01 August 2009


Quite a poor batting display and no doubt our batsmen will be sitting back thinking how it all fell apart. Each passing minute is a minute closer to England sensing the struggle for the Baggy Green to get onto an even playing field.
It is becoming a tougher scenario.
Poor shot selection? Unstrategic squad selections? Bad luck?
You can be left open-minded to throw in your ideas on any of these factors, but the reality is England are on top and the Ashes start to slip closer into Andrew Strauss' men's grasp.
With Shane Watson (who had batted so well on Day 1 in an unusual Test position for himself) being bowled first ball of the second day, followed by Michael Hussey getting bowled attempting to let one fly through to the keeper for the second time this series. It was an immediate latch onto momentum for the English.

I would like to focus the attention of this article to the bowling.
James Anderson's bowling was spectacular. He saw the swing take massive effect and the movement of his deliveries to both the left and right hander's was daunting to watch. The best part of his game plan is that he shifted his mindset to ensure the variations worked for him. He banged it into the correct spots on the wicket, showed patience and the wickets came almost inevitably. The interesting thing though is that neither Anderson or Graeme Onions are unable to specifically identify what was the main reason for the swing that assisted them.
Pity it didn't have the same impact on our bowling.
Ben Hilfenhaus, surprisingly, didn't find any assistance, which made his line and length deliveries quite easy for Andrew Strauss to sit back and bash away.
If Hilfy can get the conditions to favour his bowling technique, it could be a very entertaining contest between bat and ball, and if Shane Watson is given the nod I think it will be a wise choice to just give another experienced bowler a chance.
Mitchell Johnson started to get some consistent movement into the right handers towards the end of the day's play, and it is good to see his control of the ball being subtantially better.
One has to feel gutted for Mitch after that moment of success was taken away from him. Ian Bell was out LBW and it doesn't matter whether you are an English or an Australian supporter! But how was it not given out? I am stumped by that decision, and why the slow finger of Koertzen didn't send Bell packing, it is a mystery.
So no luck on our side with the bowling department, but should there be any play today we will quite simply have to start off really, really well.
If Andrew Strauss continues to move onwards with the bat, and the wicket's dry up, I think the morbid prospect of an English Ashes will start to play on everyone's mind. Strauss is a dangerous man, which I have highlighted throughout this Ashes series, and I can only back the bowler's to get out there and make some opportunities for the break-throughs.

While we wait for Day 3 to kick off, another observation of tail-ender determination was on display yesterday.
Ben Hilfenhaus (making his best total of 20), Peter Siddle and Nathan Hauritz put us in a slightly better situation with their focus and showed gutsy tenacity against the good bowling from England's spearhead bowlers. A pity their efforts weren't reflected in the middle order, and the big question I have come across in a few articles point to the area Aussie are struggling with.
How will the Australian batsmen handle England's swing bowling?
Shane Watson made a note of it an interview that it is essential they find a way to counter-attack it, so with valuable time slipping away, the player's of the Ponting era are going to have to dig deep. And the bowlers only have a handful of runs to work with as a result of a modest total of 263.
As always, I have little doubt they can get in control of this game, but the worry still lies with inconsistency.

Also, a bit of trivia for all of you is that this is the first time since Michael Slater's last innings in 2001, that Australia have had a right-handed batsman opening the batting, being Shane Watson.
The left-handed batsmen have dominated this stat in both ODI and Test cricket.


Sylvester said...

Its really worrying how we again are falling into traps from past series like:
- Batters throwing their wickets away, something seen in the SA and India series and of course the 05 Ashes.
- Not being able to save a match, we very rarely save a match it is either win or lose. More referring to the 2nd Test.
- Lack of swing and pace. Hilfy has swung the ball but no where near what Anderson was doing. So far this Test we have struggled although the English only really started looking dangerous after the 30th over aka Day 2.

Still on this point, the English bowlers have been consistently in the 140km/h from Anderson to Broad to Onions to Flintoff. We only have Johnson who consistently gets there, Siddle can but usually is high 130s as is Hilfy.

The other aspect is swing, Broad and Onions were swinging it and we know what Flintoff and Anderson can do. Compare this to our attack where Hilfy is the main one, Siddle can get it to inswing but not consistently.

Ian said...

Hey Sylvester

Good observations there mate. The batting is something that could be quite an interesting analysis. The shot selection and cheap wickets have been on-going.

Stuart Clark mate. He is capable of reverse swing, but I just feel his line and length would have been effective, especially how he can deviate the ball ever so slightly on the rise.

Almost feel no result is what we need, but we have to win the next 2 tests.

Sylvester said...

Yea agree Clark would have been ideal. He could have been our Onions bowling stump to stump. Johnson seems to be getting back to his SA form, the worrying thing is it has taken him 3 Test matches to reach that point. If this was a 3 match series it would be over and we might have lost the series already.

Not looking good so far in our 2nd innings, lost 2 wickets and still behind. This will highlight my point further if we lose here.

Jawad said...

Well england are on top once again. They have dominated Day 4. Tomorrow Australia have to fight it out and save this game. Australia CANNOT afford to loose tomorrow. It is a big test for wato, Huss (especially), North and clarke to save this game.

As sylvester said, Johnson looked OK but might be a bit too late to save his place into the side. His confrontations with the English showed that this slump was getting to him. The only positive that i see so far in the series is hilfy. He performed consistently and is their number 1 bowler now.

As far as the series is concerned. With this sort of a performance I don't see them winning TWO tests but lets just hope they start with one. If they draw the series they still hold the Ashes. Cricket is a weird game and they might just pull off two test match wins but realistically speaking, they don't have the performance (so far) to do it. Oh, how things have changed over the years.

I REPEAT they cannot afford to go TWO DOWN.

Jawad said...

Thought you guys might enjoy this article. Ian, it might be a good little discussion for your other blog.