Day 4 of the 1st Test – Hush My Darling, Don’t Fear My Darling

I’ve been watching this game long enough to know when people are talking in hyperbolic tones. Nathan Lyon is a really, really decent test spin bowler. He has 343 test wickets at an average of 32. He has 14 five wicket hauls in 86 tests. None of them have come in England. None of them have come against England. A wicket has a little bit of turn, and suddenly this is akin to Murali at Galle. Nathan Lyon is a fine bowler who could well be the key tomorrow, but the way some press/media/TV are talking about him, you’d think this is Warne on a viper’s nest tomorrow.

The fact is that this is a pretty normal, old school fifth day wicket coming up, and England should bat out a draw. Australia showed there were few demons in the wicket. Moeen Ali was set up to take a ton of wickets, and he didn’t. Given he’s the whipping boy at the moment, the failure to do so is reason to pick someone else. Remember back in 2009, when on Day 4 Swann spun one through Ricky Ponting and knocked him over? The hyperbole went out, our great offie only had to turn up next day to make it 2-0, and yet, and yet. I don’t think he even took one on Day 5. There’s too much made in the media of having to be in front of the game, make a statement, build them up.

That little rant over with, and it’s the first and possibly last time the great Tight Fit will be lyric-checked in a title, let’s take the day’s play in context. Australia started effectively at 34 for 3. Smith, as I have called him in the pre-amble to Day 5 (to be posted at 9am tomorrow), is the Keyser Soze of batting. He has persuaded everyone that his unorthodox technique, his snake-like eye, his miraculous hand-eye co-ordination, has made him invincible. The bowlers believe it. They talk and act as though they can’t get him out. Smith makes them fear bowling to him – not in the way the Laras, Kohlis, Richards of this world did and getting pasted – but that there is no way through his armour. Commentators talk as if this is a superhuman at the other end. Sport is played largely in the head, and Smith is living rent-free in ours. He’s an amazing player, no doubt, but people are speaking as if we should just give up.

His interview at the end of play was fascinating. Ward was trying to get all technical, and trying to get Smith to admit how he views batting is a little complex, but he said “I know where the field is, and then I watch the ball”. It was genius and yet so simple. So Ward tried again. Smith shrugged. “Where do you think they want to bowl to you with this field” asked Ward. ” I don’t know…. I just watch the ball”. All that technical shit, and Smith was having none of it.

Smith had just become the fifth Australian to make a century in each innings of an Ashes test. The last was Matthew Hayden in 2002 – I was there – and the previous one in England was Steve Waugh at Old Trafford in 1997. Smith had burnished his legend. England looked scared from moment one. Smith would rotate the strike (Ward asked him if this was a key to his batting, and Smith basically said it didn’t really matter), never really tied down. This was exemplified by his attitude on 99. England gave all indications they were going to throw it out wide of off stump and hope Smith wore out of patience. After the first ball, Nasser, I think, said “they are going to make him wait.” Next ball, a wide ball outside off, and Smith just smacked it through the offside field. As easy as ABC. Rent free? England are paying him to stay in their heads.

I was out and about for large parts of today but I saw that. I saw Head look quite solid, and he is not to be underestimated. I missed most of Wade’s century, which looks the bargain bucket variety, but it’s one more Ashes hundred in England than Alastair Cook made (I know, I know…petty). The wheels fell off at the end, with Pattinson smacking England to all parts. England saw out the last 7 overs with few alarms – well Jim Maxwell did his best off the last ball to shit the life out of me while I was driving home – and go into tomorrow with 10 wickets in hand and a match to save. The last time England batted out a full day to save a test was Auckland 2013. It was that long ago. We used to be good at this, but not so much these days. I guess we might need rain.

The Ashes are special, and so the reactions are always augmented, but there are some really strange things going on. The strangest for me, honestly, is what is Joe Denly doing in this team. Is he really our best middle-order batsman who is not called Joe Root? I had an exchange with a journo today to say this dates back to Ed Smith being his team-mate and thinking him to have special qualities. He’s batting in our prime spot – number 4 – and yet no-one seems to care. He’s like the party guest who you think you all know, but can’t quite place, and you’re not sure who invited him. He bowls filthy spin, plays an occasional drive, and I don’t see anyone questioning his place. Not like they are people with track record, like Moeen, or complete rookies in test cricket like Roy. In fact there’s a case to say those two (Roy and Denly) should swap places and it would make more sense. But what must batsmen like Hildreth and Northeast be thinking? If only we bowled filthy legspin?

Today the commenters focused on Joe Root’s captaincy. Again, it’s noticeable that the rumblings aren’t against him. Woakes did not bowl before lunch, and we were told after play that he wasn’t injured. If that is the case, what the hell was he thinking? There wasn’t much in the way of positivity, up and at ’em body language, and instead there’s a hang-dog look and a resignation to fate. It’s one game, but this does not hold out hope.

So, we have a batsman inside our heads, are told to be frightened of a spinner who has taken four wickets in an innings twice in England, and lost both those matches, and with a batting line-up that gives the definition of disjointed, and just looks plain odd. Following England is rarely boring, often odd. It’s even more strange that this will be the sixth successive Ashes test to go to the fifth day. England face a really important day. It was said before today that only one side could afford an indifferent session. They didn’t mean England. In Steve Smith, the force is strong. Whether it’s strong enough to get a result tomorrow, then the Ashes are halfway back to Aussie (It has been pointed out that the Ashes already are with Australia – so let me correct. If England lose tomorrow, the outcome of the series is likely to be seriously skewed in favour of the visitors, who only need to draw the series to return home with the “Ashes”). England face a massively important test.

See you tomorrow.

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England v Australia – Day 4 Open Thread

Welcome to Day 4. Australia lead by 34 with 3 wickets down and one of them isn’t Steve Smith. England fans are in panic mode, Smith having taken on the cricketing form of Thanos, turning English bowlers to dust by his very presence. His immortality at the crease threatening to conquer England singlehandedly and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

I don’t think we’ll be live blogging today’s play, as we do have lives, but we will do what we can.

Panel Prep

1. Moeen Ali had one of those dismissals that gets people talking. What should be done?

2. Australia playing just four bowlers looks a mistake in hindsight. How would you change the team for Lord’s?

3. How many is too many to chase in the final innings?

StatWatch

I did most of the StatWatch for Burns’ century yesterday in the live blog. Rory made the 35th score of 133 in test matches. The previous 133 was by Cheteshwar Pujara in 2017 against Sri Lanka, the last one for England was by Alastair Cook, also against Sri Lanka, but in Cardiff back in 2011. The last 133 in an Ashes test was scored by Adam Gilchrist in the 5th Test at Sydney in 2003, while the last one for England in an Ashes test was by Mark Ramprakash at The Oval in 2001. It is the first 133 in tests at Birmingham. The first 133 in test matches was scored by Monty Noble in 1903.

ConnWatch

Well you lot put him through it with your piety and need to be seen to be above questioning. Oh well. If it makes the press happy.

SelveyWatch

Mike was (rightly in my view) defending the umpire over the Warner dismissal – a wicket that Stuart Broad, that well known shrinking violet, did not appeal for. He got a little flustered in his responses..

I Can See You Paul…

Well, actually not. It appears he does not write for the Mail on Sunday. Lawrence Booth and Richard Gibson get the honours. We are also spared Martin Samuel, but instead we get Oliver “Olly” Holt, the King of Sanctimony himself, shinning up to a world class sporting gig he thinks he’s entitled to comment upon. His piece, I’m not linking to it is a comment on crowd reaction and song, more than a cricket report. It’s the sort of stuff we could churn out in our sleep, but we aren’t revered for it. I wonder what justifies the Mail employing about 7 different people to comment on the same event. Did Paul Newman have to pay to get in for his day off work?

Or was he watching in a Birmingham hotel?

Sorry it is a bit shorter this morning. But life and all that, and the start of the football season is going to hit resources even more. We will try to live blog some of the play, but I’ve promised to take Teddy for a long walk this morning, and I know TLG is at another sporting venue today. Let’s see what we can do. This is a very good test match, and the stakes ride on whether we will see Smith fail to convert this start, and how well his team-mates support him. I think Australia fancy this position. 200 will be a lot too many in front for this exceptionally flaky England batting line-up. It will take something special for England to win, in my opinion.

UPDATE – I missed Shiny Toy Watch. Here’s a gobshite classic from this sherbert dip.

Let me tell you the reasons I despise this tweet.

1, If Australia are bowled all out for 220, and Smith is 100 not out, are you saying England will lose?

2. If Steve Smith is out at 12:10 for 60, and Australia finish 180 all out, are you saying we will lose?

3. If Steve Smith gets out, and the rest of the Australian batsmen stick on another 200, are England still dead certs?

4. You are employed as an analyst, a pundit, a man with insight – not as some carnival barker shouting out the first thing that comes into your head?

5. It’s Shiny Toy.

Comments below.

 

England v Australia – Day 3 Open Threading…And Live Blog

Day 3 – Live Blog

10:50 – We are going to live blog some of the day, as much as we feasibly can. So it’s Dmitri to open up, speaking in the third person again, as England resume 17 behind.

10:52 – Isa Guha already with the “first half hour is crucial” klaxon.

11:00 – Remembering when we had a good day 2 in 2002 at the Gabba. My mate, Sir Peter, interviewed me for the video where England, starting at 160-odd for 1, chasing 490 ish were doing well. I said we’d collapse and lose within four days. So I don’t do optimism. England to be bowled out for 320, Australia to be 200 for 4 tonight.

11:02 – Trumpeter, Jerusalem, self-regarding round of applause. Worse than booing. First runs of the day from a Pattinson ball that swung through the gap between 1st and 2nd slip. A bye. All Paine’s fault, that one. Burn’s first ball reduces his “control percentage”. 268 for 4 at the end of the first over.

11:07 – First runs from the bat as Stokes drives a full ball from Cummins, which is half-stopped in the covers. Just the one from the second over of the day. 269 for 4.

11:11 – Pattinson pitches one short, and Stokes cuffs it through square leg for a couple. Stokes moves into the 40s. Plays a lovely on-drive next ball and straight to Siddle. Big appeal after the last ball, but Stokes hit the ground with his bat. Replay confirms he missed the ball by miles. 271 for 4.

11:16 – Burns being careful, not yet added to his total halfway through the second Cummins over of the day. Checking Cummins’ speed, and he is just under 90 mph on that last delivery, which also reduced Burns’ control percentage. A maiden. 271 for 4.

11:19 – Pattinson comes around the wicket, and Stokes punches him down the ground with a glorious drive for 4. Moves on to 45. Then goes for a drive and misses a wide one. No more runs from the over, and it is 275 for 4.

