Reaction to the Drawn First Test

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ricky-ponting1Well, there we are. Somehow England have managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of Australian victory. England should be mighty pleased with that result, thanking their tail and thanking Ricky Ponting. This morning, when KP was bowled, I was thinking that we wouldn’t reach tea.

Some things we can take from that game at Sophia Gardens:

1) Maynard was telling the truth. This wasn’t a ‘Bunsen’ at all. Hauritz (no monkey he) managed to get some turn but despite the dust, grass and everything else shown by the Sky Satellite Camera close-ups of the pitch it was pretty benign. The two spinners policy backfired. There was never any danger of us taking 10 wickets in this game let alone 20.

2) Despite his late heroics with the bat and for all his popularity, Monty Panesar at this stage is not a Test cricketer. He is generally woeful with the bat, poor in the field and, in this game, didn’t get very much at all in terms of turn. He doesn’t have enough variation in his bowling, he doesn’t take enough wickets, he doesn’t scare or threaten batsmen. I like him, I wish him well, but I’d rather have had Rashid or, indeed, either Harmison or Onions.

3) Again, the mentality of the English batsmen should be called into question. How many of these players are mentally tough enough to play in top series with all the fire, brimstone, attrition and sledging that comes with that? It was the tail Colly, Flintoff, Broad, Swanny and Anderson that batted well in the second innings. KP, Cook and Strauss were awful. Bopara, who looked jittery in the first innings, should be exempt here for a terrible decision by Doctrove. We needed them to bat through the day today and they didn’t. It was down to Collingwood’s gritty and grisly determination that won us the game. Hell, Flower used to bore and grind teams into depression why isn’t it rubbing off on our players? Some of the shots and decision making from our top order batsmen in the second innings was woeful. Prior, in particular, was singled out in BBC coverage when they said ‘We give him ten minutes’ at one point. He lasted nine.

The mantra, I would say, is: This Is Test Cricket. Laugh at Boycott all you like but we didn’t need to score big runs today, we needed to bat all day. Only the tail, and Collingwood, got it.

The Australian batsmen showed that big scores were possible here and that England’s batting line-up should have converted their starts. Indeed, the fact that 10 of their batsmen got into double figures in the first innings should have told them that big scores were possible.

4) Ponting is not the greatest Test Captain in the world. In England’s first innings, he set very conservative and defensive fields and let Colly and KP score along nicely. In the second innings, he brought on Siddle far, far too late. Towards the end he picked North’s gentle spin rather than Pup’s left-arm rippers. Strange decisions if you ask me.

What would I do? Bopara and Prior deserve another chance but Broad and Panesar do not. My 11 for Lord’s would be:

1) Strauss 2) Cook 3) Bopara 4) KP 5) Colly 6) Flintoff 7) Prior 8) Swann 9) Anderson 10) Onions 11) Harmison.

RCM

PS – if you liked/disliked my piece on KP below, why not compare to Malcolm Conn’s piece in The Australian. I would say that Conn, whilst thought-provoking, shows three Pietersen failures:

A couple of Pietersen’s recent atrocities have been directly linked to two of England’s most painful defeats.

– At Edgbaston against South Africa last northern summer, he attempted glory with a six needed for his century, and hit the scrapping spinner, Paul Harris, straight to mid-on.
– Then, in Jamaica last February, he hammered Sulieman Benn for four, four, six to race to 97, and then one ball later slogged a top-edged hoick to the keeper.
– It could have been that yesterday Pietersen was trying too hard to atone for his first innings, when he spent much of his 69 compulsively sweeping the modest off-spin of Nathan Hauritz.

In which of those innings did Pietersen hit less than 50 runs? Interesting. I think Conn might be right but the wiser analysis in those two losses would have been that the rest of the team didn’t do well….


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