07 December 2013

The Ashes: 2nd Test, day 3

2nd Test, Adelaide Oval
Australia won the toss and elected to bat (leading the series 1-0)

Australia 1st innings: 9/570 dec. from
158.0 overs
Michael Clarke 148, Brad Haddin 118, Chris Rogers 72, Ryan Harris 55*, George Bailey 53, Shane Watson 51,
Stuart B
road 3-98

England 1st innings: 172 all out
Ian Bell 72*, Michael Carberry 60
Mitchell Johnson 7-40

Australia 2nd innings:
3/132 from 39.0 overs
David Warner 83*, Steven Smith 23*

Verdict: Day three goes to Australia and ultimately to Mitchell Johnson who has performed one of the greatest comebacks in Test cricket history. He is now averaging 8.93 in this Ashes series with 16 wickets. If we can pull off a win tomorrow it will be even greater a return to the Baggy Green camp. David Warner is approaching a century which continues his strong campaign and his effort has just advanced the lead with one intention...mental disintegration upon the English. Two days to go but tomorrow the Baggy Greens will look to make the verdict a victory to go up 2-0.

Play: Joe Root's wicket came with relative ease after he tried to take on Nathan Lyon way too soon. It was just an effort on Root's part to find some momentum in what was always going to be a long and difficult day for his team.

After Lyon struck it was onto Kevin Pietersen, who gifted away his wicket by marching down the track against Peter Siddle and whipping the ball to George Bailey who played a bit of a juggling act. It was a big wicket, but there was still plenty of work to be done.

This brought Ian Bell to the wicket, who played with positivity from ball one and showcased why he almost single handedly kept the English batting afloat in the 2013 Ashes series a few months back. He steadied the ship with Michael Carberry, who displayed some strong off side play against Nathan Lyon. However, as good as Carberry looked his wicket brought about a devastating English collapse just like it was so in Brisbane to might Mitchell Johnson.

Carberry and Bell had found some good momentum together, but with Michael Clarke bringing on Shane Watson, it dried up the runs with England on 111. There was no urgency on England, but the intention from Ian Bell to keep things moving built a bizarrely tense passage of play where something was going to give. Carberry ended up caving in as he blitzed a pretty good pull shot off Watto's bowling right out of the middle of the blade. Unfortunately for him (like it was for George Bailey in our first innings) David Warner was in position to take a classic catch which wasn't so much visually a screamer but rather his reaction time. Catches win matches and that was a big turning point. Carberry was on his way and our team was alive and hungry for the kill.

Enter Mitchell Johnson. England were 4-111. They found themselves at 9-135, and finally 172 all out. Mitchell Johnson ended up taking 7-40 and England lost 5 wickets for just 24 runs. This spell goes down statistically as the best produced by a fast bowler at the Adelaide Oval in an Ashes series.

His delivery to remove Stuart Broad was a ripper around the legs and finally knocking out James Anderson's middle stump was just too great a sight to behold. The aggression was there as was the confidence. Matt Prior is a man going through a confidence low - as all players do. However it will be a big ask for him to get his head back into the series. Mitchell has his number now, as Siddle has Pietersen's.

The collapse saw our lead remain in a healthy position, but after the way our bowlers grafted along with Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle looking evidently spent, the decision was not to enforce the follow-on but rather advance the lead, rest up our bowlers and mentally drain England, come back tomorrow and have a go again rejuvenated - so to speak.

The huge lead perhaps lead to some mental short circuits from Chris Rogers and Shane Watson, but fortunately David Warner played with crafty shot selection and excellent stamina under the circumstances knowing how he could keep sinking England. He did so with ease and grace and now stands 27 runs short of a century. After he achieves this tomorrow (the number one objective on the agenda) the declaration will come and the battle to bowl for victory will begin with two days in tact.

Mitchell Johnson claimed the day though, finding himself on a hat-trick twice. After being in the wilderness and having copped a horrible time from the media, he has just rebuilt his confidence on the sidelines, worked hard at State level, ensured he continued to use his slightly erratic but frightening pace, raw skill and temperament at limited overs level with regular appearances. In India he looked brutal, and I mean brutal. This was noted and he was given the chance of a recall, a confident recall. He has delivered so far and if he can do it once more with even more support from his bowling colleagues I hope he is given the respect he deserves.

Admittedly I did write an article here a few years back expressing my concern that even though I highly valued Mitch as a limited overs bowler, I felt Test cricket was too harsh a game and didn't allow for the gap between his best (which is unreal and ultimately world class) and his worst. The stats backed it up. However, I like Mitch. I have met him twice and on both occassions he was a gentleman and just great to chat with. I just wanted it to work out for him cause he deserved it all, the success that is. So I gave him my support after seeing this side to him. Now I am so proud of him, even though we still have a series to win and an urn to reclaim. His emotions after the innings were genuine and rightly so. Well done Mitch!

I will be at the game tomorrow and just hope I see David Warner reach his century and essentially I want to see us go up 2-0 and celebrate at the Adelaide Oval with my fellow Baggy Green supporters and team. Come on Australia!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice article Ian. I woke up to find England at 117/7. What a day's play!

I guess most fans like me, feel like we've been waiting since 2009 for Mitch to show this sort of stuff. It's grand.