11:23 – Rory Burns current score of 125 puts him joint 2029th in the highest test innings. The single nudged into the legside, lifts him to 1972nd equal . Stokes glides one through third man for another boundary and moves on to 49. End of the over and it is 280 for 4.

11:29 – Pattinson in to Burns, and looking at his pace, he is in the mid-80s. From the third ball Burns runs a single down to third man. Stokes bunts a ball straight, sets off, scampers through and brings up his 50. His 18th according to Nasser. Well played vice-captain. Burns moves up to 1921st equal with that single earlier. End of the over and it is 282 for 4.

11:34 – Botham “England have been playing nicely”:

WICKET – BEN STOKES  Caught Tim Paine  Bowled Pat Cummins 50

282 for 5

New batsman is Jonny Bairstow. Stokes went for a cut slightly too close to him, and got an edge off the top of the bat for a regulation catch to Paine. Bairstow off the mark with a quick single to the off side for his first test runs of the summer. 283 for 5.

11:40 – After a delay, Bairstow hits a leg-stump half volley for four. England go into the lead. Off the fourth ball of the over, Bairstow nicks but it falls well short of the slips. Another ball on leg stump is clipped through square, but there is a boundary fielder and a single is the result. 288 for 5. Burns denied the strike again.

11:47 – Peter Siddle on. Last ball (fourth of the over) and his pace is 79.8 mph. Remember pace being king two years ago? Gets Bairstow to play and miss from ball five. Maiden. 288 for 5.

11:52 – Nathan Lyon on. Prodigious turn, but Burns gets off strike hitting a short ball to deep point for a single. 1876th equal, if you are interested. Botham and Warne in full 13 fielder attack mode. End of the over. 289 for 5.

11:56 – Siddle on to bowl to Burns. Plays and misses again from the second as he tries to drive. Wide one and Burns smashes it through cover for four. That puts Burns up 147 places in the highest innings table to 1729=. Just the four runs from the over. 293 for 5 and drinks.

12:02 – 26 runs in that first hour for the loss of Stokes. Bairstow looking jittery. Burns playing and missing but still there. Lyon to continue after refreshment. A maiden.

12:06 – Burns takes a single from the first ball of Siddle’s over and moves on to 133 (1695th=). Bairstow gets one on his pads from the second ball and knocks it to deep backward square for 2. 296 for 5.

12:10 – Burns goes.

WICKET – RORY BURNS  Caught Tim Paine  Bowled Nathan Lyon 133

296 for 6

Perilously close to a no-ball, but Lyon’s slightly quicker one catches the edge of Burns’ bat, and Paine holds on to it after quite a deflection. Burns didn’t have a lot of the strike this morning, but his luck, such as it was, ran out.

12:13 – Moeen Ali faces his first ball, and it goes for four (what? legbyes or byes) to bring up the 300. Fired down leg side and Siddle’s slide could not prevent the boundary.

WICKET – MOEEN ALI  Bowled Nathan Lyon 0

300 for 7

Oh Dear. Moeen Ali leaves a straight one and off pole is knocked out. Dear oh dear. Sanga obviously didn’t teach him that pre-game. England are not looking likely for a decent lead here.

12:17 – Chris Woakes joins Jonny Bairstow, Siddle continues. Cracking straight drive from the third ball is well stopped by Siddle, and Woakes’ bat.

WICKET – JONNY BAIRSTOW  Caught David Warner  Bowled Peter Siddle 8

300 for 8

Bairstow tries to force a delivery close to him, but nicks hard and chest high to David Warner who takes a pretty decent catch. Might have been a bit optimistic with 320 earlier on. This is very much game on. England 33 for 4 this morning. 3 wickets in 11 balls. Wicket maiden. 300 for 8

12:23 – Lyon continues. Woakes uses his feet and drives it down to mid-on for a single. Leaves Broad with two balls to face in the over. Your annual reminder that Broad has a better test best innings than Mark Waugh. He sees off the over. 301 for 8.

12:28 – Cummins returns to the attack. Harsh on Siddle who will give these two little to hit and has just taken a wicket. Interesting shot from Woakes who somehow pulls a single with a swat which he took his eyes off of. A single. Isa Guha is trying too hard in commentary. You are following the Attack Attack Attack brothers, just let it flow. Broad hip flicks it through where leg gully had been for a single. End of the over 303 for 8.

12:33 – Broad sweeps Lyon for three, thanks to some good teamwork on the boundary. Someone has the (lack of) thought to play that shot against received wisdom. Woakes bat pads one for a single behind square from the fifth ball of the over, out of the despairing reach of the big headed one. Four off the over, 307 for 8.

12:38 – Oh, we have a pillock dressed as inflatable Baby Trump. Who has the joy of sitting behind that? Bet they are thrilled. That’s what I mean about caring about other supporters. Anyway, Woakes takes a single first ball. Broad holds out his bat, guides it to wide third man for two. Cummins goes around the wicket and Broad drops it into the offside for a single. Over concludes with the score 311 for 8.

12:43 – Broad sweeps from way outside off, and gets a single to deep square leg. Second ball, appeal, did Woakes get an inside nick? But Aussies don’t review. Third ball, Woakes comes down the pitch, hits it straight to Bancroft, but Woakes gets back as he tries to run him out. Gower did that to Wessels in 1985, if I recall. Or was it Boon? Definitely in the 4th innings. Woakes steers a ball turning onto the stumps into the offside for another single. A bit of action here. Until last two balls. 313 for 8. It was Wessels.

12:47 – Siddle back into the attack. That Cummins experiment didn’t last long, nor did it seem to be for any purpose. Camera goes on Ed Smith, AGAIN. How many times did you see previous Chairman of Selectors on screen during games? Drives me mad. Camera goes to Hoggard, in an interesting get-up. Not a lot happening this over so far. This is just the 22nd over today, and we are 10 minutes from lunch. I could have had a ticket for today, but turned it down. Last ball of the over brings out a good shot for no runs for Woakes. Maiden. 313 for 8.

12:51 – Another sweep middled for a single by Broad. Woakes uses his feet and squirts one through the onside for another single. Lead at 31. Broad got rid of the short leg who drops to make Broad think twice about the sweep.  He’s got to be a little pleased that he got the Aussies to move one away. Then he plays a little dab sweep to fine leg for another single – he’s a batting troll! Into double figures. And a nice little Bye Bonus as Woakes gets bamboozled, Paine freezes and four byes results. Nice runs. Should possibly have been leg byes. 320 for 8.

12:55 – A single dabbed into the offside by Broad, who moves on to 11. Lead up to 37. 322 for 8 as Woakes took a single in my absence.

12:59 – Woakes slog sweeps Lyon’s first ball for 6. I missed it going to the lav! That’s all she wrote for that session. It is lunch and England made 61 for 4 in that session (as Gower says it) and are 328 for 8. Hope you followed the morning play on here. England’s lead has moved from insignificant, to small. A lead of 50 and England have something to work with.

13:41 – Pattinson to start after lunch. Sky showed a piece on the 1981 series, again, but they are always nice to watch. Love how Gower took the stick and went “think something special is coming soon”. Anyway, Broad to face. Broad clips one to square from the third ball. The next squares up Woakes, who gets an edge down to third man for another single. Two from the over, 330 for 8.

13:48 – Nathan Lyon on, and Woakes clips his second ball for a single behind square on the leg side. 320 was too pessimistic. Broad plays and misses at ball three. He then plays a brilliant lofted slog sweep through mid-wicket, and collects a boundary. He nudges a ball behind square for a single next ball. Lead now over 50. 336 for 8.

13:52 – Broad stays leg side of a ball from Pattinson and plays and misses. Broad collects another single as I receive a sad tweet from Innocent Bystander which might become more clear in the next days or so (not going to share it as yet). Woakes gets two from the last ball, and it is 339 for 8.

13:57 – Broad collects another single through point. Woakes adds another from ball five. Two runs from the over. 341 for 8. If England were bowling now, we’d be going incandescent with rage.

13:59 – Woakes gives the second ball from Pattinson a good old spank, but well fielded by Lyon. He guides ball three to long leg for another single. Partnership is a handy 42 at this stage. Broad stabs another into the offside for a single from ball 5 and moves onto 20. Woakes takes another single from the last ball, and also moves onto 20. 344 for 8 and a lead of 60.

14:04 – Lyon continues as David Lloyd implies that Steve Smith is really captain of this team. Woakes drives through mid-on for a single from Lyon’s second ball. It does appear as though Smith has a lot of input into the field placing. Lyon bowls a little legside, Broad sweeps, you wonder how that didn’t bowl him. So he sweeps again, but for no run. Over finishes at 345 for 8.

14:07 – Pattinson continues. 68mph slower ball was clipped by Woakes through square leg for a single. Broad guides one through the slips for another single down to third man. Teddy stretches out on the living room floor and tries to sleep, while the Aussies try to change the ball again. “Same Old Aussies, Always Cheating” rings around Edgbaston. Then Woakes plays and misses and the crowd appeal. Bantz. Teddy moves to under the window. Woakes gets the edge, the ball goes down through the two slips, and he collects another single. Sanga thinks Mitch Marsh’s dibblers could make all the difference. Pattinson tries to york Broad on the last ball, but he keeps it out. 348 for 8.

14:13 – Not sure Sanga is supposed to introduce the female commentator as “lovely”. There’s a bit of a silence. No ball called for three behind leg, according to Botham. Still no Isa. Woakes dances down the pitch and brings up the 50 partnership. Still no Isa Guha. A standing ovation for the partnership. Isa speaks! Broad sweeps again, collects a single, and the crowd suddenly seem really into it. Woakes dabs down for another single. Little by little. This is the highest 9th wicket partnership for England v Australia at Edgbaston. 352 for 8 at the end of that over. Has Sanga been given a little “training”.

14:17 – Cummins on and Woakes shovels it through leg again for another single. Broad collects another single to third man. End of the over 354 for 8.

14:24 – Steve Smith on and a single from the first ball. Woakes takes a single from the fifth ball and then Broad plays and misses at the last. Two from the over. 356 for 8.

14:26 – Another single from Woakes from the first ball of Cummins’ over. End of the over, 357 for 8.

14:30 – Full bunger from Smith, and Woakes works it through mid-wicket for a single. Another single. Broad gets a bottom edge, nutmegs Tim Paine, and collects four to backstop. This is getting seriously annoying for the Aussies now. A single follows, and Woakes adds another. Lead up to 80. 364 for 8.

14:34 – Woakes guides the ball down to third man for yet another single. Lovely for England, but not exactly the stuff live-blogging is made of. One from the over. 365 for 8.

