Brave call at toss pays off for Strauss
Andrew Strauss’ brave call at the toss to insert Australia paid off in spades as England dominated again on the first day at the WACA. And it could have been worse too for Australia as had to recover from 69/5 before posting 268 all out. The recalled Chris Tremlett was the standout man in the attack, but all the bowlers chipped in with wickets even if James Anderson and Steve Finn were not at their best. Graeme Swann typically chipped in with a couple of wickets to emphasise once again his value to the side and provide further evidence why he should win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award on Sunday.
Tremlett’s Sinatraesque Comeback
We’ve been saying for ages at the Reverse Sweep that Tremlett deserved another chance at Test cricket after regaining form, confidence and fitness in his first season with Surrey. The way he set up Phil Hughes with a succession of short balls before bowling him with a fuller one in his first over demonstrated that he has the skill and nous to flourish at the highest level. Shane Warne has said that Tremlett could be the best bowler in the World if he puts his mind to it and on this showing…
To play, or not to play?
That is the question at Perth where the extra bounce means that batsmen have to adapt in deciding which balls to leave. Australia’s Captain and Vice-Captain both got it wrong by playing needlessly at balls outside off-stump to depart early. That said, Paul Collingwood’s spectacular diving one-handed catch at third slip to dismiss Ponting was simply stunning. Those that question his place in the side forget the package he offers – an average over 40 and runs invariably in tight situations, a useful occasional bowler, trusted lieutenant in the field and England’s best fielder.
Ponting gets something right
Back in July when Steve Smith scored a counterattacking 80 against Pakistan at Headingley, Ponting was adamant that Smith was not a test number six. Ponting hasn’t got much right in this series, but the evidence of today suggests he was spot on. How Smith – at best a test number seven or eight that can bowl a few overs of leg-spin – could come in ahead of Brad Haddin is beyond belief.
Deja vu as Hussey and Haddin star again
Once again in this series Australia were indebted to Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin. Indeed, the contribution of the two has been extraordinary. At Brisbane, where the pair added 307, Hussey and Haddin accounted for 69% of Australia’s first-innings of 481. At Adelaide it was 61% and today it was 43%. It would have been higher, but for Mitchell Johnson – proving that once he gets in he is a dangerous performer with the bat – and Peter Siddle ensuring that the Australian tail wagged.
Player of the day
We suggested yesterday that Chris Tremlett could put in a man of the match performance if he was picked for his first Test in over three years. Well, he’s certainly made a good start mixing up his length well to take 3/63 on a pitch that was always going to suit him.
Zero of the day
With Hughes and Ponting back in the hutch early, Michael Clarke needed to put in a strong performance as vice-captain. So dangling your bat half-heartedly at one well outside off-stump was not what the doctor ordered. Clarke just doesn’t look like captain material to us.
What happens next?
If England have another good day tomorrow then the prospect of retaining the Ashes by Christmas will be tantalisingly close. Australia went for broke with a four-man pace attack, but will it be a gamble that fails dismally? The pitch looks much better for batting than a total of 268 suggests.
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