21 July 2013

The Ashes 2nd Test, day 4, Lord’s

The Ashes 2nd Test, day 4, 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:
7/349 from 114.1 overs
Peter Siddle 3-65, Ryan Harris 2-31
Joe Root 180, Ian Bell 74

Australia 2nd innings:
235 all out from 90.3 overs, chasing a target of 583 runs to win.
Usman Khawaja 54, Michael Clarke 51
Graeme Swann 4-78, Joe Root 2-9

England won by 347 runs (Lead 2-0)

After Trent Bridge there was fight shown by our boys and it looked they were shedding skin to crawl back into the series. I am sure when the team got to Lord's there was a flashback (or a friendly reminder) that in 2009 we got convincingly beaten by England at a venue we once dominated. This time around we have been slaughtered and a comeback from this point is going to take something special. This doesn't only apply to our batsmen but the bowlers as well.

While our batting has been the obvious weakness in our performances, it will be a big ask for our bowlers to stay fired up and ambitious when it seems our batsmen are destined to fail in stringing together top order stands. Having really paid attention to Ryan Harris on day 3, one has to wonder how long they will be able to keep themselves going given their efforts repeatedly seem in vain.

The umpiring inconsistencies have bluntly made it seem to hurt so much more and will be spoken of for a long time to come. It's actually been a comedy of errors, now on the border line of just being plain unfair and pathetic. Tony Hill was awful in his third umpire seat. Some of these decisions have turned luck against us and as a result really ruined our chances to win various passages of play. Those 14 runs we needed at Trent Bridge will be highlighted now!

Poor umpiring cannot be solely attributed to a scoreline of 2-0 and the disturbing fact we have lost 6 Test matches in a row, 7 being the worst.

Our batting has been the weak point and in my article written yesterday, which was a very difficult one to write, I pointed out the frustrations and patterns in a nut shell regarding our batting woes. We've also put down catches, not taken certain opportunities (not attempting the catches), bowling pressure has been released and we've shown a fatal incorrect usage of reviews.

We have not lost the first three Tests of an Ashes series since the period of 1977-81, so there is some more history for this English side to chase after. We will need to seriously regroup and seek synergy come our three day warm-up against Sussex before the sides meet at Old Trafford.

The day's play yesterday was forgettable, but certain factors must be pointed out to have some hope going forward.

England were pushing hard to have Joe Root secure a double-century but Ryan Harris dampened the mood early on in the day by taking two wickets to finally force Alastair Cook to call for the declaration. The damage was done already as the total to chase down was unreachable and to survive for two days was a task this current batting line-up is not mentally prepared for, at this point in time.

Ryan Harris walked away from his return Test with match figures of 7-103. A splendid performance from our best fast bowler.

England declared on 7/349.

Our top three were dismissed with just 36 runs on the board. It was a familiar sight. Michael Clarke (51) and Usman Khawaja (54) were able to scrap together for us to give a specialist batting partnership to speak of. Khawaja managed to settle into the number three duty and plugged hard against the spinners in particular. Clarke has found his stride and while it wasn't a big score, he registered a half-century and if I were to find some optimism, in the warm-up games he peaked gradually to finally clock in a century.

After Clarke was dismissed trying to run one down fine on leg side and was caught by Cook at leg slip, Khawaja was out soon after. The deflating factor regarding their dismissals was that they were removed by part-timer Joe Root. It was the end of the match when they were removed in quick succession and Root just had one of those outstanding matches on a personal level.

James Pattinson (35) and Ryan Harris (16*) did the expected by sticking around for the last wicket. Once again the tail wagged. They put together 43 runs for the final partnership until Pattinson was out LBW.

Statistically here's a look at where the difference rests:

- England have put together 1,300 runs, while we have put together 939 runs. Not once have we made it passed 300 runs, while England's done it three times.

England have 3 centuries and 6 half-centuries registered. We have zero centuries and 7 half-centuries going to individual batsmen.

Ashton Agar is our top scorer with 130 runs, while Ian Bell has 317 runs at 79.25. Shane Watson is our first specialist batsman at sixth on the list with 109 runs at 27.25.