14:39 – Lyon is back after the Smith experiment. Maiden over and drinks. 365 places 120th on England’s all time innings against Australia. 380 gets you into the top 100. DLP wanted 50 more at lunch. Well he’s not far away from his wish. 37 for no loss since lunch.

14:44 – Cummins to resume after drinks. Load of short stuff, Broad looks less and less comfortable and:

WICKET – STUART BROAD  Caught James Pattinson Bowled Pat Cummins 29

365 for 9

He shovels a short one up in the air, Pattinson stabilises, and takes a comfortable catch. The end of a 65 run partnership. Could this be vital?

14:50 – Anderson on strike to Lyon as the batsmen crossed during that dismissal. A reverse sweep and a few blocks means a maiden. 365 for 9.

14:55 – Cummins to continue. The game appears to have got a little stuck.  Woakes turns down a single from the fourth ball. Did he just turn down a single from the 5th ball as well? Confused on England. Cummins bowls a wide one, no run. Maiden. 365 for 9.

15:00 – Appeal first ball for LBW. Nothing doing. Anderson slog sweeps a single. Hallelujah. Woakes flips one over the keeper for a single too. Two from the over. 367 for 9.

15:04 – Game not moving. Woakes drives and could get an easy two, but they don’t run. Doesn’t look good for Anderson. A big thick edge does go for 4, so I suppose it might be something that works. Nothing else doing from the over. 371 for 9.

15:07 – Cummins on again, now bowling at Anderson, which makes turning down long singles a little strange. Anderson nearly gets a boundary, but it’s saved and it is two runs. Anderson looking pretty injured here, but sticking at it. 373 for 9.

15:08 – Lyon back on and Woakes takes another single.

WICKET – JIMMY ANDERSON  Caught Pat Cummins Bowled Nathan Lyon 3

374 All Out.

England’s number 11 skies one, and Cummins collects it at short mid-on. A lead of 90. And I can now take a break!

Right, TLG here to take over from a presumably knackered Dmitri.  And the first discovery is that that are different coloured fonts available.  Well bloody hell.  I can see this annoying everyone in no time at all.

Decent effort from England there, a lead of 90 is more than handy.  We’re going to have a very long evening session, with tea having been taken early for one thing, and (naturally) because they are bowling the overs pathetically slowly and we’ll be using the extra half hour and still won’t get them all in.  But apparently the scoreboard is showing they’re only 1 over behind the rate, given how the ICC couldn’t give a rat’s arse about spectators getting the overs they paid for.

Anyway, as the afternoon went on, the Hollies stand appeared to be getting ever more well oiled, so it’ll doubtless be the 16th most hostile welcome for the Australian openers.

1535: No Anderson on the field, which shouldn’t really surprise anyone.   Big appeal from Broad for one that was going over the stumps by the distance of a low flying aircraft, followed up with a good one past the outside edge.  Good start from him.

1540: Woakes to share the new ball.  You’d think this was very much a pitch it up kind of surface now, there’s little in it in terms of pace.

15:50 WICKET!! 13-1 Warner goes caught Bairstow bowled Broad.  Plenty of incident that over, as Warner punches down the ground for four, and then tries to leave one, but the ball took the edge.  Given not out, so another umpiring error, but Broad didn’t appeal for it, it was the keeper and slips who were absolutely certain.  Huge wicket for England, and Broad’s 450th in Test cricket.  It’s fair to say the crowd enjoyed that one too.

15:56 Pretty routine quiet over from Woakes.  Back to Broad, who is looking dangerous.

16:02 This is one of those periods where it seems little is happening, but England are carrying a threat here. 

16:10 Interesting, an early bowl for Moeen Ali.  A rather defensive field set, four on the boundary, which is rather negative.  Moeen turns one between Bancroft’s bat and pad, just missing the off stump.  Promising!  Equally, the deep set field allows runs to be picked off for the rest of the over.  26-1, and England seem to want to sit in and preserve the lead and build pressure more than trying to force wickets.

Good to see us still causing trouble:

16:20 WICKET!!  Moeen strikes to remove Bancroft, 27-2.  Moeen is bowling beautifully, and gets some bite off the surface to take the inside edge of Bancroft’s bat, on to the pad, and into Jos Buttler’s grateful mitts.  All of which means Australia are in some trouble, so fortunately for them the man coming in (to boos) is Steve Smith.  If England can get rid of him cheaply…Nearly a second wicket in the over, as Khawaja edges to slip.  It just about carried to Buttler, but was far from easy.  Rash, all over, and England – rearrange as needed.

16:26 For someone who has bowled so well, that’s a woeful over from Broad, overpitching on Khawaja’s leg stump, then bowling a half tracker.  Thirteen off the over, and it’s 46-2.

16:32 Very odd.  England are leaking runs at quite a rate, with Australia going at 4.33 an over, but the visitors are losing wickets too. 52-2 and that’ll be drinks.

16:38 I love watching Steve Smith.  He looks completely at sea at the moment, Woakes is causing him no end of trouble.  But he finds a way to survive and then punishes bowlers hour after hour.  Some players you feel can win matches on their own – he’s one.

16:49 These two are ticking things over, 64-2.

16:55 73-2, and Australia are rather comfortable, and closing in on the deficit.  The question is at what point the pressure starts to shift from Australia to England.  Any target approaching 200 will be tricky, but that’s also a long, long way away for Australia. 

17:01 WICKET!!  Khawaja c Bairstow b Stokes 40.  Out of nowhere really, though Stokes had just come on.  Khawaja has been positive, and rather elegant, but Stokes got one to nip back just a touch and take the inside edge through to the keeper.  A rather useful delivery to end a promising innings.  Travis Head the new man, and Stokes looks up for it, bowling rapidly – 88mph to greet the new man.  And then one at 90 mph.  Blimey.  75-3, and still 15 runs in arrears.

17:08 Moeen comes back on after a solitary over from Root.  And then Stokes doesn’t quite reach the levels of his first over and it’s 85-3.

17:17 Australia draw level and England will have to bat again.  But obviously Australia are in effect 0-3, or as they would put it, 3-0.  Either way, there’s a lot of batting to be done.

17:24 Household comments on the cricket are always useful, and presumably “get the annoying little runt out” isn’t referring to Travis Head.  It all seems a bit subdued out there, and after an indifferent start, Smith looks in command.  And as I write that, one from Moeen turns sharply, prompting an appeal, but he’s outside the line, comfortably. Jofra Archer has come on to the field as 12th man, for Anderson, and at 98-3, that’s drinks.

17:32 Missed run out opportunity, straight after drinks.  Head didn’t react to the call, and Burns shied at the stumps.  Had he hit, he was well short.  But he didn’t, and on we go.

17:35 Australia’s hundred comes up, and they lead by 11.  It’s all pretty serene, brain fade running aside.  England are trying to force Smith to play through the offside, and Moeen goes around the wicket, and Smith absolutely crunches it through the covers for four.  Yep, he can play that one too. 

17:44 Stokes is causing Smith what problems there are, and he has a nice optimistic appeal for lbw for one that rather stopped in the pitch.  He pleads with Root to review it, claiming the ball was on its way back down.  Which would certainly amend the laws of physics somewhat.    Ah, Root back on.

17:49 Short ball from Stokes and Smith (for once) gets his hook shot all wrong, the ball cannoning into the side of his helmet.  Maybe he was unbalanced, but he looked a trifle unsteady on his feet in the moments immediately after.  It was a nasty blow.  As is necessary and right, the doctor is out on the field to check him out.

17:54 Thankfully Smith seems to be ok, but England are certainly trying to alternate between full and short to him.  They look like a team who just can’t work out how to get him out.  111-3

17:56 About a tenth of a chance, maybe, if that.  Head goes for a cut shot off Root, edges it and flies past Stokes before he can get his hand up.  It probably had to hit him to be at risk of being caught.

18:00 Weather closing in a bit, with the floodlights now on.  Sky appear to have given up complaining about the over rate, confining themselves to saying that they probably (!) won’t get them all in.  Given there are 13 overs left in the day, and about 25 minutes to go, we are going to be a long way short again.  Five overs lost yesterday, it’ll be even more today. 

18:03 Umpires having a bit of a chinwag about the light, and seem to be saying that Broad can’t bowl as it’s too dark.  Instead of Broad, it’ll be Joe Denly.  Nope, that’s it, they’re off, and off for the day as it’s past 6pm.  The issue about not playing even when spin bowlers are on remains fairly ridiculous, but so much in cricket is.  The last people ever considered are those who have paid to be there. 

Close of Play – Australia 124-3, leading by 34 runs.

A good day for England overall, after a stutter in the middle order.  That 90 run lead is sizeable, and while Australia have scored at quite a lick (over 4 an over), the three wickets they’ve lost leave them in a precarious position.  Smith is, as ever, the key, but only one side can afford to have an indifferent session in the morning and still have hopes of winning.  This is an intriguing Test, and if England do have the upper hand, they’re by no means home and hosed.

Hope you enjoyed the live blog, we may be back in the morning for more!

 


Welcome to the open post for your comments on the third day of the Ashes test. England start 17 runs behind with six first innings wickets in hand. The immediate goal will be to set a substantial lead, take out a large swathe of the day’s play to do so, to avoid the stretched bowling resources having to go into tomorrow over-cooked.

You don’t need my review; Chris did his one last night and it pretty much covers all the bases.

Panel Prep

Your morning questions.

  1. Rory Burns follows Sam Robson, Adam Lyth and Keaton Jennings as centurions opening the batting since Strauss retired. (Not counting Root and Cook). Tell me if he’s different to them?
  2. If 1 is all the luck in the world, rate Nathan Lyon’s day from 1-10?
  3. How many runs would you be confident England chasing down in the 4th innings?

Statswatch

Rory Burns became the 168th different England player to make a test hundred. He is the 97th England player to make an Ashes hundred. It was England’s 242nd century in Ashes cricket (please note, I am going to refer to all series as Ashes cricket even though Centenary, Bicentennial and one post-Packer series weren’t for the Ashes). 125 not out is currently the 126th= high score made by an England player. Only one England international was dismissed for 125 in Ashes cricket – Allan Lamb with his only hundred at Headingley in 1989. 135 gets you into the top hundred innings.

This was England’s 10th century in Ashes cricket at Edgbaston – three of them were in one innings (1985), two more in another (1997). Burns follows David Gower, Nasser Hussain, Ted Dexter, Tim Robinson, Johnny Tyldesley, Graham Thorpe, Raman Subba Row, Colin Cowdrey and Mike Gatting. This was England’s first Ashes hundred at Edgbaston in 22 years. Tyldesley’s hundred in 1902 was interesting. He made 138. Australia batted next and were bowled out for 36!

