The Ashes

 
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

I didn't think it was the victim card in play.
The overall umpiring performance was less than satisfactory, but these things have a habit of evening out.
I think England was hard done by when a stumping appeal against Agar was turned down in the Australian first innings.

The one standout thing that put Australia behind the eight ball was the dismal performance of the top order batting in the first innings. Numbers 1 to 4 inclusive contributed 29 runs between them. That does not win Ashes Tests. To make it worse, numbers 7 to 10 could only manage a grand total of 4. If those 8 players could have managed another 15 runs between them, i.e. less than 2 each, it could have been a win.

C'est la vie.
Valvegear

I think the final score was very flattering to Australia.  I don't think Australia was ahead in the game at any stage (it was probably a 100 run toss to lose), even when they took an unlikely lead on the first innings, they needed to be 100 in front and were only 5o or 60.  ~40% of the Aussie runs for the game, more than 200, were made for the last wicket.  

If you were to pick a combined 11 from these two sides there would be 7 Poms and 4 Aussies.  England have the best spinner, the best seam bowler (but there backup was a bit sus) and 4 of the 5 best batters in the game were poms.  The only discipline of the game Australia bested England was in tail end batting.  

That said, Australia traditionally does well at Lords with it's faster pitch that usually suits our players batter.  In particular, Hughes and Cowan as batters are likely to be more suited to the conditions at Lords, and Clarke, and all our bowlers too.  On that basis I hope they stick with Cowan at #3, but I don't think they will.  I think they'll bring in Harris for Starc, and Faulkner for Cowan to give the attack a left armer: Hughes - who made runs at 6 - pushed up to 3.

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  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
Honours about even after Day 1.
It should have been a lot better - yet again an Australian gave away a wicket because he can't put his foot in the right place. Siddle cost Aus 100 runs and a wicket.

As the report says:-
Coach Darren Lehmann delivered Peter Siddle and the bowling attack a spray at tea on day one of the second Test, making the point that Australia can't expect to win the Ashes if they blow chances.
Lehmann was filthy that Siddle had cost the side a crucial wicket with a front-foot no ball.
Siddle rattled through Jonny Bairstow's stumps in the 50th over which should have left England in trouble at 5-171.
Instead, replays showed he'd overstepped, and England piled on another 100 runs before the fifth wicket fell.
It's not the first time Siddle and the Australian quicks as a whole have let themselves and the team down by committing the cardinal sin of bowling.
At the Gabba last year, Siddle should have had Jaques Kallis out for 43, only for the South African to walk off with 147.
Already firm underdogs to steal back the urn, Lehmann knows Australia can't afford to shoot themselves in the foot - especially with such a fragile batting line-up to come.
"There is no excuse. The line is there for a reason and it's unacceptable," said quick Ryan Harris.
"It cost us a lot of runs today and, potentially, it could cost us the Ashes. It may have happened last Ashes too.
"We were pretty disappointed. Darren was not very happy when we went in for tea."

Harris has it exactly right - there is no excuse. Bowlers don't need to even put a foot on the line, much less over it. Get the run up measured properly, and bowl properly at practice, which the Aussies have been failing to do for years. Buchanan, one of Cricket Australia's more useless appointments, made absolutely no attempt to iron out the no ball. I watched an Australian net session, and bowlers were bowling from wherever they liked.  Someone once said to legendary AFL/VFL coach Ron Barassi that practice makes perfect. "Bullsh!t", retorted Barassi, "only perfect practice makes perfect." I hope Boof Lehman has this attitude.
  Donald Chief Commissioner

Location: Donald. Duck country.
Warnie made a call during his commentary about the time Siddle overstepped that maybe it was time to throw the ball to Smith to stir things up a bit.   Took until an hour from the end of play for Clarke to throw the ball to Smith.  3/18 - not a bad ploy.
  Fireman Dave Chief Commissioner

Location: Shh, I'm hiding
It's about time the front foot no balls have been raised. It's been an issue for quite some time.
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
1. Langer
2. Hayden
3. Ponting
4. Hussey
5. Clarke . . . reads well, doesn't it?

