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Edgbaston 'aura' can lift England

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Oliver Brett | 15:51 UK time, Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Birmingham was a miserable, desolate place on Wednesday.

The most violent rain struck as soon as I turned left onto the M6 from the M1 in mid-morning, but several hours later the two super-soppers making diligent passes around the Edgbaston outfield were still fighting an unwinnable battle.

Much of the moisture that could be removed was ejected by the super-soppers' water cannons onto the stands, at one point comically drenching some of the stewards and groundstaff dotted around the place. But however hard everyone worked, the puddles and small lakes just stayed there.

Years ago, they used to have a thing called the Brumbrella which completely covered the playing area. Perhaps they should have kept it, even if it didn't always work very well all the time, because of all the English Test grounds Edgbaston is one of the poorest when it comes to drainage.

Incidentally, Warwickshire County Cricket Club have chosen to delay claiming their £600,000 grant from the England and Wales Cricket Board to relay the outfield and upgrade the drainage, and will instead do so as part of their major upcoming refurbishment plans.

Walking back from the banqueting suite where the captains had had their say on Thursday's big match, I saw a man sitting in a puddle several inches deep as he furiously tried to hammer some decking up in front of a stand selling a brand of popular West Indian rum.

Stuart Broad and Monty Panesar didn't mind the rain too much

If this weather keeps up, they may want to think about ditching the rum and selling cagoules and soup instead.

But what really caught the eye was a little sign that might touch a raw nerve or two among thirsty Australian supporters queuing up for refreshments. Based on an outdated stereotype that all barstaff come from down under, it read: "We're English, we brew beer. You're Australian, you serve it."

Its tone chimed with a chain of remarks made by Andrew Strauss moments earlier.

Invited by the BBC's Joe Wilson to elaborate on whether the "Australian aura we're used to has disappeared", he gave an answer that left his listeners in no doubt.

The England captain responded: "I don't think this Australian side has got an aura about it, to be honest with you. You've got players at the start of their Test careers and by very definition they don't have an aura about them. That's encouraging."

He was even happy to provide his own definition of this word "aura", reckoning it was "when opposition teams are not confident of beating you."

Ricky Ponting was not keen to get too involved in the debate over who did or did not have this intangible quality. He had more pressing matters to address, such as the weather.

When you are 1-0 down in a series, the last thing you want to see on the eve of a match is an outfield so drenched that the scheduled start is threatened by a considerable delay. More encouraging for everyone is that the forecast is pretty good for the first two days of the Test, though it gets a bit murky from Saturday onwards.

Ponting seems certain to stick with Mitchell Johnson, even though the paceman's confidence seems shots to pieces. While revealing very little, he sounded bullish about Stuart Clark's prospects of playing for the first time in the series (if he did so he would presumably unseat Peter Siddle).

But the biggest dilemma will concern whether the fit-again all-rounder Shane Watson plays. If he does, he will have to usurp a specialist batsman - either Marcus North or Phillip Hughes - and Australia would have more tools in their bowling attack.

Given that this ground has provided five draws in six completed County Championship matches (two featuring scores in excess of 600), Ponting might think he can afford to lose a batsman.

Then again, two draws and a win for Australia, perhaps at Headingley, would be enough to see the urn remain in their hands - so it is not quite time to go for all-out attack with five bowlers.

One thing this wicket, so badly delayed in its preparation, will not provide is steepling bounce, so Steve Harmison will surely not come into the equation.

We already know for certain Monty Panesar will not be playing, but it was interesting to see him working in the indoor nets longer than any other member of the England squad, with Mushtaq Ahmed busily trying to work the oracle with the Northants slow left-armer.

There is another important factor that favours England: the Edgbaston crowd. Strauss said tellingly: "We very much hope that they will be raucous and partisan," aware as much as anyone how the national team have counted on the vocal Midlands support down the years, losing just eight times in 43 Tests here.

The Aussies have had their moments, winning here in 1975, 1993 and 2001. But their modern era defeats here have included the classics in 1981 and 2005, the innings drubbing of 1985 and the surprise defeat in 1997.

The famous "This is Anfield" sign that greets visiting teams to Liverpool's fortress is almost meant to be off-putting. Similarly this old ground has had an unsettling quality for England's opponents down the years. You might even call it the Edgbaston "aura".

