I Can See It In Your Walk, Tell ’em When You Talk – 3rd Test Day 1

There’s an issue when you run a blog and the action is taking place either overnight or during work hours – how do you write a day’s report? I think we’ve done this a few times before, but with four of us you’d think we’d have it covered.

The bigger problem is when thee play merges across sleep and work! All four of us are unable to really follow the action in any way other than via score updates on cricinfo. This leads to us providing you with a match report based on, well, our own imagination, and interpretation of the numbers and social media reactions. To put it mildly, this is not the most reliable of reporting sources. That said, we never pretended we were/are reporters.

So what that leads to is a discussion on the bald facts of the day. England have finished it on 305 for 4, which represents a fantastic recovery from 131 for 4, and also a magic moment for Dawid Malan. That England are in a very solid position is very nice. We might lose from here, but we really shouldn’t. The descriptions of the wicket are that it is very flat, has nice, but not electric, pace and is good for batting with a lightning outfield to give values for shots. There have been double the amount of boundaries today compared to the other first days at the Ashes tests this year.

What I have always loved about test cricket is a player’s first test ton. Is it a harbinger of success, of a career to be fulfilled and blossom, or the one cry of defiance in a pool of mediocrity. The hit and miss of our selections have seen several people make tons and disappear – Robson and Lyth come to mind, Compton made two, Ballance four – while Moeen, Stokes and YJB since the last Ashes have gone on to make their second hundred and stay the course. By all accounts it was a proper test match hundred. Watchful determination combined with good shot making. Malan is 30, so not a young pup, and his window is obviously narrow (Cook is only just coming up to 33 and people are saying he’s finished), but today he made the place his own at least until the end of the winter. There was a rule of thumb when I played Fantasy Cricket that if you made runs for Western Australia, I’d stick you in my team for the English season (yes, Michael Hussey!) and there’s a very limited number of players to have made three figures for England at the WACA recently. It bodes well.

But what Malan also needs to be aware of, and I’m pretty sure he is, is that 110 is not enough. Yes, he’s done his bit, but we need him to turn that into 150+ for this to be the telling innings. Yes, a lot of store, perhaps wrongly, is put on three figures, but the innings we remember, certainly in first innings, are the big ones. Dawid is key to our fortunes.

So is Jonny Bairstow, and his promotion up the order to alternate the left and right handers appears, on this small sample size, to have worked. He is 25 runs away from a maiden Ashes ton and again, by all accounts looked in good touch. Bairstow is a little bit of an enigma, and while he tantalises us with the bat there will always be talk of how good he could be if he were played as a pure batsman. Also there are mumblings about a batsman as good as him batting at 7. I remember Adam Gilchrist copping the same flak (no I didn’t). Again, Bairstow adding another 50 will be very handy.

I’m a bit of an oddball, in that I keep a lot of old cricket recorded off the TV, and for some reason I’ve decided to tape this series in its entirety. I think today’s recording will be really pleasant viewing. Will Australia start feeling the pressure? Well, it depends on how many England make, and if they get off to a Warner-assisted flyer. England should make 400+ and then we get to see how Aussie react to a reasonable score. That should be fun.

And so to Alastair Cook. You knew I’d have to mention him. I’m not going to comment on a dismissal I’ve not seen, but if every time Cook was out LBW to a opening bowler was cause to question his eyes, then I’m staggered. When Nasser put that only a fool would right Cook off, he’s using his heart over his head. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that. It’s sport. You have those you pull for and those you don’t. I’m not a Cook fan, but I actually think the way the media and some of the social media I see have turned on him is ridiculous. Yes, you read that right. He has not made an Ashes hundred since Sydney in January 2011. That is 34 innings of not getting to three figures. At the other opening end, off the top of my head, there’s been 1. The RootMaths hundred at Lord’s that spawned a meme so tiresome, it was boring by tea time. Alastair Cook’s “demise” is not a sudden one, as these people give the impression of it being, but one over time. I see mentions that we should now move on from Cook, which again, I think is a little premature. The main question to be asked is “Is Alastair Cook one of our best two openers?” If the answer, in the view of the selectors, is yes, then he should play. If Cook himself doesn’t want to, then that’s for him. But if you are awaiting a century from him, then the fact he hasn’t managed one against the Old Enemy or South Africa in around 50 tries now might give you a clue. Who knows, he might be due?

Anyone who has seen today, please feel free to carry on the comments below. Hopefully we’ll put up a lead in piece for tonight too. If not, you know what to do.

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Tell Me About Your Childhood – Preview of Day 4 at the 2nd Ashes Test

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Why Optimism Should Be Banished…..

