balance bowling workloads, but allowed Smith to get free, is his captaincy under pressure? It should be.

Jason Roy (and I wonder what would have happened and what the comment would have been if he’d had fallen to Cummins ball to Root) came in at 4, in the first over. He’s faced his first ball later in the innings opening the batting! He and Denly saw out the day and the game finished the day with England 18 for 2.

We won’t bat out tomorrow. I’d be surprised if England get to tea, and not be surprised if they are done by lunch. They took the momentum from Leeds, bowled and fielded poorly, lost it to the human spirit sapper Smith, and found themselves in their area of weakness, chasing a big score. England can’t make these without miracles aligning, and so they proved, scraping over 300, which is a rarity these days, so I suppose it was a success of sorts.

England’s test cricket is unfathomable. It can align and beat India 4-1, it can unravel, and but for miracles and mis-steps, it should really be 3-0 tomorrow. All through it I’ve watched as much as I can, taped as much as I can, reviewed as much as I can, but the spirit isn’t there. This is ADHD test cricket and I’m not a fan. Paul Hayward, a journo who should really know better, was eulogising how this series has transcended sport, but to me it is a crap series, with one man dominating, and when he didn’t play, we got an extraordinary finish. One great theatrical contest. The third test was Highlander, the rest has been Highlander II. I’ve just not been into it at all. I wasn’t that keen to write tonight’s opus.

So, onto tomorrow. The Inevitable End, as Royksopp named their final album. I hope we put up a fight, but the two in at the moment have been almost walking wickets, and then we go to the expansive all rounders and their gates and swishes. We’ve got a slightly longer tail as well. If they survive….. oh stuff it. Don’t get your hopes up.

Ashes to Ashes. Dust to Dust. If the hope is there, well I admire your trust.

And we were 13 overs short. Who gives a shit that the paying public, probably shelling out £100 for a ticket, get 15% of their play taken away because the players don’t give a stuff about getting a wiggle on. We can go on about this, but no-one gives a shit in authority. No-one.

Comments below on the final farce.



51 thoughts on “England v Australia – 4th Test Day 4 – Wows Are Few, Frustration More Common

  1. man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 6:59 pm

    I am watching this series because Steve Smith is redefining batting almost in the same way that Bradman did in 1930 or Trumper, Jessop and Co at the start of the 20th century. When he turned a quick ball from Archer from outside leg stump to third man, I applauded while watching TV. It was just amazing to see


    • Tony Bennett Sep 7, 2019 / 7:15 pm

      Some people have said they don’t want to watch Smith bat. Why on earth not? In the first innings he played a sort of two-handed tennis forehand to an Archer short ball delivered at upper 80s mph. You could see him waiting to play the stroke as the ball came down. The ball went sweetly off the middle of the bat for a lazy single to deep square leg. This isn’t in any sense ordinary batting. He has strokes not available to other batsmen. We should enjoy his extraordinariness while we can.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance Sep 7, 2019 / 7:22 pm

        I love watching him bat. Most cricketers play in a way we can relate to – they just do it far, far better. Seeing someone play in a way I can’t comprehend – and make it look ridiculously easy in the process, yep, that I adore watching.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Elaine Simpson-Long Sep 7, 2019 / 9:38 pm

          I love the way he whips round and holds his bat upright when he leaves a shot. Somebody called it a light Sabre Moment and that was a perfect description

          Liked by 1 person

      • Burly Sep 8, 2019 / 9:48 am

        I hate watching him bat. His insane twitching, his over-exaggerated leaves, his post-ball actions, his gurning – they all do my head in and produce an almost visceral dislike of him while he’s batting. I can appreciate the brilliant things he’s doing but I have to do so on an intellectual level.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Rohan Sep 8, 2019 / 7:10 am

      I totally agree about Smith. I love watching him bat, I said so during the first test, when some (possibly) many in the MSM were bemoaning his so called ‘ugly’ technique; I think it’s great!

      Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance Sep 8, 2019 / 9:42 am

        One of the more interesting comments about his technique came from Atherton, who noted that it’s most reminiscent of a chap called Bradman, and that given the success of them, perhaps we’ve been teaching people the wrong way to bat for a century or more.


        • Rohan Sep 8, 2019 / 1:29 pm

          Atherton is someone in the MSM I very much enjoy listening to and who provides people like me (always watched and loved cricket, but not played it really) with great insight, wisdom and knowledge on the game. Plus, I loved watching him open the batting for England against all those great attacks in his era….


  2. Pontiac Sep 7, 2019 / 8:07 pm

    I am not up to date with the new rules for not getting through enough overs. Some points penalty or something? But if that causes a draw, net gain vs a loss.

    In the old system, Root knowing that he was going to be sacked anyway would be free to waste as much time as he liked.


