OUR cricket columnist, former England batsman and Warwickshire chairman Andy Lloyd, has been poring over all the Ashes action. Here he dissects what he’s learned from the play so far.
ENGLAND HAVE PSYCHOLOGICAL EDGE
It may only have been a draw but it’s England who take all the positives away from Brisbane. Other than the efforts of Brad Haddin and Michael Hussey with the bat, and one burst from Peter Siddle with the ball, the Baggy Green plusses were few and far between.
The ‘Gabbatoir’ has been a fortress for the Aussies over the last 20 years, and for England to have emerged comfortably unscathed is a huge bonus. Many Aussie fans I spoke to before the series felt that if their side failed to win in Brisbane, the game was as good as up.
The fact the Aussies made a lot of targeting our opening partnership, they identified Andrew Strauss as a threat and Alastair Cook as a weak link, and it ended up producing a massive second innings stand was another psychological hammer blow to the hosts.
PONTING HAS NO boWLING WEAPONS
Much was made of Ricky Ponting’s reputation as a poor captain ahead of the first Test. While it’s true he lacks a bit of imagination in that regard any skipper can only be as good as the bowlers he can choose from.
Mitchell Johnson is terribly out of sorts and it’s abundantly clear this unit isn’t going to win back the Ashes. Australia have reacted by calling up Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris, and though it wouldn’t be fair to call that a desperate measure, England certainly have nothing to fear from that pair – they are just more of the same. And if Bollinger was that good, he wouldn’t have been carrying the drinks in Brisbane.
SWANN WILL COME GOOD
If there’s one area where England undoubtedly hold the edge it’s in the spin department. Graeme Swann didn’t perform at his best in Brisbane, he’ll be the first to admit that, but that shouldn’t be a concern. Adelaide is a new Test and a new pitch and I’m sure Swann will have a say.
The Aussies, particularly Hussey who used his feet very effectively, didn’t let Swann settle at any point in the first Test and attacked him at every opportunity. Swann will know what to expect now, he’s a smart cricketer and he’ll adapt his game accordingly. He’s got all the skills, sometimes he just hides them in funny places.
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CONDITIONS, STATS AND BANTER
STATS OF THE DAY
For only the sixth time, a team went past 500 for the loss of a solitary wicket. The last time it happened was in February 2008, when Bangladesh were on the receiving end against South Africa.
The 329-run stand between Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott is the highest by an England pair in Australia, and only the third instance of a 300-plus partnership for them in this country. It’s also the highest partnership at the Gabba, going past the 307-run stand that Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin had put together only a couple of days back.
Cook’s unbeaten 235 is the highest Test score by any batsman at the Gabba, and first double-century by a visiting batsman at the ground. The previous-best by an overseas player was Martin Crowe's 188 in 1985. In fact, of the 25 scores of 150 or more at the Gabba, only four have been scored by visiting batsmen.
“Had a beer with Ally Cook last night. At this rate he will have 1,500 runs by the end of the series. Delighted for him.” Former England captain Michael Vaughan tweets his support for England’s Brisbane hero.
“This English team is phenomenal. They drew the Test and should go on and win the series now.” Andrew Flintoff gives an object lesson in how to count chickens before they’ve hatched.
“I think he needs a good couple of months of remedial work and making sure he gets into a position to release the ball with a stable seam.” Former Aussie bowler Damien Fleming says it’s back to basics for Mitchell Johnson and his wonky radar.