Well, well – we have a match!

Before I start – how about that Siddle!?  Might have been onto something yesterday!

What a dire first session.

I’m not talking about the 6 wickets to fall – although that was pretty bad.

The run rate was horrible.

Warner tried to keep the score ticking over, as did Clarke, Hussey, and Ponting.  What was going on with Khawaja?  It was somewhat admirable that each play and miss (about 35% of the balls he faced) failed to phase him at all.  That is great – but along the way, during his struggle to keep his wicket intact, he forgot to try and score.  Surely a nudge here, a good defensive drop haven’t been completely forgotten?  And when you are struggling that hard, getting up to the other end is great!

Ponting actually looked good until his 16th ball.

He was getting forward and across, leaving with confidence, nudging them around, and basically looking comfortable.

I still can’t quite work out what actually happened on that 16th ball though.  At best, he had predetermined his shot, and had decided that it was time to start forcing the pace, take the initiative.  It sort of looked like he started out as if he was going to do a Hayden-esque front foot pull in front of square – to a reasonably full ball.  Then, in that 0.2 seconds a batsman gets to choose his shot and move, he seemed to change his mind.  It was as if he suddenly realised that it was 2/31 in the 16th over, and Australia had been making a habit of very low scores of late, so he should probably not go a full blooded front foot pull, but defend, keep his wicket safe, and not potentially go out to an attacking shot in these circumstances.  By the time this decision had been made, he was bang in front of middle and the bat was at the horizontal while the ball thudded into his pads – and that was that (and the calls for his head no doubt will come thick and fast once more).

I’m not sure that he is finished, but he may be – I struggle to let go of past heroes and legends as much as they do.  I didn’t think Border was done, nor Healy, nor Taylor, not even Waugh.  I was wrong about all of these guys, so am probably wrong about Ponting.  But there is something inside of me, that is willing him on – desperate to see him back to his best, dominating, looking comfortable, almost contemptuous to those blokes steaming in at 90+ mph.

But he was not the only one who should be hanging his head after today’s play.

Warner was trying to be positive, and looked okay, but never comfortable.  The one thing that kept going through my mind throughout his entire innings was his balance – or lack thereof.  There was something wrong with his feet, the way they moved and where he was positioning them – particularly on the drive.  Every time he moved into position to drive, he seemed off balance, and his left hip would come through with the shot, dragging his back leg out, initially to square and then straight up the wicket.  This happened occasionally when he was only playing a forward defence as well.  I haven’t seen a lot of him outside the T20 (just can’t get Shield vision in the UK), so this might not be a long term flaw – but I have concerns about his long-term viability against better bowlers.  It won’t take them long to work him out and it might be another Hughes type deal.  I hope not.

I don’t know what to make of Huss – that pull immediately before he forgot to get his bat out of the way when he was leaving a ball was awesome.  He was positive at the crease and ran hard.

The one guy that really annoyed me was Clarke.  Recently, I watched a “best of” compilation of batsmen not offering a shot and being bowled.  It came from the boys at StickCricket.  There was some great bowling in this compilation, yes.  There was also a hell of a lot of Michael Clarke.  That ball yesterday didn’t actually do anything.  It was straight, heading into his off-stump and he left it.  Initially I thought it had to have done something, like when Jones (and Flintoff) embarrassed him in the ’05 Ashes, but it didn’t.  He just left a straight one on the stumps.

I had another thought during the play that had nothing to do with this match, but more to do with the BCCI and their refusal to allow use of the DRS for LBWs.  I have had a problem with this, as I think all elite matches should be played with the same technology, and I had been convinced (apart from that weird clipping/not clipping the stumps, umpires decision stands thing) that it worked.  There was one on Day 2 that has left me a little less sure.  Clarke got one that pitched just outside off, came in a fraction, hit him on or below the knee roll on the crease.  In real speed it looked out, pretty plumb in fact.  In slow-mo it looked out.  The Kiwi’s referred it.  My initial reaction was this is out, or worst (best for Australia) case it will be clipping the stumps and umpires decision stands.  Hawkeye said it was going over the stumps by a few inches.  No way.  Maybe at the Gabba or Wacca – but based on how this pitch was playing, and the bounce of that ball, no way.  I think the Kiwi’s have a right to feel aggrieved at that one (although it didn’t end up costing much) and the Indians might just have a point … although you clearly can’t base this on one possible LBW – it has raised an element of doubt in my mind at least.

Right – have a great Sunday all … I’m stocking up on beer and snacks and readying for a long night on the couch.

Rusty.

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