The Gabba, Day 5: More of the same please!

29 11 2010

England 260 & 517-1 drew with Australia 481 & 107-1

Well done Alistair Cook. Well done Andrew Strauss. Well done Jonathan Trott.

What a scorecard! (Just in case you have forgotten – here it is writ large…)

Perfection.

Through the dark days of the ‘90’s and early 2000’s we dreamt of waking up to see a scorecard along these lines and, whilst it wasn’t topped off with a win, it was worth the wait! That it came in Australia only serves to make it all the sweeter as deep down, behind most of the cautious and wildly optimistic, every Englishman would own up to a crawling, sneaking worry in their guts that things hadn’t changed. Now, with one of those draws that feels a bit like a win under their belts, and a clear demonstration of what our heads, if not our hearts, already knew those latent fears have been assuaged.

Yes it is true that it was Australia in a winning position on Saturday morning and, realistically, England never had much of a shot at it but, despite all this, it will be England who are feeling happiest. In our opinion, this Ashes will probably come down to a combination of belief and having a settled side that knows their roles exactly. England have this but Australia only have one of those necessary components. We have little doubt that the Australians still believe they can win but it would be unlikely if they were to do that in amongst so much potential chopping and changing. Not, of course, that it is a given they will change players for Adelaide but, if we were a betting syndicate, we’d lay a lot of money on them changing two or perhaps even three.

Firstly, Bollinger has to come in for Johnson. Hardly a revolutionary statement but one which is so full of validity that it’s practically over flowing. Siddle has taken six wickets so he’s safe at least, Hilfenhaus was one of the few bowlers to look reasonable in India so we feel that it would be a mistake to drop him. Doherty of course is a spinner (more on whom in a minute) which leaves old Mitchell. Probably the biggest insult I could give him, although if reversed it could also be conceivable that it is a compliment, is that he is definitely the Australian Steve Harmison. On a good day devastating but sadly ineffective and leaking runs the rest of the time.

Doherty is the other who will be concerned although it would be unfair in the extreme to drop him immediately. The Australian spin bowling revolving door was not wedged shut by his performance at the Gabba, something that was hardly unexpected as he simply looked exactly what he is – an average state bowler whose not going to let anyone down but equally not going  to run through a test side on a fifth day pitch. We have heard some people mention the possibility of two spinners at Adelaide in which case Hauritz might come back but all this would achieve is to make the Australian selectors look stupid. They got two of their selection calls right – Hussey and Siddle – but remain as confused as ever about the third.

Inevitably it is Marcus North who is the batsman (or bowling all rounder as someone wittily put it) under pressure but, with the squad for the second test already announced, and with only 6 front line batsman in it, it is safe to say he will play. There is a chance that Doherty could be dropped and North could provide the spin option (a suggestion that is not that foolish as North has a better first class record than Australia’s premier spinner…) but this would not satisfy most Australians who want to see him cast out forever, never to return.

From England’s point of view it is easy. Same side again and, providing England can deliver upfront a little better, it could well be happy days for English fans. With a bit more luck Anderson and company will be in business and if this happens – well, Australia are there for the taking.

Mind you – Australia will be saying they were the ones that were in the winning position and, therefore, it’s England who are there for the taking….

Thoughts please!

 

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9 responses

29 11 2010
BP

Congrats to England, and to you Bradders! A morale-boosting performance for sure given that the Gabba has long been, and was expected to remain (at least by me), Australia’s fortress of domination. This Draw is actually a Win for England, as far as I’m concerned.

A few thoughts in random order:
1) As a neutral, i’m disappointed that this Gabba surface could not replicate the pace and bounce of yesteryears. Just 11 wickets from each side was a real let-down 😦 (Although in the curator’s defence, the rain in the lead-up days may have disrupted his preparation)
2) I second you on Bollinger…the man HAS to be brought back! The facts – an avg. of ~24 – tell you that in the last year he has been the BEST bowler for Australia. But my gut tells me that Ponting and the selectors (as in the past) will stick with Johnson (as well as North) for 1 more Test, and will leave Dougie out at Adelaide.
3) Unless it rains in Adelaide, and the pitch spices up uncharacteristically, I think we could be in for another high-scoring Draw. I know England will fancy a win driven by Swann…but I would be quite surprised if we see a result…given that both India and WI have secured Draws at this venue over the last 2-3 years.
4) While I’m still expecting Australia to significantly lift their bowling performance and ultimately reclaim the Ashes (2-1)…I have to admit that I have less conviction after this Test! England are looking really good in both bowling and batting…and Swann hasn’t even found his best form yet!
5) C’mon Bradders…how about a shout-out FOR ALEEM DAR’S MAGNIFICENT DECISION 1st ball in the 2nd innings! I mean 221 behind and 1 down for 0 could have led to an entirely different story in this Test! Not to mention the series implication of a pair for the captain! That was a bloody close call, and many an umpire might well have ruled for the bowler (even if only to be reversed by the UDRS). Fantastic decision!

