Is today the day we have the inevitable which we have known since probably the 4th day of the first test and we bid farewell to the Ashes? The WACA is an ‘odd’ ground, it’s best described as ‘ramshackle charm’ but to me that’s over glamorous. It may be one of the best cricket wickets in the world but from a spectator perspective it leaves a lot to be desired, not least from the event staff who seem to be doing you a favour by just turning up. I trust that the experience in the new stadium which every is raving about will be a lot better and begin to match that of Brisbane and Adelaide.
And so to the 14th day of the series, Australia have a lead of 146 with the power to add but there has been rain – a shower I’m told but it must have been so light that I didn’t notice! Rain is forecast for late afternoon and when it comes, that will be it for the day, so it’s a good job that we have five day tests so we can have a proper conclusion although the weather is similar tomorrow- perhaps the rain dances in the UK are working?
Anyway it’s colder- will peak at 19c and when the doctor calls it will drop still further! I’m prepared with t-shirt, shirt, pullover, jacket and rain poncho! The best way to describe the weather so far is ‘very English warm Spring’ but I suspect it will turn into a rainy wet Chelmsford in April before long- so will the change in conditions help England? The new ball is due in 8 overs, it’s windy, it’s cool…ideal for seam and swing, if only…! There’s talk of Smith aiming for a score of 300+ and this could be the day to do it. The Australian media are calling him the best Australian batsman since Bradman?
The cracks on the pitch are widening so a good spinner should find them useful – and there’s only one on display here and all series. So to a forecast for drinks – Australia 5/610
Drinks 7/585 Cummins 7 Paine 18. English style conditions mean English style bowling. Anderson is exploiting the cracks and basically has the ball on a string. Marsh went second ball, Smith shortly thereafter and Starc to a run out means a period of rebuilding for Australia but they really need to press on as quickly as possible. Lunch forecast all out 610 and England just starting to bat? The cracks are already playing on the English-minds as every time a wicket falls or a review is called, the cracks are inspected.
Lunch 7/643 Cummins 36 Paine 41 a lead of 240. England reverted to type after drinks and Australia continued on their remorseless quest. Overton has struggled manfully to keep going but his rib injury from Adelaide is flaring up again and I suspect he will be doubtful for Melbourne if not Sydney. All England have in the locker is Ball but Plunkett and others from the Lions tour must stand a chance. Broad has passed his previous worst test bowling figures and now has 0/128 and has not taken a wicket since the first innings at Adelaide some 50+ overs ago! He is just not firing, Anderson is good in parts but not at his English best – perhaps he’s like poor wine and Americans in that neither travel well! The weather has brightened in the last couple of hours with the storm now forecast for even later today towards evening and overnight and a possible delayed start tomorrow. But the wind still blows and it’s not warm! The declaration cannot be far away – personally I would have declared well before lunch as the lead is more than enough, the English team looking at cracks in the pitch and gremlins in their heads they don’t yet know about! Forecast for drinks – if we get that far Australia 8/690.
Drinks Australia 9/662 dec England 2/30 Root 1, Vince 12. Oh dear, the wheels have come off! Cook looks ill at ease his footwork not as it was, trigger movements just appear to be on edge. Hazlewood is excellent taking first two wickets for almost nothing. Beginning to cloud over but doesn’t look like rain in the near future. Tea forecast 3/70
Early tea but only by 5 mins due to sudden rain squall 3/71 Vince 36 Malan 4. Root went to Lyons first ball for 14. Neither he nor Cook look like hitting any sort of form anytime soon. Vince looks as if he’s on the verge of a decent score but there’s such a fragility about the England side that nothing is certain. England need another 188 to make Australia bat again, they’ve started at a reasonable pace but too many wickets lost given that the tail may collapse and Overton could be doubtful. Beginning to cloud over and increasingly grey from the direction the winds blowing. If we get through to the close of play (another 41 overs to go) then I’ll be surprised. Assuming we do, forecast for drinks break is 5/151.
What I do find surprising here and at Adelaide are the Aussie cricket watchers – a number have just turned up for the morning session and part of the afternoon and then loudly announced they were going home! How strange – in England with tickets like hens teeth, you grab the opportunity to stay all day and there’s no refund if you leave early here! Just strikes me as odd. The crowd is smaller today – can only assume they’re in church or Christmas shopping whereas for Day 4 in England we’re packed to the rafters!
Drinks break or rather another rain break with 22 overs to go today or just over an hour if they come back soon. England are 4/132 Malan 28 Bairstow 14.
Vince made an excellent 55 with the majority of runs scored in boundaries – perhaps he’s looking to score too quickly and missing out on the singles etc but he got out to what is being described as the ball of the century so far by Starc. It was completely unplayable pitching and feigning to go leg side and then reversing back to bowl him neck and crop – no one could play that! Vince + and ok – I’ve not been enamoured with him or his selection has the look about him to become something special for England: he’s done well here 83 run out while being dozy and dopey at Brisbane but a 55 here which promised so much more.
When you look at the rookies and poor selection choices made in September they have come good -Stoneman, Vince, Malan, Overton and his cracked rib whereas the senior players have been poor – Cook, Root, less so Anderson but particularly Broad whose only taken half the number of wickets this year that Anderson has, so perhaps it’s time say thanks Stuart but you’re time is over. I know it’s ruthless but it has been done in the past many times – the last being Harmison and Hoggard and that let Broad and Anderson in…so time could be ripe.
Play was abandoned for the day as above but tomorrow starts 30 mins early to catch up the last overs but rain is forecast for the morning until around midday – so if anyone’s doing rain dances in the UK carry on, they seem to be working!