27 December 2013

The Ashes, 4th Test, day 2

England 1st Innings: 255 all out from 100 overs overs
Kevin Pietersen 71, Michael Carberry 38
Ryan Harris 2-47, Mitchell Johnson 5-63, Shane Watson 1-11

Australia 1st innings:
9/164 from 73.3 overs
Chris Rogers 61, Brad Haddin 43*
Stuart Broad 3-30, James Anderson 3-50

Just a quick recap of the action today. I haven't had a highly analytical look at the way each moment played out, but I have seen enough to know our discipline was far from adequate and we saw quality players gift away their wickets.

This Test has definitely been a battle of who can be the most patient of batsmen and work for their runs. As far as I am concerned only Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin have been those worthy of this, and this doesn't hide the fact we are trailing England by 91 runs with just 1 wicket in tact.

Chris Rogers will be livid with himself. I use that word a lot but you could sense it. He threw away another start, having showcased good, quality batting, with patience and caution. His shot to leave the MCG field was a shocker by his standards and he tossed away an opportunity on his home ground to make a massive impression, and of course aid the team.

Having said that, he did what few others batsmen have done this Test, make runs like a Test batsman. I don't include Kevin Pietersen as he was dropped twice playing with an aggressive intent and lacked that spoken of discipline in a confident manner. He was far from confident out there. His dismissal against mighty Mitchell Johnson summed up what is going on his head mind.

So, Chris Rogers did the work but didn't complete the job. He does stand out though as a lonely man on the scorecard, but luckily for us one man has arrived to play his part too.

Brad Haddin has contributed runs once again and done so in a time of need. He's bailed us out a few times this series, as our batting does remain the weaker dynamic of this team. Not weak, just the most inconsistent but way better than where we were a while back. He is still at the crease on 43* and while he used a review successfully to not be given out LBW to Monty Panesar, he looked good from what I have seen. I always admire his shot execution. One of the best in the business. With him at the crease and no doubt not lacking confidence in his batting partner, Nathan Lyon, we could quite possibly minimise that lead.

This optimism doesn't disguise the fact we have thrown away an advantage, something we have not done often this Test. And no, I don't disagree with the toss now as today had nothing to do with that. It was a lack of discipline. David Warner I felt just played the way he does and got out. Some days it won't come off as we'd like. He'll strike back.

Shane Watson needs 1st innings contributions. It's starting to get beyond seriously frustrating - and it's clearly possible. He showcases his skills but it just never quite reaches the heights it should, or comes to the show when things are seriously on the line - in Test cricket that is. His shot was another Watson dismissal at a time where the break was near and maybe a switch went off up top. Real pity for Watto after Perth.

Michael Clarke misjudged a delivery that swung in, something that was reminiscent of the 2005 Ashes series, as pointed out by ESPN Cricinfo's commentary.
George Bailey will, unfortunately, have to feel the pressure now with under performing at the elite level. The media will latch onto him, despite the proud fact we have regained the urn and he was a part of that effort. His shot though was not one a batsman should be showcasing new to the crease, but he was selected on an ODI basis so too an extent I don't see reason to bad mouth him. It is inevitable though he will be given a rough time about it as it was a golden chance for him to step up. It wasn't the first time though the English bowlers have also grinded and worked him over. The selectors will have to consider their options, mostly on the basis of their selection for Georgey.

Other than that, it's going to be some hard work for us to claw back into this one, but a fresh day brings fresh chances and opportunities.

Mitchell Johnson was the man of the day though as he claimed his third 5-fer of the series. He's just been brutal and a good rest saw him return to the MCG and he killed the English tail enders, plus KP. It was just another display of memorable fast bowling, which sees Mitch further gain the ground to stick it to the Barmy Army and the media, who snuffed him. Well done Mitch on another incredible performance. Just brilliant! Hard to write another bit of compliments for the man, as he's doing it game in, game out.

After Mitchell's performance it's sad I have to write that England have taken the day with a lead just under 100 and three days play to go. They have confidence issues still so I see plenty of chances for us to still win this match. It was England's day though and our batting was the downfall, dampening the otherwise spectacular effort from Mitchell Johnson.

It was inevitable we would have a bad day at the office and this was it. If anything, it's kind of exciting seeing England ahead of us now as we have a wonderful opportunity to really fight back into this match, despite having the urn. Yep, we got the urn!

Lastly, Piers Morgan...you deserved that barrage of fast bowling served to you by Brett "Binga" Lee! Alastair Cook was probably the man who enjoyed it most.

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