As I walked to work today, having dropped the beloved border collie off at my brother’s house, I walked down the hill to the station, contemplating the problems England were facing, as at the time we had just lost Woakes. As I strolled to the nirvana of Grove Park Station, the Gateway of Dreams, the Portal to Pressure, so I passed the Favourite Chicken and Ribs fast food emporium on one side of the road. Hmm, glad I’ve never been in there. As I crossed the busy Baring Road, I noticed that the locksmiths were just about to open, and thought, has that always been there? And then it struck. I should use these thoughts in something more constructive. What would Martin Samuel do?

Well, England have proved themselves more than Chicken in this game, even when the ball isn’t tickling their Ribs on what should be their Favourite conditions of the series, and after consuming this, there’s a pain like indigestion at the outcome. And they’ll need a locksmith to get them out of the handcuffs the first innings batting, and their lamentable bowling has put them in. They’ve tied themselves up in chains, and the Ashes will be locked in Australian safe custody if they don’t. Martin would be proud.

OK, I’ve got the Martin Samuel bit out of my head. Let’s do this as I usually do. Or try.

Chris has adroitly summed up the predicament England face in this test match. Unless there is something utterly out of the ordinary, or a ton of rain, England are going 2-0 down. No dressing this up any other way. England will not, in all likelihood, chase down the current lead, let alone the 350 that is much more likely, or the 400+ I suspect we’ll have to. So what tonight was is the equivalent, somewhat, of the moment on the ultimate gameshow, Bullseye, where Jim Bowen shows the crestfallen finalist what they could have won… and we got a bleedin’ speedboat. Sorry, Martin Samuelitis is affecting my brain.

Once again, the batting was a sad state of affairs. Overton top scored with 41 not out, providing some green shoots of new promise, but we all really believe, deep down, he’s another fast-medium trundler who won’t get more than 10 tests. Test match batting is quite often more about temperament than technique (something that should be remembered more often) and Overton and Woakes showed it while their top order colleagues didn’t. The evidence from Brisbane, seized upon by the experts, that our tail would be blown away time after time was made to look the jibberish it was. These are good bowlers, but they are not all time great bowlers. It’s Lyon that’s the difference, the big difference.

The problems with the batting aren’t new. Players come in, are given a few games, and then dropped without any of them sticking. The prettier your shots, the easier on the eye that you are, the more chances you are going to get. See James Vince. England have not produced a batsman that has stuck since Joe Root. Yet he has now gone six tests in Australia without a ton. Alastair Cook remains the best opener in England, but it is now 17 Ashes tests since his last century, or put another way, 33 innings without an Ashes hundred. These are our two “rocks”. We need them to be more igneous and less porous (Samuel, stop it).

I didn’t see the bowling, and nor will I catch the highlights before this goes up. I don’t care much for our bowlers, if truth be told. Stuart Broad can bowl “that spell”. We know, except every time he takes a wicket early in a spell, the twitterati seem to want to think we are at the beginning of one of “those spells”. Word to the wise, wait until he’s taken at least three or you’ll be a Shiny Toy before you know it. Jimmy Anderson has never been my favourite cricketer and seems not to perform far too frequently overseas lately to be given the reverence he has been. Tonight he bowled tightly and nicked a couple of wickets. 48 hours too late. Moeen is the liability with spin we always thought he might be, Woakes has improved for the run out (remember, he missed most of our domestic season) and Overton is this year’s Roland-Jones, even if Roland-Jones is this year’s Roland-Jones. There’s room for more than one.

As always, we really look forward to receiving your views as the day’s play unfolds. There’s the overnight shift from the Tundra and India, aided and abetted by a random insomniac. Then there’s the waking hours, as we react to the horrors that have unfolded in our sleeping hours. I catch up with them all on the commute to the office, and then dip in here and there on the relatively few opportunities. Once play is over, we try to get a report out to comment on the events we’ve seen and react to the comments from those outside our Outside Cricket bubble. An afternoon to digest, and then a preview piece to send you to sleep with all the joys of spring.

As I went up into my loft yesterday to retrieve my Christmas decorations, I noticed on the shelves my parents built up there a whole bunch of those weekly magazines you keep to make up a pseudo encyclopaedia. Mine was the Illustrated History of Aircraft. Also, I opened a box to find some unexpected Halloween decorations. Today’s cricket starts at 3am, or near offer. Will it be a fright night that haunts us all, spells being woven, demons in the wicket, with a horror of an ending? Or will we be flying high, on a jet pace, soaring machine towards the ultimate prize of Ashes glory, a jumbo sized explosion of joy, a Dreamliner of enthusiasm.

Doctors appointment for Samuelitis is at 12 noon. Wish me luck.

Comments below.

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What happens when you are optimistic……