England have not lost an Ashes test at Edgbaston when an England player makes a century.

Connwatch

He’s very tame at the moment. Any ideas if 9Gem is a different channel, our Aussie based friends?

SelveyWatch

So rare, it is needed to be pointed out.

Shiny Toy Watch

Blocked by Paul, Watching Paul

Your Headline is wrong… (at 8pm on Friday night).

Rory Burns hits maiden Test ton on day two of first Ashes Test to bring England within just 17 runs of Australia’s first innings total with four wickets intact

It’s six wickets intact, not four.

Obligatory Cook mention..

Just a week ago Rory Burns looked more like a jumble of moving parts rather than an opener with the technique and temperament to make an Ashes century for England.

Now, glory be, someone other than Alastair Cook has finally reached three figures at the top of the order after Burns cemented his place for this series with a good old-fashioned display of Test match application for England.

Glory Be!

And at the centre of it was an opener with the most idiosyncratic of methods who looked so out of his depth even against Ireland at Lord’s last week that his selection for the Ashes looked simply like a futile exercise of blind faith.

You want more Cook (Home Ashes Centuries = 0)

Burns may be short of style but he is not lacking in character and he needed it here with England desperate to find someone, anyone, capable of making the runs at the top of the order that have eluded them ever since the glory days of Cook and Andrew Strauss.

He had made two half centuries before now but kept on getting out in somewhat soft fashion, not least when he missed a straight one from unlikely West Indian spinning hero Roston Chase when on 84 in Barbados last winter.

Glory days!

It added to the nerves being displayed, too, by Burns who spent 37 minutes on 92 and then played out nine balls on 99 before scampering a single off Lyon and taking the acclaim of another raucous crowd who continuously chanted his name.

Then followed some of the most fluent batting of the day as Ben Stokes joined Burns in an unbeaten stand of 73 that ensured day two belonged to England and a Surrey captain who has now carved his name into Ashes folklore. 

Moment of the Day Tweet

Comments on Day 3 below. We may even do some live blogging. Maybe.

I missed the classic genre of Martin Samuel at the Ashes. You can read his two lamentable efforts if you dare. Yesterday’s on the umpiring would have been rejected on this blog for being absolute shit. Today’s, on Joe Root’s conversion rate, is better, but we are talking a low bar. Why the Mail do this when they have a cricket staff, for better or worse, I will never know. Cricket writing needs Martin Samuel like a fish needs a bicycle.

England vs Australia: 1st Test, Day Two Review

It’s perhaps a measure of the nervousness that England cricket followers have concerning the Test match batting order that Australia’s total of 284 felt imposing.  Perhaps a reflection on the recovery that added 162 for the last two wickets was part of that too – Smith’s brilliance, and whatever controversy follows him it is brilliance, taking Australia from a parlous position to one of at least respectability.

But the batting fragility of both sides has been noted in the run up to the series, and with England collapsing in a heap on a regular basis in recent times, mildly facetious comments about first saving the follow on did the rounds, not without some basis in genuine concern.

Instead, today was a throwback to old fashioned Test cricket – attritional, gritty, rarely flashy, with the England top order grinding the Australian bowlers down, another art of Test cricket seemingly lost on these shores recently.  Rory Burns was undoubtedly the man of the day, batting throughout – the first England player to do so since Cook in Melbourne, and given the conditions, this was the better effort on the day.  He only really started looking in good form when he passed the century mark, his whole demeanour changing to one of a player entirely at home in his role.  As with the five previous openers since the retirement of Strauss to score Test hundreds (though Root is obviously a special case) one swallow doesn’t remotely make a summer, but it was pleasing to see how Burns battled himself, placed a high value on his wicket, and fought his way through to a well deserved ton.  Who knows, it may even catch on.

His principal support came from first Joe Root and then Ben Stokes, a player whose batting is beginning to hold the upper hand over his bowling.  Stokes has arguably the best, most natural technique in the England team; it is a simple one, with the bat coming down straight and him remaining still at the crease, but it is also why he seems generally comfortable facing the second new ball.  His career batting record remains no more than passable, which may be a reflection on his workload as much as anything else (all round cricketers split their focus generally slightly to the detriment of the individual discipline), but as he matures, it might start to improve significantly.  Few things are certain, but his technique looks one with little to go wrong, while the interrupted nature of his career appears to have given him extra motivation.

As for Root, it was another fifty and out, and judging by his reaction to his dismissal, he’s acutely conscious of his failure to convert half centuries into centuries.  Even so, the amount of handwringing that goes on over a player averaging a shade under 50 when he is surrounded by those struggling to get over 30 is remarkable.  It might be something that he’s frustrated by, but it’s not the biggest problem in England’s batting line up and hasn’t been for all the time it’s been going on.  The only person who can sort it out is him, it’s not an ability issue, but it is one that stands out in a side where runs are at a premium elsewhere.

Denly, Roy and Buttler were the wickets to fall cheaply, of whom Denly looked the most comfortable.  Getting out early is a fact of cricketing life, and not especially relevant in the context of a good England total, as long as these others make contributions in other innings.  And therein lies the challenge for what is undoubtedly a brittle batting order.

Apart from a period after Australia successfully got the ball changed – provoking outrage from those with incredibly selective memories who seemingly aren’t aware England do this all the time – the movement on offer to the bowlers was limited, as befitting how a day two pitch ought to play.  The exception to that was Nathan Lyon, who found significant spin off the surface suggesting the latter part of this Test could become tricky to bat on, and highlighting the importance of England’s first innings.  Australia’s seam attack is certainly a potent one, and at some point this series they are highly likely to rampage through England’s batting order.  The pleasure in today was the resolute way they were held at bay, even though they certainly bowled with threat.

267-4 represents a fine day for England, and with two set batsmen, albeit against a still new ball, plenty of power to add given England’s middle order.  Yet the nagging doubt remains that this is a side that could fall in a heap, in which case parity will hand a major advantage to Australia.  Two flawed teams, particularly in the batting, but against all the odds we have a highly promising Test match unfolding.  Perhaps it is that above all else that is causing this particular game to become something of a pleasure.

In Defence Of Boos – and the updated day two preview

Given it seems to be the hot topic at the moment, a quick additional post to address the matter seemed appropriate.

There has, particularly in light of Steve Smith’s century, been something of a backlash against booing by many people in this game. Some people who purport to be cricket fans, and even a few journalists and commentators, have said that the English crowd shouldn’t boo at all. Or, if they do boo and jeer cricketer, that they shouldn’t do so when that player has just reached a milestone.

A few have even suggested that the people who continued heckling through thick and thin don’t know about or love cricket.

For a start, coming from professional cricket journalists, it might surprise them to learn that their wages come from avid cricket fans such as those who will have paid upwards of £60 to be in the stands at Edgbaston and are the most likely to subscribe to cricket magazines too. They might want to be careful before alienating them. Journalists paid to be there berating those who pay the often extortionate charges within English cricket grounds is rarely a good look.

But, more generally, I think they’re completely missing the point. Fundamentally, practically no one is booing Smith because he’s a great batsman and they want to distract him. I don’t think Kohli was abused by the English crowds last year, and he’s a great batsman. No one is booing Smith just because he’s a cheat. I doubt Faf du Plessis would get the same treatment at Edgbaston, despite his own ball tampering charge. No one is booing Smith just because of his nationality, as shown by the Australians who haven’t been the target of abuse by the Hollies Stand.

Smith and Warner are copping these boos because they are (and I’m moderating my language for the blog here) absolute pricks. They lie, they cheat, they insult, they’re hypocrites, and they’re smug and arrogant about it. They are, as people, almost completely loathsome individuals. And they’re unlikeable when they have zero runs, or two, or fifty, or a hundred, or a hundred and forty-four.

It is, you could argue, not entirely their fault. Jarrod Kimber wrote a long and illuminating ‘essay’ about how Australian club cricket moulds young players coming into the game into abusive, cheating pricks. By the time most Aussie cricketers reach the professional game, the die is already cast. But, even allowing for that, Smith and Warner are stand-out pricks within the Australian cricket team.

Some people try to make Smith and Warner sympathetic, saying they were harshly and punitively dealt with by Cricket Australia. That much is undoubtedly true. But that doesn’t make them not pricks. In fact, it was Smith’s cocky press conference with Bancroft after the end of play at Newlands which likely ignited the furore in Australia over the ball tampering and caused the bans to be so long in the first place. Many Australians don’t even like and respect them, so why should we?

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that booing a player is always acceptable. When it’s based on race, religion, sexuality or some other protected status then I would say that was over the line. An example of that would be when Moeen Ali was abused by a portion of Indian fans for his Pakistani muslim heritage during a T20I in 2014, coincidentally at Edgbaston. I also think that verbal abuse should be moderated to not teach any kids in the crowd any new words which their parents might not approve of.

But beyond that? If you pay for the ticket, I think you’re entitled to express your opinion.

Whether that’s clapping politely or loudly vocalising your dislike, that’s up to you.

And to keep the content of Dmitri’s post last night, here it is replicated in this new post:

Panel Prep

So, to prepare those we are going to ask to be on our panel, we thought we’d give you a couple of questions to opine on before play:

  1. 284 – good, bad or indifferent? Let’s ignore the eighth wicket going down at 122 (alright, don’t) but as play stands now is this a winning score for Australia?
  2. Steve Smith – best test batsman at the moment, or is this bubble going to burst (or both)?
  3. On a level of 1-10, with 1 being chilled, your reaction to your premier bowler getting injured after four overs, having been injured in the run-up to the test?

We won’t be able to live blog today – or if we do, it will be intermittent, but please keep checking in to see if we do provide updates. That said, it was great to see the in-play comments from you, and also thanks to Sean and Danny for all the efforts yesterday. We will try to live blog when the occasion merits it.

Boring Stat Watch

Steve Smith made the joint 99th highest score for Australia in meetings between the two countries. He joins former captains Don Bradman, Greg Chappell and Ricky Ponting in making 144 in Ashes tests. It was the 314th test hundred by an Australian against England.

Stuart Broad took the 254th five wicket plus haul in an innings for England against Australia. These were the joint 207th best figures for England v Australia (Broad has the best figures by anyone not called Laker, of course). Geoff Arnold took 5/86 at Sydney in 1975.

284 is the equal 500th highest score in England v Australia matches. On the five previous occasions the score has been made, the team making 284 has won twice. Australia in 1895, and memorably, England at the MCG in 1982. On the three other occasions, the team making 284 has lost (England at the MCG in 1921, Australia at Lord’s in 1934 – the only time 284 was made in the second innings of the test and England at The Oval in 1972).

