Sunday, 28 November 2010

AUSTRALIA v ENGLAND - 1st Ashes Test 2010: The Gabba, Day 4

Strauss knocks his maiden Ashes ton in Australia
Apologies for the lack of report on Day 3 of this Test, I was too depressed by the score line to get my thinking cap on and simply couldn’t do it.  Basically, England got hammered by Hussey and Haddin who got hundreds apiece and spoiled my evening.  However, after the events of last night, I could get back to my normal ways.

England resumed the day on 20-0, over 200 runs in arrears with two days to play.  Captain Strauss and fellow opener Cook had survived a barrage of 15 overs the previous evening and resumed the day spritely.  After a nervy edge through the gully region Cook started to find his feet and played nicely.  Strauss was positive in attack, punishing the bad ball whenever possible.  His driving especially was an example of superb elegance, which most left handers struggle to achieve.

Strauss reached his fifty in 110 balls just after the first drinks break, much to the delight of the Barmy Army.  Cook soon followed suit, his fifty coming in 122 deliveries.  They finished off a clinical morning’s work for England, with a score of 135-0 at the luncheon interval.

Cook on his way to 132*
The afternoon started as exactly as it finished, with England dominating the Australian attack.  Strauss became entered the history books as one of the few people to score a duck and a hundred  in the same match; his ton setting the tone for the rest of this series.  England continued to plod along at a canter before a crazy Andrew Strauss moment occurred, where the skipper danced down the wicket to part-time spinner Marcus North and missed the ball only to find himself stumped by keeper Haddin.  Still, with very little alarm, England finished the session 238-1 after 78 overs.  Shortly after the break, Cook reached his century in nice fashion as he cut the ball to the boundary.

Quite simply, England dominated all three sessions and the day overall, bringing themselves right back into this game from the jaws of defeat.  They finished the day on 309-1 after 109 overs with Trott also reaching the half century landmark.  It was good to see such a fight back as so many people had written England off in this game.  A good morning session full of quick flowing runs tomorrow will give England perhaps two and a bit sessions to bowl out the Australians and take the Test.

Friday, 26 November 2010

AUSTRALIA v ENGLAND - 1st Ashes Test 2010: The Gabba, Day 2

First of all, because I managed to stay awake on day 1 for two and a half sessions, I paid heavily in terms of Ashes watching last night.  Please don’t expect this to be the most informative report but I shall do my best anyway!

Mike Hussey halted England with 81*
Australia resumed on 25-0 after 7 overs, as my housemate and neighbour took to the sofa with our customary duvet, pillows and mugs of tea.  Not 15 minutes into the days play and with Australia on 42-0, The Crab, Simon Katich, had a rush of blood to his pincers and scuttled sideways for a quick single.  To his horror Watson at the other end (generic tall, blond Aussie type and completely un-crab like) was sending him back with Cook shying and missing the stumps.  Katich wasn’t even in the frame as the ball hurtled past the stumps and yet he managed to survive.  The first wicket of the day fell with Australia on 72-0.  Watson prodded defensively at an Anderson length ball, perhaps moving away a fraction of the seam, straight into skipper, Andrew Strauss’ hands.

I recently did a survey at the University of Manchester Cricket Club about people’s opinions of Ricky Ponting.  They were given a selection of words and had to select which one they would use to describe him.  The choices were: Warrior, Fighter, Whinger, Fantastic, Inspiring, Irritating.  Quite unsurprisingly, the results were resoundingly negative with Irritating coming out on top.  But an irritant he was not, as Ponting was caught behind down the leg side off James Anderson much to the delight of my house, who had to keep the noise levels down because there were some people who did not understand Ashes fever and wanted to sleep instead.  Crazy people.

