Johnson blows hot
We’re not sure what his Mother said to him or whether he drew inspiration from listening to ‘I Am the Resurrection’ by the Stone Roses, but it certainly seems to have worked for the cuckolded Mitchell Johnson. After getting less movement than a cyrogenically frozen sloth at Brisbane, he suddenly regained the ability to swing the ball at his favourite WACA hunting ground. After Alastair Cook had given Johnson his first wicket of the series, he set-up Jonathan Trott perfectly before trapping him in front with an in-swinger. Kevin Pietersen was then beaten for pace in the same over and Paul Collingwood followed soon after before he returned to mop up the tail. Those that said Johnson was the most likely to take a bag of wickets close together were suddenly vindicated.
Not so hot for Trott
Jonathan Trott’s test average went over 60 at Adelaide, but there have been a number of insinuations that he isn’t comfortable against the short ball. Trott certainly struggled on a fast, bouncy pitch at The Wanderers last winter and he looked all at sea in his brief innings today. After nearly top-edging a bouncer behind, he edged through the slips for four before being beaten by an in-swinger from Johnson. It’s far too early to suggest that there is a chink in Trott’s armoury but he certainly seemed rattled today by the extra bounce and pace of the wicket.
Cook serves up an unappetising lunch dish for England
It’s hard to criticise Cook after his exploits in Brisbane and Adelaide, but with him and Andrew Strauss moving serenely along England were on top and the Australian attack looked pretty innocuous. Then one lazy waft outside off-stump and suddenly the course of this Test match has changed irrevocably. Cook can’t be blamed for what followed, but his injudicious shot gave Johnson an unlikely confidence boost and exposed the men that followed on a pitch where batsmen are more vulnerable than normal when they first come to the crease.
England’s collapse fetish returns with a vengeance
After clocking up 517/1 in the second innings at Brisbane and then 620/5 declared at Adelaide, England’s batsmen looked like inflicting more pain on Australia’s bowlers as they moved to 1215 for 6 across the three innings. Then Cook went and everything fell apart as ten wickets went for just 109 runs. The familiar batting collapses of the summer against Pakistan had returned with a vengeance whilst a bewildered Ian Bell – in the form of his life – was left high and dry at the crease by his fellow batsmen. We wonder if the England dressing room has suffered from the same dose of hubris as the multitude of crowing England followers – us included – after day one.
On a remarkably good day for his side, Ricky Ponting suffered personal disappointment by being caught down the leg-side for just 1. If you take away his unbeaten 51 in the dead 2nd innings at Brisbane, Ponting has scored just 32 runs in five innings. Maybe it is time for him to drop down the order?
Finn’s dangerous quirk
Steven Finn’s unpredictability is rapidly becoming his most dangerous asset as the batsmen just don’t know what delivery is coming next. After a first over that contained more long hops than a frenetic giant bunny, he roared back to dismiss Phil Hughes and then Ponting in quick succession as Finn confirmed his position as the leading wicket-taker in the series. Clearly, he is not the finished article yet and nowhere near the metronomic Glenn McGrath clone he says he wants to be. Give him time though.
Player of the day
Like many, we had plenty of fun at Mitchell Johnson‘s expense during and after the Gabba Test, so it is only fair to give him the highest praise after his performance today. Six wickets after top scoring yesterday means he is odds-on to be man of the match here. Zero (see Zeroes: Mitchell Johnson) to hero indeed.
Zero of the day
On a day of England zeroes, Jonathan Trott‘s frenetic innings stood out – he looked like getting out every ball. But we’ll forgive him his first failure against Australia.
What happens next?
Australia are now in command – who’d have thought that whilst Strauss and Cook were at the crease? If they can stretch their lead beyond 300, it’s hard to see England winning this Test and having been outplayed for the majority of the series, Australia will be 1-1 going in to the Boxing Day Test. Have England thrown the Ashes away? Only time will tell.
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