In 1982, Australia replied to 284 with 287. In 1972, Australia replied to 284 with 399. In 1934, England had made 440 before Hedley Verity did his thing. In 1921 Australia followed 284 with 389. In the only other time Australia scored 284 in the first innings of the test match against England, we followed up with 65 and 72.

Too Many Tweeters

OK. Statwatch done. Let’s look at ConnWatch…

 

 

Measured.

Now for Shiny Toy…

Hyperbole Watch..

 

Four day tests

Birds of a feather

Did Selfey have anything to offer?

Blocked By Paul, Watching Paul

Paul Newman watch…

If there was any concern the Ashes might for once be forced to play second fiddle this summer to an extraordinary World Cup then we need not have worried.

This was a superb and eventful opening day to the biggest Test series of them all from the moment David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, two of the three members of ‘The Banned’, walked out to the most hostile of Edgbaston welcomes.

and…

There was a totally hapless display from umpires Joel Wilson and Aleem Dar that was only partially rescued by the Decision Review System and, frankly, was simply not good enough for the highest level of the game.

There was an atmosphere like no other at any English ground, with the Hollies Stand loudly but never too nastily taunting the disgraced Australians and their captain in Tim Paine who had goaded them on the eve of this always epic contest.

But, above all, there was the controversial figure of Steve Smith, the captain sacked in disgrace in the aftermath of sandpaper-gate, defiantly and brilliantly rescuing his side from the brink of disaster and inspiring them to what looks like a highly competitive score.

and he’s not letting up…

And at the centre of it was the man who haunted England during the last Ashes with his idiosyncratic but world-class batting before his world fell apart when the poisonous culture that had infected his captaincy unravelled spectacularly in Cape Town.

This was Smith’s first Test innings since that cheating scandal 18 months ago but how he made up for lost time with an exceptional 144, more than half their score, that puts Australia on top in this first Test and could well have set the tone for the whole series.

CHUMPIRES

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-7310845/Cricket-News-Fans-pundits-fume-umpires-make-SEVEN-errors-day-one-Ashes.html

Sadly, no Martin Samuel this time around.

Oh No, Not Him Again

Tom Harrison was on Sky and TMS this lunchtime, presumably because doing the rounds at a mere “warm up” against Ireland to bask in the glow of the World Cup victory wasn’t significant enough. I listened to it this lunchtime, well the TMS bit, and it was every bit as depressing as you would have thought. He did virtually everything he could to avoid mentioning the Hundred by name, but did mention Sky at every opportunity. There will be a massively enhanced partnership next year – I’m not sure what Sky will be doing to enhance it, more repeats of Masterclass? – and somehow in his haze of bigging up Sky, he said 13 million watched the World Cup and of all outlets Sky had the most. Can’t offend the chief partner. According to Tom we will be getting 100 hours of free to air cricket next year. If BBC have 10 matches of 3 hours duration and a couple of other games, where is the rest coming from? Someone tell me. There was more. Much more. But not much new. I saw Gower congratulate Harrison on the World Cup win. We are absolutely stupid. Partners indeed.

So, on to Day 2. Please fire away, please answer the day’s panel questions, please keep the fires burning. It’s going to be an interesting day. I leave you with this on the booing of the Sandpaper Gang..

I was at the Gabba that day. I heard Aussies around me tell him to stop being soft and get up, but then change their tune when he was stretchered off. However, I will never forget the weapons grade bell-end who spent almost the entire day calling Matthew Hoggard a wanker all day. The problem with us being sanctimonious about booing, pretending we’re a moral paragon, is that we’re not. Neither are England fans a bunch of scum, as those who tut tut in the comm box about this sort of thing make them out to be. Like everything, you pays your money, you takes your choice. I feel it is unwise for any ex-pro to criticise supporters on how they support the game.

Enough of that. Hope you enjoyed this mish mash. Comment away on Day 2.

 

England v Australia – 1st Test, Day 2 – The Non-Live Blog Thread

Miller Catch
What’s This Got To Do With Anything? Read on……

Day 2 at Edgbaston beckons after a fascinating opening day of the Ashes series. As I indicated in my introduction piece on Monday, I wasn’t feeling the vibe of the latest incarnation of the oldest series, but you know, Stuart Broad, England playing an unfit bowler who breaks down, England letting the opposition off the hook, Tom Harrison being interviewed, top quality umpiring, Tom Harrison being interviewed again, various Tweeters getting on my Tweets, and a day sifting job applications in between talking at length to lawyers who earn in an hour what I do in a week sort of raises the temperature. Man, that was a long sentence.

Panel Prep

So, to prepare those we are going to ask to be on our panel, we thought we’d give you a couple of questions to opine on before play:

  1. 284 – good, bad or indifferent? Let’s ignore the eighth wicket going down at 122 (alright, don’t) but as play stands now is this a winning score for Australia?
  2. Steve Smith – best test batsman at the moment, or is this bubble going to burst (or both)?
  3. On a level of 1-10, with 1 being chilled, your reaction to your premier bowler getting injured after four overs, having been injured in the run-up to the test?

We won’t be able to live blog today – or if we do, it will be intermittent, but please keep checking in to see if we do provide updates. That said, it was great to see the in-play comments from you, and also thanks to Sean and Danny for all the efforts yesterday. We will try to live blog when the occasion merits it.

Boring Stat Watch

Steve Smith made the joint 99th highest score for Australia in meetings between the two countries. He joins former captains Don Bradman, Greg Chappell and Ricky Ponting in making 144 in Ashes tests. It was the 314th test hundred by an Australian against England.

Stuart Broad took the 254th five wicket plus haul in an innings for England against Australia. These were the joint 207th best figures for England v Australia (Broad has the best figures by anyone not called Laker, of course). Geoff Arnold took 5/86 at Sydney in 1975.

284 is the equal 500th highest score in England v Australia matches. On the five previous occasions the score has been made, the team making 284 has won twice. Australia in 1895, and memorably, England at the MCG in 1982. On the three other occasions, the team making 284 has lost (England at the MCG in 1921, Australia at Lord’s in 1934 – the only time 284 was made in the second innings of the test and England at The Oval in 1972).

In 1982, Australia replied to 284 with 287. In 1972, Australia replied to 284 with 399. In 1934, England had made 440 before Hedley Verity did his thing. In 1921 Australia followed 284 with 389. In the only other time Australia scored 284 in the first innings of the test match against England, we followed up with 65 and 72.

Too Many Tweeters

OK. Statwatch done. Let’s look at ConnWatch…

Measured.

Now for Shiny Toy…

Hyperbole Watch..

Four day tests

Birds of a feather

Did Selfey have anything to offer?

Blocked By Paul, Watching Paul

Paul Newman watch…

If there was any concern the Ashes might for once be forced to play second fiddle this summer to an extraordinary World Cup then we need not have worried.

This was a superb and eventful opening day to the biggest Test series of them all from the moment David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, two of the three members of ‘The Banned’, walked out to the most hostile of Edgbaston welcomes.

and…

There was a totally hapless display from umpires Joel Wilson and Aleem Dar that was only partially rescued by the Decision Review System and, frankly, was simply not good enough for the highest level of the game.

There was an atmosphere like no other at any English ground, with the Hollies Stand loudly but never too nastily taunting the disgraced Australians and their captain in Tim Paine who had goaded them on the eve of this always epic contest.

But, above all, there was the controversial figure of Steve Smith, the captain sacked in disgrace in the aftermath of sandpaper-gate, defiantly and brilliantly rescuing his side from the brink of disaster and inspiring them to what looks like a highly competitive score.

and he’s not letting up…

And at the centre of it was the man who haunted England during the last Ashes with his idiosyncratic but world-class batting before his world fell apart when the poisonous culture that had infected his captaincy unravelled spectacularly in Cape Town.

This was Smith’s first Test innings since that cheating scandal 18 months ago but how he made up for lost time with an exceptional 144, more than half their score, that puts Australia on top in this first Test and could well have set the tone for the whole series.

CHUMPIRES

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-7310845/Cricket-News-Fans-pundits-fume-umpires-make-SEVEN-errors-day-one-Ashes.html

Sadly, no Martin Samuel this time around.

Oh No, Not Him Again

Tom Harrison was on Sky and TMS this lunchtime, presumably because doing the rounds at a mere “warm up” against Ireland to bask in the glow of the World Cup victory wasn’t significant enough. I listened to it this lunchtime, well the TMS bit, and it was every bit as depressing as you would have thought. He did virtually everything he could to avoid mentioning the Hundred by name, but did mention Sky at every opportunity. There will be a massively enhanced partnership next year – I’m not sure what Sky will be doing to enhance it, more repeats of Masterclass? – and somehow in his haze of bigging up Sky, he said 13 million watched the World Cup and of all outlets Sky had the most. Can’t offend the chief partner. According to Tom we will be getting 100 hours of free to air cricket next year. If BBC have 10 matches of 3 hours duration and a couple of other games, where is the rest coming from? Someone tell me. There was more. Much more. But not much new. I saw Gower congratulate Harrison on the World Cup win. We are absolutely stupid. Partners indeed.

So, on to Day 2. Please fire away, please answer the day’s panel questions, please keep the fires burning. It’s going to be an interesting day. I leave you with this on the booing of the Sandpaper Gang..

I was at the Gabba that day. I heard Aussies around me tell him to stop being soft and get up, but then change their tune when he was stretchered off. However, I will never forget the weapons grade bell-end who spent almost the entire day calling Matthew Hoggard a wanker all day. The problem with us being sanctimonious about booing, pretending we’re a moral paragon, is that we’re not. Neither are England fans a bunch of scum, as those who tut tut in the comm box about this sort of thing make them out to be. Like everything, you pays your money, you takes your choice. I feel it is unwise for any ex-pro to criticise supporters on how they support the game.

Enough of that. Hope you enjoyed this mish mash. Comment away on Day 2.

England vs. Australia, 1st Test, Day 1 Live Blog

 

 

So here we go then, the first day of the 2019 Ashes series is now upon us and time when all of the talking and all of build up is now in the past and only actions on the pitch actually matter. At least that what it would normally be during an Ashes series, as the build up to the one has been at best muted and worst non-existent. Now whether this is due to the recent World Cup tournament and the euphoria for England in actually winning a 50 ball tournament or the possibility there might be a bit of Ashes fatigue, especially with neither team being as strong a units as they have been previously, it has been noticeable how the build up to this series has been little more than a whimper.