  3. nonoxcol Sep 7, 2019 / 8:10 pm

    This series has transcended sport?

    I’m intrigued as to what the argument is.


      • LordCanisLupus Sep 7, 2019 / 8:52 pm

        PS. If you have Amazon Prime, The Edge is now included on it. Well it was tonight!


        • Shabbs Sep 8, 2019 / 6:02 am

          Brilliant tip, thank you! Saved me a few quid:)


      • Deep Purple Fred Sep 7, 2019 / 9:30 pm

        Providing a refuge from chaos? Underlining it, more like.
        Two outfits who can’t get a cohesive act together, entire matches swung by the impact of a single domineering individual, and continual switching and changing of positions from both teams. An Ashes series perfectly reflecting the entropy of the Boris Johnson premiership.

        On balance, Australia has outplayed England, but not convincingly. Good fun, but hardly a refuge from chaos. Still, they have to get their clicks.

        Liked by 2 people

        • nonoxcol Sep 7, 2019 / 9:51 pm

          Quality wise it’s not a massive improvement on 2015, is it? Except it’s been elevated by what looks like genuine individual greatness, a brief confrontaion between said great and proper fast bowling,
          and one afternoon of Chateau de 1981.

          2005 it absolutely is not.


        • Deep Purple Fred Sep 7, 2019 / 10:32 pm

          True, it’s been elevated by moments of greatness, and some quality bowling. Also, Labuschange and Burns have arrived, we’ll see where they go. So, a bit more interesting than previous years.

          Always struggled with that ’81 vintage, initially exciting on the tongue but leaving a bitter aftertaste.


        • thelegglance Sep 7, 2019 / 11:17 pm

          Hayward tries to make a political point out of the cricket. And frankly, he can fuck off.


      • dArthez Sep 8, 2019 / 4:33 am

        It is behind a paywall for me. But the first two paragraphs are already cringeworthy. It took investigative journalism (home broadcaster cheating detection advantage) to uncover Sandpapergate, just it took some investigations to uncover some financial misappropriation some MPs were involved in. For a game and a system that is supposedly self-regulating etc., that is simply not good enough.

        We’re talking about a sport, where the (big) boards decide what gets considered (including blatant refusals to play against certain teams), who gets funded domestically and worldwide, rules that get tougher / relaxed, on the basis of whim / profiteering by the rule makers (not so much the laws of the game, thought the Hundred might briefly have tried, in its attempt to get rid of the lbw).

        The only way to avoid the experience of chaos in cricket, is to be ignorant of all the shenanigans. The same usually holds for politics. But with Brexit looming large, and the politicians split among three options, with plenty of shades, it is impossible to get a majority for any decision (Hard Brexit, May’s accord, Remain), leaving a large part of the population in limbo, we get the kind of scrutiny that cricket would have benefited from for a long time (ie. serious coverage on how the ECB is actively destroying the game, and all its corrupt dealings, domestically and worldwide). Could even use the photos of Giles Clarke dining and wining with a rather dubious Sri Lankan character / President.

        Fanbois are usually incapable of any coherent critical thought about what they are supporting. Just as Cook was “from the right sort of family” for the ECB, fanbois are the right kind of supporters for the ECB. Enter the Hundred.

        As for the unifying aspects of Ben Stokes heroics, both instances involved (due to no fault of Stokes obviously) violations of the supposedly inviolable laws, to hand England a World Cup and an Ashes Test. But I suppose the violations are okay, as long as they benefit who you are supporting. And that makes it no different from cringeworthy party politics.

        So yes, cricket helps make sense of a chaotic world. By showing that the rot is everywhere.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Deep Purple Fred Sep 8, 2019 / 2:07 pm

          Well said.


  4. Mark Kerry Sep 7, 2019 / 8:53 pm

    Agree with most of the observations made in the article. Smith aside the series has been memorable for the high number of poor performances especially with the bat and in the field. I cannot remember a series where there has been so many dropped catches in the slips (especially from England). Jason Roy, a fine cover and point fielder for Surrey, cannot catch a cold at slip. Jonny Bairstow has been untidy and error ladened behind the stumps. Except for Smith and Stokes both teams have performed poorly with the bat. The difference has been Australia have a better bowling attack and have been marginally better in the field. Once the inevitable happens tomorrow when we lose the Ashes then I will give Dominic Sibley, James Vince and Ben Foakes a game at the Oval at the expense of Roy, Bairstow and Buttler.


    • Tony Bennett Sep 7, 2019 / 9:12 pm

      There will be those who pooh-pooh your suggestion of James Vince, but I am not among them. I think he has class. Of course if picked he will be made to open the batting by the clowns currently selectibg the side.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dArthez Sep 7, 2019 / 10:18 pm

        You’d be happy with that. Otherwise he’d be asked to either open the bowling or use the gloves, because Ed Smith is funky like that.