Australia closed the session on 96-1 after 33 overs and I’m afraid that soon afterwards I fell asleep.  I awoke this morning and of course the first thing I did was the check Cricinfo.  Australia, at stumps, amassed 220-5 after 80 overs.  Katich had made 50 and Hussey and Haddin were unbeaten on 81* and 22* respectively.  It was nice to see Michael Clarke had failed as he can often be as annoying as mosquito, but without the necessary preparation to his game, England would have always felt that they had a chance to get him early.  In conclusion, it can be said that it was an even day with both sides having good and not so good spells.  If England want to assert their dominance over this Test, they will have to hit the ground running tomorrow morning and take some early wickets to ensure that Australia do not take a hefty first innings lead.

Day 3's report will be up tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

AUSTRALIA v ENGLAND - 1st Ashes Test 2010: The Gabba, Day 1

Sky Player was ready, duvet and pillows were moved downstairs, the kettle was on and the excitement was evident.  With minutes to go, I felt like a child on Christmas Eve with the prospect of watching England’s best opportunity to win the Ashes in Australia since I’ve been alive.  My neighbour and two of my housemates (one of whom doesn’t even like cricket) sat down in front of the telly and watched as England, who had won the toss and elected to bat, came out to a roar at the Gabba.

England won the toss and elected to bat
Anybody who put any money on Strauss scoring a century in the first innings of this test would have been sorely disappointed, as with the 3rd ball of the series, Strauss played one of his usually strong cut shots straight to Mike Hussey at Gully who made no mistake.  Strauss could barely believe his bad luck, walking off the ground with his hand on his head as if to say “what have I done?”  It was certainly the worst start England could have hoped for.

It was not long after that Jonathan Trott survived a close LBW shout.  The South-African born batsman’s heart must have been in his mouth as Aleem Daar denied a screaming Peter Siddle his first wicket of the match.  The interesting thing here, was that the decision was reviewed judgement was that it was to stay with the on field umpire.  So had Trott been given out, he would have stayed out if he had reviewed it.

England stumbled to 41 before the next wicket fell.  Trott, with a rush of blood to the head, played an expansive drive to a Shane Watson delivery which did not swing as much as his previous deliveries and the ball snuck through the gate and clattered into his stumps.  Trott had looked pretty good up until then, and would have been extremely disappointed in not making a higher contribution.

It was not long after that the edgy Alistair Cook played an uppish cut shot to point where debutant Xavier Doherty dropped a relatively simple catch by Test match standards.  The left arm spinner seemed to judge his jump a little early and made it a bit more difficult for himself but still should have taken it.

England finished the morning session on 82-2 after 26 long nervy overs.  It was at this point my neighbour decided to call it a day and my housemates went to bed.  I was left alone for the afternoon session waiting for my other housemate, who was out, to return home and join in the fun.

At around 3:30am he did exactly that walking into the living room, a glorious shade of orange and wearing blue tights that Crash Bandicoot would have been proud of.  He had a cracking night, so it seems, but at the expense of a pretty entertaining morning session.

Peter Siddle becomes the 5th Australian to take an Ashes hat trick
England continued after lunch with Pietersen and Cook prodding slowly.  A double wicket wammy ensued with Pietersen nicking off to Ponting at slip and Paul Collingwood deciding that Pietersen’s dismissal was the way he wanted to go, also nicking off to slip.  These were the only two wickets of the session as the afternoon mirrored the morning with 82 runs scored for the loss of 2 wickets.

It was at this point I decided to watch the rest of the game in bed.  This was an obvious mistake as I nodded off for a bit only to wake up to find Peter Siddle steaming in for his hat trick ball.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing as the ball thundered into Stuart Broad’s foot and Aleem Dar’s finger raised into the air.  I’d had enough.  I switched off my laptop woke up around 11am to find that England had been eventually bowled out for 260 in 76.5 overs and Australia had started their campaign finishing the day at 25-0 at stumps.

Overall, Australia won all the sessions and won the day as a whole.  Watch this space for Day 2’s report!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

THE STARTING XI: WHO WILL PLAY AT THE GABBA?

