There probably isn’t much to say about this test that hasn’t already been said, so I am just going to make a couple of points that stick in my craw:
- Australia managed to lose 7 top order wickets clawing back the runs scored by the last 3 in the English innings – there is something concerning about that. If it was a one-off, then you could put it down to pressure, it being a “dead rubber”, the players having “checked out”, being tired from fielding too long. But it isn’t, it is a regular occurrence over the past year or so, and the majority of wickets fell to rubbish shots on a friendly pitch rather than spectacular bowling.
- Shane Watson can’t run. I have often criticised Watson for not running the first one quickly, which therefore often takes out the option of a second. In Australia you are taught from the very beginning to run the first quickly. He usually doesn’t. Today he did. Depending on who you listen to, Hughes was guilty of ball watching or Watson was guilty of not wanting to be on strike. Regardless, there was always an easy single, and possibly a very hard run two in that shot. Hughes didn’t think there was two in it. If Watson knew how to call, he would have shouted something like “two in it, push” immediately – giving Hughes the opportunity to push or reject the call. That clearly didn’t happen. When Watson realised Hughes wasn’t coming, he could have turned and put some pressure on the fielding side, perhaps cause a fumble and get back in. He didn’t. He instead chose to keep running, hoping that Hughes would be pressured to leave his crease and sacrifice himself. It was disgustingly selfish. Or possibly he had had enough and just wanted out. Whichever way, it was typical Watson, exemplifying why he is so unpopular with the Australian public, despite actually doing pretty well overall in the side.
- Clarke, in an attempt to stamp himself onto the match and show why he should keep the captaincy when/if Ponting returns, simply showed how confused his captaincy is, and that he really lacks an awareness of cricket logic, thought and strategy. Seven changes of bowling in the first 14 overs with a new ball? Unimaginative fielding positions, no real wicket taking strategies and a dropped head all combined to show how ridiculous the decision to give him the armband was. That said, he has shown nothing in this game that wasn’t completely obvious to anyone who had ever watched his performances in T20 or ODIs. To give a bloke who shouldn’t even be in the side the captaincy when he has continuously proved that he is not very good at it is hard to fathom.
- Watching the Australians give up in the field, apart from a couple of exceptions, was very hard to take – and something I can’t remember ever happening before, even during the dark days of the 80s.
- Is this the worst Australian side ever? Probably not, but the results say otherwise. To lose three matches in a five match series by an innings (assuming there is no miracle today) has never happened before in Ashes cricket, and only Bangladesh have managed to lose 3 games by an innings in one series previously. Regardless of whether it is the worst side ever, it is a pretty bad one, and not a lot of fun to watch – I have previously mentioned my admiration for the way the English supporters stuck with their side during similar slumps – I will certainly stick with the Aussies, albeit I am very disappointed and a little angry about this performance.
- The selectors and CA have got to get serious about rebuilding this side, from Shield level up. The international cricketers should be playing much more Shield cricket, and selectors should be held accountable for their decisions – Xavier Doherty, Michael Beer, the Mitchell Johnson debacle, Marcus North, Michael Clarke, Steve Smith, Doug Bollinger especially. Also the non-selection of a number of players needs to be addressed – Nathan Hauritz in particular, but Andrew McDonald, David Hussey and Cam White (among others) need to be questioned.
- Phil Hughes is not a cheat. He clearly didn’t know whether he took the catch or not, and it was perfectly reasonable it to be referred to the umpires. People like Ian Botham should take a long hard look at themselves for trying to ruin the reputation and questioning the integrity of young players. There is certainly an element of pot/kettle/black when the Strauss catch at Lords in 2009 is brought into the discussion.
- There was no such questioning of Ian Bell when he subsequently referred a decision that looks to have been incorrectly reversed. Any suggestion that he is a cheat is wrong too. Clearly he thought he didn’t hit it, why would a batsman refer something which confirmed that he was wrong?
- What was Billy doing referring a no-ball off an off-spinner. If he is not able to see that the off-spinner is bowling a no-ball, then what is he doing umpiring at test level? Some accounts have Beer consistently bowling no-balls for a couple of overs before that. If that was the case, and Billy was worried about them, why didn’t he tell the bowler he was close and let him adjust rather than wait for a wicket to refer? The answer is that he is Billy and wants to be part of the game, part of the action. He often imposes himself on matches rather than just being the arbiter. This is one of the reasons he is often the lowest ranked international umpire. This situation stinks, and I feel a little sorry for the young guy, as it robbed him of the opportunity of taking his first test wicket, and effectively cost Australia 140-odd runs. That said, off-spinners have ABSOLUTELY no right bowling no-balls. None. End of story.
- England completely deserve to win this series 3-1. In three and a half matches they have completely dominated Australia in every sense. Australia have been ahead for the other one and a half games.
- Anderson has been very impressive, as has Tremlett and Bresnan – and at times Finn, although he was gifted a lot of his wickets.
- Trott, Strauss, Prior, Bell, Pieterson have all performed extremely well at times throughout the series, certainly better than any of their counterparts (other than Mike Hussey).
- Cook – well what can you say about his performance. It has been extremely boring to watch, his technique isn’t at all exciting, and he looks awkward, he kind of resembles a lizard. But he has scored a lot of runs. And deserves the player of the series award he will no doubt win. I am a little sick of hearing the comparison to Tendulkar though – yes he has scored a lot of runs at a young age – but Cook, although it is possible he will end up as England’s highest ever run scorer, is definitely not in the same league as Tendulkar. Nor is he even close to Ponting, S Waugh, Lara, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag or Dravid among others. So perhaps the tone down the hyperbole.
- I have not been looking forward to 7 one-day internationals between these two sides. It is at least 2 (and probably 4) matches too many. I’ll still watch them though.
I am going keep writing about things after this series, but it is unlikely to be dominated by cricket for the time being. Sports will be a major theme, but I will also write about other issues that pop up that I am interested in.
Interested in any topics you would like covered – thanks for reading!