29 11 2010
Bradders

Actually I meant to mention that – Aleem Dar had an excellent test and that first baller was brilliant. Thought the standard of umpiring generally was high bar the lbw on hussey and the catch referral decision today.

Was a good test and has given me a confidence boost for the next game.

Bit worried about Swann though – he wasn’t himself at all!

29 11 2010
BP

Yeah, Swann just didn’t find his length in that 1st innings…hopefully he’ll resume normal service in the next Test, from England’s perspective.

Funny…the 2 bowlers each side feared most had pretty forgettable games…actually, atrocious, in Johnson’s case! But I suppose Aussie fans might be thinking there’s only one way his performance can go after hitting rock bottom!

29 11 2010
Jonathan

I agree with your thoughts on North being used as the spinner and an extra batsmen being drafted in to cover his current fragility in that department, and have said so on DT website posts (did you nick my idea?!?!) I think it is a sensible solution for them, Oz do not have an out and out winning spinner; North did an ok job and they will get the same from any other of their current batch.

England batting was excellent, they gave a few chances, but we had the luck as Oz did on day 3. To apply themselves so well was magnificent, and they played with aggression when needed also.

All that being said; what ever happened to the reputation of the Gabba being a result wicket? Wickets were achieved in overcast conditions predominantly, that is it! When the sun shone, it was a batsmens paradise, and a viewing spectacles graveyard! The fact that it was barely taking any spin at the end of day 5 is pathetic. Timeless test? We would be there on Boxing Day in the event that those still happened.

Don’t worry about Swann, he’ll get his mojo back. But if the pitches stay the same as this one, I just dont see how either side can get 20 wickets.

More of the same please England.

29 11 2010
BP

“But if the pitches stay the same as this one, I just dont see how either side can get 20 wickets.”

I completely agree…and it’ll be a real shame if we have that kind of series. But I’ve still got high hopes that the MCG, Perth and Sydney (which has actually been a seamer’s paradise over the last year!) will produce exciting result games.

30 11 2010
Grovar

England can be proud of an escape. Australia truly was in a winning position and the only side to look like snagging a victory at any stage. England was helped by the pitch, there is no doubt about that. The batting performances were great, for sure, but a total of only 22 wickets in five days tells the story. Two wickets in the final two days and over 500 runs! What a joke. With a more test-like pitch in Adelaide, and assuming the Aussie bowlers can finally hit some form, we should see a result. I’m tipping an Australian win, but not with a lot of confidence. It’s great to finally get a close matched series Down Under!

30 11 2010
Bradders

I hope your wrong on the tipping front! Bizarrely as it may seem I think England had the better all round bowling performance and it was a measure of how well Haddin and Hussey batted that Aus got to 481. Could easily have been 143-6 and then anything could have happened?! Therefore I’m hopeful for Adelaide….

Cheers for comment.

30 11 2010
dingo

Couple of small things to add, although it got avalanched by runs in the last two days when the pitch became lobotomised, I think Bells first innings was probably the best English innings of the match, and what probably really saved their bacon.
Ponting for me gave his best show as a captain in a while, good field placings, lots of talk. And when he came in and grabbed 50 off 40 balls, good way to stand up with nothing to prove and just say, hey it’s not only our bowlers, it’s the pitch that’s useless. I notice Strauss quickly took off his frontline bowlers and gave to ball to KP. great mnd games in which could have been a futile period.
Everybody is bagging X-man, yeah he diidn’t look amazing, no spinners do in Brissy, Swann did no better. maybe X will do ok on a turning pitch, might be worth a look.
Johnson’s gotta go, find some rythym in the state league, start taking wickets. He’s going nowhere at the moment. bring in the Rug.

30 11 2010
Bradders

to be fair though Swann, despite bowling too short, still bowled some dangerous balls. He is a proven performer whereas Doherty simply isn’t – even at state level.

Ponting was good in this test I thought although he’s still a bit conservative for me.

Disagree on Bell – Cooks innings was still not ‘easy’ by any stretch of the imagination and without that the story could have been very different. To bat for 2 days – even on a road – is a massive effort.

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