This trip gets even better as I accompanied the TMS team (except the Yorkies) and the Times journos (Atherton and Wilde) on the plane to Adelaide yesterday. Not a good idea to have all the commentators traveling together- haven’t they heard of contingency planning?

As I came off the plane to be greeted by my v excited rellies i then realised Athers was just behind me – goodness knows what he thought!

Post match musings…

The defeat at the Gabba is more than just the scores on the doors. It sets the tone for the rest of the series and I wonder if England will be a laughingstock by the end.

Situation comedy seems to the fore – cunning plans and they don’t like it up them- a cunning plan to get Smith out didn’t work and he ground England into the earth and the Aussie quicks bowling short and at the lower England order who don’t like it up ’em!

So where do England go?

Regroup, review, revise and renew and all by Saturday! Cook needs a score, Stoneman is secure if not spectacular, Vince good in parts, Root inventive captaincy which was a joy of to watch, batted well in the second dig but needed to go on, Malan still flattering to deceive?, Ali outbowled by Lyon, injury concern, Bairstow good game but was the breaking media story a diversion? Woakes still learning about Australian bowling conditions but shouldn’t be doing so in a test, Broad still thinks he’s the bees knees and never wrong, must be a challenge to manage, Ball wrong selection batting poor, bowling worse, Anderson grumpy moody not particularly effective and possibly injured. I still think it’s a tour too far for him but we shall see.

So where do Australia go?

That’s a simple one…just carry on carrying on. Smith has turned a disparate group and exceptional selections into a cohesive team. He led from the front and whilst it wasn’t always spectacular it was effective, business like and above all built on patience on a good foundation; I wouldn’t say solid ground because it wasn’t but it’s a good start.

One wonders where the urn will be won?

England held their own for three days, the third innings was key as always and failing then meant they were doomed. Cooks form and decision to hook when he didn’t need to and just needed to follow Smiths patience was probably the turning point of the match. On such small margins are games won and lost.

A few stats for today 6154 people turned up today for free, over 130,000 over the five days, England have now won one and lost 7 of their last 9 tests abroad and who says when it will stop? Perhaps England should opt for four day tests to stop the rot, but all of the overs over 5 days would be crammed into 4 (yeah?) so perhaps that’s not the option!

Oh well Adelaide the first ever Ashes day/night test and England’s best chance of a win!

Onwards and upwards!

Team dynamics?

Australia poor so far…seem to have lost their mojo as well as the crowd! It’s 20 mins into Day 4 and the ground is less than half full…perhaps the locals have all gone to church and will pop along later. The fierce full on action and atmosphere from last night have vanished.

England press on and start digging in.

So whilst it’s quiet I’ve been thinking about team dynamics. Again covered by enough management theory to fill a library, the effect of dynamics on a cricket team is fascinating to observe. Ok the best place is within the team but as much can be seen from the outside.

It seems that the England team dynamic has improved without Stokes – stress the dynamics not the performance! The team seem from afar to be more of a unit perhaps borne from touring, perhaps from being an Ashes side. Root seems to be in more control or is he growing into captaincy/management with experience? Seems strange comparing the style in this test to the last I saw at Lords in September against WI.

As for Australia, it’s a new team in terms of some personnel, some playing for their places, some returning, all needing to gel. Yesterday they started to do so and did so well with Smith as CEO leading from the front setting the scene/agenda but today, they seem out of sorts so far but we have still have 40% of the match to go.

Forecast for lunch England 2/140?

Drinks 3/64 – Australia best two bowlers into the attack and making in roads. Lyon ties the batsmen down, keeps it tight whilst Cummins at the other end is more than a handful- looks like a combination for the series. Working in tandem…small team dynamics? England holding on but supporters leaking confidence!

Lunch 5/119 a lead of 93. Root got his 50 – a good knock in the circumstances but he really needs to convert his second innings 50s into hundreds! He got out the very next ball! Left handers confused by Lyon but all is not lost, another 90 from the lower middle order and tail and score of 180 plus needed to win. Very few chasers have succeeded here it seems in excess of 200 and the Australian batting is not exceptional nor strong- Smith, Marsh and Cummins notwithstanding and we haven’t seen much of Warner so far. Anderson was supposed to have a niggling injury yesterday but the England camp have kept it quiet- we shall see!

It seems that the locals are extremely pious and must all be in church this Sunday morning – they certainly haven’t turned up here to torment the English, was expecting the place to be full of Aussies screaming for the blood of every Englishman!

Forecast for tea England close to 200 but for how many?

Drinks 6/158 Ali stumped for 40 (fair decision) and one for the novice (!) Australia wicket keeper. Jonny showing dogged determination but playing as he does naturally. Stokes would now be in if…how many more times will that be said this tour?

Tea delayed a little for the inevitable end of innings at 195ao – so was close with the runs but not wickets. Australia need 170 over 4 sessions to win. Bairstow showed resilience and application but his patience ran out and skied to 3rd man. The rest collapsed like a pack of cards…Broad to the smallest of nicks but the talk in the stands is the Ali stumping- you can argue long and hard as to the unfairness of it all and different judgements come from different angles and experts but over a career or even over a series these balance each other out. In essence some you win some you lose,

So what approach will England take to stop Australia? There’s talk of Ali’s spinning finger being injured, Ball’s ankle and Jimmy’s side…so are they lining up excuses in advance? Think not – overall England so far have been marginally outplayed and whilst Joe’s captaincy has been inspirational you need runs on the board and not just from the ‘stars’ – everyone needs to step up.

As for the next test, Ball looks a good county bowler but no more and a rabbit against quick short stuff. Unless he pulls up trees and skittles Australia out, his place looks in doubt for Adelaide.

Close of play – Australia 2/105?

Drinks 0/53 Warner and Bancroft having very little difficulty with the English bowling. They seem to have or are getting to dominate Ali and put him off his game – not just for this innings but to destroy his confidence for the rest of the series. Woakes is learning how to cope with Australian conditions but it may be a bit too late for this game. The collapse of the English tail is also a concern.

Close of play forecast 0/110 but if Warner goes mad, the extra 30 mins could be called to bring Australia over the line.

Close of play 0/114 so I was v close for once. England were poor, body language gave the game away at an early stage. Anderson and Broad stuck to the plan that has brought them so many wickets between them but this time it failed. They looked past their best and frustration just grew. Second line bowlers – o my Stokes, Finn and Roland Jones of not so long ago! – were not up to the task as above. Ali has a spinning finger injury so Captain Root had to stand on as spinner.

Looking down the barrel of a gun tomorrow and all over by lunch?

What does this say about team dynamics?

Both teams have waxed and waned this match and necessarily at opposite times. Australia came into this match as a collection of individuals and to a degree played like that until Smith came to the crease. 141 runs later, solid support and backed up by excellent bowling on the 3rd evening and the team has formed and stormed and will norm over the next 4 tests. England came into the match undercooked – they’d had match preparation but not tough enough for a test or two back to back. Ok we’d offer the Australians the same  when they tour but didn’t Strauss kick up a fuss as captain when he toured here and the schedule was changed? England as a team are gelling well, there’s a clear team spirit prevailing but spirit is one thing, turning ideas into action requires another dynamic.

Onwards and upwards to Adelaide?