The Ashes: 5th Test Day 3 Talking Points

It was moving day at the Oval in the 5th and final Ashes test. Unfortunately for Australia the only movement that occurred was backwards as England defied the Australia to end the day 4/247. Here are my talking points from the day:

1. Slow Scoring: Shocker or Tactically Brilliant

Much is being made in the press this morning and was being made on social media last night about the slowness of England’s scoring. Yes scoring at 2.19 runs per over and scoring just over 200 runs in a day constitutes slow scoring but is that approach as shocking as it seems? I say that England’s performance was a brilliant tactical response to the state of the game (they were well behind) and conditions (the forecast is a shocker tomorrow). They knew they could not win but have obviously dug their heels in to ensure that they will not lose. It is a shame that the art of batting for draw has not been seen for such a long time that people know only recognise it as a negative because this was acting for a draw that ought to have been hailed rather than maligned.

2. Captain Cook: all at sea?

Last Ashes series Cook was the dominant player for England with 766 runs in seven innings. This time around for the English captain he has failed to meet expectations and, after another failure on day 3, his return for this series of 243 runs at an average of 27 is as good a marker as any of his lack of form. His dismissal last night was mother one that pointed to a muddled mindset: a Cook in form would have left the ball he knicked and, more to the point, if he had have played it his feet would not have been plugged to the crease. If this form line for the captain of England continues into Australia on the bouncier, faster wickets his form may get worse before it gets better.

3. Captain Clarke: needs to trust his spinner more

I commented on social media, somewhat vociferously I concede, that Clarke’s failure to bowl Nathan Lyon more than 3 overs in the first 50 of England innings was strange tactically and I am sitting here now still scratching those few hairs left on the top of my head. I know this is an Australian line up stacked with fast bowlers however on a pitch clearly designed to take spin with foot marks already available for Lyon bowling to right handers I still think Clarke made a tactical blunder by not bowling his spinner earlier. Then when he did bowl I don’t believe the captain attacked enough with his fields. Given the state of the game, the field that needed to be set had to be based around 4 close fielded around the bat whilst trusting Lyon not to leak runs. At no point did Clarke attack the batters and they were able to play with too much pressure of fielders under their noses.

4. Ryan Harris: Ironman

Playing in his unprecedented 4th test in a row, Harris has again shown why he is in the top handful of bowlers in word cricket when he is fit. With a bustling approach and seeming to hit the bat harder than any other bowler in the game, he consistently hurried batters and bowled some spells of the utmost quality. It was obvious that the batters were more than happy to play him out and then focus on playing the other bowlers and that is the best compliment an opposition can give to a fast bowler.

5. Brad Haddin: the best gloveman in the squad

Brad Haddin’s selection caused some wrinkles on the brow of some fans, particularly those of Victorian origin, however it must be said he has repaid the faith with some excellent work behind the stumps (where his best work should be). He is now in the shadows of Rod Marsh’s long standing world record for dismissals in a test series and, off the back this performance, he would be a worthy holder of the record for mine. Wicketkeepers are to often judged by their work with the willow in the current game so it is good to see a wicketkeeper actually receiving plaudits for his work in his principal job behind the stumps.

It was a slow day of cricket but a day that fans to the test form of the game should recognise as being a tactically brilliant game for the English.

Day 4 will likely be a continuation of the same from England albeit a cursory examination of the weather forecast indicates that it is the weather that could play a bigger role in the outcome of the day.

The Ashes: 5th Test Day 3 Preview

It is day 3 of the 5th test at the Oval with Australia in complete command of the game. Here is my preview of the day to come:

It is a big day for:

Jonathan Trott

Trott has been in woeful form in this series and has found ways to get out that are bizarre, for him, to say the least including edging down the leg side and playing on. This pitch is made for his style of batting and he will need a big score here to get something, aside from being on an Ashes winning team, out of this series.

