England v Australia – 4th Test 5th Day – With A Slack Jaw, And Not Much To Say

I am starting the report of the day with England just having lost Jack Leach, and the start of the last hour. The NFL season starts today (although my team are going to do well to win 2 games) and there is plenty else going on. But England have fought, and fought hard today, in direct contrast to their performance at Edgbaston, for example. It has been gritty and doughty, and everything that the first test wasn’t.

Starting this paragraph and there are 14 overs remaining. England started the day with two down, and while Roy, in particular, did not look to be suggesting permanence, as Chris put on the Twitter feed, Joe Denly, for all his faults, sold his wicket dearly. Jason Roy stuck at it, got to 30, then got undone by another beautiful ball by Pat Cummins. I thought last night, that if Roy got out to a similar ball to the one that got Root, would there be such understanding. Answer was, of course not. Of course there are differing circumstances, differing careers, and yes, differing agenda, but Root can be excused for losing his wicket three times for a duck this series.

And as I write, Overton has been given out LBW to Hazlewood. He’s reviewed it, but it looks out. There’s a pause for ball tracking, and it’s three reds. It’s all over.

There went the Ashes. Australia retain the Ashes. They’ve won by 185 runs.

Let’s run through the rest of the play. Stokes nicked behind, didn’t wait for the decision and walked. A review would have given him out, but there’s no guarantee Australia would have called for it! Not with their form. But well done Stokes for not hanging around.

Denly went soon after lunch, Bairstow hung around a while before being nailed LBW. Buttler and Overton then dug in, with Jos batting over 100 balls. England just seemed to be two wickets too many down at any time, and although the Somerset boys worked really hard, Jos leaving a straight one wasn’t in the script. Jofra didn’t last long, falling LBW to Lyon and things looked truly hopeless.

Enter Jack Leach. Again Somerset stood between England and losing the Ashes. Again there was resistance, but just too many overs to face. Paine rotated the bowling, brought on the leg spin of Marnus, and he got one to bounce a little more to Leach, who gloved it to short leg. A couple of overs later, Overton was pegged LBW, and it was all over. Just under 14 overs from saving the game. They fought hard, but that’s the minimum expected. This is an Ashes series, if not lost, has seen Australia retain the urn.

Warne babbled some old nonsense at the end that these were two evenly matched teams, but that is patent nonsense. Australia are a much better team than England. Their world class, historically so, number 4 has been the massive difference. Stokes has played well, and Burns has done the best of a bad sextet of openers, and Archer has some promise (no doubt) but the Australian bowling is good, has good replacements, and the rest of the batting (Labuschagne being a real find in these conditions) has done enough. England missed their chance by not cashing in at Edgbaston when they had the Aussies where they wanted them after two days. England missed a chance due to weather at Lord’s, but that was sort of known a long way out. England took a chance, with a little luck, at Headingley, but as I posed at the start of this match would we have momentum from a miracle win, or would relying on a miracle really be a fools errand. The latter applies.

What’s the point in being angry? The collective media didn’t give a toss when we lost 4-0 Down Under in 2017/18. They were more pleased that their hero batted out a boring test match to prevent a whitewash, and just said it was utterly inevitable that we would lose – no biggie. Then this Ashes were a lower priority than winning the World Cup. While Australians would throw their hands up at this either/or attitude, this is seen as perfectly acceptable for England fans. Now there’s been a bit more chippiness from media sorts, but what did they expect? This is a madman’s idea of a batting order, which he’s stubbornly refused to change the personnel. George Dobell called him Ed Myth. He’s going to face some attention.

Then there is Bayliss, who is off in very short order. His test management has not been one to savour. We await his replacement, who I presume is going to be in place before the New Zealand tour next month. Heaven only knows who is going to take his place.

Root’s captaincy should be up for scrutiny. He’s not the batsman we once knew, as his average is well below 50 now. He’s not impressed, but one wonders how else he could captain this exercise in stupidity imposed on him by a selector in love with himself. I presume the next skipper is Stokes, and I’m not sure that’s a great idea either.

We can take a look at the rest of the team in the days ahead. But in a summer where England won a World Cup and then went straight into an Ashes series, and then face 8 test matches before the end of the winter, including two against New Zealand, with the first on 20 November (we have a ton of T20s before that), before rolling in to a four test series in South Africa, there’s no rest. I watched The Edge last night (it’s included with Prime) and the focus in the second part of the film is of the breakdown of the team. It was clear burnout. The Jonathan Trott retirement piece was tough watching. It showed how much it took to get to the top, and how the toll is immense. (I hope Vaughan saw that part).