Sigh.
  Donald Chief Commissioner

Location: Donald. Duck country.
Those were the days ....
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
We could always go back a little further:-
1. Taylor
2.  Slater
3.  Boon
4.  M Waugh
5.  Border
6.  S Waugh . . .

Both line ups I have listed had one thing in common. They all had the intention to bat all day.  There now seems to be a 50 over or 20/20 mindset which says, "Hit every ball for runs."  The idea of building an innings isn't there. It's a five-day game for heaven's sake. They should take a look at Bell; won't play anything too wide, and makes the bowler come to him.  Two successive Tests with a century in each tells it all.

The great Graeme Pollock had a sound idea. He reckoned he'd receive four or five bad balls an hour.  Hit them all for four, and with the few singles and twos on offer, you'd be well on the way to 100 in the session.

Consider the Sheffield Shield now. You're hard pressed to name any stand-out batsman.  Unfortunately we don't have the Test players regularly playing, and this has reduced the competition from what used to be the toughest domestic season anywhere, to what it is now. Past Shield players like Stuart Law and Jamie Siddons would have walked into a Test eleven in any other country, but couldn't force anyone out of the Australian Test side. People (Victorians anyway ) screamed for Brad Hodge, but couldn't answer the question of who you'd leave out to fit him in.

Now, Watson continues to show that he is incapable of learning, or doesn't care, plays across the pad, goes lbw, and has the unmitigated gall to review it. A record of 42 Tests with only 2 centuries out of 19 scores over 50, is dismal for a number 1 in the order. Hughes, Rogers and Cowan are not Test class, and how many times does Khawaja have to demonstrate that he doesn't have the temperament for Tests?  Smith is that most unfortunate of players - a great trier, but not a Test class 5 or 6. I think it's going to be a long haul back to the top.
  lsrailfan Minister for Railways

Location: Somewhere you're not
No wonder Mickey Arthur's described Watson as being a Cancer to the Team, You think he would have learnt after Lehmann's pet talk the other day, But, No, Still can't get his act together now can he Rolling Eyes

Kind Regards
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
This is the worst-performing Australian team against England that I have seen since 1978-79. Then, at least, we had a team decimated by Packer. Now we have no excuse.
Australian teams to England have frequently been labelled by the English press as, " as the worst ever to come from Australia."  It happened to Benaud in 1961, Ian Chappell in 1972, and to Border in 1989.  However there were some great players within those teams, and the Pom press had it's collective nose rubbed in it well and truly. This time, with Clarke as the only possible world class stand out, I fear they may well be right.
  Typhon Assistant Commissioner

Location: I'm that freight train tearing through the sky in the clouds.
Consider the Sheffield Shield now. You're hard pressed to name any stand-out batsman.  Unfortunately we don't have the Test players regularly playing, and this has reduced the competition from what used to be the toughest domestic season anywhere, to what it is now. Past Shield players like Stuart Law and Jamie Siddons would have walked into a Test eleven in any other country, but couldn't force anyone out of the Australian Test side. People (Victorians anyway ) screamed for Brad Hodge, but couldn't answer the question of who you'd leave out to fit him in.
Valvegear

So what I'm reading in your post is that, alarmingly, not only do we not have the class for this generation of team, but future generations are going to suffer the same lack of Test quality because it seems the system is failing our youth and state players.

Joe Root seems to have given us all a demonstration of how to play a test innings. Just stay there.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
I think the Australian team should call a press meeting, apologise to everyone for wasting their time, then pack up and come home. What an utter embarrassment they are.
  JimYarin Chief Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Why is the pressure not being applied to Michael Clarke as it was to one of our greats in Ricky Ponting?

Why is someone like Phil Hughes still in the side?  He is a disgrace.  

