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Monday December 06 2010

More Ashes thoughts from me, just before the fourth day got under way, here.

The way the cricket commentariat has been talking (including a certain commenter here), England are a shoe-in.  Yet, just after lunch, Australia were 84-0 and looking good.  At which point, I noted this comment at Cricinfo:

“At this point in the series, the teams are equal. Both have been bowled out cheaply in the first innings then fought back for draws (this Test will be a draw). The only difference is that England have looked better, and probably have less room for improvement.”

England are at a disadvantage, because they have “less room for improvement”.  I like it!  Seriously, it’s a shrewd comment.

But no sooner had I clocked it than Australia lost their first wicket, to what sounds like a wicked ball from England spinster Swann:

Swann to Katich, OUT, 53.0 mph, gone! Caught behind! That probing off-stump line and sharp spin has done for Katich. England went up in unison as soon as the ball exploded past the bat ... there’s a short pause and the umpire raises the finger.

“Exploded”?  Suddenly England’s chances seem a whole lot better.

Last few overs:

. . . . . . | . W . . . . | . . . . . . | . . . . . . | . . . . 1 . |

Pressure!

Australia were rattling along until Katich got out.  Now look at them.

Ponting out!  98-2.  Caught Collingwood bowled ... Swann:

Ponting falls!  Pushing with no great certainty and a delivery that didn’t turn nearly as much as the last one, the ball takes a healthy edge and loops gently to slip.  Ponting stands at the wicket for several moments, he’s bitterly disappointed and can barely drag himself off.

As I’m pretty sure I noted here, the two final, wicket-taking deliveries bowled at the finishes of the last two England Ashes wins, at Lord’s and at the Oval, were both bowled by Swann.  Will that be the story again?  Could well be.

Surely Giles was one of them?

Posted by Antoine Clarke on 06 December 2010

It is a shrewd observation, but wisely qualified by “probably”.
Accurate prediction of the outcome of a sporting event is either impossible, hence bookies, or it has been pre-arranged, hence Pakistan’s predicament.
England have some potential for improvement by gaining familiarity with local conditions, although they have been very well prepared. New, hungry faces could also bring an improvement in bowling performances. Conversely, Australia could just as easily deteriorate as a result of recriminations and panic.
Luck is a powerful factor too in top class sport where two teams are, in general well, matched. Our bowlers have suffered so far, and I believe their ill fortune is set to continue with the intervention of rain. Or is it due to turn?
I watched the highlights programme last night for the first time, and thought the pitch was going to be a great assistance to us.

By the way, I will not watch again as the advertising breaks were sickening. Gaming and “buy this or you are a non-person”, and “you are entitled to indulge yourself because Christ was born”. Sorry for the rant.

Posted by Tony Hewson on 06 December 2010

Pretty important night I think. If England manage to win it, I think the Ashes are almost certainly theres. (Australia would have to win two out of three, and with their attack, I doubt it). If Australia and the weather hold out, England have essentially achieved nothing, regardless of how much momentum they have had.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 06 December 2010

Did I say “panic”? I didn’t know the meaning of the word....
http://www.espncricinfo.com/page2/content/story/490595.html

Posted by Tony Hewson on 07 December 2010

Heh.

Posted by Antoine Clarke on 07 December 2010

"Will that be the story again?  Could well be.”

Was.

Siddle b Swann 6.  1-0 England.

Lords 2009: Johnson b Swann 63
Oval 2009: Hussey c Cook b Swann 121

And my code for this was: “very81”.  Well not quite that good, but good.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 07 December 2010

Ah well. I suppose it had to come to this. Such is life.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 07 December 2010

Warne to return Michael, thumbs-up or thumbs-down?

And whatever happened to Stuart Clarke?  Thought he was a useful bowler.

Posted by Dead Dog Bounce on 07 December 2010
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