The hierarchy in this country give not one shit about this. It’s why we have the Ashes back-to-back like 2013-14. It’s why we have the Ashes straight after the World Cup. It’s why we have a brand new competition that the top players are going to need to promote. It’s why the test schedule is ridiculous, and yet the format has been neglected. It’s why the County Championship is marginalised to the cold ends of the season. It’s why Tom Harrison is still in his position despite alienating core support and angering pretty much every fan in the country.

As the support at the Ashes shows, if they put it on, at any cost, people will turn up. They are counting on that same blind loyalty for the Hundred next year. I hope the fans turn their back on it. Only when they do, will the ECB get the bloody message. Stop pretending that test cricket is the prime format, when you neglect it. Don’t run premature victory laps. Losing the Ashes to our greatest foe, who played well enough, but hardly the greatest team to visit these shores, is not necessarily the worst thing, but it hurts. It makes the next series even more important. It’s hard to tell how England get good enough, quickly enough, to compete down under in a couple of years time, but the time should be spent wisely.

Instead we’ll have all manner of distractions. That’s where we are.

I’m not angry. I’m disappointed. What’s the point of losing your rag with this team, this organisation, and hell, the media and the know-it-all social media paragons? It’s not my place any more to be Mr Angry. What’s the point?

Congratulations Australia and Steve Smith. This has been the Fag End Ashes, an adjunct to the main event. We are World Champions. Enjoy the rest of the summer. Priorities and all that.


18 thoughts on “England v Australia – 4th Test 5th Day – With A Slack Jaw, And Not Much To Say

  1. xpressanny Sep 8, 2019 / 8:09 pm

    So very sorry it has been a long time since I was on here. Have read stuff tho. Keeping an eye on you all!!! Well as you say me Lord it was very very disappointing. There were some moments and glimmers of talent, but too few and far between. On paper we had a pretty good team and I thought we could give Aussies a game of it. Our bowlers were iffy and often couldn’t even get line and length and were summarily punished for it by a good Aussie batting line up. Although Smith was the key factor in Aussie batting, Labuschane showed he was rather better than initially thought. Those I expected to bat well for England just didn’t really turn up. It was sad spectacle really.

    I do so blame the management for the mess we got into. Silly mistakes with bat and ball and some of our fielding was dire. Field positions were iffy. What are coaches doing? Anything? We have some good bowlers but the amount of bad bowling was significant. You’d think the coaches would get them all in a corner and say do this and then do that. Sheesh.

    I just hope somewhere down the line we do have a real good shake up on management side. Need someone with an edge. The whole of management have failed IMO. Not sure who Captain should be. We haven’t even got a steady pair of openers. Need someone with a brain like Vaughan but not sure Stokes has that. Certainly Root doesn’t have it. Maybe being Captain has robbed him of his run scoring? You tell me. Of course Test Cricket is very different from ODI, but I am not sure some of the players have temperament for it. Maybe ODI has changed cricket altogether – at least that’s what my old man says.


  2. Deep Purple Fred Sep 8, 2019 / 9:48 pm

    And silence descends across BOC…

    I think Root’s in trouble, batting-wise and captaincy-wise. He doesn’t look angry, just sad, and a bit lost.
    Maybe I’m misunderstanding Yorkshire tough-silent type characters, but Zepherine has commented too on his poor looking demeanour.
    The siren call to give it to Stokes will be irresistable, but I’d have great misgivings about that.


    • LordCanisLupus Sep 8, 2019 / 10:19 pm

      It does. Says a lot about acceptance of our fates. Better team won, lucky to have nicked a test off them.

      I am not the voice I once was. If I’d come out raging, it would he an act. This was a mid 90s performance against a team nowhere near that Aussie vintage. We prepared to fail, and we achieved it.


    • Zephirine Sep 8, 2019 / 11:44 pm

      Yes, Root looks worn out to me. It was after the 67 innings that I noticed it, he had that hollow-eyed look. Cook had it sometimes too.

      Something that always sticks in my mind is Strauss saying that he never slept properly during a Test when he was captain.

      I wouldn’t give it to Stokes, who knocks himself out every innings just all-rounding let alone captaining as well, and is tough but very emotional. He needs a captain, even if only to ignore.

