First Test Reaction

If ever you thought that Sky Sports was too expensive, I’d suggest that the look on Pontings face in the closing minutes of the first Ashes Test was worth every single penny. He looked like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle.

Jimmy Anderson may well be the record holder for the most number of innings since debut without a duck but at 6pm yesterday you wouldn’t have bet on him and Monty batting out three quarters of an hour and saving the Test, would you? Let’s be honest here. Panesar only bats at number eleven because you can’t put him at number 12.Yet somehow survive they did and we go to Lord’s all square.

If I’d written this post at lunch on day 5 the title would have been something along the lines of “Spineless” or “Clueless” or “You Bunch Of Fucking Wankers”. However, since I was heading out the door to play cricket myself, I didn’t get a chance to update the blog so, instead, I left this message on Twitter:

Nuts to this. I’m off to play cricket. ECB selectors I’m available if you’re looking for another hopeless batsman who can’t spin the ball

True enough, I bowled 5 overs without the ball deviating so much as a millimetre and I got out playing a soft shot for 7 so I made sure my mobile was on as I headed off to the bar to watch the last knockings in the Cardiff Test. I’d guessed we were nine down by the collective groans from the handful of die hards sitting in front of the TV.

The masochistic tendencies shown by England cricket fans would have the Marquis de Sade wincing. However this random collection of cricket enthusiasts and cricket less than enthusiasts (i.e. their wives) were full of optimism that Jimmy and Monty could save the game. Full of optimism or Kronenbourg. One of the two.

The final 45 minutes of this match proved why Test match cricket is the premium version of the game. To hear a capacity crowd cheering every dot ball. To see the Australian bowlers straining every sinew of their body to get that last wicket. To see monkey man Ponting throwing his toys out the pram when the England physio came on.

Kim Hughes - Almost As Useless As Ricky Ponting

And that brings me nicely on to my next point. This game finished a draw because Ricky Ponting is the worst Australian captain since Kim Hughes. He is a world class batsman but, as a captain, he is shocking. It was easy for him when he could turn to Shane Warne or Glenn McGrath and chuck them the ball. He had players like Hayden, Langer and Gilchrist to get him out of the shit with the bat. Take all of them away and he’s shown up for being what he really is. A crap captain. Just what in the name of Stuart Broads jockstrap was he thinking in bringing on Marcus North to bowl the last few overs?

England were woeful in this Test. Of the 15 sessions of play, you can probably give the convicts Australians all but two. At the time I thought 435 was a below par score but enough for us to make a match of it. However the next few days showed up an alarming lack of application by the England bowlers. Outside of Freddie Flintoff’s opening spell, I never really saw a wicket coming. Credit where it’s due, with the exception of Mister Cricket (who should surely be renamed Mister Ball) the Aussie batsman looked superb.

As I say, I don’t rate his captaincy but Ponting is one of the best Test match batsmen I have seen. Katich was a completely different player to the one we saw here in ’05 and, as predicted by Tony from After Grog Blog Haddins batting average in on the way up. As a batting line up the Aussies look pretty solid.

However, despite taking 19 wickets, I still don’t rate their bowling attack. Mitchell Johnson is a bit Harmisonesque – one minute he looks a world beater, the next he looks like a wife beater. Hilfenhaus is short of the couple of yards of pace that would not only make him a genuinely quick bowler but also make it nigh on impossible for any commentator to finish saying his name before the ball hit the stumps. Peter Siddle will never be taken seriously as a Test bowler whilst he has a whores muff stapled to his chin and after a long bowling spell Nathan Hauritz looks too much like Gareth Gates to be a world class spinner. (Note: I tried to find a picture to illustrate this but after a Google search for “hot and sweaty Gareth Gates” I gave up as I had some sick in my mouth)

England were outplayed in this Test, there’s no question of that, but the fact remains that the series remains level with four to play. It’s interesting to see that Australia’s answer to Mystic Meg – Glenn McGrath – has now changed his prediction to a 4-0 series win. Well done, Glenn. I’m glad to see that you’ve spent your retirement mastering the rudiments of mathematics. Not for the first time, though, I’m going to disagree with you. I still stand by my original prediction of a 2-1 series win.

Why?

  1. That losing draw in Cardiff will be the kick up the arse some of those England players needed. Too many of them were believing their own press and they listened to too much of the “this Australian team is the worst to come here for years” nonsense the press have been spouting off for the last few months. Sure, they’re not the Invincibles but you put an Australian dominoes team up against the English and they will fight you every single inch of the way so do not underestimate the old enemy.
  2. As a unit, our bowling attack will not perform as badly as that again. In 30 years of watching Test cricket I’ve not witnessed such an inept display as that shown by Messrs Anderson, Broad, Swann, Flintoff or Panesar so the chances of it happening twice in a couple of months is unlikely.
  3. Kevin Pietersen will have watched his dismissals in this Test match over and over on tape and realised that his lucrative sponsorship deals are at risk if he ever plays shots like that again. Let’s face it, if you were a marketing exec for sadida*would you want your brand associated with a clueless fuckwit?
  4. Likewise Alastair Cook. His eyeliner contract with lemmiR* will be in jeopardy if he fails at Lord’s.
  5. England will drop Monty Panesar. I’m sorry, Monty, I know I’ve championed you in the past but I’m of the same belief as Shane Warne. I don’t believe you’ve learnt enough in your 30+ Test matches to be considered a Test match player. Yes, I know you saved the game this time but, let’s face it, when New Zealand’s Chris Martin looks a better batter and Steven Hawking looks a more mobile fielder, you’ve got to be able to turn it on with the ball. Or just turn it.
  6. The England squad and the entire backroom staff – all 358 of them – would not dare to do anything other than win the series 2-1. They know I have a tenner riding on it and that I will be after them if they fail me. I have connections, you know, and I also know where every single one of them will be on August 24th so let that be a warning.

Despite an exceptionally disappointing performance by England, the series remains all square going into the Lord’s Test match. Mystic McGrath points out that we’ve not won an Ashes Test there since 1934 and, to be honest, I don’t see much changing this time around. However, given the weather forecast, my gut feeling is another draw (11/10 at both Paddy Power and Sportingbet) with England snatching back some pride by playing four seamers and giving the Aussie top order a working over.

*- name changed to prevent expensive lawsuits

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5 comments so far

  1. Woolwich Dave
    #1

    “what in the name of Stuart Broads jockstrap” had me laughing out loud. Very good.

  2. Guy Mulvaney
    #2

    Its amazing-one bad innings and the knives are out for KP-hypocrytical English press-saying he is dangerous or a liability to English cricket when he has saved your sorry backsides for so long and undoubtedly will continue to do so.Its also so sad that the ‘founding fathers’ of cricket consider a draw against the ‘Australians’ a win!

  3. Mike
    #3

    It’s not just one bad innings, Guy, it’s a building frustration with KP’s inability to gauge when playing that way is appropriate.

    I agree with you that he’s got us out of the crap a number of times in the past but he’s also put us in it a few times too.

    A supremely gifted player, I just wish he’d engage his brain more.

  4. Guy Mulvaney
    #4

    Thanks for the reply Mike!

    Possibly the best ever batsman for England???????

  5. Mike
    #5

    Not sure about that but he has the potential to be one of the greats. Well at least that’s what he’d tell you ;)

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