It is about time we got rid of Clarke's mates from the team and put some real talent in.  This is just embarrassing in every respect.

Some of Englands better strike batsman aren't even firing and we are being slaughtered.
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
It is about time we got rid of Clarke's mates from the team and put some real talent in.
"JimYarin"


Well, don't keep us in suspense, Jim.  Just tell us the names of the real talent.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Part of the basis of Mickey Arthur's legal action against Cricket Australia is that "the damage to my reputations and career has been immense".

I'd say he's bound to fail. Everyday it looks more like Cricket Australia actually did him a favour.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Why is someone like Phil Hughes still in the side?  He is a disgrace.  
JimYarin
81no in the 1st innings of the 1st test - back when we were still in the match and the series (which seems a long time ago now).  Best score of any Aussie top order batsman and IIRC only bettered by AA's 98.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/23399399

[quote=Tom Fordyce Chief sports writer, BBC]
Australia have now gone 10 Tests without a batsman in the top three making a century. To put the slump in further context, the last time that happened was between 1899 and 1902.
[/quote]
And that guy has been dropped!
  Jajb94 Deputy Commissioner

Location: In a BAM
with a 10 day break and a tour match before the third test, it will be interesting to see what players perform and which players do not.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

We could always go back a little further:-
1. Taylor
2.  Slater
3.  Boon
4.  M Waugh
5.  Border
6.  S Waugh . . .
Valvegear

With the exception of Alan Border, I doubt any of those players would prosper or even be reliably selected in the current environment.

Steve Waugh played for 3 years before making his maiden test century, and had a record not unlike Smith's up to that point.  Boonie took a *long* time to develop into a test class player.  Mark Waugh was in his late 20s when he made his hundred on debut, older than half our top 6, and had made more than 10000 *Shield* runs by the time he did (and was selected at the expense of Steve Waugh who after 6 years in the team still only had a modest record).  Slater was selected on good form and youthful promise - not unlike Hughes - and was also dropped once the flash of good form ran out, but even after making it back to the team took some time to start scoring heavily.  

Only Alan Border who scored a hundred in his 2nd or 3rd test and averaged 50 or so for pretty much the rest of his career would stand a chance in the modern settup.  (Except he'd have been moved up to #3 to counter the other batter's problems and then dropped for failing there Smile).  Perhaps Mark Taylor with his diplomatic skills too, but it's more likely he'd have been dropped before he made captain under the current regime.

There are 3 types of successful test cricketer.  
1) The superstars: the Don Bradmans, the Alan Borders, the Ricky Pontings, the Sachin Tendulklar's, the Gary Sobers who are selected based on early promise, are too good for their opposition when they first encounter test cricket and only get better from there.

2) The seasoned pros who've done a *long* apprenticeship and are ready for test cricket by the time they finally get there.  Many of Australia's recent stars have taken that road - Matthew Hayden, Mark Waugh, Mike Hussey.  Players who weren't ready in their early 20s but stepped into the team almost immediately once they arrived.

3) The "made" players.  Most players fall into this category, even many greats.  They take 10 or 12 *consecutive* tests, sometimes more but that's the average, to find their feet and work out how they can be effective at test level.  Shane Warne is probably the best example.  He'd been playing for nearly 2 years, 4 or 5 series and only taken 1 five wicket haul (at the spin friendly SCG against the relative incompetent players of leg spin from the West Indies) before he bowed the Gatting ball, and took his next five-for in game *three* of the 93 ashes series.

If you look at the Aussie top 6, only Clarke and Watson have played that 10-12 (consecutive) games.  Clarke is already one of the greats of the game, and Watson has demonstrated in 40 (yes fourty) games he's *not* a specialist test standard batter - though in fairness he's been shunted around the batting order more than Annie and Clarabell.  

Shane Warne would have gotten his one test match - and because in his *first* game he was bashed all over the park by the opposition's off spinner cum makeshift opener and some 16yo kid (Ravi Shastri and Sachin Tendulkar).  He'd have never been picked again for Victoria much less Australia if that happened today.

