Thanks…

Firstly many thanks for reading my blog – so far there have been 691 views – that’s more runs than Australia scored here at the WACA! I’m amazed that anyone is interested in my ramblings and jottings but I suspect it’s more for the tourist photos and overall experience I’m having that get people reading (some may also be reading this to check on my sanity and well being) rather than my expert(?) knowledge of cricket but if you are finding my cricketing insight interesting then I’m very flattered.

Thanks to all those doing rain dances back in the UK and elsewhere as they seem to be working – the start has been delayed by some really nasty short downpours which can only help England’s cause by taking time out of the game. The forecast however is for the rain to pass through and a few showers can be expected later. The weather has been so un-Australian so far -Brisbane a lot less tropical than I thought, Adelaide freezing cold during the day/night match and Perth cooler than forecast and wet! Umbrellas are not allowed into the ground (but trombones are?) so my wet weather wear consists of a plastic poncho which I managed to trap myself in yesterday when it rained much to the amusement of the Aussies in the crowd behind me! T-Shirts, shirts, pullovers and jackets are the order of the day!

Thanks to Cook, Broad and Anderson or so the Aussie press would have us believe this morning – they have really gone to town on how poor these three senior players have been this tour, suggesting that it’s time for Broad to definitely go, Cook to go at the end of the series and Anderson soon after. One article even suggests dropping Cook for the Melbourne test but the question as to who replaces him was left unanswered, just as to who are the fast bowling stars of the future was also left open. What is pleasing about the Aussie papers is that they have the sport on the back page…oh what joy!

Thanks to the WACA for all the exciting tests over the years even though England and other visitors have not found it to their liking, the mantle of the fastest pitch in cricket now passes to…Bridgetown or how about the glazed top that is Sabina Park? One think I do like about the WACA is that in the rain break, the sound system plays ‘ Singing in the rain’ – not quite sure how that would go down in NW8! And records galore falling in this test and others…including the highest Australian score in Ashes tests in Australia and I’m here to see it!

Thanks to the umpires who are insisting that the wet patches on the pitch dry before play can begin- in other words, the pitch must be the same as it was at 5pm yesterday. Seems that the covers may not have been as effective as they should have been.

So in the absence of any cricket to report, here’s my half-way assessment of the teams:

England

Stoneman – the most confident of the openers we have tried to find to partner Cook and is starting to look like a Test cricketer. Challenge will be who opens with him next summer?

Cook – tragic loss of form all tour, technique needs adjusting (where’s Gooch to help him?), has the power to come good again. Would not write him off, he will know when it’s time to go.

Vince – silly run out at Brisbane when well set for a century which would cement his place, and an unplayable ball here from Starc. Needs to be more game ‘aware’ and rotate strike but has the makings of a fine #3 and I would be delighted for my previous thoughts to be corrected!

Root – captaincy is affecting his batting, he needs to learn some man-management techniques to control Anderson and Broad (probably in equal measure) as they seem to be in charge when in the field but not taking any responsibility. Tactics in first innings at Brisbane were a delight to watch. He will come good but needs more time; one day he’ll come to enjoy management.

Malan – ok, thought he was flattering to deceive earlier in the tour but I think his century here can be the making of him. Cover drives exquisite but not in the Gower or Cowdrey class. Can be used as a legged a bit more – Smith rates him as the best spinner in this England side.

Bairstow – goes from strength to strength, at present the best batsman we have. Personally I’d like to see him as a batsman only and pass the gloves to Foakes who is a better keeper.

Ali – who? Where’s he been?

Woakes – learning how to bowl on Aussie pitches in tests! The tour schedule needs looking at to provide the proper preparation- Strauss team of 2010/11 insisted on it, so why not now? Needs to step up but early days.

Overton – brave and committed beyond belief, playing with cracked ribs. We need more of his ilk, England’s best bowler and can bat too! Could be on track one day for the freedom of Taunton!

Broad – enough said already. Even the Aussies see him as arrogant and full of himself. The boos he receives for poor sportsmanship are now changing to signs of sadness as his career ends.

Anderson – ego the size of planets, difficult as can be seen from the boundary to manage, good verging on excellent in parts but, as I’ve thought for sometime, a tour too far.

Ball – not sure why he played in Brisbane, could get a game at Melbourne or Sydney but then so could I!

Australia

Warner – yet to shine. Has got starts but hasn’t really motored. Impressive in Brisbane but that may just be a starter for 10

Bancroft – good start to his test career and impressive in Brisbane. Another big score seems inevitable

Khawaja- playing for his place after Brisbane but now better. Seems like a solid #3 to drop anchor whilst all the others play around him.

Smith – extraordinary, classical patient builder of centuries and leading his side by example and they all follow.

Marsh S – steady performances with good scores. Capable #5

Marsh M – burst onto the scene in this match (ok, he’s played 21 other tests) but on first glance looks to have nailed his place and, oh, he’s also handy with the ball

Handscomb – suspect technique he tried to change mid-innings. The only one player England can be sure of dismissing for a low score, so he’s dropped!

Paine – brave choice as keeper who has been under the radar in this series – the sign of a good keeper, can also bat!

Cummins – does not get the praise he deserves. Unsung member of the fast bowling night triumvirate and also very handy lower order batsman. You know Australia will not collapse like England do.

Starc – impressive, knows what to do and when. Ball of the series at least to dismiss Vince here. Would get most top class players out 99 times out of a hundred

Lyon – spin maestro and always in the game. His run out of Vince at Brisbane brought England down, dismissing a Malan here also, spectacular caught and bowled in Adelaide and bemusing all the English left handers. Known as Gary (no idea why) and Goat – greatest of all time.

Hazlewood – due for a string of wickets on top of what he’s got already. Will bowl all day and probably all night if asked!

More rain and an early lunch but should get play this arvo. Every drop of rain cheered by large English contingent – in what other game would people sit and wait and cheer bad weather? Reckon we must be bonkers, but then in Australia that wouldn’t be unusual

Play will now start at 1pm local – three hours later than planned but at least they’ve had lunch! 70 overs to be bowled today before play ends at 6pm. First session is just over two hours but there will be a Drinks break. So what’s the forecast? England 6/184

Drinks 6/172 Malan 47 and Ali out for 11 poor batting. Bairstow got a ripper first ball and Ali lucky to survive a disputed catch. England on slippery slope to defeat. Tea if we get there 8/220

Well we didn’t get to tea as we collapsed to 218 so and lost by an innings and 41 losing six wickets today in just under three hours for 86. I haven’t checked but I bet the Aussies don’t collapse like that! Anderson was hit on the helmet just before the end (giving me enough time to eat my ice cream) so he will need checking out before the next test next week. The ashes are now back in Australian hands but as I reminded the Aussies sitting near me, they’re only on loan!

At the moment, it’s not the time for reflection on where England go next or how good this Australia team can be; it’s time to thank Smith for his excellent batting, Hazlewood for his bowling and the WACA for 47 years of test cricket or as the Aussie art student standing next to me said “I haven’t been to the WACA since 1982 and saw Lillee, Thomson and a streaker, so I thought I’d better come down and thank the old girl’

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