09 December 2013

The Ashes: 2nd Test, day 4/5 (plus images)

2nd Test, Adelaide Oval
Australia won the toss and elected to bat (leading the series
Australia won by 218 runs.
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*

England 2nd innings:
(Target 531) 312 all out

Joe Root 87, Matt Prior 69, Kevin Pietersen 53
Peter Siddle 4-57, Ryan Harris 3-54

We wrapped England up within one session on day 5. The verdict is that not only did we win the days play but we now lead the Ashes 2-0, something we have not seen since 2006/07.

I wrote it before the 2013 England Ashes series and I will write it again. If we put enough runs on the board we will win as we have enough firepower in our bowling attack and a quality fielding group to counter-attack any batting unit. If we don't get sufficient runs, it just puts too much of a burden on the bowling group. We had some luck this Test with England's fielding, but we stacked on the runs and the theory is proving correct.

Match stats and facts:
This Test saw Michael Clarke bring up his 26th Test century, his 7th versus England. At the Adelaide Oval he has scored 6 centuries from 9 Tests, averaging 98.38. Next Test will be his 100th Test (the same for Alastair Cook)

Brad Haddin took his 200th Test catch and his batting average at the Adelaide Oval is 121.00 with 2 centuries from 5 Tests. He now has 4 Test centuries, clearly demonstrating the ground is both a hunting ground for himself and Michael Clarke.

Nathan Lyon needs 9 more wickets to have 100 Test wickets.

Peter Siddle has dismissed Kevin Pietersen 9 times, but Matt Prior 10 times as well. Two bunnies!

Mitchell Johnson's 7-40 is the best bowling figures by a fast bowler at the Adelaide Oval in Ashes history. He also has back to back Man of the Match awards. It is his seventh award in Tests.

George Bailey scored his maiden Test half-century this match.

The difference in this game was confidence and of course fielding standards. England literally dropped the match after having us in a sticky situation on a flat track. They were outplayed in the field by us in this regard, and then to top it off we dominated as a bowling group. Our batsmen made England pay for their drop catches and once we had amassed 500 runs plus, our bowling attack was always going to be too strong, backed by sensational world class fielding.

Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin's centuries were both gifted as a result of drop catches, but as Michael Hussey has noted many times in commentary, post match presentations and his books, luck is needed in Test cricket and we had it. Luck came into effect for them, as it did for England yesterday.

Brad Haddin's keeper standards have been first class as well, which has seen a huge boost to team morale. Well done Hads. Definitely seeing the importance of the return from Hads and Mitchell Johnson. We also have Tim Paine doing well at State level for Tasmania so some healthy competition emerging again.

On top of it all, I mentioned confidence being the main difference. After a slaughter at the Gabbatoir, they were rattled. Mitchell Johnson delivered a devastating spell  here in Adelaide after making them pay for their drop catches, which opened a wound that was still seeping. The result of this low confidence was poor shot selection and an inability to build partnerships where we had to work bloody hard for the wickets. I know about this all too well given how we have gone since 2009.

Either way, if England struggled to handle our bowlers on this track, it will take a hell of a lot for them to handle our boys at the WACA. To be honest I don't see how they will regather. Our batting remains and area to be targeted so their bowlers should still have their tails up. I also like to believe with some luck we may see Mitchell Johnson reach the 160 km/h speed mark, given he clocked 150 km/h on this track on his brutal effort on day 3.

On the note of not enforcing the follow-on.

I stand by my view on day three that it was the right decision to not enforce it. Take the rain out of it, we had time and the plan was to rest our bowlers and lets face it, this track was dying and after Mitchell Johnson's explosive spell (a real gift to witness given the rarity) it would have been a big ask to have them back out on the ground to search for a few more. We still won in the end and while Clarkey would have been stressing a bit with the knowledge the rain when looking out of his hotel room which could have affected his decision (mostly in the media), hindsight is a wonderful thing and fortunately it had no cause and effect on this game.

Play: Day four was hard work for our boys, but they worked in partnerships, bowled to their fields, and despite England having plenty luck - deliveries just missing outside edges, just missing the stumps by a whisker (Prior on day 4) etc. - we managed to pull out 6 wickets on a flat track. That took a huge effort.

Nathan Lyon didn't enjoy the conditions that aided him in Brisbane, but despite not having the rhythm, he bowled plenty of overs and outperformed two of the English spin bowlers. The more he bowls, the better he will get. Something previous spinners post-Warne had no fortune of. He has now also sung the team song "Under the Southern Cross" twice after having to wait a long time after Michael Hussey's retirement.

The only criticism I had on day four was at the close of play, when Stuart Broad came out to the crease and our bowlers attacked with too much emotion, rather than discipline and clinical execution, which had been so brutally demonstrated throughout. They were a bit erratic with too much short ball emphasis. We also played into Broad's game of stall tactics and stirring with all associated with Australian cricket (including all of us at the ground).

Other than that, we came on out and pulled off the victory with plenty of time to spare and the rain a distant memory.

Peter Siddle was the star of the day for me on day four, while himself and Ryan Harris were just splendid today. Ryano was due some deserved collections. Still so proud to see him in our team.

