England vs Australia: 5th Test, Day Three

This is rather a strange Test match.  England are now hot favourites to square the series, barring a ridiculous Smith innings, which given his performances this summer only a fool would rule out entirely.  With the Ashes gone, the question of this Test being a dead rubber or otherwise is a fair one, but it is somewhat surprising to see how shoddy Australia’s performance has been at the Oval, given the series wasn’t won.  Catches dropped in the first innings, some poor bowling in the second, and while England’s problems haven’t gone away, they’ve played with by far the greater intensity of the two teams in this one.

Joe Denly was the star of the day, falling 6 runs short of a maiden Test century – his disappointment at getting out plain for all to see.  He has been perhaps the most interesting of the players tried in the England top order; he certainly hasn’t been a runaway success, but he has delivered more and more as the series has gone on. His technical flaws outside off stump were beautifully highlighted by Ricky Ponting, but he has been flashing at the wider ball on fewer occasions and seen his run returns improve as a result.  At 33 years old, he has set an example to some of the other – more experienced – players about how to learn and improve, rather than just repeating the same errors innings after innings.  He had some luck – being dropped last evening and getting away with an lbw not reviewed by Australia – their dire DRS performance continuing – but he earned it.  In the latter part of his career, he may not be considered a long term enough player for winter selection, but short term selections to fulfill a role – perhaps at 3 allowing Root to drop a place – aren’t necessarily bad in themselves.  Either way, his innings at Headingley gave England an outside chance of a win, his innings here has put England in a position where they should win.  It’s more than most in the top order have done.

Stokes and Buttler provided the most support.  The former looks to be the best batsman in the England side at present, given Root’s technical struggles.  Stokes has an uncomplicated technique, allied with ferocious power, and a concentration level that perhaps might not be expected of such a destructive player.  But while the sixes were still hit, this was a disciplined, focused innings in partnership with Denly that took England from a position of mild peril to one of strength.

Buttler capitalised on the foundation with a breezy knock taking England’s lead past 300.  He’s a funny one, he’s not had a good series overall, but has batted relatively well in the last couple of innings.  His defenders advance the case that to see him at his best the side need to lay a platform for him so he can play his shots, and while that’s probably true, if he’s in the side as a batsman then his job is to bat in all circumstances, not just to press an advantage home, or he’s simply a luxury player in a team that doesn’t have that freedom to select one.

Cummins and Hazlewood were again the pick of the Australian attack, without getting the rewards due, but Mitchell Marsh, given his first innings efforts, was curiously underbowled, and got more movement through the air than most others when he did.  Siddle picked up a couple of wickets, but was highly expensive, while Lyon was targeted early on by Denly and proved unable to fully contain the England batsmen thereafter.

As for tomorrow, England have a couple of wickets in hand, but are unlikely to add too many more runs, meaning Australia are likely to be chasing around 400 on a surface that’s still good, but offering a little more turn for Leach to exploit.  It is a measure of the fear Smith has instilled that England aren’t considered nailed on to win this.  Should they do so – and they really ought to, a 2-2 draw would represent something of a success in many ways – not in pure terms, but given how they’ve played.  Failing to regain the Ashes, certainly, but for much of this series the England batting order has been a mess, to the point that dropping a batsman for a bowling all rounder represented a strengthening of the order.  It would also be something of a failure for Australia not to win the series.  They’ve been the better team in three of the matches, denied by a freak performance from Ben Stokes.  Retaining the Ashes might have been the primary aim, but not winning a series that they really should do is falling rather short.

Lastly, the mandated number of overs to be bowled yet again weren’t.  Only two short today, but the running total for this Test now stands at 17 unbowled due to tardiness.  It remains unacceptable.

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41 thoughts on “England vs Australia: 5th Test, Day Three

  1. Northern Light Sep 14, 2019 / 7:21 pm

    As a Norfolk lad, I’m rather more excited by Norwich beating Man City 3-2 than I am by the prospect of England winning this match.
    Still, a pretty good day all round.

    Like

    • Rooto Sep 14, 2019 / 7:32 pm

      My dad, too. He’s a canary. Personally, I’m still reeling from the Posh winning 6-0 with only 38% possession.
      Meanwhile, cricket-wise, I can accept that Denly has been better than Bairstow and Roy and possibly Buttler – thereby a comparative success. However, in absolute terms, he’s not good enough. There has to be better, or at least younger. Being the fourth best batsman in *this* team doesn’t save him when 4 of the top 7 need replacing.
      Sorry for banging on but it’s rare that I have a firm opinion about anything!

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      • thelegglance Sep 14, 2019 / 7:47 pm

        Why does there “have to be” better? I mean, England have tried a fair few in recent years – it’s an indictment on a lot of English cricket, but the cupboard isn’t that well stocked.

