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Posted on | December 29, 2010 | 1 Comment
A wonderful Boxing Day for English cricket, but not for Australian batting.
The England players have had to suffer in silence while current and former Australian players have trashed them in the media for the way they batted in Perth.
But on Sunday the Aussie players themselves should be embarrassed because they have been hoisted by their own petard. They were put in to bat on a slow English-type seaming pitch that demanded batsmen grit their teeth, stay in, have patience and wait for the bad ball.
There was always going to be a little movement for the seamers. The ball was not going to come on to the bat quickly. It was low bounce and everything was different from Perth. Great players adapt to all conditions and the Aussie batsmen failed the test miserably.
It was not easy to score runs but it was not difficult to stay in but when you bat in these conditions you have to get your mind right. Forget about the last Test match. Do your homework on how you should play on a different surface. The Australian players have been guilty of slating England’s batsmen, criticising them in every way possible about the way they batted in Perth and probably believed their own publicity that they are so much better than England. The fact is they are not.
You don’t win Test matches by talking down the opposition and talking yourself up. It is how you bat and how you bowl that matters. England have done it right. They kept their mouths shut and got on with their practice and preparation. This Aussie lot came out playing like millionaires and believing they could not possibly lose to this English team. Their batsmen paid for it.
Shane Watson was playing forward to Chris Tremlett before he had delivered the ball. He pre-determined what he was going to do and that is always stupid. When the ball bounced a bit on him all he could do was fend it off to gully.
Phillip Hughes slashed at a wide ball and was caught at gully. Before that every time the ball was into his ribs, he looked like a crab jumping up and down. You just wonder how the hell he got those centuries against South Africa’s pace attack.
Michael Clarke played an indeterminate poke at a wide one, Michael Hussey was driving on the up and Steve Smith is never a No 6 in a good side in a thousand years. He is about a No 8.
Brad Haddin, who can bat, played the most extravagant cover drive when his team was in trouble. He had seen how the pitch has been playing and it was just a ridiculous shot for a very experienced cricketer. I wouldn’t have played it if I had 200 on the board, let alone still in single figures.
Ricky Ponting got a really good ball from Tremlett. It pitched around the corridor, bounced a little and he nicked it. If he gets the same ball next week in Sydney he may nick it again.
The rest of them should be embarrassed for ‘bagging’ England for the last few days and now it has come back to haunt them.
Australia even got sucked in to playing four seamers on a pitch with no bounce whether it moves off the seam or not. They have convinced themselves they can bounce England out and that some of our batsmen might be frightened of the Australian bowlers.
The Melbourne pitch for years has not been quick which makes their selection ridiculous when you remember they also have a pretty decent seamer in Watson.
England’s seamers kept it simple. Bowl straight and full. We put a cluster of balls in the same areas repetitively and Australia were kind enough to keep playing loose shots.
Once England had a second roller on the pitch and a bit of sunshine it flattened out to the point that hardly a ball moved. Mitchell Johnson was totally ineffective, spraying the ball all over the place with no inswing. Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle tried bouncing the two left-handers with no impact whatsoever because there is no pace in the pitch. Leg-spinner Smith is a club bowler dispensing long-hops that have been smacked.
This series has swayed back and forth. When one side has had the upper hand the other team has come back next day with a big performance. To keep Australia in the game it would need an exceptional performance by their bowlers to dismiss England or we would have to bat as badly as they did and throw our wickets away. There is no pace, bounce or movement left in the pitch to give the bowlers encouragement. If we bat well in the first innings it will scare the hell out of Australia that the Ashes are disappearing over the horizon.
Reproduced with kind permission from the Daily Telegraph