Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Normal Service has been resumed - The Headingly Test

Ok. Normal service has been resumed in the Ashes. As collapses go, England showed that they are the masters of the triple bogey, double summersault spineless capitulation. At least they improved in the second innings with some spirited batting by the new boys. Time for some changes?

I wouldn’t normally say that after one defeat, but the next test decides the Ashes so this is no time to go for youth over experience. England has had a gaping hole in their batting between the openers and number 6, a hole wider than the Grand Canyon that needs to be filled up quickly.

On to specifics though.

Stuart Broad played as if he had some aggression about him, both with bat and ball. I thought the snarling and staring showed the Australians a thing or two. It might have had more effect if England were not 300 runs behind at the time and looking decidedly shaky and the game was, to all intents and purposes, over. Still, it was good practice for the future.

England’s bowlers showed their true spirit with an act of charity that must go down in history as one of the best. The way they studiously avoided bowling any dangerous balls for the vast majority of Australia’s innings showed what gentlemen they are.

Scattergun Johnson finally got some reward for bowling his brand of random deliveries with a haul of 5 wickets. Imagine the surprise of the batsmen when he managed to bowl more than one straight ball every ten overs.

Peter Siddle’s liberal application of sunscreen on his lip finally paid dividends with the resultant glare getting him a bagful of wickets by blinding the batsmen and umpire at the same time. This is just as I predicted.

Ravi Bopara is saving up his big innings for The Oval. He has successfully lulled the Australian bowlers into a false sense of security and will light up the ground with a sublime double hundred. Mark my words (unless of course he isn’t picked – in which case he will languish on the sidelines with Bell-like grumpiness).

Ian Bell showed why he has been overlooked for the England side for a while. I assume that his selection was just a form of ‘ground truthing’ to make sure his initial dropping was the right thing to do.

Harmison took a wicket in his first over and then relaxed into his normal Johnson-like randomness, with the exception of a spell where Watson, for some reason, played as if the lights had gone out. I foresee a rest for Harmie.

But who is that I see in the shadows…is it Mark Ramprakash once again averaging over 100 in the county season (Third time in four years), is Marcus Trescothick averaging 78 this season and pondering whether he can do one more test for England, or is it Ian Trott, young and keen and averaging over 80 this season. Or is it all three?. My betting is that England will change at least two batsmen and drop Harmison for Flintoff. If they don’t change at least two middle order batsmen, they are buggered. This is one test that has to be won and not one where youth is to be nurtured.

PS. And Captain pout didn’t pout. Hallelujah. I didn’t check to see how much spit he layered onto his hands in this test.

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