        I think I’d stand by saying that Denly has learned and improved over the series. And in itself that’s worthy of some credit. But I doubt he’s good enough, I just enjoy seeing someone straining every ounce of what they have.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rooto Sep 14, 2019 / 8:01 pm

          “have to be” should perhaps be changed to “I refuse to accept that there isn’t”. MiaB mentioned Robson on the other thread. I’d also drop Sibley, Dent, Al Davies, Azad and Mitchell (and eventually Vasconcelos, when he’s qualified) into the conversation. They’re all more of an opener than Denly.
          I’m happy to give the guy credit for squeezing every drop out. Now can we pat him on the head, send him back to Kent and try out some potentially talented youngsters (or Mitchell…) please?

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          • man in a barrel Sep 14, 2019 / 8:12 pm

            A series in New Zealand? Clive Radley (middlesex 1970 – 1980) did well there, handling the fast medium swing bowlers. He came a cropper against pace. What’s the template? All conditions? Cook is a massive fail! Swing? Spin? On the other hand, trying to remember, didn’t Strauss fail in New Zealand and then get recalled in the West Indies? Since when, he has become the Pope of English cricket

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          • thelegglance Sep 14, 2019 / 8:12 pm

            Fair. And you might well be right.

            Like

        • Mark Sep 14, 2019 / 8:18 pm

          Denleys problem is his age now. Will he be likely to be going on the next Ashes tour two years from now? I doubt it.

          What I like about him in this series is he has shown a lot of heart and courage. He was asked to go up and open when Roy dropped down and he did it without fuss. Other players with so called bigger reputations could learn a big lesson from him.

          What he has proved is that it isn’t always about talent. Guts and bottle mean something as well. I wonder if they are looking in the wrong places for future test players, When Nasser took over they started to look for players who had some fight in them. Tresthcothick didn’t have the greatest of county records. I’m not putting Denley in with Yres by the way.

          What he has shown is you don’t have to go out and score a quick fire 12 and then get out. You can graft out some fifties even against a good bowling attack.

          Liked by 1 person

          • man in a barrel Sep 14, 2019 / 8:27 pm

            Why not? How old was Rogers in 2015?, he didn’t disgrace himself

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          • thelegglance Sep 14, 2019 / 8:33 pm

            Adam Voges made his debut at 35, and currently has the third highest Test average in history.

            Liked by 1 person

          • man in a barrel Sep 14, 2019 / 8:34 pm

            He took a lot of balls to the body. But that was a tactic developed by Cowdrey in 1961, he used dunlopillow to take the bruises. He used it in 1975 against Lillee and Thomson

            Like

      • Marek Sep 14, 2019 / 9:56 pm

        I have a gut feeling you’re right Rooto–but I really can’t see anyone in county cricket I’d rather see there in the short term (and reading the runes, it seems that Root is going to drop back down to four after this match so they’ll need two top-three players apart from Burns).

        All I can see is players who’ve already been tried without being much better than Denly if at all (Robson, Lyth, Stoneman, Vince, Jennings, Westley–several of whom also aren’t in very good form this season); old players who are out of form (Hildreth and Mitchell are both averaging mid-20s this year); and young players who should go on the Lions tour and who may be ready in a year or two but aren’t yet–and, as with prospects generally, some of whom may never be (Crawley, Azad, Davies, Bracey).

        I’m sceptical of Dent because he seems to be another player with a lot of second-division matches and an average that doesn’t scream “pick me” although it’s not bad (and despite the pronouncements of the oracle Selvey, the standard of bowling this year in Div 2 really isn’t the same as Div 1). I would be very wary of picking someone like Azad because of “second season syndrome”–let’s see how he goes with the Lions against better bowlers or next season when people have worked him out a bit. To me, to be picked after one season you need to have been head and shoulders above most of your rivals, like Pope was last season.

        So for the winter I’d be happy to keep Denly at three and add Sibley as opener. I REALLY didn’t think I’d be saying that six weeks ago!…and didn’t in my series predictions I recall, although I’m happy to see that Cummins has got his 28 wickets…:-)

        Liked by 3 people

  2. man in a barrel Sep 14, 2019 / 7:41 pm

    I am more interested in whether Anderson will get picked again. Maybe it’s time for him to hang up his boots? Particularly since his participation and threat in touring series has not been great since the last Ashes down under. Can we ever forget the sight of Karun Nair making hay?

    Like

  3. man in a barrel Sep 14, 2019 / 7:57 pm

    Maybe there is someone better but how many openers have been tried over long periods in the past 5 years. The thing about Denly is that he seems to be analytical about his game, resolving not to push hard outside off stump, for example, not letting Lyon settle as another example. It is a matter of regret that he wasn’t in India or the Middle East where our batters were rooted to the crease, letting Ashwin and Co build rhythm and confidence by patting the ball back from the crease

    Like

  4. man in a barrel Sep 14, 2019 / 8:22 pm

    A distant memory of Brian Close being asked about that Somerset team. He talked about the obvious star, Botham, but he had a soft spot for Vic Marks as a thinking cricketer, and there aren’t too many of them. When he played for England, Marks did a job. Knocking off about 50 runs to win a match against Pakistan under Imran Khan, alongside Bob Taylor, was one of them. The big bald bastard must have been proud, but he had probably forgotten who he was

    Like

  5. dArthez Sep 14, 2019 / 8:26 pm

    For some reason (and I could be totally unjustified) the name of Katich props up for me. Hardly the most talented batman, hardly an opener (he used to bat at #3 for his Shield side), but certainly not someone who let wasted his talents and ability.