The reason we are in such a parlous mess now is:
a) We haven't taken the time to develop our promising young players into test standard cricketers.
b) We've shifted the bias of state cricket to short forms and it's stopped producing the 10000FC run pros who can debut successfully as 30yo rookies.  (Most candidates to fullfill that role were dumped from state squads to make way for the David Warners and Steve Smiths who can run fast in the field and cow a few quick 6s in the BBL & hopefully Champion's League).

Even if the underlying issues are fixed - which they haven't been - it's going to take 1-2 years to mould the current crop of players into a competitive team and another 5 years before we've got a functional factory of test standard cricketers again.  Hope those guys in England prove me wrong!
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
The reason we are in such a parlous mess now is:
a) We haven't taken the time to develop our promising young players into test standard cricketers.
b) We've shifted the bias of state cricket to short forms and it's stopped producing the 10000FC run pros would can debut successfully as 30yo rookies.
djf01


Exactly.

Many of the points djf01 makes are quite valid, for example the time it took for so and so to make his maiden century etc.  The big difference, of course, was that the Australian batting line up was powerful enough to carry one or perhaps two up and coming players in those days.  Now it's Clarke trying to carry the lot, and it's obvious that the strain is showing.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Perhaps Mark Taylor with his diplomatic skills too, but it's more likely he'd have been dropped before he made captain under the current regime.
djf01
Actually, I take that back.  Today, Taylor wouldn't be able to hold a spot at #1 in a first grade team because he'd be shifted to make way for someone else for T20 and probably 50 over games, and probably wouldn't make it to Shield cricket, much less the Aussie team.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Pattison out for the rest of the series.

Will Starc get a second chance? If the tosser concentrated half as much on his bowling as he does his 'hard man' grimaces then perhaps the Poms might have something to worry about Razz
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Looking at the first two tests my comments:

1. Has Haddin done enough to stay in the team?  I am not convinced he has done enough with the gloves.

2. Should Wade be returned to the side if not as keeper but a batsman? Do we have anything to loose by doing so?

4. Rogers has struggled on a turning wicket.  Swann has his measure.  What of him?

5. If Wade comes in then I think Hughes needs to go?

Regards
Brian
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
For starters, we gave up picking our best wicketkeeper years ago. We wanted a batsman at number 7.
Of the two presently in England, Haddin is the lesser of the evils.  Wade demonstrated clearly that he is not up to standard taking slow bowling; Haddin is a little better.
Rogers has struggled, period.
Wade could come in for Hughes and we wouldn't lose anything by the move in terms of batting, but I don't know where/how Wade would field.

In other words, I don't have any good answers !
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

1. Has Haddin done enough to stay in the team?  I am not convinced he has done enough with the gloves.
bevans


Absolutely.  He *almost* stole the first test for us with the bat.  

And while his keeping has has more than a few flaws, I don't think it's in the same category of disappointment as Wade has been behind the stumps.  Wade was dropping catches and missing stumpings at about one a game last year.  With the gloves Haddin has looked a bit sluggish down the leg side (hew always was, but is starting to look his age when he needs to move a lot).  The biggest problem though has been the chances let fly through the slip cordon.  Partly it's been the conditions: very slow and low requiring the keeper and slips top stand very close while still trying to catch off our genuinely fast quicks.  But I think the sectors need to shoulder most of the blame for that.  It's obvious our slips cordon haven't played much together recently - or at all really.  They aren't positioned quite right (too close together, but again conditions play a role there).  But the biggest issue the fielders don't have the confidence to dive across and take a catch that may or may not be theirs because they know if the smeg it up they'll almost certainly be dropped from the team - probably forever in Haddin's/Watson's case.


2. Should Wade be returned to the side if not as keeper but a batsman? Do we have anything to loose by doing so?
bevans

Wade's keeping was so poor and costly at crucial times last year I think he' well and truly earned a 12 month (minimum) holiday from the team, at least until he can prove his keeping has improved enough to stop costing us test matches with the gloves.  

