Close: second Test, day two, Adelaide
Match score: England 317-2 (Cook 136*, Pietersen 85*) lead Australia 245 (Hussey 93, Haddin 56, Anderson 4-51 ) by 72 runs
Session score: England 119-0 England win
Session in six words: Cook and Pietersen turn the knife
This match has made odd watching. Imagine going to stay with the good-looking, successful bloke you always hated at school, only to discover that he’s begun to repeatedly headbutt life’s knee. It’s surprisingly unsatisfying. This isn’t exaggeration – England have been good but the Australian side we have seen here has been rub-your-eyes poor at the crease and in the field. Beyond that, lack of effort is not the problem – the bowlers have given their all today, more worryingly it is a lack of quality. The talk before the series was that England would need to be 25% better than Australia to win in Australia. On this evidence they are 50% ahead, and climbing.
Over the last four days of cricket, England are currently 834-3. In this context their 517-1 now looks remarkable only for Alastair Cook’s stamina (he has been involved in all but 11 overs of the series so far). Four of England’s last five partnerships have been over 100, Andrew Strauss’s aberration the only relief for Australia. In between Australia’s gun batsmen took a sickie on a flat one, and now a media that had climbed on top of them are jumping up and down, in spikes. Worse still, their fans are losing interest.
Remind you of anything? Right now, Australia are the new old England, right down to the sub-standard spinner, the fitful concentration and the below-par fielding. A colleague has tipped Ian Bell to score over 400 runs this series, a figure he looks unlikely to make at the moment because he can’t get in. England fans coming to Melbourne and Sydney in 2006-07 were disappointed because the series was no longer alive. At this rate they will see two equally meaningless matches.
So come on Australia, make a game of it. Stop talking about not bowling bad balls, and start doing it. Punter, take a look at Sachin. Clarke, man-up you girl. Knock us over again Sidds, please. Last Thursday was great to watch. And most of all, Aussie kids, don’t stop watching cricket because there’s no one in your team you want to be – train harder and make sure there’s someone there to win the Ashes back in 10 years time.
In the actual cricket, Alastair Cook continues, remorseless. It is unfair that the quality of an opposition attack that cannot move it off the straight means that his run tally this series will always suffer comparatively Michael Vaughan’s efforts in 2003, if not in the record books then the minds of England supporters. At the other end Kevin Pietersen ponced and flounced, mixing a few risks with some excellent driving to move towards the hundred that should restart a career stalled for too long. Australian TV remarked with surprise that KP didn’t have a hundred yet this year, as off their game as their team.
Importantly England scored at a rate in the final session that should, barring a massive change in Australian fortune, give them time to get a good lead before they try and bowl Australia out again. They must not allow this dominance to pass without a victory.
Tea: second Test, day two, Adelaide
Match score: England 198-2 (Cook 90*, Pietersen 14*), Australia 245 (Hussey 93, Haddin 56, Anderson 4-51 )
Session score: England 98-1 England win
Session in six words: Cook and Trott frustrate Australia further
With luck and form against them, this day looks likely to get worse before it gets better for Australia. At least they finally got rid of Jonathan Trott, but Alastair Cook remains impregnable and Kevin Pietersen has now entered proceedings, a human amphetamine after untold hours of waiting to make his own mark.
Australia must look at themselves hard tonight – they missed a run-out chance with Trott on six, dropped him on ten and again on 76. They can take encouragement in the heart of their bowlers – Harris and Siddle kept going and then some, although Doherty was as innocuous as the doom-mongers feared. Harris in particular can take credit for working Trott over with the short stuff before inducing an uppish push in Trott’s strongest area, off his pads.
The wicket bought Pietersen to the crease, and a chance almost immediately as he top-edged an attempted turn to leg from Doherty over cover. “He’s not there for a long time, he’s there for a good time, Peto”, said the commentary. Australia can only hope.
Close: second Test, day two, Adelaide
Match score: England 90-1 (Cook 35*, Trott 39*), Australia 245 (Hussey 93, Haddin 56, Anderson 4-51 )
Session score: England 89-1 England win
Session in six words: Strauss falls early but England consolidate
Andrew Strauss is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Nine days after losing his wicket playing unnecessarily at the third ball of the innings in Brisbane, not playing at the third one at all was the problem today, Strauss bowled middle stump by a shrieking Dougie Bollinger. Bollinger, face smeared in sunscreen, looked like he was about to explode, a realistic possibility in this searing Saturday heat.
Fortunately for England, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott are not the types to get fazed, especially in their current form. A partnership of contrasting dexterity and techniques, if the Aussies probably hated them already after they added 329 at The Gabba, then the 89 here won’t have helped. Over the course of the morning Trott moved past Roger Pollock into third place in the list of averages of Test batsmen with over 1,000 runs, at a shade over 61. This the man who couldn’t tour.
Bollinger had been the anti-Johnson in those first few overs, willingly thrusting his heart in the furnace where Mitch had hidden his in the cooler at The Gabba. Watching Bollinger bowl was the first time since Siddle’s first day burst that Australia had looked like a fielding side playing their biggest series. That earnest endeavour could have given Australia a near identical start to England yesterday, but Hussey could not hold on to Trott at gully and Doherty’s throw from midwicket lacked poise and direction with the same batsman floundering. Rarely have the fielding performances of two teams so totally represented their respective fortunes.
As it was even Bollinger tired as the morning went on, emulating Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris tendency to stray in length or line at crucial moments. At one stage, when the screen flashed that Trott had not scored for 22 balls, Dougie put a half-volley on his pads. It was that sort of morning.