23 August 2013

The Ashes 5th Test, day 3, The Oval

The Ashes 5th Test, day 3, The Oval

Australia: 9/492 dec. from 128.5 overs
Shane Watson 176, Steven Smith 138*
James Anderson 4-95

4/247 from 116 overs
Joe Root 68, Kevin Pietersen 50, Ian Bell 29*, Chris Woakes 20*
Mitchell Starc 2-50, Nathan Lyon 1-41, Ryan Harris 1-41

In yesterdays review of day two I made a quick forecast for day three. I wrote, "Nathan Lyon will hopefully come into the equation earlier than expected, especially if Trott and Kevin Pietersen find their way to the wicket. Pietersen versus Lyon has become an exciting battle to witness."

It proved to be the hype of excitement yesterday as England looked set to drop anchor, dismiss their talk of a 4-0 victory and rather play for the drawn result - which is the English way. With rain due on Saturday it may not be a bad way to go for them to go unbeaten this summer, as we still search for a desperately awaited Test win.

Kevin Pietersen took three hours to reach his half-century, unusual by his aggressive, bold standards. Take this into account and it's amusing to note he also had the highest strike-rate of 37.59. Alastair Cook slugged away until his dismissal in the 32nd over, stamping the confirmation England's prized opener is just in a bit of a rut for the first time in some time. Jonathan Trott made another start but failed to go on, even though he looked far from inspiring or imposing as he has been so in the number three role. Joe Root upped his game for the first time since Lord's and this was likely a mindset factor rather than the manner with which he played our bowlers tactically. Now Ian Bell is there, England's golden boy for the Ashes and the ultimate difference between the sides this series.

All in all, it was dull cricket for the viewer but the intentions were understandable.

Ryan Harris soldiered in once again and is undoubtedly my Player of the Series for us. If anything he did look a bit worn out but who can blame him. His awesome bowling has been in vain due to our batsmen not playing upon his foundations set with the ball in hand. Even in the field he gave it his best go and I always admire this in a bowler. Harris' discipline remains top class in all aspects of his game.

Nathan Lyon was the stand out performer for me for the day. He found some great turn on the track and his immediate introduction to Trott and Pietersen saw him deliver with a hop in his step and unrivaled confidence, especially to Pietersen.

For a brief passage of play the man at short leg, Steven Smith, was in the game and both batsmen were lucky to survive some close calls amongst some shaky defensive strokes. His stats, like Harris', don't tell the true tale as to how he bowled yesterday. He's slowly coming of age and it's fantastic to see.

Mitchell Starc continued to be erratic and his bowling, according the commentators, was "unintelligent" at times. However, he still finds a way to get a breakthrough with a big wicket and often does so by accounting for one other big name. It wasn't as quick a succession as some of his previous efforts but he took down Trott and Pietersen as it looked as though the two batsmen would see it through to stumps. Starc has a lot of work to still do but it hasn't helped him that he's been a "strategic selection" and is in and out of the side a fair bit. Just needs to tighten those lines and the ball will do the rest of the work for him.

Even though the victory is looking slightly tricky as this stage taking the weather into account, I still see many positives for us as we look towards to home Ashes series. I will discuss this another day but this Test has ticked a few more boxes for The Baggy Greens.

It was an evenly matched day but with the slow scoring rate, lack of wickets on a good batting surface and time running out in this Test, it would seem England's tactic to play for the draw worked in their favour for day three.

Welcome to The Baggy Green Blog!
Thanks for reading this article written by Ian.
To comment on this article, click on the 'Comments' tag at the end of the article.


No comments: