A nice red rather than Buck’s Fizz

Day 5 evening session sees the game draw to a close with the pitch the only winner. Would England have won if the rain hadn’t come yesterday and take 43 overs or half a day out of the game? Possibly but we’ll never know.

Smith has now scored 3000 runs in Australia alone and is averaging close to 70 – that’s stratospheric but still way behind Bradman but he’s only 28!

The day lived up to its expectation of one for the test aficionados but on a pitch which is still great for batting- a day to savour like a fine red wine, to sip, to enjoy and to top up occasionally; not the bubbles and fun of a Bucks Fizz.

So onto Sydney for the last stage of this trip with the series still 3-0 but at least we’ve avoided the whitewash!

Incidentally my blog has been viewed over 800 times – will we make 1000 before I reach day 51 (of this trip!)

Photos to follow

Day 5 afternoon…and England try to find a crack in the defence

Drinks 4/205 Smith 69 Marsh M 8

New ball taken immediately when available when the old ball seemed to be doing a bit but there we are. No wicket fell and Australia just patiently occupied the crease and built a slender lead of 41. Quick wickets are needed by England before the lead gets too large there are still 51 overs to go. The pitch has not deteriorated at all over the five days so it’s hard work for everyone. Thinking outside the box by Joe could be what is needed – he has done it before so where now Joe?

Forecast for tea 5/250 and a lead close to 100.

Tea 4/225 Smith 87 Marsh M 10

England struggling to break through and given the state of the pitch that’s not surprising. Lead is 61 and 37 overs remain although I suspect the game will not go the distance.

Excellent patience and determination from Australia, England running out of ideas. What is alarming is that Malan is bowling before Ali who I think has been uncovered for what he is and has always been…a batsman who bowls a bit but in England had the pitches etc to make him look a better bowler than he really is.

Forecast for drinks Australia 4/268

Another plan for Smith!

Slips this time and let’s attack!

Ground level and side on

Well done Tom!

The view from Bay 13 – those who know their cricket history will know all about Bay 13 and the guy building an idiot and asked for Tufnells brain!

Ball tampering or Day 5 – great value for money!

Today’s press is fullness of the alleged ball tampering by England but I won’t add to any comments about interfering with balls! There’s enough innuendo about anyway!

As it’s day 5 I can basically wander anywhere so the photos will be from different and many from vantage points around this magnificent stadium (shame I can’t say the same about the pitch but Athers today in the Australian evoked memories of the Python dead parrot sketch- this pitch is an ex-pitch, it’s bereft of life etc but so true).

Crowd at start max 5,000 and the prospect of a true test of test match cricket. As the guy in the coffee queue said to me…a day for test aficionados. Very true, one to test the skills of everyone…would be even better if the pitch had played its part, but then would we have got to Day 5 and my eking every last dollars worth from the cost.

Forecast drinks 2/170

Drinks 2/138 Warner 68 Smith 32 Australia plod on whilst England strain to take wickets but that doesn’t seem likely as these two seem prepared to bat all day with patience and concentration to match the old days. Only 26 behind and at this rate a draw is the most likely outcome but who knows, two or three quick wickets and England are back on top. Forecast for lunch 2/180.

Lunch 4/178 Smith 50 but Warner went (patience truly tested and fell to golden balls Root) for 86 and Marsh S on the stroke of lunch for 4. New ball is four overs away and will be the key part of today – if England can take two or three quick wickets then the win is on, if not then grinding out throughout the afternoon. Showers are about but none forecast and I’ve left my rain poncho drying out back at the hotel. For those who have been following the blog closely I managed to find all the openings in the poncho yesterday first time and was not subject to any ridicule by anyone. Still got wet getting back to the hotel though. Love the PA system here when it rains…play songs about the rain and other singalongs some of which I recognise but being a grumpy old f**t I don’t know most of them!

Anyway, a lead of 14 abs an intriguing afternoon ahead…forecast for drinks 5/210.

Photos to follow…

Day 19 of 25 part deux

Fifty minutes play after lunch before rain interrupted takes Australia to 2/86 Warner 32 and Smith 16. Neither looked in trouble but each side knows these two wickets will decide this match one way or the other. I don’t expect the rain break to be very long but who knows…?

I am going to blog a thought piece about cricket in the Australian psyche and their whole approach to the game but one thing I noticed after lunch was that none of the English team high-fived the guard of honour formed for each team as they come out onto the ground – Australia always do! The guard of honour formed by a group of under-fives who played cricket on the outfield at lunch and some get to meet their heroes – shame on you England!

Rain lasted 30 mins which means no drinks break but 70 mins play to tea – so teatime forecast 2/131

Another rain break after 30 mins play takes Australia to 2/103 Warner 40 Smith 25. Nominally 43 overs to be bowled but we shall lose some I’m sure and make it up tomorrow

Side on views of Smith in action

Tom making every effort and…

If you look up there Mr Ravi you’ll see the rain’s coming so let’s go off and save this test match!

Day 19 of 25 part 1

First ball Anderson goes and Cook carries his bat for a record 244no (record for carrying bat in tests). So was there any real point in batting on? Think we missed a trick and should have declared last night but we shall see. Nonetheless where else would you get a standing ovation for doing nothing as Cook did today – just surreal!

Anyway conditions appear to be English in the extreme – cooler, overcast, weak sunshine etc – ideal for bowling swing and seam but let’s see.

Lead is 164 Forecast for drinks break 1/40.

Drinks 0/44 Bancroft 21 Warner 23. Broad and Anderson bowled well with the new ball but only bowled 5 overs between them before Woakes and Curran took over and seem to be doing ok. Australia has their back to the wall and are looking to occupy the crease and score at a reasonable rate before the ball starts to reverse which is what England are clearly hoping and then bring B&A back to wreak havoc. Field placings continue to baffle but clearly someone somewhere has a plan. Need to take wickets soon but pitch still looks good for batting. Forecast for lunch 0/85

Lunch 2/70 Smith and Warner in for Australia. Bancroft played on as so many have done already and whilst Khawaja has batted Ali out of the game and probably the next test, he fell for an Anderson classic. These two are key to Australia saving this match tomorrow or losing it today. Smith has only made 4 but has got into the bowlers heads…three sets of tactics used in next to no time – someone somewhere will eventually work him out.

Have internet at the ground so could be blogging all day/night/evening wherever you may be!

Forecast for drinks 2/116

Sunshine in the clouds and record after record and even a possible English win?

Woke today to an overcast and cloudy Melbourne- conditions look like Old Trafford on a summers day but slightly warmer. However as the morning progresses the sun starts to peek through and there’s the threat of rain in the air. Apparently if you don’t like the weather in Melbourne wait 25 minutes and it’ll change. From talking to a local you only plan what you’re going to do on the day and don’t rely on the weather- so we shall see.

England start on 2/192 Cook 104 and Root 49 – the innings has a similar feel to the Australian one – dominated by one or two large or decent scores, the rest…? But we shall see. Credit yesterday goes to Cook and Broad but especially Curran. Taking Smiths wicket broke the back of the Aussie innings and let’s hope the similarity between the two ends there.

Is Cummins fit? Will the weather have any effect? How will England play- all to be revealed but for the moment forecast 3/235 at drinks

Drinks 3/224 Root made 61 before foolishly holding out to Cummins at midwicket. Cummins having recovered from his sick bug which Smith now seems to have. Cook progressed to 120 and Malan off the mark with a streaky 4. No discernible change to pitch or batting in particular and England must be looking for a decent lead – estimates among the crowd range (overheard) from 75 to 200 to put pressure on the Aussies. We shall see. Forecast for lunch 4/272

Lunch 4/264 Cook 134 Bairstow 16. A good morning session with neither side in the ascendancy. Malan fell in the first over with the new ball – second ball – lbw to Hazlewood but again no review either instant or delayed as it appears that he got an inside edge onto pad which he didn’t feel nor the umpire detect. Similar to Vince yesterday – odd that neither was referred. Anyway, on we press in mixed sunshine and clouds but high humidity as whole sections of the crowd, estimated at 50,000 but looks a lot less, fan themselves almost in unison! Forecast for drinks break 5/290 and then the tail wags for once?

Drinks 6/318 Cook 154 Woakes 3. Ali went for a belligerent 20 but is truly Lyons rabbit 6 out of 7 times! He tried to blast his way into form and whilst that may work from time to time it didn’t this time but at least he’s upped the scoring rate a bit. Almost level on first innings but the tail may collapse whilst Cook steams on regardless. Temperature has dropped several degrees in minutes, cloud cover increase and lights are on(?). A lead of 75 is a minimum requirement so we shall see. Forecast for tea 8/375

Tea 6/360 Cook 173 Woakes 26 despite the latter having been dropped in the slips twice. England’s session in a tight day of cricket so far. The Aussies are missing Starc as he tended to clean up the tail but here the tail is wagging a bit, there’s not the collapse (so far) we’ve come to expect from England. Lights have been turned off as the sun is trying very hard to break through. Another 34 overs to go today so the close could be near to the schedule (it is possible to bowl the overs in time if you only have one captain and your quicks don’t need to spend ages in discussion). Forecast for drinks break 8/420.

Drinks 8/406 Cook 197 Broad 18. Two wickets in the last passage of play. Curran coped well with his baptism whilst Broad is playing a supporting role to Cook. Australia are trying to get him out rather than restrict runs and force a mistake and may come to regret that as the lead is now 79. Smiths plans against Cook are as bizarre as Roots and equally ineffective. At the moment he doesn’t look like getting out and could well carry his bat. Forecast for close of play with 20 overs to go, if England are still batting 8/470 and a lead of 150.

Close 9/491 Cook 244 Anderson 0 and a lead of 164

First the records…Cook double hundred first at MCG by England batsman since 1928/29; best score against Australia at the MCG ever; best score against Australia; all of Cooks five hundreds in the Ashes have been scored in Australia and none in England; possible that Cook could carry his bat for the first time and the first since Atherton over 20 years ago.

So England on top, scoreboard pressure tomorrow on the Aussies just to get level will be immense and the opportunity England have to retrieve something from this series; Australia 4 or 5 Down when they reach parity would be brilliant especially if one or more of those could be Warner or Smith or both.

Australia under par – sickness bug in the dressing room but also wrong tactics against Broad…they tried to bounce him out etc and not restrict his scoring but 56 runs later and a 100 Partnership with Cook means they got it wrong for once!

England on top and could force a win in the next two days and by the way, the MCG scoreboard must be among the worst in the world as it tells you nothing unlike Adelaide and the WACA which give full histories!

The only question to pose is why it’s taken so long?

Joe goes to 50

Currans welcome to test cricket!

Unusual fielding positions

Stuart and the short stuff

Alistairs 200 and celebrations

The Barmies new friend – Jackson they love you!

More of Smiths ideas to dismiss Cook!

Strewth…didn’t think that would happen!

Back to the MCG but on the other side of the ground among England followers as opposed to yesterday when I was the only Brit in a sea of green and gold! Great view but no drinks holders in these seats!

On the field Australia 3/244 with power to add, England have new ball only 3 overs old so if they use it well then we could be among the wickets but unless something dramatic has happened to the pitch and seam/swing/reverse/spin happens then I see Smith and Marsh S batting for a long time. Warm day today forecast to reach 35c but am in the shade!

Forecast at drinks 3/285

Drinks 5/284 Marsh S 49 Paine 2. Didn’t see those wickets falling. Pace of the wicket compared to WACA did for both Smith and Marsh M who both had hit big hundreds- both played on thinking the pace was faster. Great for Curran to take Smiths wicket – the first time he’s been dismissed here since 2014! Fear it’s batsmen mistakes rather than bowling skill which is the measure of the pitch but we shall see. If so, England should do well and a draw is possible.

Anyway the Richies are in and in full voice also in are the Warnies complete with stump in hand – suspect they’ll drink more than the Richies!

Lunch forecast 6/338

Lunch 8/326 Cummins 4 Hazlewood 0. England’s morning for once but three of the five to fall played on, assuming the bounce was more than it is…so batsman mistakes, one lbw with a large step forward but given out on review and one of the tail. Wickets to Woakes, Curran, B and A. There is something in this pitch today, doesn’t look like variable bounce but pace off the pitch could be…the faster the better but what does that foretell for England’s batting? We shall see during the afternoon I suspect.

Roots captaincy improves when he backs his own judgment- I fear he may have been listening to others too much so far this match and probably all series.

Forecast for drinks – Australia 350ao England 0/25

Didn’t see that happening – I thought that the tail would wag but instead fell away to 327ao – today 7/83. England have lost Stoneman early but Cook so far seems to be a bit more settled but his triggers don’t seem right- perhaps the more game time he has, the better.

