19 July 2013

The Ashes 2nd Test, day 2, Lord’s

The Ashes 2nd Test, day 2, Lord’s:

England 1st innings
: 361 all out from 100.1 overs
Ryan Harris 5-72, Steven Smith 3-18 , Shane Watson 1- 45
Ian Bell 109, Jonny Bairstow 67, Jonathan Trott 58

Australia 1st innings:
128 all out from 53.3 overs
Shane Watson 30
Graeme Swann 5-44, Tim Bresnan 2-28

England 2nd innings: 3/31 from 30 overs
Peter Siddle 3-4
Joe Root 18*, Tim Bresnan 0*

First off I would like to congratulate Shane Warne on being inducted into the ICC's Hall Of Fame. His parents and fiancee, Liz Hurley, where there to stand along side him. A controversial cricketer but he got the job done with the ball in hand and we are fortunate that he can share his knowledge of the game with us via commentary. Well done Warnie!

Now, where to go with this report. The roller-coaster action we have seen was pretty much a ride enjoyed by England alone. There was a late twist before the ride pulled in for the day as Peter Siddle tapped into his emotions to pull off one almighty spell which sees him with 3 wickets for just 4 runs. That's a sensational effort but in order for this side to have any confidence, with the lead already at 264 with 6 wickets in hand, we will need to grab those final 7 wickets for less than 86 runs to keep that lead below 350. Given our batsmens confidence - or lack thereof - it would seem we're staring down the barrel of a gun well used.

England won the first session. Ryan Harris charged in with a beautiful delivery first up and had Tim Bresnan caught behind. He then had James Anderson as well which have him a five-wicket haul upon his return to The Baggy Green squad. It also means "RJ Harris" will be penciled onto the Lord's visitors bowling board.

Unfortunately the tail wagged as James Pattinson continued his struggles and England capitalised on the pressure valve being released, even taking on Harris. The partnership of Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann brought 48 invaluable runs. They had momentum and the session. Broad did review a caught behind though despite being out.

Our run chase got off to a healthy start but then disaster struck. Shane Watson (30) top scored for us and was hitting the ball crisply as ever and played with confidence. Nothing unusual but then the other usual incident happened. He was out leaving question marks over a start that could have been. He was also out LBW, a dismissal now accounting for 30% of his downfalls, 18 of his 21 dismissals ]coming from right arm pace bowlers.

Apparently Chris Rogers encouraged Watson to review a plumb LBW call and it proved to be a tactical error as Rogers would discover. After Watson went Rogers received probably the most bizarre and shocking dismissal I have seen in recent years. Swann lost control and sent down a juicy full toss which Rogers half heartedly pulled. The ball was dragging down leg, he missed it, the ball hit his box, he was in line and the players appealed. What should have been tossed aside was the opposite as umpire Marais Erasmus gave it. Rogers should have reviewed that but with one left there was doubt so he walked. Tactical fail even though it was a shocker dismissal. Ball of the modern era? 

The rest of our horrid display was self-inflicted chaos. Phillip Hughes had a tough call for his referral believing he didn't edge it behind. Irrespective of the outcome it was a horrid shot. This then led to a collapse. Australian supporters should be used to these collapses by now, but it doesn't take away the frustration and disappointment.

Changing the side any further won't help. This is what we have and we need to support the guys, but I understand this is hard to do when we have an inability with the batsmen to put together a convincing start. Even when this happens the middle order then implodes, as it was in our run chase at Trent Bridge. Their is a serious lack of value the boys are showing on their wickets.

Watson continues to make starts and not go on. I have always identified his talent and skill. He must play on this series but he does face the risk of becoming a limited overs specialist.

Rogers has immense experience at First-class level and after losing Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, we needed his experience given Brad Hodge walked away from the game. He had a shocking call which is upsetting as he was following on from a well played half-century in the 1st Test.

Khawaja has been on the sidelines for too long and deserves his chance. He imposed himself better than Ed Cowan did so in the number three role but was clearly unbelievably nervous and this likely lead to some moments of concern for a guy whose waited so long to get back in. He can only improve if he plays more so he must stay in the side a while longer and hopefully he will deliver.

Michael Clarke scored a century before the 1st Test and gradually built his form. He has come off a long layoff which was following a sublime run for him. He has experience, plenty of centuries at the elite level against good teams. You feel he will score big runs soon but he carried this side a long time.

Hughes has centuries against top teams and has shown some good application this series. Steven Smith has turned his game around well. He's no fixed starter but he's no walkover either. Brad Haddin lacks discipline at the best of times and he was sleeping when Ashton Agar pushed for more quick singles. Haddin though has all the strokes in the text book and showcased his determination at Trent Bridge.

Along with this our tail can bat. This side can bat but the lack of centuries in our first-class setup shows that there's not many others raising their hand for selection. Therefore, I see no need to talk about panic changes. This match is technically not over even though it is in the heart of many passionate supporters.

Peter Siddle charged in as a man believing this game is still alive and showed why he is hard to leave out of a side. If a miracle were to occur it would mean we'd roll England for less than a lead of 350. Sadly this seems a long shot given the reality this side is struggling to pull together 250 runs. We lost the toss on day and had a few moments of play secured, notably day 1, but even then we lost vital passages of play. It's been a pattern for a long time now and we'll have to do something extraordinary to take this Test.

As Ryan Harris wrote on his Twitter page: "Thankyou everyone for all the tweets! not the best day today but boys will fight tomorrow! This one not done yet!!"

Day two firmly goes to England who have set themselves up well for the remainder.

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