1st test review
A remarkable end to the 1st test in Cardiff on Sunday evening. When Monty Panesar walked out to join James Anderson at the crease with still more than 11 overs left not many would have given England a chance of holding on for an unlikely draw.
But draw they did with England’s number 10 and 11 holding out for what must almost feel like a victory for Strauss’ team. After a disasterous morning session with England losing three of their top order the tail can be proud of their efforts. Showing plenty of guts and determination they all applied themselves and put most of the top order to shame – only Collingwood and Flintoff stuck around for any lenght of time.
Not to get too carried away with things though as on the whole England were awful in this test match, on a batsmans paradise they came up badly short in both their innings, with hindsight the writing was on the wall at the end of day 1 when the quote that “at least we are still in the game” was rolled out. This seemed to show a complacent attitude and that they thought they had done enough, how wrong they were.
When batting Australia showed how it was to be done, all except Mike Hussey scored heavily with four batsmen going on to claim centuries. Instead of throwing away their wickets with bad technique or loose reckless shots the Aussie batsmen applied themselves and showed good discipline waiting for the bad balls and putting them away when they rather frequently arrived. They showed the English top order how it should be done.
Yet again there are question marks over Alastair Cook’s technique. Despite his big scores against West Indies, Ravi Bopara still dose not convince as a number 3 – I’m not disputing his ability, just asking the question is he batting too high up the order. It would seem Kevin Pietersen is reluctant to move up to number 3 and with his record at number 4 who could argue with that.
In the bowling department England looked rather toothless as well, although I think the pitch had a lot too do with this – the “ball didn’t swing” quote at the end of day 2 was disappointing and smacked of a team looking for excuses. Graeme Swann didn’t have the best game with the ball and Stuart Broad struggled at times as well, changes will be made at Lord’s with Monty Panesar making way for a seemer.
The Aussie bowling will probably be concerning Ricky Ponting as Mitchell Johnson was all over the place at times and looked well out of form. Nathan Hauritz – who came in for plenty of stick before the game – did well taking six wickets in the match but was found wanting at the end when it counted. Siddle and Hilfenhaus bowled well and both look like they will cause England problems throughout the rest of the series with Hilfenhaus in particular looking like English conditions could suit him.
Don’t think that Australia will have too much to worry about in the batting department, the bad run of Mike Hussey and Phil Hughes getting worked over by Flintoff were the only real negatives to come from it.
Ricky Ponting who himself was excellent with the bat will probably find his captaincy again under scrutiny, after an excellent declaration on the 4th day he then somewhat surprisingly used Mitchell Johnson more than Siddle and Hilfenhaus in the English 2nd innings and then at the business end of the match he was using part time spinner Marcus North against Anderson and Panesar – with the two impressive seemers watching on.
In the end England actually showed plenty of guts on the final day with Swann coming in for a good peppering off Siddle and the gutsy effort of Anderson and Panesar. Paul Collingwood and Andrew Flintoff started the rebuilding in the morning session and it was Collingwood who showed the way making 74 off 245 balls.
Ahead of the second test on Thursday at Lord’s both teams have things to think about, England more so. Brett Lee is looking doubtful so Australia may well keep the same eleven. England who name their squad on Monday are almost certain to replace Monty Panesar with one of Graham Onions or Steve Harmison depending on conditions, expect them to stick with the ususal failing batting line-up.
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