    Not sayinh Denly is that good, but amid the general carnage that England enjoyed, I can think of about 4 or 5 batsmen in the England side alone who are more worthy of being dropped.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Sep 14, 2019 / 9:00 pm

      WordPress is the God of gods, and may not be overruled.

      Like

  6. man in a barrel Sep 14, 2019 / 9:46 pm

    Selectors have to live with what they have. What are the Lions throwing up? What happened to that guy who broke his hand in India? Isn’t he now looking for a new contract?

    Like

    • Rooto Sep 15, 2019 / 4:59 am

      A rumour on the county cricket blogs was that Hameed’s going to Warwickshire – probably taking Sibley’s spot if the latter plays for England.

      Like

  7. man in a barrel Sep 15, 2019 / 10:22 am

    On the first morning, I said it looked like a 400 wicket. It’s down to Australia to make that guess come true

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    • dlpthomas Sep 15, 2019 / 10:51 am

      If Australia make 400 then they deserve to win the series.

      Like

  8. dlpthomas Sep 15, 2019 / 10:59 am

    Is Broad on a roll? That would be a great way to finish the series.

    Like

  9. nonoxcol Sep 15, 2019 / 11:27 am

    Warner’s aggregate for this series is the lowest in Test history for a batsman with 10 innings.

    And that by 41 runs (over a third lower than the previous nadir, dating back to the NZ tourists of 1958).

    Per TMS.

    Like

    • Mark Sep 15, 2019 / 12:54 pm

      Smith will probably average more than Warner has scored in total.

      It’s been an enjoyable morning session for England. Some debate as to if whether Leach is bowling from the wrong end?

      I still think Root is overly cautious with his field settings for spin bowlers trying to bowl sides out. At 70/3 chasing 400 you can go on the attack a bit more.

      England do seem to prefer to wait for batsman to get themselves out. The legacy of bowling dry is hard to shake off.

      Like

  10. dlpthomas Sep 15, 2019 / 2:04 pm

    Archer (finally) gets another spell. Can’t say he has been over-bowled today.

    Like

  11. dlpthomas Sep 15, 2019 / 4:04 pm

    Brilliant battle between Wade and Archer. Wade copped a few on the body but he’s still there and looking good for a century so I think he won.

    Like

    • dlpthomas Sep 15, 2019 / 4:05 pm

      Archer getting another over (that’s 8 for this spell) so the fight isn’t over yet.

      Like

    • Quebecer Sep 15, 2019 / 4:35 pm

      Yep. He didn’t get out. That’s a win. Close doesn’t really matter – except it was good to watch.

      Like

  12. man in a barrel Sep 15, 2019 / 4:22 pm

    8 overs for 38 runs, even with a few edges, must really piss Archer off

    Like

  13. Quebecer Sep 15, 2019 / 4:38 pm

    I’m in no danger of ever liking Matthew Wade, but that’s a really good ton. Well batted.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. man in a barrel Sep 15, 2019 / 5:11 pm

    Surely Australia want to make England come back tomorrow to finish things off. Piss poor shot by Lyon

    Like

  15. Quebecer Sep 15, 2019 / 5:21 pm

    So, seems like we can’t even lose the Ashes properly.

    Like

  16. dlpthomas Sep 15, 2019 / 5:24 pm

    Is that Gower’s last test match for Sky? If so, I will miss him.

    I’m pretty happy with 2 all. I thought Australia would win 3 – 1 but I hadn’t allowed for
    a) they’re shit with DRS
    b) their selectors don’t like Starc

    Like

    • Mark Sep 15, 2019 / 5:33 pm

      And Bothams as well I think. He didn’t seem very happy. I have always said I don’t think Gower is a good presenter, but I liked his commentary.

      Not convinced they have better people to take over. If it’s anything like their other sports output it will be trendy, politically correct bore fest.

      Like

  17. nonoxcol Sep 15, 2019 / 6:36 pm

    Archer and Woakes each played 4 Tests. Each missed a Test Australia won, in which Australia had one massive innings.

    Archer bowled 156 overs.

    Woakes bowled 95.

    Even allowing for a difference of 14.5 in strike rate, this strikes me as bizarre.

    Like

    • Metatone Sep 15, 2019 / 7:28 pm

      Woakes was definitely underbowled at some key moments when he could have given others a breather if nothing else.

      Like

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