Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Third Test

This is one of those rare posts on this blog in which Fantasy Bob discusses cricket without recourse to puerile jokes or obscure references to forgotten cultural figures.  He apologises to his handful of worldwide readers for any offence caused by this lapse in form.
The moment of victory at Lords

While Fantasy Bob would prefer that England won the Ashes, he would like the contest to be close with the result in the balance until the final session of the final match.  Supporters could then collapse exhausted but satisfied and there would be cause for just celebration, even if it involved receptions at Number 10.

But he fears that after Australia's lamentable showing at Lords that the contest is to all intents and purposes over. A third victory for England at Old Trafford will kill the series and much of the interest in the event - the so-called blue ribband event of the sport.  The chances of knocking the obsessive interest in the minutiae of the return of the football season from the sports pages will be lost.  We shall all be poorer.

Warner at practice
So FB hopes that Australia can pull something out of the bag.  Even if it depends on last wicket partnerships of the sort which got them so close at Trent Bridge.  David Warner is thought likely to return, although FB doubts whether he is the answer to Australia's batting brittleness.  While an injury to Steve Smith may make the selection decision easier there has been speculation that he would keep Phil Hughes out of the side - notwithstanding that Hughes' 81 in the first innings at Trent Bridge is by some margin the highest score by a top order Oz bat in the series so far.  Or Warner might replace Watson. Either way Australia don't really need quick runs they need batters who can stay at the crease and grind it out.

Watson's failings have been all too evident.  He has been first out in each innings, 3 times LBW.  In each innings he has had the highest strike rate - bar the second innings at Lords where Agar's short innings was at a slightly higher rate.  If that is not an indication of a mind seriously gone wrong through too much limited overs stuff, then FB doesn't know what is.  FB is not convinced Watson is an asset to the team any longer but suspects he will be retained because of his value as an occasional bowler.

There is speculation that spinners will dominate the Test.  Panesar is in the squad and while many, including FB, would like to see him and Swann work in partnership, he thinks it highly unlikely.  This is a squad selection solely for the purpose of messing with the opposition's collective head.

But it is worth noting that Panesar is by far the most successful English bowler at Old Trafford in recent years.  In 3 Tests there he has taken 25 wickets at 16.72.  By comparison Jimmy Anderson has only 10 wickets in the same number of Tests.

Notwithstanding this, FB expects England to be unchanged as Pietersen seems likely to pass a fitness test n his sore leg. And the time is ripe for another KP master class such as he demonstrated at Headingley last August.  (A master class in batting that is rather than the use of social media).
Pietersen - Headingley 2012

As a Scottish person, FB has long experience of sympathising with the underdog. And Australia are surely the underdog at the moment.  He also has another reason for sympathy, for Australia's woes in the Test series have coincided with a sad loss of form in FB's own Carlton All Stars 4th XI.  From a position at the top of the league a series of 3 defeats they have seen their world ranking plummet.  Like Michael Clarke, FB's batting average has gone into a tail spin.  He has had to resort to miracle catches to deserve a place in the team.

The fates of the 2 teams are obviously linked.  Both sides have struggled with the bat.  The only difference between the sides is in the lamentable use of DRS - FB has yet to lose a DRS appeal - the fact that he is unable to make them in lower league cricket is not necessarily a relevant consideration.

There is in all this much cause for worry for both skippers.

1 comment:

  1. It was a quite good ashes series between English mans and the fans expectations was more from the both teams. Pietersen played an outstanding innings that made England to defend well in this series against opponent team. English fans pick him first in their fantasy team while playing Premier Fantasy Cricket in online.