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.
THROW IN THE TOWEL
England have shown they have terrific resolve. For the first three days they didn’t play badly but things did not go their way; they didn’t do themselves justice. Australia looked to be in a strong position, and certainly won’t have a better chance to win a Test this Ashes.
But the tourists’ heads didn’t drop. They refused to throw in the towel. And one of the reasons is because they believe that they are better than the Aussies. If you take away Peter Siddle’s hat-trick, I think their bowling attack is woefully short. I can’t see that changing much and it will be a worry for them throughout the series.
Coming into the first Test everyone was a little dubious about Alastair Cook’s place in the side. I thought he was the right man to start the series but I wasn’t 100 per cent sure whether he would deliver and still be in the side come the third match. But on day four Cook showed real mettle.
We knew he was a lad of character and he showed it with the bat. That 188-run stand with Andrew Strauss silenced the doubters and ensured Cook will keep his place for the duration of the series. That means Jonathan Trott won’t have to be moved up the order and gives England stability, which can only be a good thing.
Just as Cook answered his detractors, so did Mike Hussey for Australia with his first innings knock of 195. His performance was one of few positives for the home side from the first four days. Hussey proved his worth by punishing some mediocre England bowling. Graeme Swann and the seamers bowled short and Hussey took advantage. They tried not to let Swann settle and succeeded.
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CONDITIONS, STATS AND BANTER
Cracks in the surface, but thankfully no cracks in England’s opening partnership. Both attacks will hope to find more bowler friendly surface in Adelaide later this week.
STAT OF THE DAY
Andrew Strauss’s century was his first in Tests in Australia and his 19th overall. The captain became the seventh England player in Test history to make three figures after a duck in the first-innings. Strauss combined with Cook for the highest English partnership for any wicket at the Gabba of 188, eclipsing the previous best of 160 between Graeme Hick and Graham Thorpe in 1994.
“For years Shane Warne has been the only difference between the sides. They haven’t got him now otherwise it would have been a different story.” Former England star Darren Gough conveniently forgets about Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and the Waugh brothers, but we get his the drift.
“Would like to see us put a bit of pressure on the Aussies. Let Swanny at them.” Andrew Flintoff, the skipper who led England to a 5-0 defeat Down Under four years ago, tells us what he’d do.
“Ricky Ponting was a bit jumpy, he tried to do too many things at once and didn’t let his bowlers settle.” Former Aussie skipper Ian Chappell isn’t impressed by Ponting’s leadership. Music to an Englishman’s ears.