The second day of 4th Ashes Test match from Chester-le-Street presented as probably the most important day of this test match and the action certainly did not disappoint. Here are my key talking points from the overnight action:
1. Rogers: just unforgettable
It is difficult not to be a fan of Chris Rogers. Snubbed for years by the Australian selectors but given a chance in this series because of his obvious expertise in English conditions, he has made the opening slot his own and that was even before this test innings. In the toughest of batting conditions, Rogers was unbowed by probably the best spell of bowling seen this series from Stuart Broad and ground his way to an epic hundred. Anyone privileged enough to watch it live or on TV from thousands of miles away in the early hours of the morning (like your correspondent) will never forget it.
2. Broad: love him or hate him … that was one hell of a spell
Australian fans love to hate Stuart Broad for reasons that are not the topic of this blog so I will not expand on them. Whether you love him or hate him you have to admit that his spell of bowling over night was special. He pitched the ball up and it zipped all over the place for him. Taking 4 wickets of the 5 to fall is a compelling stat but even more compelling is that by comparison to his other bowlers he made them look pedestrian and it become clear that Australia's strategy was to get through his overs and focus on scoring against those bowled by the others. Is there a higher compliment another team can give to a bowler?
3. DRS Controversy? Why: they got it right?
The Rogers DRS “incident” has been the course, it would seem, of much angst among commentators of the game and social media pundits. Even the English team did not know the rules and showed their displeasure to the umpire having celebrated what they thought was a wicket incorrectly. To me though, the bigger story should be that should be told by the pundits is that how the DRS rules actually worked! The umpires applied Rule 3.3(f) of Appendix 2 of the Standard Playing Conditions for Test Matches perfectly and got the decision right. I know the rule is going to be changed in October this year but this still does not mean the umpires should not be applauded for their work here.
4. Watson as an allrounder: a good start
Shane Watson has been moved down to number 6 in the batting order ostensibly for the balance of the batting order but seemingly also to focus his role as an allrounder rather than as an opening batter. If this was to be an audition for Watson to be Australia's allrounder going forward then it was a pretty good start. 13 economical overs with the ball as first change bowler and then a solid 68 when Australia needed him to step up is precisely what we would expect from any other allrounder. I would have loved him to push on for a hundred to get that monkey off his back but given the circumstances and conditions his knock overnight was precisely what Australia needed.
5. Anderson: tired or injured?
Jimmy Anderson is a quality fast bowler. After his performance at Trent Bridge he was lauded as the best in the world, even better than Dale Steyn. Is it just me though or since that epic performance in Trent Bridge has Anderson been the same bowler? To me he looks down on form or to be struggling to get through the crease and his returns have been diminishing. In this innings, with the ball moving around and Stuart Broad dominant, Anderson looked innocuous. That must be a worry for the English set up.
It was Australia's day at Durham off the back of the performances of Rogers and Watson. Australia is 16 runs behind with 5 wickets in hand and will be looking to press towards a lead of around 150 to take total control of this game. It will be another compelling day of cricket of that there can be no doubt.
Postscript: I was accused yesterday of copying the title of yesterday's post of the same type from another website. For the record: I have never read the article I am alleged to have copied I just like the title “Talking Points” and since no one has trademarked it I am going to continue to use it.