The second test between Australia and England has ended with Australia securing its second dominant victory in as many games. With the third test only three days away, players, pundits and fans have little time to draw breath and rest in advance of hostilities resuming. That said, here are some of my musing arising from this test match just completed worth considering in advance of play commencing in Perth.
Catches win matches: the maxim holds true
Australia won the toss and batted and closed the first day on 5/273 which many considered to be a victory for the English. It could have been so much better though for them had they caught all of the catching opportunities presented to them. Both of Australia’s centurions, Clarke and Haddin, presented catching opportunities on Day 1 that should have been taken. Haddin’s chance being dropped in last over of the first day was particularly damning given that he added a further 111 runs after it. The Australians, on the other hand, looked more lively in the field and more engaged in the game and it showed in their catching particularly in the outfield.
Leg side wickets: plans working or bad batting?
Of the top seven batters for England, all but one was out once (Carberry twice with Stokes the exception) hitting the ball in the air to the leg side. There is a school of thought that the Australians should be lauded for their plans coming together so well that the English batters fell into the traps set. I respectfully can not agree: none of the wickets taken with leg side catches were the result of anything other than bad batting. Bell hitting a full toss from a part time leg spinner to mid on is a perfect example of this as was Cook’s failed hook shot at the start of Day 4. I concede that Australia’s plans have aided the mental disintegration of the Englishmen but bad batting has played a bigger role.
Harden up England, he is only one bowler!
Much has been made of the bowling of Mitchell Johnson and, I concede, he has bowled very swiftly and has executed the plans set for him for various batsman. The way the English batters are playing him though you would think that they were playing a combination of Larwood and Ambrose. The dismissals of Broad and Anderson in the first innings of this test match are perfect cases in point. Both batters failed to get in line with the ball bowled and, there is no other word for it, capitulated. You would almost think these guys had not seen a bowler bowl at around 145kph before.
The niggle continues: this is starting to get unseemly now
I wrote after the first test that sledging is a part of the game and must be accepted as such by the fans and those who bemoan its presence. I continue to posit that view however I have to say the confrontations in this test match just completed went past what I consider to be appropriate. The players having stand up “discussions” in the middle of the wicket, at the end of overs and as they walk off the field is taking it too far and is going past what I believe to be appropriate sledging. The players need to have a long think about what they are doing because surely they must realise that the host broadcaster is watching their every move and broadcasting same without a filter. It is not a good look and is getting out of hand.
The Ashes are returning to Australia already … or are they?
With the short turn around now to the Perth test match, it defies belief that by this time next week Australia could have won back the Ashes however that is the very real scenario that now presents itself. Absent a significant change of fortune and form for the English, is anyone prepared to suggest an alternate result? Certainly the pundits from the UK are now doing what they do best and sinking the boot into their team and the fans have gone from cockahoop smugness to resignation about the result seemingly in the blink of the eye. I, for one, can not believe for a second that the Englishmen will not fight hard in the coming test match to seek to defy Australia. That, combined with the fact that we should not be too quick to write off a team that has dominated us as shortly ago as August, means the level of optimism for Australia fans should be no higher than cautious optimism because things can change quickly in cricket.
All in all this was another excellent effort by Australia to best their arch rivals. Here’s hoping they can do it all again come Thursday in Perth!