England on the brink of joining the immortals
On a day when that doughty fighter Paul Collingwood announced his retirement from test cricket, England are on the verge of gaining admittance to the cricketing equivalent of Valhalla after once again dominating a pathetic Australian side on day 4 at the SCG. If Adelaide and Melbourne were good, Sydney has been even better. Other than Perth and the first innings at Brisbane, England have utterly dominated this series and a final scoreline of 3-1 will provide the gloss that their efforts have deserved. On the same pitch that England amassed 644 in 177.5 overs, their bowlers once again showed the impotence of their Australian counterparts by getting plenty of reverse swing to send the hosts spiralling to what will be a third innings defeat of the series. That is a comprehensive walloping in anyone’s language.
Prior does a Beefy
Matt Prior has had a sound series with the gloves, but perhaps his defining moment came with the bat in Melbourne. With hardly a run to his name in the series, Prior looked all at sea and it was no surprise when he was out to a catch behind the wicket. But Aleem Dar asked for a review to check if Johnson had over-stepped. He had, so Prior was reprieved and went on to score an ugly 85. The value of that time at the crease was magnified today with a fluent Prior reaching his fourth Test hundred off just 109 balls. It was the quickest Ashes hundred by an England batsman since a certain Ian Botham turned around the Headingley Test of 1981.
Shane Watson’s Comedy Moments – Number 375
A quick glance at his stats of 435 runs at 48.33 suggests that Shane Watson has had a pretty good series. However, although he has reached 36 in eight out of ten innings, a three figure score has eluded him each time and his running between the wickets has bordered on the catastrophic. He ran Katich out in Adelaide before his partner had even faced a ball (a Katich-astrophe?) and then Hughes was the victim in Melbourne. Watson said afterwards – probably insincerely – that he wished it had been him and not Hughes who had fallen short. Well his wish became the cricketing Gods command today when he and Hughes turned an easy two into an almighty mix-up. A DVD of ‘Shane Watson’s Comedy Moments’ featuring crazy run-outs, serial failures to reach three figures and plenty of sulking must be due for release soon.
Racking up the runs
England’s total of 644 was their highest ever in Australia, which coming after 517/1 at Brisbane, 620/5 at Adelaide and 513 at Melbourne shows England’s unquenchable thirst for runs this series and the utter ineptness of Australia’s woeful bowling. England’s batsmen have racked up nine hundreds between them – a record for them in Ashes encounters and Cook, Trott, Bell, Pietersen and Prior all average over 50 for the series. And it is unlikely to get any better for Australia as their next Test series is in Sri Lanka. Just imagine how many runs the likes of Sangakkara and Jayawardene will plunder from this dreadful attack.
Player of the day
Up to the start of the Boxing Day Test, it seemed that Brad Haddin was going to win the battle of the wicketkeeper-batsmen, but it’s now a hands down victory for Matt Prior. He has consistently been better with the gloves than Haddin and his quickfire hundred today gave him the honours with the bat too.
Zero of the day
Australia’s bowling was again woeful and impotent, but this award has to go jointly to Shane Watson and Phil Hughes. For the second successive test Australia faced a huge first innings deficit and both times the opening pair contrived to throw away a good start by running between the wickets like headless chickens. Watson in particular should hang his head in shame. “Oh no” indeed.
What happens next?
Immortality for Andrew Strauss and his men and yet more ignominy for Australia.
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