Sunday, 24 November 2013

Under-prepared England put to the sword by Australia

England received a chastening experience, in the 1st Test in Brisbane writes Christopher Clark, but the England team and management will not be pressing the panic button yet.

Under clear skies on Thursday morning the Australians won the toss, and decided to bat on a pitch which looked flat, ideal for batting, a good toss to win.  After the early loss of Chris Rogers,  David Warner and Shane Watson were making serene progress, until Watson played at a delivery he should have left alone, at lunch Australia were 73-2.
The afternoon session belonged to Stuart Broad, who blitzed his way through the Australian middle order to leave them 132-6.  It took Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson to remind the players that this was a good batting track, and a century partnership added some respectability to the scoreline. It took the new ball being taken to disrupt this partnership and at the end of day one, Australia were 273-8, Broad taking 5 for 65.

Day 2 began with England trying to polish off the Australian tail for under 300, which they duly accomplished.  It was then England's turn to bat on what all ex-pro's were calling a great batting track, and again England were making steady progress until the dismissal of the captain, Cook, to a good delivery from Harris.  England's Mr Dependable, Jonathan Trott was next to the crease, who has been the glue by which many England's innings have been held together by over recent years.  Australia felt that Trott was vulnerable to short pitched bowling, and introduced paceman Mitchell Johnson to the attack.  What followed during Trott's innings was one of the most skittish knock's Trott has ever played and he was dismissed just before lunch to leave England 55-2.
England's innings after lunch totally disintegrated in a spell of 6 wickets being lost for only 9 runs, mainly due to a spell of high class fast bowling from the enigmatic Mitchell Johnson.  England collapsed to 136 giving Australia a lead of 159 on first innings, which Australia duly capitalised on at the end of day 2, to end up 65-0, a lead of 224.

Australia began day 3 on top, determined to punish England and bat them out of the test match.  Despite the loss of some early wickets, brilliant hundreds from the belligerent David Warner, and the Captain, Michael Clarke, set Australia on course for an unassailable lead.  Again some lusty blows from Haddin and Johnson rubbed salt into England's wounds, and Australia felt comfortable declaring on 401-7, leaving England with the sizeable task of getting 561 to win, or batting for two and a bit days for the draw...both near impossible achievements.
England's 2nd inning's got off to the worst possible start, when Carberry was dismissed for 0, which led to Trott coming in, and again Johnson was brought into the attack.  Johnson as in the first innings completely unnerved Trott with a spell of express short paced bowling, and again Trott was found wanting and dismissed, leaving England at the end of day 3 on a disappointing 23-2.

Alistair Cook and Kevin Pietersen began day 4, needing not only to keep the scoreboard ticking over, but to bat out long periods of time.  Considering the circumstances, Pietersen played a dreadful shot and was out caught in the deep hooking Johnson.  Cook played a captain's inning's but after his dismissal for  65, there was a grim inevitability to proceedings and England were bundled out for a hugely disappointing 179. England suffered a crushing defeat by 381 runs.

England, due to bad weather in their planned warm up matches, did not get the batting practice they required. However, to a certain extent they were bullied by the Australians, who were very aggressive in their play, attitude, and also their press. This is a resilient England team with strong personalities, who have proved that they can immediately bounce back from disappointing performances, and I anticipate a marked improvement in the next match.

There is a long way to go in this test series!

Chris Clark © 2013    @Chrisclark1975

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