Have succumbed to watching the test as Aussies do – from the bar on the TV for the past half hour in air conditioned cool – it’s 35C outside and whilst undercover, the shade doesn’t take away the heat. Anyway after 30 mins respite and fully lubricated, and refreshed am heading back outside!

Forecast for tea 1/65

Tea 1/72 Cook 37 and Vince 17 holding things together. Another 36 overs to be bowled today so a lot of cricket still to be played, possibly losing some overs. Cummins looks out of sorts physically so this may impact on the Aussie attack leaving the quick stuff to Bird and Hazlewood neither of whom looked in the form we’ve seen to take the Ashes. Lyon or goat you just cannot keep him out of the game- fielding in all areas and taking catches off his own bowling this series you would not believe unless you were there in the flesh!

Forecast for drinks break 3/126

Interestingly when MCG ‘full’ with 88000 in, free Wi-fi works ok, with 67000 not at all!

Drinks 2/127 Cook 67 Root 21. Vince went for 17 to his first ball after tea which looked out live but Cook/Vince decided not to review – it would have been overturned. Root took time to get off the mark but is gaining in fluency as is Cook. Supporters can be so one-eyed at times it’s amazing that I’m actually watching the same game- and this is on both sides. Cummins is really struggling, Lyon is not being used and smith dropped Cook which could be expensive but we shall see. In this heat everyone dashed for the cool of the air-conditioned Bar/lounge area which is now heaving!

Forecast for close of play England 2/184 and would really be back in the game assuming the tail has some gumption!

Close 2/192 Cook 103 Root 49 am exciting last period of play increasing in intensity towards the end as to whether Root would get his 50 and Cook his ton – the latter did in great style whilst we wait on Root overnight and even better things tomorrow. Cook has got his mojo back and worked out his triggers.

England’s best day of the series without question but it’s come 16 days too late but this game could be set up for a tight finish as batting last will not be pleasant or easy.

Also the hottest weather wise so far- 35c in the shade!

Cook goes to his 100

Cummins looks v poorly

Cooks got his mojo back!

The back of Smith – something the English have wanted to see for ages

As if yesteryear!

New balls anyone? How about some for Root?

Drinks break after tea 3/209 Smith 46 Marsh S 15. At last a wicket for Broad who next ball and the next over overdid the histrionics with more useless appeals – I don’t think he will ever learn! Perhaps he will get better when he starts his media career – apparently he’s been on a media course in readiness for his retirement!

Smith is just accumulating in his quiet indiscernible way – another 50 if not more is on the cards. Still 18 overs to go in 70 mins and we shall lose some! I think Root has been given the hurry up by the umpires or risk a fine etc. Limited difference seen but Malan with his leggies is on – Smith holds him in high regard.

Pitch looks flat and fine for batting but I think you need to take time to build an innings on it and then things get better. Fast but nowhere near as quick as the WACA which may be why things seem so challenging today – except for Warner and Smith!

Close of play forecast 3/275

3/244 Smith 65 Marsh 31 Australia march on and on and there appears to be no respite for England. Bowling changed today have been haphazard at best and ridiculous at worst. I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the pseudo captaincy of Broad and Anderson – the near open disobedience when Root finally took the new ball was clear for all to see. Someone needs to stand up to these ageing cricket stars and say no! Root had, probably through happenstance than anything else a wonderful opportunity to make a statement- Woakes and Curran were on when the new ball was available 10 overs from the end of the day. Give it to the youngsters to take – after all the oldies didn’t do anything with the first new ball so try what the opponents were least expecting. Ok, the effect on the team and the language at the end of the day would have needed some managing but why not give it a go? Don’t think he has the cojones to give it a try! It would also give a glimpse into the future after B and A have gone.

And in the context of the series, what do England have to lose? Nothing!

So am very frustrated at what could have been a good end to the day. England did come back in the afternoon and early evening but while tomorrow is another day, I can see Australia heading for 500 plus and then England’s top 6 needing to match it since the tail will go down like a free pint!

Seem to have collected another hobbyhorse for my stable!

Broad looking delighted to have caught Warner off Curran but it’s a no ball!

Roots ‘I’ll try anything’ field placings