That is quite simply what is separating the teams with the scoreline at 2-0 in favour of England. Sadly, I don't see too many Australian cricket supporters staying up late at night until more runs are being put on the scorecard. I honestly didn't expect it to play out like this, but reality is we need to do something miraculous to pull it back.

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Shiraz said...

Good article Ian, unfortunately when you sit down and list all the superb players Australia has lost in the past 1 to 2 years, I don't think there is a country that would still have a viable team at all. Australia must rebuild, it's going to take time, but they come from a fairly healthy base. Also deciding when to review must be looked at, Australia were poor at that, wasting reviews when it was plumb, and running out when they really needed them (after the Umpires had stuffed up) Some of the decision were a bit iffy, but not enough to change the course of the match in any huge way. Still, early days yet with another 8 tests to come and 5 on home soil, anything could happen!! You know England, great one day and average the next! Bob - Shiraz.

Ian said...

Bobmeister! Now that's a welcome comment. Good to hear from you in the cricket social networking world.

The frustration is that this rebuild began is 2009/10. An official review was even done (The Argus Review) to channel all the positives and negatives aside to find a solution to ensure:

- Test cricket was the pinnacle of the game
- That Sheffield Shield cricket was given scheduling priority
- That grass roots cricket would be boosted to improve the levels of all competitions

All of this is a contradiction to the financial motives Cricket Australia have (and for fairly good reason) but a lot has been compromised to the point where their strategic objectives have fallen flat in terms of what goes on on the field.

Having said that I believe this team is a good side on paper, as mentioned in my series build up article and my article yesterday. Each guy (batting specific) has done something of value against quality teams and some have done so consistently. Seems everyone is having a serious brain fart at present so synergy is dead and the bowlers are working like donkeys out there to give us hope.

Decisions have been crap from the umpires but, as mentioned in a good sportsman like way, if a supporter uses that as a sole basis for our performances then their disillusional. We've batted poorly (as those stats suggest) and it will take time to pull this around.

This side was picked for experience but the poor show has only suggested the cupboard is bare. It isn't but the impression would be given. We just don't have the talent as we once did and truth be told we had a sensational team of greats that had to be appreciated then and there.

England were the favourites and home soil they're proving the point.

Three Tests to go still so theoretically we aren't out yet so the tour match against Sussex will be vital.

As you said too, a fair way to go. Well done on the depressing advantage haha!

Thanks for reading my stuff.

Chris B said...

My lineup for the 3rd test (and hopefully beyond): WATSON, ROGERS, KHAWAJA, CLARKE, WARNER, SMITH, HADDIN, SIDDLE, STARC, LYON, HARRIS.

Pattinson, Agar and Hughes out / Lyon, Starc and Warner in.

That said, I would have had Matthew Wade as the wicket-keeper prior to the tour but understand the much needed qualities Haddin can bring to the side (mainly experience and an older head). There HAS been talk of bringing Wade in as a batsman but I think we should give Warner a shout at 5 before resorting to that (if nothing else, it would make us look a bit too desperate). Pattinson I would have dropped before the 2nd test and this one, even were he not injured. Like Agar, he's contributing much more with the bat than the ball and we can't justify picking them for such things. Pattinson has great potential, certainly. But unfortunately, England have shown they have his number.

That lineup would give us 7 right-handed batsmen out of 11 (3 out of 6 in the specialist department, or 4 out of 7 if you include Haddin) which is crucial coming up against Graeme Swann. Although we lose Agar, we do have the option for a bit of left arm spin in Michael Clarke if Pietersen is fit to play. Smith has also proven himself a good-back up should the ball be turning and Lyon tiring - this, plus his fielding abilities, detract from any failings he has with the bat (an area in which he is clearly improving). Yes, Starc can be erratic and expensive but he does pick up big wickets and we shouldn't discount that. Certain English players will fear him.

