Another long day, culminating in a cricket match between the English and Australian press – a very enjoyable affair. That said, looking at some of the tactical plans, let alone the fielding, batting and bowling on display, it’s a good thing that the Test teams weren’t present. The media is an odd arrangement – you wouldn’t take advice on drinking less from an alcoholic – and yet throughout this series two teams will be minutely critiqued by men who struggle to throw the ball 22 yards. You have to feel for the members of the Barmy Army who turned up expecting to see Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussain and got Cricinfo’s Andrew Miller instead, but Jimmy Saville and co. found their voice when they’d had a few VBs, although sadly the match was already beyond the English by that stage.
Earlier today I spoke to Daryl Foster – former WA shield-winning coach, former Cricket Australia board member, biomechanical expert and now Western Australia selector – for a piece I’m writing for TWC on the health of Australian cricket. Like John Inverarity last week, Foster spoke convincingly on the many problems afflicting the Australian game. Researching this feature has been like buying shares in outdoor heaters just before the smoking ban – as Australia slip further, more and more juicy stuff comes out. Sadly I can’t share it with you yet, but I have got Foster’s thoughts on some of the key issues for the next Test.
Daryl Foster on Ricky Ponting
I think somebody has to be game enough, maybe Greg Chappell, to tell Ricky Ponting to drop down the order. If he wants to continue as Australian captain we can’t be on a knife-edge every time we lose an early wicket with Ricky coming in and being vulnerable early in his innings. He is 36, it’s just a fact that reflexes and hand-eye coordination go. They only have to go a little bit and all of a sudden you’re nicking the one that you would have let go. I’m not sure how long he can go on. If he loses this series he can’t go on as Australian captain.
Daryl Foster on Michael Beer
He’s ok. I think we’ve fallen for the three card trick with looking at Pietersen and thinking “ah, he gets out to left-arm spinners”. Well he got out to one in Adelaide but he had 227 runs on the board.
He flights the ball nicely, I’ve seen him bowl at the WACA and he’ll bowl tidily, he seems to be a reasonably good competitor, whether he’s class enough for that level time will tell.
You bowl in partnerships, if the seamers are going for runs it puts the pressure on, the spinner has to go for one or two an over which is difficult when the batsmen are using their feet or lapping. Doherty wasn’t up to that task, and I don’t know that any left-arm spinner here would be up to it. I think Beer is slightly better – he’s a taller boy than Doherty, his action is good, he does get some drop and a bit of flight, and he’s turned the ball on the WACA which is surprising. He’ll go ok, but I think it’s a panic decision.
I don’t know why they are determined to play a spinner. Once upon a time they would have played for quicks at the WACA and left it at that.
Daryl Foster on Chris Tremlett
I think from a height point of view they will probably go for Tremlett. He’s got to bowl that right length. People fall into that trap at the WACA – for years Merv Hughes never took a wicket here because he bowled too short, and then when he wanted to change his length he bowled too full. It was only when he had played here for four or five years that he learned the right length and took eight-for in a Test match. It’s very much about bowling the right length and not getting carried away with a bit of bounce. It’s not the quick pitch of a few years ago. He needs to bowl that back of the length but still bring them forward, like the Australians should have done with Alastair Cook.
Who’s going to win?
England are too well organised for them and are just better.