Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Trent Bridge Day 1
So, I hear you ask in your relentless quest for knowledge, what have we learned from that little lot?
The first thing we’ve learned, at least as far as The Little House of Concrete is concerned, is that Hughesy needs to hunker himself down in The Office’s comfortable chair before the first ball is bowled, with the radio tuned to the ABC commentary and the dressing gown handy in case we need a little added warmth in the wee hours. We’ve got fortifieds from Baileys of Glenrowan to warm things up on the inside, and the dressing gown will do for the exterior, particularly the legs on nights that tend, with the wind chill factor and all, to be crisp.
Expecting a time lapse between the radio call and the on screen action I was sitting at the computer last night when Madam appeared, announced she was watching the first bit and settled into the comfy chair. At one for a few more than I would have preferred and the bowling leaving a bit to be desired, I thought it was time to try Hughesy’s almost foolproof method of ensuring something happens by wandering off to bed.
This quite often produces results, but I don’t recall too many instances where the stratagem has proved quite as successful, delivering no less than thirteen wickets, but we’re getting ahead of the narrative here.
So, what did we learn?
Let’s start with the Australian team selection, particularly the decision to hand Ashton Agar his baggy green, the 434th player selected for Australia, and the twelfth youngest to get the honour. If you need to catch up on the Agar story you can do so here, but the selection suggests a degree of horses for courses in the selection stakes.
The thinking appears to involve Kevin Pietersen’s perceived weakness against left arm orthodox bowling, and comments from Lehmann (here) suggest the spinner’s spot isn’t completely cut and dried.
More particularly, with Lyon bowling offies, Agar’s left arm tweakers and Fawad Ahmed’s leggies it looks like we’ve got three reasonable cards covering the standard spin options. That could make the next tour to India rather interesting.
The other interesting selection issue is, of course, Warner. Rocketing him off to play for Australia A in Zimbabwe (there’s a four game there starting the same day as the Lords Test with the first of two unofficial Tests against South Africa A kicking off a week later) means he might be back on board later in The Ashes series, with Old Trafford starting on August 1, the Test at Riverside (Durham) kicking off on August 9 and The Oval on August 22.
There are three day tour games against Sussex (between Lords and Old Trafford) and Northamptonshire (leading in to The Oval) so, while Warner would have been able to get some time in the middle there, with Zimbabwe and South Africa A probably guaranteeing a more competitive opposition you’d have to guess he’s still on the periphery of the picture and a chance of figuring in calculations if the existing order fails to deliver.
Then there’s the short term middle order. With Rogers, Watson and Clarke as definites, we needed three names to fill the remaining spots in the first six, and Cowan, Hughes and Smith get the nod. Two lefties and a righty to match the two righties and a lefty, which sort of opens up the right/left combination I mentioned yesterday.
As things have worked out, if Smith and Hughes can go on from here they’ll be cementing their place in the middle order for a while. How long Cowan gets at Three is going to depend on how he goes in the second dig, but if he fails there you’d figure a first ball gozzer here means he’ll have to deliver at Lords to hold Khawaja (and possibly a returning Warner) out for Old Trafford.
At this point crystal ball gazing is a dodgy practice, but you’d have to think that the first session tomorrow will be the key to the rest of the match.
Twenty-one overs into the innings reverse swing should be coming into the equation, so it’s a matter of how Smith, Hughes and Haddin handle it, and how long the tail can wag. Based on revealed form you’d have to be bullish about Siddle, Pattinson and Starc with the bat, with a question mark over Agar at Eleven.
Hughesy’s predictions tend to end up fairly wide of the mark, and a considerable distance from the money, but that’s not going to stop me making them.
Assuming we’re still batting at lunch time that should have us twenty-five to thirty runs behind, and if we’re still there at tea, you’d figure we’d be somewhere between sixty to eighty to the good. Bat on after tea and there’s a fair chance of a lead of a hundred plus, and the bigger the plus the better the chance of a win.
That, of course, is the numerical side of the equation.
From there we’ll need to knock them over for a reasonably low total. Phil Tuffnell was fairly bullish bout the likelihood of the wicket turning square, so you’d figure the more time we can bat, and the bigger the lead, the better the chance of an Australian win.
At the moment, you’d have to say England have their noses in front, but there’s not a great deal in it. I thought we didn’t bowl particularly well in the first session, and didn’t force them to play enough with the new ball. We obviously came back well, but 21 sundries (6 byes, 5 leg byes, 8 wides and 2 no balls, in case you’re interested) in a total of 215 suggest we should have bowled better.
We’d be sitting a bit more comfortably if Rogers was still there, and it’s interesting to speculate what might have happened had umpire Dharmasena given it not out. With the forensics suggesting it might have clipped leg stump, and the Decision Referral System returning an Umpire’s Call, had it been given Not Out and England referred it, things would have been very interesting indeed.
A small matter, perhaps, but games are won and lost on small matters...