Still here we are, with International Cricket’s biggest rivalry upon us and the players thrust into the limelight at what will be a vociferous crowd at Edgbaston, it remains to be seen what type of hangover either or both sides have after the World Cup. I am going to try and liveblog the action throughout the day, as it is the first day of the Ashes and the opening exchanges could be key to revealing what will happen for the rest of the series. It is just me on my own today and I do need to run a number of errands too, so don’t shout at me if I inadvertently miss any of the action. As a small reminder, we aren’t the BBC and don’t have the technology to refresh automatically, so please manually refresh for updates.

9:30am: England have pretty much gone with the team that most expected them to go with, even if many of us didn’t want them to go with. Jimmy Anderson comes in for Stone and Buttler and Stokes are back after resting for the Ireland Test Match. As for Australia, it looks like they have dropped Mitchell Starc from the team with the main battle appearing to be between Siddle and Hazelwood for the opening bowler slot.

10:15am: Despite the odd cloud, the pitch looks a belter and should be an easy choice to bat first if you win the toss. That being said, does Joe Root trust his opening batsmen not to make a horlicks of this should he win the toss.

10:30am: TOSS – Australia win the toss and choose to have a bat. Bit of a no brainer to be fair. Siddle plays in place of Hazelwood. England need to get the line and lengths right quickly on this pitch.

11:00am: Out come the ‘sandpaper siblings’ to bat. Sir Jimmy has the new ball and more importantly I am armed with a cup of tea. Here we go then..

11:04am: Decent opening over from Jimmy, even if the first couple of balls were on the short side. Maiden.

11:06am: Broad with a wide one going down leg. Bairstow appeals but no-one else seems to be interested but there appeared to be a noise. Oh hello, England should have listened to Bairstow there, ultra-edge shows a tickle behind from Warner. Lucky boy. Will England rue missing that opportunity.

11:13am: Decent opening spell this from the England bowlers. They have often been guilty of wasting the new ball by bowling too short, but they have been full and on the money so far.

11:15am: Broad bowls round the wicket and strikes Warners on the pads. Dar says not out, England review and the ball is missing the stumps by some way. Not a great review at all, seems like a retrospective review from Broad there.

11:19am: WICKET – Warner is the man to go. A far better delivering by Broad, pitched up and swinging. Looks plumb to me and Warner walks off without reviewing. A big big wicket for England there.

11:22am: Haha, Warner should have reviewed. Missing leg stump according to DRS. Sort of makes it even funnier.

11:31am: Couple of loose deliveries from Broad that over and a boundary each for Bancroft and Khawaja. A bit of pressure relieved for the Aussie batsmen.

11:34am: Shane Warne into the commentary box and TV sound is immediately muted. Another probing over from Jimmy who has got his line and lengths right this morning.

11:38am: WICKET – Got Im’. Bancroft pushes at a slightly wide one and edges straight to Root at slip, who pouches a relatively straightforward catch. The Aussies have lost both their openers for not many. Game on. In comes Steve Smith:

11:48am: Jeez, Broad is bowling well. There was some talk in the build up to the Ashes whether he might be the fall man in the English attack. I think this puts this to bed. Quick, hostile and on the money. Piggy Smith struggling.

12:00pm: Woakes hasn’t exactly looked threatening since he joined the attack. Not hitting the pitch hard and too many floaty deliveries. This is the criticism I have with Woakes at times.

12:02pm: Drinks. I’m off the make myself another cup of tea too. England’s morning so far, but could do with removing Khawaja or Piggy before lunch.

12:12pm: Woakes to Khawaja and Woakes thinks he has an outside edge. Root reviews, but that the looks speculative in my opinion.

12:13pm: WICKET: Well what do i know! There’s a tickle behind and England have got the Aussies 3 down this morning. Great review by England this time.

12:19pm: Stokes bowling his second over, but looks particularly rusty with the ball. This really is some dross from Stokes. I’d bring back Jimmy who has only bowled 4 overs so far and can test Head in particular, who can be a bit tentative playing forward early on in his innings.

12:30pm: England are slightly lucky that the umpires don’t particularly want to call a wide as there have been some perfect contenders in this spell. As for the umpires themselves, they have had hardly covered themselves in glory, especially Aleem Dar who used to be one of the best. Meanwhile a poor over from Woakes allows the Aussies to steal some easy runs.

12:36pm: This really is some poor bowling from Woakes and Stokes, both of whom have looked pretty innocuous. This really should be the time for England to exert pressure on the Aussie batting line up, but there are too many poor deliveries. Head hits another 4 off Stokes, who really should be told to have a breather..

12:39pm: Moeen into the attack now and he is taken for a couple of boundaries by Head. Meanwhile, there seems to be growing concern about Jimmy:

12:44pm: This has not been a good spell for England who are undoing all of the good work they did in the first hour. If indeed Jimmy A isn’t fit, someone from the England management team really needs to answer why they’ve risked him for the First Test.

12:52pm: Buffet bowling from England here. Stokes looks as bad as i’ve seen him bowl and there is virtually nothing in the pitch for Moeen. Not great signs.

12:54pm: Meanwhile, Beefy looks like he’s put on a fair bit of timber. No doubt enjoying his vineyards in France during his holiday…

12:58pm: Woakes bought back into the attack, but not much happening. Jimmy back on the field now, but still a huge concern. Can they fit in another over before lunch? Yes they can. Moeen to bowl.

13:03pm: LUNCH. Australia 84-3 off 27 overs (3 short). England without doubt had the best of the first hour but once the openers went off, England’s bowling has been poor. Australia will be quite relieved to head into the pavilion with that score after being 3 down for not many. The biggest concern for England is the fitness of Jimmy Anderson, who has bowled only 4 overs and been off the field for the majority of the session.

I’m also going to go out and find some lunch. Be back in 40 minutes or so.

If you’ll excuse my language. Why the Fucking Fuck have England picked a Fucking injured Jimmy Anderson for the Fucking First Test knowing this could endanger his participation in the rest of the series. Meanwhile there’s a puff piece Harrison interview on Sky if you feel like tearing your eyeballs out of their sockets.

13:40pm: What is with England’s medical team? Time and time again, they pick bowlers who are injured. If Jimmy has re-torn his calf muscle, then England are truly up the creak without a paddle. I’d rather have Dr. Death managing the players fitness. Stuart Broad to open up proceedings after lunch.

13:51pm: Yep of course it is. England’s medical team desperately trying to cover their asses here. Meanwhile, not too much is happening in the middle.

13:54pm: This pitch is starting to look very good for batting. Ball has stopped swinging and England’s attack starting to look a little innocuous. Great straight drive from Head goes for 4.

14:02pm: Broad keeping things tight, but Piggy Smith is starting to look in ominous form. Broad tries the ‘old ball has gotten out of shape’ trick but is quickly dismissed by Aleem Dar.

14:08pm: WICKET – Got Im’. Woakes with a straight ball wrapping Head on the pads. Head reviews but that is hitting off stump. England absolutely needed that.

14:12pm: Did that carry? Stokes is looking pensive. Nope an edge from Wade falls short. Suddenly England’s intensity is back again.

Meanwhile, Tom Harrison’s interview isn’t going down exactly well with English cricket fans:

14:15pm: Broad bowls at Piggy Smith and pins him on the back with no shot offered. Umpire’s fingers goes up but Smith reviews. Not out, missing off stump. Boooo

Meanwhile, it seems that Aggers was offering more loose half volleys to Harrison than even Nasser Hussain managed. They know who pays their wages…

14:20pm: WICKET. The umpires have got another one wrong. Woakes hits Wade’s pads in front of the wickets and then reviews after it is given not out. That was plumb. Australia 5 down now. What a change of fortunes for England this afternoon.

14:23pm: It may have been a mistake for these umpires to have taken advice from S.Ravi in hindsight.

14:29pm: How long can England keep Broad and Woakes on for. With Anderson out of the attack injured, if Australia can survive the next few overs, they can feast on Moeen and Stokes.

14:34pm: The answer is not long. After a brilliant over by Broad, Moeen is bought into the attack. The one thing I am really enjoying is the analysis by Kumar Sangakkara. A brilliant batsmen in his day and someone who knows the game inside out. Far more enjoyable than listening to the rubbish Warne is spouting.

14:40pm: WICKET – can you believe that? Broad bowls one short and Paine picks out Burns at deep square leg. Terrible shot, that he won’t want to see again. England now in charge.

14:44pm: WICKET – Broad has hit 4th and that looked out at first look. Pattinson trapped in front and the umpire gives him out straight away. I’d have probably reviewed that with the umpires in the form that they currently are. Australia are in deep doo-doo here.

14:46pm: Haha, Pattinson should have reviewed it, DRS shows it was missing leg. This has been a day of truly awful umpiring. Broad won’t care a jot mind.

14:51pm: Surely it’s fair to question why Piggy Smith didn’t help his mate there. Probably had the best view of the delivery and would have seen that the umpires are having a shocker. That being said, perhaps he is saving an ego review for himself..

14:56pm: Broad finally takes a breather after a wonderful spell of 8-2-22-2. Can Stokes bowl better than he did this morning, which granted couldn’t be difficult…

15:00pm: WICKET – Stokes does bowl better. Stokes follows a couple of out swingers followed by a booming in swinger which wraps him on the pads. Height may be a question but that looked out to me in real time. Australia in trouble here, real trouble.

15:06pm: Stokes looks like a completely different bowler in this spell. Stokes beats Smith all ends up but there’s a noise and a big appeal. Not out and a good decision from Aleem Dar as Smith seemed to clip his front pad rather than the ball.

15:11pm: Jeez, another clanger from Joel Wilson. Woakes strikes Siddle on the pads and Wilson gives him out, but you could have heard that inside edge from the Hollies. This is a really damning indictment on the level of Test Match umpiring.

15:16pm: 50 for Piggy Smith. Has played well considering the carnage around him. England will want to wrap this innings up quickly (as will those who enjoy the art of batting).

15:28pm: Siddle hunkering down in support of piggy. I suspect that’s what the rest of the Australian batsmen were supposed to do instead of leaving it to the number 10. Intensity has dropped a little as we head to tea.

15:37pm: England have to be careful here. Smith looking like he is going on the counter attack with Siddle locking down the other end. Another 40 or 50 on the board could make all the difference in this Test.

15:40pm: TEA – Australia are 154-8 after 53 overs (7 short). England’s afternoon without doubt especially without their talismanic opening bowler, but whilst Smith is still at the crease, then Australia are still in the game. I’m off to get a brew myself. See you in 20…

15:50pm: We have rain, and looks like plenty of it. Looks like a delayed restart unless it clears very quickly. Meanwhile on TMS:

16:04pm: Well it looks like we are off for the foreseeable future at the moment, whilst the  rain continues at Edgbaston. I’ll be back on air as soon as we have some play again by which time, Danny might also be around to post.

16:06pm: Restart at 4:20pm, providing we have no more rain.

