20 July 2013

The Ashes 2nd Test, day 3, Lord’s

The Ashes 2nd Test, day 3, 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:
5/333 from 110.0 overs
Peter Siddle 3-65
Joe Root 178, Ian Bell 74

In yesterday's match report I made mention of our only best possible solution to win this match.

After Peter Siddle's vicious spell to have 3-4 at stumps on day 2, we needed to grab England's final 7 wickets for less than 87 runs to ensure they did not get a lead beyond 350. Our batting issues aside, and the fact we disturbingly struggle to make 200 runs without a batting collapse, on a flat Lord's track this would have been a realistic and achievable total. England now lead by 566 runs so it's tickets for us. 2-0 seems inevitable.

The biggest drawback besides our batting woes has been some pathetic umpiring to say the least. Steven Smith has the right to feel cheated and hurt by showing honesty in claiming a catch when Ian Bell was on 3 runs and sliced a ball to him off the bowling of Ryan Harris. God only knows how Tony Hill came to the decision to keep Ian Bell at the wicket. It was a bitter moment to see England's stand out batsman remain. It summed up the embarrassment of inconsistent umpiring, a poor use of the technology at their disposal, a lack of initiative and also just the way the series has gone for us.

The umpires faults get magnified now due to this technology and there still seems to be a huge deal of pride behind an umpire striving for a high accuracy rate in game, which is understandable as it is their job and at the end of the day the ICC uses this as a KPI system.

However, when a series such as The Ashes gives you an opportunity to ensure the right decisions get made it needs to be utilised to the full potential. Umpires need to be aware that viewers at home have become far better educated with the decisions and laws of the game and with better screening and technology we are closer than ever to these moments. It truly is magnified. The umpires seem oblivious to this and the resources aren't being used. Tony Hill just added another shocking decision to the list of umpire stuff ups this series. England have been fortunate, but it still can't detract anything from their dominance this match.

We have been our own worst enemies and this pain has been self inflicted. Joe Root for example has managed to go on from a serious stroke of good fortune when Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke had a short circuit and neither went for a regulation catch behind when Root was on 8 runs. He now has 178 match winning runs.

This is the same regarding Peter Siddle's no ball. It could have meant having Jonny Bairstow out sooner on 21 runs and therefore would have restricted Ian Bell of batting partners, theoretically. Momentum could have been gained. There's no point in examining all of these moments of self inflicted drama. What's done is done and right now England have this in the bag.

The English way is to grind the opposition down, slowly. We're accustomed to our ways when a lead of 400 would more often than not seem adequate and allow for aggressive, competitive cricket. England have not changed their ways and have advanced their lead to a point where our batsmen will look at the scoreboard and shrug. Survival is their only option and with the current mind set it is an option that will not compute, most likely.

Our bowlers tried. There is no doubt about that but Ryan Harris' body language was both sad and real. He worked bloody hard to grab a five wicket haul upon his return to the team. He made the Lord's bowling honours board and showed how proud he was to be back in the team. It was all in vain though as the batsmen burnt his efforts and you could sense his despair and sheer heartache. He was just going through the motions. That is the true frustration of the series thus far. We haven't secured vital passages of play, England has. Our batsmen haven't backed the decent performances of our bowlers, England has even if luck has been a major player in their fortunes.

Ashton Agar is a young man. I will defend him. He was due to play at Lord's after his debut show at Trent Bridge even if Nathan Lyon would have fared better. Lyon will, in my opinion, be a definite selection for The Oval as our best spinner on tour but perhaps he may come into the side sooner than expected. This cannot result in criticism of Ashton. His body is not in top shape as he carries a few niggles but more so than anything he is trying to learn in a hostile cricket series and he's in a side operating in an unhealthy state, although new coach Darren Lehmann has managed to restore something in this side, even if it is only a positive presence right now.

Our mistakes will haunt us but when will we learn? These mistakes and small moments of play not being secured can be documented right back to the end of the 2009 Ashes where on paper we were better statistically than England in an individual capacity, but as a team they won those moments of play and the results show. It is synergy. Systematically we broke down with the sobering reality that while our team is good, the winning edge has gone and only winning can restore this.

I still have to believe we can claw our way back into the series as I am a supporter after all. This is my team. I firmly believed we could give England a good run for their money prior to this series. This match is all but over now and England still have 5 wickets and two days to play away. However, three Tests remain and this game has many twists and turns. However, it is also a harsh game and it can take a while to learn the appropriate lessons.

Maybe something miraculous will happen and our batting will click? Maybe it will take a numbing defeat at Lord's, a ground where up until 2009 we had a sensational record, to see our batsmen play to their potential and value their wickets. We will know soon enough but after judging Ryan Harris' body language out there it was a hurtful sight to see a man who charged in with pride and passion on Friday, seem to be so disconnected a day later.

This side will need to go through the motions. No point in making panic changes now as this side must find a way to make a comeback. It will be their greatest challenge that will end in success or failure.

There is a three day tour match against Sussex from July 26-28 so it will be a chance to find some sort of new direction before the third Test, which will ultimately be a must win to have a chance of getting back the urn.

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Joshua said...

Spot on Ian. Our batting struggles are no one's fault but self inflicted.First, fed up with the way Watson plays the straight ball and his horrible reviews! Our batting has not improved ever since 2009!

Ian said...

Thanks Josh. Clarkey and Usman going okay now but there has already been a top order collapse based on the history we spoke of.

Hope that after this game (hoping for something incredible to draw or win) the tour match will give a chance for the guys to get their energy back up, although not sure how it will help. Hope so, got to hope.

I think everything can be pinned from that 2009 series.