Day 4 of the 4th test of this Ashes series dawned with much hope for Australia fans but by the end of the day Australian fans, and I hope cricketers too, have been left numb by England’s charge to victory by 74 runs.
With a heavy heart, here are my day 4 talking points:
1. R Harris = just brilliant
It can be said simply this way: without Ryan Harris in this test match Australia would have lost by a lot more! In the first session of the day Harris kept Australia in the game with 3 wickets in short order to make it 7 for the innings and 9 for the match. An epic effort by someone not deigned good enough to be in the top team at the start of the series.
2. T Bresnan = quality player
Bresnan’s innings here took the game away from Australia after Bell had done all the hard work on Day 3. Best described as a “bustling” cricketer Bresnan repaid the faith of the selectors with the willow has he attacked Australia’s bowling and went a long way to setting up England’s victory here. 2 big wickets in Australia’s chase in Warner and Watson only enhance the importance of his role in this victory.
3. S Broad = one of the best Ashes performances of our time
If you thought Broad’s 5 wicket burst in the first innings was good, his effort here in reducing the Australian chase to rubble and at the same collecting 6 wickets was nothing short of exceptional. 11 wickets in any test is a special effort but this effort stands out because Broad stood up when England’s main striker in Jimmy Anderson was down on form and given the stakes. Broad is much maligned by Australian fans but boy if he was playing in a baggy green cap he would probably be our most loved player and that is saying a lot!
4. When the acid was on Australia again lacked fight
That is a harsh statement but listening to the coverage throughout the night and early hours of the morning left me with the impression, unfortunately again, that Australia, in particular the middle order, lacked the fight or will to win this game when things got a bit difficult. I concede the bowling was excellent but to go from 0-109 chasing 299 to all out 224 in the space of 40 overs in the biggest series many of these players will ever play just smacks of a line up lacking conviction in their purpose. In the aftermath of that performance one can only conclude either that the middle order is woefully inept or lacking fight and I do not think they are inept!
5. Battle of the Captains: Cook by a knockout
Michael Clarke was out captained today again as he has been for much of this series. The contrast between Clarke and Cook is at its starkest when one considers how each respond to their bowlers taking patches (2 or mode in the space of 5 overs) of wickets. Cook’s approach seems to be to take advantage of a new batter at the crease and set attacking fields whilst Clarke seems to maintain the status quo and stands stagnant at second slip. I am not saying that this difference would have made a difference to the ultimate result but is shows that the Australian captain has little confidence in his team.
So England have now not only retained the Urn but have won the series. I could say that this was another day of fascinating cricket (and it was) but as an Australian fan I am sick to death of losing these fascinating days.
Congratulations to England: it kills me to say it but the better team won.
Look out for my player scorecard for Australia later in the morning.