      Morgan is terrific and he does have the temperament for the job, but of course for him it’s all over in a day. He might not do so well over five days. And he isn’t a Test player. Ho hum. Broad?


  3. ianrsa Sep 8, 2019 / 10:08 pm

    Well I enjoyed that.


    • LordCanisLupus Sep 8, 2019 / 10:15 pm

      Hi Ian

      Oh. I know my voice doesn’t resonate as it once did. The anger and passion doesn’t burn as bright. We have a brilliant, successful Twitter feed, still have something, we think, interesting to say and will carry on, carrying on. Just not as often in my case.

      My fave part this summer was the Andy Bull row. It brought me back to 2014. But he isn’t a particularly bright fellow, so it seemed, and the fire died soon after.

      When England lost a couple of years ago down under the media had given up. Now the world cup has salved their potential anger and the loss of the Ashes is just a mere trifle. No angst. No recriminations. No blood letting. We’re world champions.

      I preferred it when I was bothered.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ianrsa Sep 8, 2019 / 11:03 pm

        Hi Dmitri,

        I understand the loss of passion it has been the same for me. Funnily enough I find that by reading BOC keeps what flickering interest I have in cricket alive.

        I’m exhausted by the politics of it all and have no time for non test cricket (never have really).

        I hope there are many other things in your life for which you have a care and passion for.

        Go well mate.


        • quebecer Sep 9, 2019 / 1:39 am

          Hellooooooo Ian! Glad(ish) you enjoyed it, kind of.

          Liked by 1 person

          • ianrsa Sep 9, 2019 / 4:44 am

            Hey Quebecer, I’m sincerely sorry that you couldn’t. Wouldn’t it be great if we were all satisfied.


  4. MM Sep 8, 2019 / 10:43 pm

    “one wonders how else he could captain this exercise in stupidity imposed on him by a selector in love with himself”

    That, sir, made me smile : )

    Wonder what Ed will pull out of his comedy selection hat this week.

    Also, where is Ashley Giles?


  5. man in a barrel Sep 8, 2019 / 10:49 pm

    Archer didn’t go through the Loughborough programme. Leach was rejected. Archer has potential but needs good captaincy. Leach batted against great bowling to more effect than a lot of the top order. Cummins is a handful but has he been over bowled?, on the other hand. Pattinson is rested ans Starc is fresh. Whereas Archer and Stokes are cooked, Overton is not at this level and?

    Smith is waiting


  6. Zephirine Sep 8, 2019 / 11:52 pm

    I can’t get angry about this, it’s too predictable. They focused on the World cup and we won it (just). Lost the Ashes. There you go.

    Ed Smith: what did we expect? Yes, and that’s what we got.


    • quebecer Sep 9, 2019 / 12:18 am

      As always, zeph, you put your finger right on it: predictable indeed.


  7. quebecer Sep 9, 2019 / 12:22 am

    Well, it all would have been different if Anderson was fit.

    And Smith was English. And we had 5 batsmen. And a better skipper. And selected well. And didn’t have the ECB. And hadn’t done everything we’ve done since god knows when.

    THEN it would have been oh so very very different.


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pontiac Sep 9, 2019 / 12:35 am

    I appreciated Stokes walking. A penny deposited in an account the ECB has been draining for years, and years, and years. It made up for a lot of the silly timewasting.


  9. dArthez Sep 9, 2019 / 7:25 am

    Cricket can be so cruel. It looks like the rain is going to deny Afghanistan their maiden Test win over a Full Member. They had thoroughly outplayed the hosts in the first four days.

    What is more, Afghanistan really could use the points for a win to climb up in the rankings, otherwise they’ll hardly get fixtures in the next decade (and since Afghanistan as a country is not wealthy, they’re already consigned to playing Ireland, Bangladesh, West Indies, and Zimbabwe ad infinitum).


    • dArthez Sep 9, 2019 / 11:28 am

      Nope, they had 70 minutes to take 4 wickets, and they have done it! Afghanistan lost 5 hours of play on the final day due to the weather gods, the equation had become 70 minutes for 4 wickets, rather than 420+ minutes for 4 wickets.

      Afghanistan beat Bangladesh by 224 runs. Should be said that #10 Taijul Islam was out bat before wicket, but that Bangladesh had wasted their reviews earlier in the innings.


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