Nathan Lyon

This pitch has been set up so that it will take spin and, despite the rain yesterday, if certainly looks like it will start taking more and more spin from today. Nathan Lyon has the opportunity to prove many, including the Chairman of Selectors of Australia John Inverarity, wrong and play a leading role in pushing Australia towards victory and also secure his position in the team for the return bout of this series with a strong performance today.

What does winning the day look like?

Australia

A win on day 3 for Australia will hinge on dismissing England for less than the follow on target. If England breach the follow on that the game is going to meander to a draw one suspects.

England

Being still at the crease in their first innings no matter how many wickets are down will be a win for the English. One would expect that if they are still at the crease at the close of play they will have passed the follow on any thoughts of an Australian victory will have waned.

Talking Points:

1. Over rates will on the tip of many tongues today again after England’s go slow tactics yesterday. It is not to Australia’s favour to slow the game down but many eyes will how quickly they get through their overs.

2. There have been no real umpiring dramas as yet in this game so all eyes will be on the men in white and black today.

Weather report

The BBC Weather service gives the following outlook for the weather today in London:

Dry at first with bright or sunny spells. Becoming very warm or hot and feeling especially so in light winds. Into this evening some showery rain is likely and some of this could be on the heavy side.

By the look of it a full day of play will be in the offing for the teams.

The Ashes: 4th Test, Day 3 … Keys to winning the day

What a day of cricket Day 2 was at Chester-le-Street: some brilliant bowling from Stuart Broad, an obdurate and defiant innings from Chris Rogers and a slightly misbehaving wicket all combined to leave fans on their edge of their seats as the day unfolded. Australia is now 16 runs behind England's first innings total with five wickets in hand. Australia is marginally on top in the context of the game but there is still much work to do from either side to secure a result.

 

Here are my keys to winning day 3 for each team:

 

Australia:


  1. A lead of 150 plus: The pitch at Chester-le-Street is proving more and more difficult to bat on at the game progresses so every run Australia can get ahead of England will feel like they are actually 2 runs. If that lead gets up to 150 runs Australia will, rightly in my view, feel like they have batted England out of the game.
  2. Brad Haddin cameo: Haddin has the ability to tailor his batting style to either score quickly or to hold up one end. Day 3 beckons as a day for Haddin the attacker to take centre stage and push Australia's total to the magical 350 mark. No matter who is up the other end, the longer B Haddin is at the wicket the more positive the position Australia will be in at the end of the day.
  3. Bat long … Australia's bowlers depend on it: The longer Australia's batters stick with it on Day 3, the more time Ryan Harris, in particular, will have to recover and, therefore, be in a position to attack the Poms in the second innings. Harris looked tired at the end of day one and did not bowl at the start of day 2 when, ordinarily, he would have started the day for Australia.

England:


  1. Early wickets = early batting: England are only 5 wickets away from batting again and to state the obvious the sooner they get those wicket the better for their position in the game. Australia's tail has been weakened by the replacement of Starc with Bird and the loss of Pattinson to injury. Whilst it is not a “6 down all out” scenario for Australia one senses that removing either of Rogers or Haddin in the first half hour could see Cook and Root batting by lunchtime.
  2. Get the tactics right: In the first innings with the willow, England looked at sea tactically with their batters looking, in equal parts, either too defensive or too attacking. No matter when they bat, Captain Cook and the trio of Pietersen, Trott and Bell will need to work out how they are going to attack any deficit they have and then work to set Australia a total. A too defensive a mindset will play right into Australia's hands.
  3. A little bit of luck: Any fair minded viewer of the first 3 test matches would concede that the English received the advantage in most “50/50” calls in those 3 games. The tide turned on that decisively on Day 2 and England suddenly found themselves up against a poor review and some dropped catches. Many in the English camp will be hoping for a return of their previous form luck wise on Day 3.

