Australia – 345/3 (Khawaja 144, Burns 128) v West Indies
England – 179/4 (Taylor 70, Compton 63*) v South Africa
The two tests could hardly be a greater contrast. In Melbourne Australia are participating in what looks like another total mismatch, as Burns and Khawaja picked up centuries, and there’s probably at least another one in them hills for either Smith or Voges given their propensity these days in cashing in. The West Indies seem further and further away from competitiveness. I must confess that I was watching the Cavaliers v Warriors NBA game rather than this lack of a contest, but what I did notice was David Warner setting off like a train and getting out quite quickly. I saw one of my Aussie-based Twitter followers had something to say about that.
England find themselves in a much better position than 49 for 3 suggested, especially as the “two rocks” had both been dismissed. Nick Compton looked very solid, not offering much in the way of chances, and ground out 63 from 179 balls. It’s 300 ball hundred pace, which while is important in situations like this, it’s not match-winning stuff. That sounds harsh, I know, and he’s played the situation magnificently. But that question will remain until we see something slightly more multi-faceted.At this stage England need to take solidity and composure any which way they can. We’ve been spoiled on Tres, Vaughan and even Strauss who could keep the scoreboard ticking over. My fear is Compton is going to be too one paced. Today, that’s not a problem.
But look, this has been a top innings today and probably one in the eye for a few people (including me, who has never been convinced he’s the answer). I’m a bit different on Taylor who looks like the least worst option in that position, and again played well in a tight situation. He has that attitude of persistent motion, an energizer bunny, reining himself in before he fires off at all different angles. This is his second 70-ish score and yes, they’ve been accumulated in the right way and tight situations. A shame he got out just before the close, but he has been a bright spark today.
It’s too soon to make a comment on Hales – of course it is. That’s a lot different to people “thinking” he’s not up to it as a test opener, because I know, like others, those that think that way want to be proved wrong. If you want to know the ultimate example, you should have seen the text messages between me and a Millwall mate after HIM was dismissed in the first innings at The Oval. I’d love Hales to do well, I really would, but already you can hear the jungle drums. “Compton open, Compton open, Compton open”.
A couple of other observations. I see it’s a mixed South African / English team under the SuperSport banner. I thought, for the larger series, and I thought this was one, that we had the full Sky treatment. What with the car park settings for the BBL, are there serious cost-cutting measures on board at the home of England Cricket?
Also, the game will be poorer when Dale Steyn isn’t playing it. What a champion. Also self-deprecating in his interview afterwards, saying he’s not as skilled as Jimmy Anderson. Hogwash. They are different types of bowlers, and Steyn has skill in abundance. A top player. It’s a disgrace he’s not been seen playing against England in his home country since 2010, and in this country since 2012.
Happy to have all your comments on the games today and those for the play tomorrow. The beloved is dragging me down to the Garden Centre in the morning – I’d rather have an hour of James Brayshaw if truth be told – so I won’t be around for all of it.