England started their first warm up game ahead of the Ashes last night.  With this in mind, thoughts are turning to the starting XI for the Brisbane Test.  This is a conversation I had with a colleague of mine from the University of Manchester Cricket Club and thought it would be interesting to share it with the rest of the world and gather the opinions of others. The debate commences below with my starting XI:
 
Me:  1. Strauss (c) 2. Cook 3. Trott 4. Pietersen 5. Collingwood 6. Morgan 7. Prior (†) 8. Broad 9. Swann 10. Anderson 11. Finn. Bell a maybe?

Experience of Bell or the flair of Morgan?
Gyan:  So you would go in with 6 batsmen and Prior?  I’m going to disagree with you on one thing. 1. Strauss (c) 2. Cook 3. Trott 4. Pietersen 5. Collingwood 6. Bell 7. Prior (†) 8. Broad 9. Swann 10. Andersen 11. Finn

Me:  Interesting.  I’m a massive fan of Bell. Under normal circumstances I'd pick him but I think it'd be unfair not to give Morgan a chance since he's had such a good summer.

Gyan: Unfortunately, I think Bell has the right to this spot at the moment.  Morgan did okay against Pakistan with 1 century, however I think judging on the fact that people reckon the line-up that was put out today for the first warm up game is going to be the team for the Test and Morgan wasn't in it.  I don’t feel he has done enough just yet.

Me: I reckon that's to give Bell a go and see if he's in form.  Bell's been injured this summer don’t forget and lacks match practice.  Morgan did get a ton against the Aussies in that ODI and got a few more useful scores. I'd give him a go.  Massive fan of Bell like I said but I think they’ve got to pick Morgan.

Will Morgan keep his place?
Gyan: But Ian Bell has the past scores to prove he can bat, just like he did in South Africa. Tests are different to ODIs and though Morgan is a talent, but I don’t think he’s ready yet.  Good job we aren’t England selectors.  However, a big shout could be drop Collingwood and play both Morgan and Bell.

Me: I think it's more between Bell and Collingwood than Bell and Morgan, even though Collingwood is England’s Mr. Reliable most of the time.

Is Collingwood's place under threat?
Gyan: Now raising that argument then I go in with Collingwood and Morgan.  Bell hasn't got the fight Collingwood has.  But I think Bell in front of Morgan, but not in front of Collinwood.  Bell has better technique and I think that is more important.

Me: That I agree with too.  Morgan definitely has more fight than Bell.  Indeed Bell does have an excellent technique, but it doesn’t count for anything unless you've got grit and with Bell’s lack of batting in recent months that certainly won’t help him prepare.  I’m sure that'll play on his mind and it could lead to his detriment.

Gyan: But then again Bell has the experience of an Ashes series, which Morgan doesn't.  Now I do think that plays more than Morgan’s fight at the moment.

Me: I have to disagree I’m afraid.  Morgan's fresh from Aussie scars so give him a go.

Gyan: You have a point, but because it is me I would go in with Bell and Morgan.  It’s different but I think it would be my choice.  Realistically, I think it is going to be Bell and Collingwood.
Me: You think the selectors will leave Morgan out?  I'd be happy with either to be honest.

Gyan: Yeah because I feel that for the first Test, England will go in with their strongest/most experienced team and I think Bell fits the bill in that respect.

Me: Next point then.  If Bell is selected, is where would you bat him?

Gyan: Bell’s best stats are when he is at 6.  He averages the best part of 62 there.  I just think he’s settled at 6.

Me: I'd put him above Collingwood.  If England have a collapse, Collingwood is much better dealing with that than Bell.  I think psychologically, if the Aussies get through our top order, they'll be less pleased to see Collingwood come in than Bell because he is a gritty character and capable of sticking around, although I'd like to have a look at his averages at different positions.

Gyan: Yeah true.  But again, I think in the England line up he is settled at 6.  I don't think the selectors will change it for the first Test.

Comments are welcome.