* To discuss the game head over to the new forum and register, CLICK HERE.
Who'd have thought Marcus North would be the bloke to step up with the ball.Outstanding performance from with the ball, and he made his services effective with no hassle.
6-55 is officially his best figures with the ball in hand for Australia and where he lacked with the bat, he made up for us come the moment of the Test match were we needed something special. He was assisted by our fielders who were sharp and did it by the Australian standards we expect to see. Always a thrill to see top fielding.
Well done Marcus, took us all by surprise there...maybe even himself.
And how about Tim Paine? That stumping to get rid of Salman Butt just rounded off a superb debut for him. He let through very few byes, gloved the ball cleanly and then that stumping, well, that just rounded it off for me.
He's made an impression, and on debut for the Baggy Green he did his job. That innings of 47 runs would have given him serious motivation after his nerves bogged him down in the first innings.
Marcus and Shane Watson will go onto the neutral honours board for their respective achievements with the red ball. Didn't expect that.
Ben Hilfenhaus had a wonderful return and picked up a key wicket during the morning session to kick start things, when it did look a bit dull out there. He was patient and the pick of our seam bowlers. Even when the swing conditions died down, he kept his plans simple and executed things tightly. The best of all was Hilfy's classic knock of 56*. A maiden half-century for the Baggy Green. What a player and he did it with the bat when we needed it. Most wouldn't have expected that.
The victory was our 13th in a row against Pakistan and one man who we owe alot to is Simon Katich. In a previous article (I think Day 2) I listed his innings list post-Ashes 2009. What a player! He's the player you want to watch for patience, determination, mental toughness and serious concentration skills while at the crease. That is Katto and long may his form continue for us. Scores of 80 and 83 ensured we had one player who had consistency throughout the Test match. He was sharp at short-leg too, as he usually is!
Another debutant, alongside Tim Paine, was Steven Smith. He didn't have a good time with the bat and was sent back with two LBWs, but he picked up 3-51. He showed some serious guts out there, which is what a leg spinner needs. But again I write it all. He's 20 years of age, a leg-spinner with promise and a big future ahead of him. Have to expect a few shocking deliveries here and there.
Well done Stevo and Tim upon your completed Debuts for the Baggy Green.
The 2nd Test we will have to look towards a batting improvement. Conditions were fantastic for the fourth day to bat, and we did get the rough end of the deal, but seeing Ricky Ponting (who will leave Lord's with a dismal record sadly), Marcus North and Shane Watson step it up next game would be beneficial but also important.
Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke had some time out there and played well when they got things going with their Test abilities, but synergy will need to take effect for our batting to appear dominant because it was anything but that. They will all be well aware of this.
It's pleasing to know Punter can turn to guys like Marcus and Stevo for spin, while having Pup and Katto as well, if our seamers find conditions to be unhelpful.
And the news of Shahid Afridi?
How was that. Retired from Test cricket. A bit sad, as he is an entertainer and has the ability to motivate and inspire his team-mates, which is why he would have had the Captaincy duties. But this is Test cricket and he admitted in an interview his temperament isn't right for the game and won't benefit the team in crunch time. A wise decision. He is made for ODI and T20 cricket, so he can pursue things there, while Salman Butt now has the Captaincy for Test cricket.
That will work well in his favor as he also batted really for Pakistan throughout this Test.
Afridi is at a stage of his career I guess where readapting his game isn't an option. He now knows one way to play and that's to hit out. In Test cricket it won't work, and while the game needs entertainers, sometimes they aren't cut out for every form of the game. He can stand down with some pride and he's been honest in his decision. That should be respected by Pakistan supporters. Discuss it at the Forum if you wish.
Victory by 150 runs and another one for the Baggy Green! Well done boys.
Off to Headingly next. Let's see how the boys go there. That Test starts on the 21st of July.