Well done and congratulations to England.
What a pity it had to come down to that… another bloody DRS. My first reaction in live time was that there was a noise, and there was, and it clearly carried. I think hot spot was inconclusive, there was something there, but it wasn’t clear when it got there, or more accurately, if it was caused by the ball. Snicko was clear though. It’s just an horrific and surreal way to end the Test Match.
It was said in the days just prior to this 1st Test that a par result for Australia was a loss. What could define the rest of the series was how resounding this loss would be. I think Australia can hold their heads very high after that effort. Pushing a very fine, and superior, England team to the absolute brink on the fifth day proved that you simply do not write off Australia. We not only pushed them, we could well have won and that, in the context of where we’d been before this Test, is telling.
Coming off the back of a 4-0 series whitewash in India, Australia turned up in England under loads of negative scrutiny. A very ordinary display and group stage exit from the One Day cricket ICC Champions Trophy in June was infused with off-field issues, much covered by conventional media.
A change of coach less than two weeks prior to the 1st Test at Trent Bridge was hardly ideal preparation. While new coach Darren Lehmann is a top class candidate and his appointment could well prove to be highly gainful for Australian cricket, I think that once this series is over we need to shine the bright light on Cricket Australia’s top brass. I am not a fan of James Sutherland, but I’ll come back to that at some other juncture.
The position of the match last night would have put a lot of people in Australia in a difficult spot. Many of us would have been absolutely knackered after four very heavy late nights and participation in our normal, daily commitments. The prospect of another intense one, on a Sunday, leading into everyone’s least favourite working day wasn’t appealing from a sleep and sanity sense.
Despite this, I imagine that Australians interested in cricket would not have have been able to let go until the end. Facing my normal early rise at 0600 – ok some readers probably think that’s late – I couldn’t really afford to be up beyond 2300, but I was committed irrespective of my professional and other obligations the following day.
England will feel that they should have rolled Australia in the first innings and had a lead. They’ll also feel they should have finished Australia off earlier than they did in the second innings, thereby winning more convincingly. Australia will feel they should have batted better in the first dig, composed a larger lead and then picked off England more efficiently and had an easier chase. It’s interesting what influences perspective. In this case it might be an allegiance.
Looking ahead to Lords there’s a few early observations I’ll make. Australia have the luxury of depth in our bowling stocks. Not just other players to pick from, but genuine quality options both in the pace and spin departments. Ryan Harris, Jackson Bird and Nathan Lyon present viable and exciting options. England aren’t so blessed in this department, when Anderson isn’t bowling things seem to get a lot easier for Australia.
While there’s no doubting that James Anderson and Graeme Swann are the two best bowlers – on length of record and consistency – there’s not a heck of a lot beyond the four bowlers England picked in this Test, that would deeply concern Australia. Tim Bresnan and Graeme Onions seem to be next two cabs off the rank for England, and at some point in this series, with Anderson, Broad and Finn having to bowl a lot of overs, one or both should get a gig.
I fancy England will bring Tim Bresnan in for Steve Finn for the 2nd Test on the provision that Anderson and Broad are fit and well. Australia are highly likely to drop Ed Cowan for Usman Khawaja. The sentimental folk will be thinking that Ashton Agar has definitely done enough to play again – and he probably has – but closer assessment of the Lords wicket and an intense review of our bowling plans and the fitness of our quicks will influence the make up of our attack. Just remember that if Harris, Bird or Lyon come in it’s not a backwards step. Having said that I’d love to be able to pick the same XI, despite my high admiration for the other three bowling options aforementioned.
I’m gutted we’re one down, but we’re absolutely in with huge a chance this series. See you all again later this week!