Ashes First Test Review

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‘THE GREAT ESCAPE’

great-escapeSo, the Poms are ecstatic…Monty and Jimmy to the rescue. But what does this result actually mean for the rest of the series? There is a lot of cricket to come, and with the next test starting in just a few days; there are some big decisions that need to be made in both camps.

There is no doubt that by managing to draw the first test England has escaped what really should have been a very critical reaction to how they have performed so far. Some quarters have criticised their batsmen for only scoring 435 in the first innings, but I believe that by scoring that much they should have never got into this position. The majority of the blame should be put squarely on the shoulders of the men with the ball, and the captain. Allowing Australia to score nearly 700, and at nearly four per over, is just criminal.

Let’s face it; there were two spells in the entire innings that the Poms actually looked like getting wickets. Flintoff’s first spell, when he dismissed Hughes, was certainly outstanding, as was Jimmy Anderson’s second new ball spell, where he got the ball to talk. However, everything in between was just hopeless. Broad looked completely out of his depth, and the spinners were simply not a threat.

Watching Michael Clarke spank Panesar to the boundary again and again must have got the English selectors attention, and if it didn’t, watch out in the next test. Monty may well have saved the day with the bat, but if both he and Swann are playing at Lords…well they won’t be. I’ve said it before, but Steve Harmison just NEEDS to be in that team.

Credit has to go to the Australian selectors though. Before the test I picked my likely Australia team, which included Hilfenhaus, as I felt he gave the best swing option. Thankfully, the selectors agreed, and Hilfenhaus most certainly the pick of the bowlers. I also had Stuart Clark in my side, but did note that Siddle was a fantastic back up, and that both of them couldn’t be picked.

In retrospect I’m glad they went with Siddle, he is one of those rare bowlers that is able to keep his energy and aggression high the entire day. Sure, the Aussies couldn’t finish off the Poms on the last day, but that was really because of the lack of spin. However, this shouldn’t mean that they don’t pick Hauritz. The problem for the Aussies was that they only picked one spinner in the touring party. This means that if Hauritz doesn’t perform they don’t have any other options, a ridiculous decision. Sure, Bryce McGain got hit around in one test innings by a super South African batting line up, on a pitch that wasn’t made to turn, but that shouldn’t mean he isn’t in this squad.

Hauritz is really a holding option, but the ridiculous thing is that Australia has part-time spinners to do that job. Picking an attacking spinner, like McGain, could well have meant a victory in this first test.

Nonetheless, the series is really set-up now. England is going to have to seriously improve, and make some big decisions in terms of their bowling line-up, and Australia will know they only need to improve a small amount to get a lead in this series.


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