        Don’t think Vince is the answer. Foakes should definitely be considered. Sibley should be in with a shout as well, but it might also be worthwhile to consider one or two of the A. Cook discards (no idea if any of them is having a decent county season). I have been banging on about it for ages, that a lot of the problems with the dozen openers England have tried is that they had to bat with Cook. Since he is not there, some of the “failures” might actually thrive.

        Liked by 1 person

        • man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 11:22 pm

          Entirely agree with you. I think Mark Butcher made the point that, if you are on debut, batting with an all-time great who makes batting look so difficult is not going to help you settle


  5. man in a barrel Sep 7, 2019 / 11:30 pm

    Recall the Ashes 1930… Bradman
    Ashes 1932… Larwood
    Ashes 1938… Hutton
    Ashes 1956… Laker
    Ashes 1981… Botham
    Ashes 1972… Massey
    Ashes 1986… Broad

    The Ashes have always been about personalities. They are living up to my expectations. Great fast bowling. Some amazing batting. Some good fielding. Unfortunately England is not providing a lot of the great stuff


  6. metatone Sep 8, 2019 / 5:55 am

    Aus are just a better side by a noticeable margin and that has taken the shine off the series for me. Stokes apart there has been little sense that England are in this across 5 matches. Archer burned bright, but oh so briefly. We should add that once again, as soon as the ball isn’t swinging and pitches are a bit better for batting, England look obviously 2nd class. This is a familiar story in the last 10 years…

    All this of course is England’s fault. Partly the ECB’s structural destruction of the game and partly Ed Smith’s crappy selection theories and partly the coach and captain making some bad choices.

    As for Smith’s batting, there’s some satisfaction in the obvious that Bradman’s way is better than the coaching manuals, but I don’t expect cricket to adapt. A better bowling side than England would have given him more of a challenge – but we’re back to England just not being good enough to make it a contest.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. dArthez Sep 8, 2019 / 9:26 am

    Set a mammoth 398 to win by Afghanistan, Bangladesh are now tottering at 82/4, with more than a day’s play left. Mushifiqur Rahim and Mominul Haque already dismissed (two of the bigger wickets in this Bangladeshi batting lineup).

    And no, it is not just Rashid Khan doing the damage with the ball. And battingwise, several batsmen contributed (Afghan, Rashid Khan, Rahmat Shah, Zadran, and Zazai all made major contributions with the bat).

    This Afghanistan side can give a fight to any side in the world on wickets such as the one this match is being played on. Why the Bangladeshi’s thought it was a good idea to doctor a pitch like this is beyond me.


    • Burly Sep 8, 2019 / 9:51 am

      That reminds me, was it you who made a claim that Sri Lanka only produces pitches where winning the toss essentially means winning the match? Someone on here did…

      Anyway, I was intrigued by this claim, and went and looked it up – it was totally wrong. Just curious where the idea came from.


      • dArthez Sep 8, 2019 / 10:02 am

        Uh, if you bothered to look at the figures between September 2015, and just before the New Zealand tour of Sri Lanka, (where toss actually lost the series 2-0), you will have this query on Statsguru. Before then toss results were far less decisive for the outcome of the game (you could move it forward by a few months, to increase the figure to 2 out of 19, since India actually overcame the toss in one Test). I made that caveat in just about every post I posted on the topic.


        All of one win by the team that lost the toss. And that was Zimbabwe who were robbed by a third umpire. So out of 16 matches, toss won 15, and the incompetent third umpire who did not know the laws for stumping decided the 16th. How is that not lopsided?

        If you look at the period between say July 2000 and July 2010, the team winning the toss won 23 games, and lost 18 games. Bit less skewed, is not it?


        • Burly Sep 9, 2019 / 8:24 am

          That’s cool – I think the one post I saw didn’t have those caveats.


  8. dArthez Sep 8, 2019 / 11:20 am

    The sun is shining, the ball is not doing much, other than balls that keep low on occasion, and Roy and Denly are making hay thus far. What is more they are scoring freely enough to even be in the running to get the runs and claim victory.


    • dArthez Sep 8, 2019 / 11:23 am

      Everybody, blame that wicket on me. Just as I posted it, Roy was bowled.


      • dlpthomas Sep 8, 2019 / 11:28 am

        I was only half watching and initially thought it was a replay of the first innings.


  9. dlpthomas Sep 8, 2019 / 12:11 pm

    Denley may not be as talented as some of his team mates but he values his wicket.


    • dArthez Sep 8, 2019 / 12:26 pm

      4th batsman for England to have played 500 balls this series (504 now). Bairstow (306) is a distant, distant 5th. And the less said about Buttler and Roy the better (figures at the time of lunch).

      He may not be Test class, but his mindset and approach to the game is definitely commendable.