I think there is quite a lot to loose in bringing him back now.  Firstly, it doesn't really matter if Haddin does well or not in the next 3 or even 8 tests.  He is a known quantity.  He is a potential match winner (like Wade) and he *may* win us a game off his own bat.  He'll probably keep well enough to our attack but there *may* be the odd blemish or three.  

If Wade is brought back, there *will* be the odd blemish of three.  it's all but certain he'll keep to the same standard he did last year and this year: regularly missing (important) chances.  He may do well with the bat, and we'll have the same conundrum we do now: is the extra batting in the lower order worth the cost of forgoing dismissals?  Or he may fail with the bat and he'll be dropped again and we'll be worse off.

I think what we need to do is tell Wade his keeping needs to improve, and if it doesn't we'll be looking elsewhere for Haddin's replacement.


4. Rogers has struggled on a turning wicket.  Swann has his measure.  What of him?
bevans

IMHO Rogers has looked the most assured of all our players against the swinging/moving ball.  I also think he's been the best of our lefties against Swann, and his presence in the dressing room and demostration of how to do it has seen all our lefties improve in the way they deal with him.

But the bottom line is the best way to play Swann is right handed.  He's bowled absolutely beautifully, and with the conditions the way they are in England this summer he's going to be a handful for everyone unless we can win a few tosses and get to bat first.  The fact our squad is dominated by LH openers (none are good much less great players of spin, which is why they open) and Swann has shown this up.  Our best and most successful LH opener (not saying much, but everything is relative) in recent times isn't in the team because he can't bat at #3.

I think Rogers has looked pretty assured against this England attack even when they are bowling well.  He's made one 50 so far, I'd expect another 2 or 3 in the rest of the series, hopefully a ton as well but his opportunity for that will be limited by Swann and the Aussie bowler's footmarks.  That said, I though Rogers coped well against Swann on the slower pitch at Trent Bridge and the remaining tests are likely to be in slower conditions than Lords so his method may yet work.

Longer term: keep Rogers for the rest of this series.  If he does well (ie a ton plus 2 or 3 more good scores) then we'll keep him at #2 for the Aussie summer as well, and if not bring back Cowan for Aussie conditions.


5. If Wade comes in then I think Hughes needs to go?
bevans

I think both Hughes and Kwaja need to be given extended runs in the team somewhere between 1&4.  And that means beyond the Aussie ashes series, regardless of how they perform.  Neither are likely to ever be great players of spin as both are predominatly back foot players and are unlikely to develop the footwork to skip down to the pitch of the ball.  #4 is really too low for either of them.  Hughes is younger and has shown he clearly has the talent for test cricket, but he (still) has more failings to overcome.  By mid 2014 we *should* have at least one  reasonably experienced test standard batter for our top 3 aged below 35, but hopefully 2.  

I don't think this will happen though.  I expect *both* will be dropped again by the end of the Aussie Ashes summer, but you never know.  In fact I think Usman K will be dropped for the *next* test and Warner brought in to bat at #6 with Clarke at 4 & Smith at 5.  Twitter is the only thing likely to stop that!

I didn't see Kwaja bat in the first innings.  I turned on the Tour De France for the lunch break, switched back 20min late to find half our batting line up already out.  But *before* lunch they kept showing pictures of him on the balcony when Australia was 0-for.  He was absolutely smeg himself.  Leehman was trying to calm him down rubbing his shoulders and giving him a bit of a cuddle (perhaps that was why he was smeg himself Smile-) but he looked like someone who was thinking about being dropped again for failing in his first bat back ... but the shot he played to get out certainly reflected it.  And given they way the selectors have treated him (Invers: "I'm sure he appreciates getting one game is better than getting none at all" - he'd been on 7 tours, played only 6 tests, and already been dropped 3 times before) it was hardly surprising.

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