Should Warner find some form and Watson continually fail, we may have to look at him to replace Watson at the top of the order later in the series (though I really do think Rogers and he have the makings of a good partnership when they both get in). It's not just Watson's technique that's in question; it's his confidence. He needs a big score more than anybody. But we can't experiment and chop and change every test. We need to find a lineup we have confidence in no matter what happens in the next test and stick to it. Reassure the guys that we have faith in them and that things will start to turn for the better if they keep plugging away. All of the players in the above lineup have proved themselves in the past - their ability is not up for question. It's simply about finding the right balance, which I strongly think the above lineup has.

Wildcard possibility - Katich to come in as a lower order batsman. I'd probably go for it if the batsmen keep failing and we end up 4-0 down before The Oval. Then again, maybe I'm sentimental. I'd fully hoped up until recently (and feel a little justified in doing so) that Ponting might bat at number 6! His form has been excellent in the county cricket.

Ian said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for such a detailed comment. Most appreciated to read your view.

I like the mention of "wild card" with Katich because to see him, Adam Voges or Michael Klinger come into this side it will be unlikely. Especially while Clarkey still there.

Well, Pattinson is out now so there is one down off your list of guys to omit from Old Trafford.

Lyon is a must play for that track. I am in agreement with you regarding Agar. As much as I liked his debut and have seen him play for WA with convincing input, he has time to adjust and Lyon is now a more experienced player and likely to give more with the ball, which is essential what Ashton was picked for.

Jackson Bird for me comes in before Starc. To see him and Harris working in tandem could be a bloody special thing to witness and he's deserved his place after his debut effort.

For me, I agree with Lyon but would much rather see Bird take Pattinson's spot over Starc. Harris is likely to play in the third Test and I reckon he will be rested for the game against Sussex as he doesn't have much to prove after his show at Lord's.

Batting wise? I was just watching Fox Sports and when talking about changes they showed Matt Wade.

I reckon he could find his way in as a specialist batsman at the expense of Smith or Hughes. Again, the Sussex match may determine a fair bit.

Don't think too much chopping and changing will help us at all, but it is inevitable there will be two changes from here.

1 - A fast bowler has to come in for Pattinson
2 - For Old Trafford two spinners may be considered, possibly seeing Lyon operate with Smith and not Agar.

Warner is out of the contest given he's been ordinary in Zimbabwe for Aus A and really ordinary on and off the field the last few months. He will not bring a solution to any of our issues and this brings in another left handed batsman lacking a solid technique, which Swann will just rip to pieces. So your theory of more right hand batsmen would be compromised as a result. Warner the only one of your picks I'd have to say won't happen.

Interesting challenge for Boof and the gang mate. Thank goodness we've had some down time with a tour match before the next battle.

Chris, if you're on Facebook, we have a page:


Chris B said...

I think Starc adds something different being a left-armer. Not doubting his potential, but Bird is too inexperienced for my money (though I could see him coming in for Harris in lieu of the back-to-back test). I'd actually probably opt for Faulkner ahead of Bird, given our woes with the bat.

I'd go with Warner to replace Hughes purely because a) he couldn't do any worse than the guy he'd be replacing (that 81*, like Agar's innings, you would have to say looks like a freak occurrence given Hughes' overall form of late) and b) he's getting a bit of form back having just scored a century vs South Africa A. Putting him in at number 5 or 6 (as opposed to 3 or 4) would also allow him to play his more natural, aggressive game and really take a counter-attack to England in the same vein as Gilchrist used to, if required. He might come in and play a blinder, and if he did, it would give us another option at the top of the order for the 4th and 5th tests should Watson continue to fail. Otherwise, I'm not sure what backup we have there. We COULD bring back Cowan to partner Rogers but for my money, they're both too timid as a partnership. I think Warner & Rogers or Watson & Rogers strike a much better balance. But I'd still stick with Watson & Rogers for the third test. They made 84 without loss in the 2nd innings at Trent Bridge and it wouldn't surprise me to see a big partnership (130+) developing between the two at some point in the series. Had Watson not got out just before lunch at Lord's on the 2nd day, I think they might have done just that.