Friday, December 17, 2010
Hussey is probably the only Australian player who has done his job in the three tests. ABC.
I hadn't written about the Ashes tests since the last post, because in the words of a great Australian captain, "There are two teams out there, one is playing cricket. The other is making no attempt to do so."
Sadly the issue was that Australia's team were simply not up to the level of Ashes test cricket.
Conversely, England's players were clearly a team, all credit to them - they have played well as a team, and looked solid, not missing chances, rebuilding after knocks and being top class batting, bowling and fielding. Good cricket depends on both teams finding form, and playing well, together, and Australia were certainly - to be as kind as possible - out of form. They were a sad shadow of the team of Waugh's era. The fielding was poor, and the batting from the dedicated batsmen for the most part a disgrace. But after a couple of sparky individual performances up to yesterday - including another solid batting performance by Hussey and Haddin, and a remarkable high score with the bat by fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, today saw the contest really come to life with two teams fighting on form. Tellingly it was a dedicated fast bowler that high-scored for Australia yesterday, and it's ironic that the same chap was responsible for knocking over most of England's team today in one of the tightest, most effective single bowler efforts I've seen. When you're hot...
Mitchell Johnson (and that tattoo) celebrate another England wicket.
As another great Australian bowler, Terry Alderman, now summarising for the ABC's Grandstand commentary said: "Single-handedly Mitchell Johnson has got Australia back in the game." I'll just mention Mitch is a left-hander.
An 18 minutes ABC highlights summary here.
Obviously I'm glad Australia's back in the game, and serious, but better still for everyone is that as I write tonight, this game (and the series) is now really in the balance, and we've seen (and hopefully will see) some really good cricket by both sides, which is what it should be about. Serious questions remain. Ponting's poor scores with the bat mean (were he not captain) he'd almost certainly be out, but Clarke, the deputy, is fairing little better and no obvious other successor. A sad reflection on the previous solid succession planning Australia developed through the 1990s and early 21st century. Another pressing question is what was Johnson thinking with that tattoo. No, really, no.
Strauss' men can, on their performance to date, be proud of being one of the best England teams to tour Australia for a long time; let's hope they keep it up. But let's also hope that Australia do so as well, and give us a series to rival the 2005 Ashes.
Here's to a good contest!