      Honestly, dropping him after this series would be harsh on him. Sure he does not look pretty, and like getting out every ball, but he is fighting for every run, and England really can do with a bit more of grafting and a bit less of biffing. Even moreso since we can rest assured that several passengers will be retained.


      • dArthez Sep 8, 2019 / 1:07 pm

        Okay he did not make much more than 50 (and England would have wanted him to have gone on), but he ate up 123 balls in his innings. Which is a good effort if you are trying to save a Test. And he did not get out to a silly shot or anything.

        But that raises an interesting question: if his stats are so poor in the County Championship, is it not plausible that England have overlooked decent (not saying necessarily ones that could play 50+ Tests) batsmen who could actually do a job for England?

        Liked by 1 person

        • thelegglance Sep 8, 2019 / 1:11 pm

          Yes, most likely. Denly’s approach to Test batting is one that quite a few could emulate – he doesn’t quite have the talent, but he’s done pretty well given that. There are more talented players even in this England line up who could learn from him.


  10. dArthez Sep 8, 2019 / 2:04 pm

    Bairstow a bit unfortunate there to be given lbw there.


  11. dArthez Sep 8, 2019 / 3:07 pm

    England fighting well, and it looks like they will have lost just 4 wickets going into tea. Still 30-odd overs left to survive, and that includes 25 against the new ball.


  12. nonoxcol Sep 8, 2019 / 4:20 pm

    I liked this comment from last week’s interviewee:

    Consider this post an attempt to cheer up the English readers, however briefly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Metatone Sep 8, 2019 / 5:18 pm

      Grief displacement activity – wot no Verity?


  13. Quebecer Sep 8, 2019 / 5:19 pm

    Congrats to Aus. Worthy winners, well played.


  14. dArthez Sep 8, 2019 / 5:20 pm

    Overton batted well, to take it into the final hour. But his primary skill (bowling) is what let England down this Test (and not just that; there are a few other elephants in the room that need to be addressed).

    Congratulations to Australia and Fred, and other Australia supporters. It has been 18 years since Australia retained the Ashes in England …


      • nonoxcol Sep 8, 2019 / 5:42 pm

        Fred, what did you make of Geoff Lemon’s argument that, but for Smith, this might have been an England whitewash?

        Personally I found it…. a stretch.


        • thelegglance Sep 8, 2019 / 7:21 pm

          Er, Smith didn’t play at Headingley, and for most of that match, Australia had England on toast. I’m not sure one utterly freak performance is a benchmark for the rest of the series.


      • Deep Purple Fred Sep 8, 2019 / 6:00 pm

        I didn’t see that. It’s an interesting point, but totally wrong. Smith has been decisive, but to say that he was holding back the tide is ridiculous. It overlooks the tremendous contributions from other players at key times, and the consistent excellence of the bowling unit. Smith led, in terms of batting performance, but the team backed him up very well. Half a dozen others have played decisive roles at important times.

        By contrast, England largely varied from quite good, to collapsing like a cheap suit. That’s what you get when you foster and select a team of ODI all-rounders.

        Lemon likes to float balloons. For all their faults, I’d much rather here from old farts who used to play, than clever, hip young journalists looking to make a name. Thoroughly enjoyed Gower, Holding, Hussein and Ponting on this match.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Metatone Sep 8, 2019 / 5:26 pm

    Aus were simply the better side and they showed it over the course of the 4 matches.


    • Sophie Sep 8, 2019 / 5:31 pm

      They also are the side that actually prepared for it.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. man in a barrel Sep 8, 2019 / 8:45 pm

    How many times did the team led by Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson Alistair Cook manage to bat so deep in a losing cause?

    There does appear to be more steel in this team. But Root should renounce the captaincy. Give it to the senior pro… Broad. Like they did when Willis was made captain, after the next best county skipper after Brearley, KWR Fletcher, cocked up in India


    • thelegglance Sep 8, 2019 / 9:01 pm

      Hmm. There was the successful rearguard at Eden Park. Cook himself never managed a match saving fourth innings contribution, although in the 2012 Ahmedabad Test his 176 in defeat was probably important for what followed in that series win.

      A decade or so ago, England were pretty much specialists at extraordinary escapes – Cardiff, the two in South Africa…

      Not sure this team has that, well though they tried today.


  17. Hi All, Sorry not to have been around for such a long time. I stopped watching cricket with any enthusiasm due to not wanting to see Cook. Glad he’s gone. However, are we almost back where we started saying Strauss, et al were all wrong? It’s hard to tell what is happening or what is worse. England Cricket needs a real good kick up the Jacksie if this is all we can offer? I hear the odious Mark Nicholas telling us all that these players are pick of the bunch, so why can’t they play as if they are the best? No answers at all. Just gobsmacked.


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