The Ashes 1st Test: Cheap suits, card tricks and Draco Malfoy

Sadly for Australia it was an all too familiar scene. A low total required on the last day of a Test Match for victory only to fall agonizingly short. Unbelievably, cruelly, throw-the-remote-through-the-TV-screen short.

So in the wash-up, the DRS system has taken a belting, as too has Draco Malfoy – sorry, Stuart Broad (everyone loves a scapegoat) but it’s important to look beyond the obvious and re-hash just what we learnt this test and therefore what to expect for the rest of the series.

Hopefully a lot less of this, for starters

Australia’s batting still folds like a cheap suit

3-3, 5-9, 3-3. Three instances during both of Australia’s innings when wickets crumbled, one in particular which very nearly brought Australia to the brink of no return. Adding those up and out of 20 wickets lost, 11 fell for the cost of 15 runs. 15 RUNS. To go a step further, the 10th wicket combined across both innings delivered 225 runs, or 39% of all of Australia’s runs. Just let that sink in for a little bit. For perspective, England’s last wicket partnerships combined brought a grand total of 2 runs. 2, or 0.34% of their total runs scored for the match.

Yet, funnily enough, all of Watson, Rogers, Smith, Hughes and Haddin found form at various stages in the match – in fact in the 2nd dig, except Hughes’ 0 and Starc’s 1 every Australian batsmen made over 11 and faced at least 22 balls. And this was on a 4th innings, crumbling, dead, somewhat unpredictable and hard-to-score-on pitch! So, come on boys – a little more focus and application please.

Jimmy Anderson wins matches

Pretty plain and simple. Apart from him, no other England bowler looks all that threatening. It seems plenty of time and effort has been put into negating Graeme Swann but Australia seemed to go wobbly at the knees every time Jimmy came in to bowl. A fantastic, world-class bowler but aside from Clarke’s wicket in the first innings he used tactics rather than talent to outwit the Aussies. Generally it was the old inswinger, inswinger, inswinger, outswinger and edge to keeper/slips that did the trick.

The two-card trick, aka: The Jimmy Anderson

It is worth noting that although he took 10 wickets for the match, 4 were Australia’s top 6, another 4 were the wickets of Starc and Siddle in both innings and the other two were Haddin and Agar in the second innings. Also, only 1 of his wickets was LBW (and barely that), all others were caught – 8 of which were to either keeper or first slip. Like I said – a great bowler, a world-class bowler, but certainly with a little less poking and prodding and more leaving outside off stump, the Australians can reduce his impact significantly. Furthermore, England have shown they won’t play more than 4 bowlers, so Australia have to put pressure on Broad and Bresnan (assuming he comes in for the ineffective – apart from 2 balls in the first innings – Finn) to increase the pressure on England to find other ways to get wickets other than with Anderson.

Clarke and the DRS is not a match made in heaven

Clarke’s use of the system was shambolic, and actually has been for a while now. The system is in place to eliminate very poor umpiring decisions. Unfortuantely for Clarkey, really really wanting a wicket doesn’t actually get factored in. What does is the umpires call and if they decide it’s not out, you need a SIGNIFICANT amount of evidence to overturn the decision. So, you had better be 100% sure. Otherwise you end up having to cop God-awful decisions like Draco M…sorry, Stuart Broad’s non-wicket in the second dig.

Pick the cricketer

Luckily for Australia, it’s an easy skill to learn. Moreover, the best exponents of it were on display –Alastair Cook showed a cool head when calls didn’t go England’s way. Calculated decisions were made when they asked or decided not to ask for referrals. So take note Clarkey and get it right.

Ashton Agar batting at 11 will never happen again

I hadn’t seen any of the kid but batting him at 11 was clearly a mistake by the powers that be. Luckily, Phil Hughes was still in when he Agar did stride out in the first innings and, as they say, the rest is history. No, really. It ended up being the biggest 10th wicket partnership ever. Which was extraordinary given Agar is only 19 and was playing his debut innings, and only his 11th first-class match. A future batting in the top 6 isn’t out of the question but at number 8 he provides a great counter-attacking option Australia will most likely desperately need this series.

“Dude, I’m totally going to smash your highest score in my 1st innings. I’ll even do it at no. 11, no problems.”

Also, this now means Australia now boast the best tail end in the game with Siddle,  Starc, Pattinson, Harris and Agar all averaging over 15 in Test matches. Sadly we need them to call upon their batting all too often, so it’s a good thing they know how to score some runs.

We’re in for a much closer series than expected

The most disappointing thing for Australia in India was in all four tests they didn’t put up nearly the sort of fight like they did in this 1st test. So while ultimately the match didn’t go in our favour the series has been brought to life and the Australians can head to Lord’s with much more confidence that they have the ability to beat England, something they said they had before this series but no-one really took to heart.

So for a team not given much chance of competing, let alone actually winning a Test in this series, Australia performed more than admirably. The end was gut wrenchingly close, but when you consider the positives – the fact they were 9 down in the first innings and still 98 runs behind, the bowling of Siddle and Pattinson, the emergence of Agar and the batting of many in the team, they can head to Lord’s with a spring in their step and victory within sight.

-Adam

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