We needed them to deliver the goods, given the track was no longer playing to Mitchell's strength and of course the obvious fact we needed to take the weight off his shoulders. These two boys are experienced Baggy Greeners and they delivered to help us take the win - important for Mitchell's game plan too.

Sids is always a grafter and will keep asking questions all day long, hitting his marks and getting batsmen to find a response or solution to his output. He became the best man on the flat track, which he has showcased a few times in his career how he bangs the ball into the deck and can find something out of nothing. It's a trait that makes up for his lack of ammunition and tricks of the trade in his bowling repetoire.

A fascinating stat is that Peter Siddle has now dismissed Kevin Pietersen 9 times in Test cricket.
He had some luck getting KP to get an inside edge to chop one onto his stumps, but Sids has seen many dismissals of this nature on the back of his bowling. He has also removed Matt Prior 9 times, a stat I missed until doing some research on Cricinfo's Statsguru.

Joe Root showed outstanding temperament and patience for a man of his age, and it took something special with a touch of luck to remove him. Nathan Lyon got him to find the faintest deflection onto his body while attempting a defensive stroke which saw a diving Brad Haddin grasp the ball with one hand from up close to the stumps. It resulted in a massive breakthrough - England's last hope - and Brad Haddin's 200th catch in Test cricket.

Matt Prior showed resistance to come out of his bleak form slump but as he fought with aggression, it was inevitable he was going to be undone with this sense of attack or he'd simply run out of batting partners.

Sure enough he was removed by Peter Siddle. Prior was just one of the many English batsmen who was sent packing with the pull shot. A few hook shots also went horribly wrong for them and their short ball woes continued. It was a very nonchalant celebration from Ryan Harris who took the catch but it was one step closer to the win.

The final wicket was that of Monty Panesar and it was a special moment, not only because we went up 2-0, but because James Anderson and Panesar were at the crease against us in 2009 at Cardiff. They managed to keep us at bay and the 1st Test resulted in a drawn result despite us outplaying England individually. I am convinced that was the Test that initiated our ultimate downfall into a dark period for Australian Cricket. It shattered our belief and ability to handle those key moments we always took with confidence and lethal execution. The winning edge from a new team, somewhat united with a win in South Africa in early 2009, took a turn for the worse. We're now making it up with a fresh brand of cricket.

As a result, to wreck the short lived partnership between the two tail enders and give us such a strong victory was actually quite a beautiful moment for me as a die hard Aussie supporter. It has not buried the memory of 2009 cause we still have to regain the urn, but it was a huge step forward for us.

We still have room for improvement and despite the obvious objective to regain the urn, Michael Clarke was calm in victory and noted the number one goal. To be the number one Test team in the world. The boys will know their job from here and if England stay down in the dumps and get the heat delivered to them by Ryano, Sids and Mighty Mitch at the WACA, I struggle to see how they will come out on top.

Still three Tests to go but after the torrid time we've endured it's great to be leading 2-0.

If we can regain the urn and see consistency set into our batting line up, it will make spots hard to claim from the players at State level and, as a result, the benchmark will be raised. This will result in higher output at State level in order to see capable and able players become potential Australian Test cricketer and our stocks will become stronger. Domestic output will be lifted and if the team is continually trying to become stronger and build character to connect and engage with the supporters it will genuinely increase the passion in the fan base and team identity. As a result, the overall culture will get closer to Darren "Boof" Lehmann, Michael Clarke, ours (supporters), and Cricket Australia's objectives.

It's a way to go, but to win by 218 runs on a flat Adelaide Oval track has been epic. Personally, I finally saw Australia take on England in an Ashes series. To know we won the first international game at the new ground and for me to be a part of that history, along with the return of Mighty Mitchell Johnson, has just been special.

Bring on Perth!

The scoreboard on day one before a ball had been delivered. Fresh, no story told. (Photo: Ian Reid)
Stapo, Ian, Sylvester (left to right). The first time we all finally watched a game of Test cricket together, united.
The official attendance on day one. The scorecard would grow. (Photo: Ian Reid)
A view towards to hill from the lower Western Stand, day four (Photo: Ian Reid)

A view to the new Southern Stand with a good capacity seated (Photo: Ian Reid)
Our boys getting ready in the slips. Smith, Clarke, Watson, Haddin (Photo: Ian Reid)
A great picture of the scoreboard, a packed out hill, and the attendance on day four (Photo: Ian Reid)

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Beggyg said...

Great to see the photo of all you guys at the game! Rest assured, I was there in spirit, as the cliché goes. I stayed up to watch the whole thing - sneaking sleep in the short periods between play, work and at lunchtime. It was worth the induced jetlag though.
I've been circumspect in my celebrations here in the UK, after all I gave my Pomdonian friends a bit of stick for their triumphalism over the last few years. But just between 'Strayans, I feel like a cat who just got the cream. Fingers crossed for the next one but it would take a disaster of epic proportions for us to not retain the Ashes now, in my possibly naivé opinion.

Ian said...

Thanks for your comment John. Always provides a bit of a laugh for me. Sorry for delayed reply.

Appreciate the support from your side of the world. It's awesome to know we have that dedication.