16:14pm: In other news, it looks like this will be both Gower’s and Beefy’s last series in the commentary box for Sky. I’m not terribly sad as both are past their sell by date, but how on earth is Bumble being spared? The guy is more clown than commentator these days:

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2019/jul/31/david-gower-leaving-sky-ashes-cricket

16:19pm: The rain might have done England a favour here as it will have given Broad and Woakes a little longer to recover from their lengthy spells in the afternoon session. Broad to once again open up against Siddle.

16:23pm: Decent opening over from Broad who once again looks lively. Woakes with a real loosener than Siddle puts away for four. In the meantime, Ramprakash doing what Ramprakash does best:

Never one to admit culpability was our Mark, both for his batting and his coaching.

16:30pm: Peter Siddle is one of those annoying tailenders that are really hard to shift. He looks comfortable out in the middle and his technique looks better than most of those in the Aussie middle order. This partnership is becoming a real annoyance for England.

16:31pm: Another rain break. Joe Root not looking particularly happy about it and we are back out again. It’s like the hokey cokey at Edgbaston..

16:34pm: Anyway, Danny is now back from work and is joining me on the live blog. Over to you Danny.

16:37pm: Afternoon everyone. Danny here. What did I miss?

16:42pm: I’ve been watching ten minutes and this partnership is already worrying me. Facing the two wicket-taking bowlers, Smith and Siddle both look pretty comfortable and the partnership has already reached fifty.

16:51pm: England are bowling with a misshapen ball. Sounds painful, and certainly isn’t helping them to bowl these two out…

16:57pm: FFS. Australia are going to win this, aren’t they? We all know what happens after a team’s key bowler is injured near the start of an Ashes series, after all.

17:06pm: Stokes replaces Woakes and is bowling a lot of short balls to Siddle, but it’s not worrying the Australian at all. I imagine England are hoping for some rain so they can start fresh tomorrow.

17:10pm: Smith falls on his wrist following a tight run, and the umpires call an early DRINKS.

17:14pm: Denly has replaced Broad, at least technically speaking. If Denly bowls more than 20 overs in this series, we might as well just give up and give Australia the Ashes urn now.

17:26pm: No news is good news, or so the saying goes. I’m not so sure. Sky is reporting that there won’t be any updates on Anderson’s injury today. As (I think) Botham points out, if it’s an existing injury (as seems to be the case) then England shouldn’t be able to use a fielding substitute under the current laws.

17:31pm: WICKET – Moeen comes in and draws an inside edge from Siddle to Buttler at short leg. That brings to an end the partnership of 88 runs, which could be huge in this game. Australia on 210/9. England might want to take their time, because I doubt their openers will want to face an hour session tonight.

17:43pm: Steve Smith is farming the strike to keep the pressure off Lyon, and it’s worked. Australia have already added an extra hundred runs for their last two wickets. Poor from England, notwithstanding Anderson’s injury.

17:52pm: CENTURY – Steve Smith smacks one through the covers, and is now on 103*. Kisses the badge on his helmet too. God, I want to throw up…

17:57: Honestly, watching him today, I think Smith will more centuries in this series than the England team combined. With England a bowler down in this game, and potentially missing Anderson for the rest of the series too, these are ominous signs for England’s hopes of reclaiming the Ashes urn.

18:04pm: Broad calls for a REVIEW with Steve Smith going across his stumps to a full ball. Live, I thought he’d edged it onto his pads. In fact he had missed it, but it was sliding way past the leg stump. England will have to take their last wicket without a DRS appeal. Given today’s performances by the umpires, that could be an issue…

18:07pm: Apparently, due to rain delays, today’s play can go on to 18:52pm. I didn’t realise this when I agreed to do the live updates to the close. This is what happens when you’re not paying close attention. It’s looking more and more like Smith will bat out the day, although he is going for more aggressive shots now that he’s batting with Lyon.

18:15pm: The commentators are talking about how Joffra Archer could be useful in this kind of situation. Personally I’d prefer Adil Rashid, even on a first day like today. Australian batsmen, even tailenders, are accustomed to pace. Leg spin, not so much.

18:22pm: Chris Woakes bowling 79mph bouncers to Smith. I’m a fan of Woakes, and he’s done well today, but I don’t think that’s going to work.

18:35pm: WICKET – Steve Smith goes for a wild swing and misses a full, straight ball from Stuart Broad. Broad ends up with 5/86 and clears up all three of the players returning from abrasive-related bans. Australia have reached 284 after being 122/8 earlier in the day. England are facing two or three overs today, and I bet they wish Leach was available to call in. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Broad or another bowler acting as nightwatchman though.

18:45pm: Nope, Burns and Roy come in to face the two overs. Cummins to bowl the first over.

18:50pm: First over survived. Roy missing a wild pull though, maybe time to put that shot away for the day, Jason? One more to go.

19:04pm: England reach the close on 10/0, 274 runs behind the tourists. Smith’s huge 144-run stand has put Australia in what might be considered the lead after wickets were falling like dominoes earlier in the day.

We seem to have lost 5 overs today, although that may be due to the short rain delays and excess of DRS appeals rather than England’s tardy bowlers. This is notable because, with this game being the very first in the World Test Championship, teams can be docked league points for being slow in bowling their overs.

Tomorrow’s forecast seems fair, with no rain expected. Good batting conditions, you might think, but England have shown themselves capable of collapsing in even the friendliest of situations. It will certainly be a nervy first session for England fans as they try to post a first innings lead.

That’s me (Danny) and Sean signing off the live blog. Comments on the game, coverage, or anything else below.

But All We Realise The Show Ain’t Nothing – Dmitri on the 2019 Ashes

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Lest we forget – Steve Smith brings up his double ton at Lord’s in 2015

The title is another Public Enemy lyric, from one of their first songs. As they said in the same song,

“Didn’t holler at the dollar we willin’ to spend, But you took one look and wouldn’t let our ass in”

Which sort of sums up the aftermath of the World Cup, the look at the potential support out there, the entitlement of some subscription players who think sharing what they see with their own eyes is something just for those with money, and not for those that can’t or won’t pay. As if access to sport is dependent on whether you earn enough, rather than broaden horizons. So this year those people paying have the premium pricing of England at a global tournament, and the £100 per day bonanza of Ashes cricket.

We are now a matter of three days away from the latest incarnation of the most storied series in cricket. The Ashes. Running for over a century and a quarter, a bellwether for the state of the game in each nation, a proxy for the wellbeing of the sport and the nation. an anchor point on the cricket calendar, the Ashes have always been the series that the people want to see. That’s in terms of demand for tickets, value of TV contracts, public recognition and where heroes are defined. Ian Botham’s record against Australia, certainly in the early 80s is more important to many than his performances against the mightiest of foes in that era, the West Indies.

This, however, feels really really different. Whether this is because the series is now in the position of “after the Lord Mayor’s Show” of the World Cup Final just a couple of weeks ago, I really don’t know, but if the players feel anything like me as a cricket supporter, England are in dead trouble. I don’t know how you top the mountain in that way, and then have to go back and raise yourselves for your marquee series straight after. It was once said that we gave ourselves no chance in the World Cup because it followed the Ashes (while this never stopped Australia), but to me it feels the other way around. I can’t remember an Ashes series I’ve given less of a stuff about, and I can’t remember an Ashes series where I am looking at it and thinking…. am I ready for this?

I’ve felt like that about blogging since the final, too. If you don’t have the energy or the things to say, it’s going through the motions, and I’m not doing that. I couldn’t give a stuff about the event masquerading as a “test match” last week, except to marvel how 85 all out against a county standard attack at best could actually happen, whether the team was exhausted or not. And when Ireland made 38, I have to say the despair turned to anger.

Then there was the last series, where the media managed to make a 4-0 smashing sound like something to be cheerful about as we didn’t get whitewashed, and everyone’s folk hero made a double hundred in a dead rubber to prevent it. We were, basically, told not to care about it. We had not got Stokes, our opening position was shot, the bowling looked old and weak, the batting weak and devoid of hope. We even made 450 in one test, with two great centuries and it still felt we were going to get beat, and yet we were done by a 180 from Mitchell Marsh. This was all to be expected. The series was on BT Sport, so no-one really mattered, and certainly the ECB didn’t give a toss. They cared so much they flogged the team off to New Zealand, and Auckland happened. If we aren’t to care about 4-0 losses, why should we care at all. Nothing to see here. Move along.

This five test series commences on 1 August. It finishes a week before the autumnal equinox. Don’t worry, though, because the next Ashes in England will be in 2022*. Straight after the 2021/22 playing of the series in Australia. Hey, that back-to-back in 2013-14 went down so well, was so popular, so revered, we’re gonna do it again. Who seriously believed these imbeciles have the best interests of the game at heart? At least Qatar have moved the 2022 World Cup to the winter for us.

[*Note – Nonoxcol has pointed out in the comments that the Ashes appear to be in 2023. Some of the articles do state that, and that would be much better. Instead we play 10 tests on the bounce against India.]

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The Ashes Panel

OK, enough of that. The Bogfather has asked me to constitute an Ashes Panel. What is that, some may ask. Well it is this..

https://beingoutsidecricket.com/category/ashes-panel/

We ran these during previous series and they seemed to work well. As usual we will need some willing volunteers. It will entail answering a number of questions and putting your views on the series to us. I won’t be able to get one  up in time for the first test, but will be looking to do one after this test concludes. It takes a half hour of your time, and we do the rest.

Given we won’t be able to organise a panel in advance, in the interests of interactivity, and because it will stop me doing all the work (along with the team), here are five questions you can answer in the comments – and in there, you can also volunteer to be one of our panelists. Come on. It’s fun.

  1. On a scale of 1-10, how much are you looking forward to this Ashes series, and why?
  2. England’s chronic weakness appears to be the top order. Come September, who do you think will be England’s 1-2-3?
  3. Australia come into this series, in my view, underestimated. They look massive favourites to me even though they haven’t won a series in England since 2001. Am I right to think that way?
  4. What do you think the final score will be, and who will be man of the series?
  5. How many centuries do you think England will make in the entire Ashes?

So much to discuss since the World Cup Final, and yet so little time to really breathe. The Ashes should be the pinnacle of the game, but to me they feel like a hastily arranged tribute act to the main event. It never looked right having the Ashes follow a home World Cup and it still doesn’t. That this is followed by three test series in rapid succession this winter, as well as an increase in T20 internationals to prepare for the next incarnation of that World Cup.