As I mentioned in the preamble: Australia is ahead but with the way the Chester-le-Street wicket is playing that could change very quickly. I know one thing for certain: I will again be positioned on the lounge at 8pm to watch the next instalment of the battle between these two teams.

The keys to success: Australia v South Africa, 2nd test, day 3

It was another amazing day at the Adelaide Oval yesterday with the South African team showing why they are rated the best team in the world with a stunning fightback.

It all started with the ball for the Proteas with their bowlers, led by the seemingly irrepressible Morne Morkel, strangling out the Australian bottom order after the dismissal of Clarke very early.  I am certain that if you had have asked Graeme Smith this morning if he would be happy with Australia only getting to 550 yesterday I am certain he would have been happy to agree.

That was the start of a fairly poor day for the Australians because once it became the Proteas time to bat, Australia’s bowlers were as innocuous as they were on day 1 at the Gabba.  The proof of this is in the wicket takers column of the score book: the only Australian bowler to take a wicket was David Warner with the other wicket falling to a run out.

Day two was obviously South Africa’s day and day three beckons as possibly the most important day of this test match.  After Australia decisively won day 1 and South Africa fought back on day 2, here are my keys for success on day 3 at the Adelaide Oval:

1. Will Pattinson’s efforts with the ball match his efforts on the sledge?

James Pattinson appears to Australia’s appointed enforcer with the ball and has made his presence obviously felt through his overt sledging of the Proteas in the second innings at the Gabba.  I do not have any objection to sledging: it is part of the game.  However, the best sledgers are those who are also players who perform; viz., G McGrath and S K Warne come to mind.  Yesterday Pattinson was simply ordinary and leaked runs at 5 runs per over when the Australians needed him to take early wickets.  Whispering in Smith’s ear when he was on 8 that he was “f*cking all over [Smith]” obviously did not help.  Hopefully that performance will be humbling for him and he will come out today with a little less lip and more focus on bowling.  Australia definitely need him at the top of his form.

2. Is there a big hundred coming from Graeme Smith?

Graeme Smith was excellent yesterday and led the way for his team after the dominance of the Australians on day 1.  His opposing captain has made an art form this calendar year of performing when his team needs it most and the Proteas need Smith to push on for a big innings today if they are to consolidate their position in the game.  Smith can score big hundreds with 4 of his 25 test centuries doubles and a further 4 over 150. Australia will be desperate for his wicket early in part in the hope of it precipitating an Australianesque collapse.

3. Can Lyon do more than contain and lead the attack?

Nathan Lyon bowled a little over 35% of the overs sent down to the Proteas and it seems likely that he will bowl a large amount of overs today.  From what I have seen he did not really look like taking a wicket though, so whilst he did keep the run rate of the South Africans down they rarely looked troubled.  If the pacemen from the land down under continue to look as penetrative as a blunt spoon it will be up to Lyon to lead the attack and take wickets.  If he cannot it could be long day in the field for the Australians.

4. Run Jacques Run: just how bad is that hamstring?

Because of the amount of time he spent off field, Kallis cannot come into bat until the fall of the 5th wicket in the Proteas innings.  Additionally, because of the change in playing conditions he will not be entitled to use the services a runner.  Depending on the state of the South African’s innings when he comes in whether or not he can bat effectively could prove a key turning point in length of time the Proteas are able to bat.

5. Which wicketkeeper is the part timer: Wade or De Villiers?

This is obviously a rhetorical question given that is Wade who is the full time wicketkeeper, however on today’s evidence one would have struggled to realize that.  A very ordinary missed stumping chance compounded by letting through 7 byes (when his counterpart, the “part time” De Villiers did not give up one in 550 runs) are indicative that it was not Wade’s best day with the gloves.  He will need to be on his game on what might be a very long day in the field for the Australians.  A dropped chance or another missed stumping might well see Australia’s now limited grip on the game slip away completely.

There have been many twists and turns in this test match already: today may well bring many more.  I can’t wait!