What I Think…

This series kicks off at Edgbaston on Thursday with an interesting weather forecast, and a lot of hope pinned on this being England’s venue of choice. England’s batting is going to be the key point of focus the whole series, because it looks exceptionally fragile. The potential line-up looks like Roy, Burns, Denly, Root, Bairstow, Stokes, Buttler, Ali, Woakes, Anderson and Broad. Archer looks a long shot, unless Denly is not the number three and Root is, and there are copious mentions of that in the media. Others on social media are mentioning Stokes up to three as well. It’s an utter mess, and of our own devices. The biggest surprise is that Vince hasn’t been mentioned.

The openers look like an accident waiting to happen. We’ve waited until Burns is out of form to blood him, and now we’ll likely do the same with Dominic Sibley. I don’t care what others think, but Jason Roy is not an opener, and this selection falls into magic beans territory. Joe Denly is not test class, and appears to be an accidental international cricketer. Joe Root should bat three, but won’t. I mentioned this to my brother yesterday, but imagine KP insisting on batting at his favourite position rather than that which could serve the team better, and see how understanding the press and pundits would be. Then we have four number sixes rounding at 5,6,7 and 8, and a number 7 at number 9. The team looks confused. A confused team has excuses. A team with excuses, usually loses.

Meanwhile Australia have their own conundrum, but seem to be figuring it out. The three that “shamed a nation” will be reinstated, so Warner and Bancroft are likely to open, Khawaja at three if he recovers from injury, Smith at four, maybe Travis Head at five, Wade/Marsh or Labuschagne at six, with Paine at seven, then Cummins, Pattinson, Starc, Hazlewood (3 out of 4, and with Siddle, 3 out of 5) and Nathan Lyon. There are options in many slots. The batting has strong players with a fragile underbelly, and the bowling looks strong and will be effective in England. That Burns and Patterson were not included having scored centuries in their last test innings, speaks volumes.

We will probably do some more stuff in the next few days, but that’s enough to be getting on with. Please do answer the questions, please do volunteer for the panel – have a look at the last series to see what it entails – and no doubt, by Thursday, we’ll be up for it and looking at another frenetic home Ashes series.

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We’ve had better days, and better decisions at the toss…

By the way – my answers:

  1. 3 – An Ashes summer was that. A summer that had the Ashes and no real rival. Now it’s crammed in to a short space at the arse end of the summer, after the World Cup. There is only so much emotional energy to give.
  2. Sibley (having played no real first class cricket regularly since beginning of July) and Roy. Burns to have been jettisoned. At three? Pick someone out of the hat. Malan?
  3. Of course I am. They have two of the best three batsman in the contest, their bowling looks to have depth, and pace, and the only weakness appears to be the middle order. In a composite test side at the outset, how many England players would you pick? Root? Stokes? Bairstow? Anderson if fit?
  4. I think Australia avoid losing at Edgbaston and it is goodnight. I am tempted to say 4-1, but I think I am over-estimating Australia’s batting in England, and under-estimating England’s bowling. Let’s say 3-1 to Australia and a rain-affected draw. No way will any of these matches be drawn unless weather wipes out large swathes of play.
  5. Two. Joe Root might play into one, and Stokes could do so too. But if they could collapse in heaps against Ireland, I fear for them against Australia.

Much more to come, so stick with us during the series. We don’t let you down!

Oh, I almost forgot. This is part of the World Test Championship. You didn’t know? I didn’t.

England vs Ireland, One Off Test – The Wrap

So after two days of closely fought cricket, yesterday’s play was something of anti-climax as England rolled over the Irish batting unit for 38, the lowest ever score recorded as Lord’s, in under a session.

For those foolhardy enough to attend the game yesterday (not mentioning any names who decided to give it a miss, TLG), it looked like the sort of day that bowlers dream of. Dark, dank conditions with plenty of rain in the air is always a bowler’s paradise at Lords and having attended Lord’s plenty of times as a Middlesex fan, I’ve seen how these conditions can change a fairly flat pitch into something of a minefield. After Ireland removed Ollie Stone with the first ball of the day, just as I was queuing to get to my seat of course, it was clear that the Irish batting line up had to either knuckle down for a couple of hours until the sun was due to come out or pray that Woakes and Broad bowled too short in the way that they did in the first innings. Unfortunately neither was the case, as both Broad and Woakes much to the surprise of most England fans, bowled with good nip and great lengths ensuring that batting against the new ball in these conditions would have been a challenge for any Test side. It was clear early on that one could easily become two and that two could quite easily end up as a horrible batting collapse for a team playing only its second Test Match with a batting line up made up of mainly ex-county pros. That being said, I have often been hyper critical of England’s ability to read the pitch when bowling with the new ball and especially of Woakes and Broad after the first innings, but they bowled quite superbly, giving very little away and could quite easily have done the same to the Australian top order.

A 143-run victory looks good in the history books, even though it was barely deserved as England without doubt had the luck of the green in terms of the conditions (put it this way, I don’t think Leach would have made 90 odd yesterday!), but considering the position England had allowed themselves to be put in at lunch on Day 1, a victory no matter how underserved, saved some serious blushes from the England camp. The one sour note that came from this victory, aside from the batting, was Roots decision to criticize the pitch at the presentation. Now whether this was just an attempt to take away some of the criticism from his own batsmen or just a snide remark, it is hardly fair to criticize the groundsman after having less than week to prepare a Test wicket after the World Cup final. This is especially true of a groundsman who is in his first year of the job. Was it a great pitch, no it wasn’t, but I’d rather have a pitch that offered some assistance to the bowlers than the type of roads that Mick Hunt used to routinely prepare for both England and Middlesex and in my opinion it was a pretty classless thing to say on television. It may also not help relations in the future when England need a specific pitch prepared at Lords. As for Ireland, this may well be the first and last time that some of their veterans get to play at Lords, which is a crying shame. Ireland might not have the most talented group of players that they have ever had, but as always they played with plenty of heart and no less skill and gave England a huge fright in a game that they were treating as an Ashes warm up. I also want to give special praise to Tim Murtagh, who actually is a remarkable county bowler with a great bowling average and someone who has been a fantastic servant to Middlesex. Murtagh was never ever going to be called up by England as he doesn’t bowl the ball at 85-90 mph and is very much an old fashioned swing bowler, but he once again showed that he is a master of his art and in my own humble opinion, no-one else deserves to be on the honours board at Lords more than Mr ‘Dial M’ for Murtagh.

So with the Ireland Test match ticked off, likely for at least another 4 years, England now get to focus on the Australians and the first Test of the Ashes. We have had the announcement of the squad this morning and I must say, it doesn’t fill me with hope. Roy for me is not an opener in the longer format and never will be, though I could get on board with him as an attacking number 3, Burns looks horribly out of form and Denley is no more than a decent county pro who has been thrown into the England Test set up due to a mix of desperation and insipid selection choices. Put it this way, if I was Dominic Sibley, I would be very disappointed not to have been called up, because Ed Smith wants to try something funky at the top of the order by playing a specialist white ball opener (Roy bats in the middle order for Surrey). It was also interesting that during the presentation yesterday, Root was asked whether the batting unit was a cause for a concern, something he categorically denied. Now Root isn’t going to go on TV and admit it’s a bit of a shambles, but that’s what it is at the moment, hence don’t be surprised if we have a fair bit of chopping and changing at the top of the order as the Ashes progresses. It is also slightly unfair that Jack Leach, who won the ball with the bat was omitted. Put it this way, Moeen needs a very good match with the ball at Edgbaston as his batting has regressed at alarming alacrity.

Oh and on one last note, this Twitter post from George Dobell was very revealing last night:

 

I have a lot of respect for George and do think he’s one of the good guys, who is prepared to stick his head above the parapet and comment on what his views are of the game, rather than what is parroted to him by the ECB comms team. It will be interesting to see if we get more and more coming out publicly against the White Elephant that is the Hundred (even Mike Gatting has written to the ECB to pledge against downgrading the 50 over game). That being said, don’t expect anyone from Sky to provide any sort of analysis of the upcoming format, rather than puff piece interviews with Strauss, Clarke, Harrison and anyone else who can blindly bluff their way through why the hundred will be so great. David Lloyd and the rest know who pay their wages and are more than willing to place their morals at the door and keep their mouths shut in exchange for piles of cash. Ca plus change.

As ever, feel free to comment below on the above piece or on any other thoughts you might have. We’ll have a full Ashes preview coming up next week and if you’re tempted, we may start a new Ashes panel if we get enough interest, just comment below if you’d like to be included….

England v Ireland, One Off Test*, Day 2 – Same Old Shit, Plus Jack Leach

Wally Hammond. Herbert Sutcliffe. Sir Len Hutton. Jack Leach. Just four of the 28 English batsmen of all-time to have Test career averages above 45 as opener, and Leach is the only one to do so since Strauss’ retirement in 2012. Scoring 92 runs from 162 balls, the opener from Somerset has almost certainly secured his place in the side for the forthcoming Ashes series.

Jason Roy also showed some of his one-day form in this innings, having been demoted to three. Smashing 72 from 78 balls is an impressive feat in Test cricket, and showed how he was probably always better suited for the middle order. England’s issue is that they only have one capable top order batsman in Leach, and seven or eight who would be best suited batting at five.

Not that this should be any excuse for what happened after their talismanic opening bat lost his wicket. When Murtagh finally tempted Leach to edge one to slip, the ball was 45 overs old and the Irish had been fielding in sweltering conditions for half of the day. It was a huge opportunity for England’s aggressive batsmen to annihilate the tourists in great conditions, and instead they folded like a cheap deckchair. From 182/3, they slid to 249/7. Bairstow bagged a pair, although at least he got his pad in the way of one instead of being clean bowled this time. Denly had a comedy run out, although he wasn’t laughing. Moeen Ali edged a short ball to the wicketkeeper. Root failed to convert his promising start into a fifty. It was deja vu all over again.

And so, for the umpteenth time, it fell to the bowlers to put a respectable face on proceedings. The 8th, 9th and 10th wicket partnerships have added 65 runs so far, taking England’s lead to 181 runs. That is already a tough task for Ireland, having been restricted to 207 in their first innings. If Broad and Stone were able to add another 20 runs for the final wicket tomorrow then you might say England were favourites to win.

The day ended prematurely with thunderstorms and rain, which has the pleasant side effect of ensuring a decent amount of play tomorrow (weather permitting). Sean ( @thegreatbucko ) and Chris ( @thelegglance ) both have tickets for day three (although not seated together), so there will likely be in-depth match reports from them in the coming days. Once the hangovers wear off, at least.

Ireland have a real shot of a famous first Test victory at Lord’s tomorrow, and it could well be an exciting climax. No doubt the opportunity to do it against England will make it even sweeter for the Irish.

If you have any comments on the game, or embarassing pictures of Chris and Sean in the stands tomorrow, post them below.