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Excellent blog ....

    Sadly it looks as if this eagerly awaited clash and key match in the series is going to be blighted by the weather. Fingers crossed we get lucky with not much rain.

    I was hoping for a good ol' fast and bouncy Birmingham track, that no longer looks possible. So Onions's probing seam keeps its place ahead of Harmison's raw pace.

    The Ashes remains the crown jewel for all home fans of Test cricket.

    An extra Test being resheduled in the event of an earlier match being adversely affected by bad weather is of course no longer an option. In the modern era of countless one-day tournaments ... the Test series not starting until mid-July, 5 matches squeezed into 8 weeks or so.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Oliver, interesting read. Though your weather forecast does not tie up with that on the BBC, where it states heavy rain shower for Birmingham on thursday, sunny intervals on friday, another bad day on saturday. Does not look good for a result, though you never know.

  • Comment number 3.

    Reckon with the weather RP will bank this as a draw and stick with the same team. Last chance saloon for Johnson and Siddle with Lee and Clarke coming in for Headingly.

    England to win the series 2-0 though!!!! Come on Ravi, come good!

  • Comment number 4.

    Personally I kind of think that its stating the obvious a bit that a team lacking the likes of Warne, McGrath, Hayden and Gilchrist is going to be lacking something. And given the performances that so called star bowler Mitchell Johnson has put up, you can understand why England are less intimidated by this team. Neither team have many players capable of changing the balance of a match in a session, possibly Ponting, Flintoff, maybe Michael Clarke and Jimmy Anderson, are about the only ones who could.

    It could be on to Headingly with England only needing a win to win the Ashes back if the forecasts are accurate though!

  • Comment number 5.

    The argument (with the weather forecast) that hasn't been made is the resting of Flintoff. Why are England risking him hurting himself bowling in 2 back to back tests, when he could rest for the one that is damp and squidgy and be back for headingly, a pitch were his bowling could be devastating.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm English. I find this Aura comments rather distasteful and silly from Strauss. He couldn't have kept his mouth shut to be frank and let English cricket speak on the pitch. For me Ricky Ponting carries an Aura; 11,000 test runs, quality and respect!

    Siddle and Clarke will be dangerous customers with a seaming pitch. Siddle and Johnson in SA, worth a memory..when they fire.

    Hope Harmy plays!

  • Comment number 7.

    Hey robius3, quote//Ricky Ponting carries an Aura; 11,000 test runs, quality and respect!//

    11000 runs is ok, quality is agreeable but respect?? I don't think so. He can and will never attain the status of modern era players like Tendulkar or Lara even if he breaks their records.

  • Comment number 8.

    Following on the top comment, I cannot believe the test matches are before the one-dayers - keep the best event until last surely?!

    In addition, I loathe the back-to-back test matches. The anticipation and build up in the 10 days leading up to this test has been fantastic, and this series really deserves being played out over the entire summer, rather than crammed in before the circus of pretty meaningless ODI's begin.

  • Comment number 9.

    You can't aim for a draw tho Olly. The mops need to play five bowlers - this would focus their batsmen more and their keeper can bat as can Johnson and Hauritz if things go wrong. On our side, fascinating to see how HellBell and Bopsy go. Hopefully the weather won't be too meddlesome.

  • Comment number 10.

    I agree with comment 7. Ponting is a great batsman but his decision making so far in the field has quite frankly been appalling.

  • Comment number 11.

    given the obvious amount of water in the pitch surely the extra batsman has to be used, i know usually this pitch produces results with scores of 600+ but given the weather recently in edgbaston the money must be on bowling first tomorrow, pitch (weather permitting) will get better instead of worse so best make use of the wet wicket first thing

  • Comment number 12.

    Post #6: I don't think it's fair to have a go at Strauss. He was asked a straight question and gave an honest answer in which he stated that a team comprising of Mitchell, Siddle, Hilf, North etc. didn't have the aura of a team comprising of McGrath, Warne, Hayden, Gilchrist etc. Hardly controversial and - bearing in mind the acheivements of Warne and co. - hardly insulting to the Australian side. I think they'd probably agree that they didn't have an aura in the same way. Ponting is the one 'great' in this Aussie team (I'm not saying they're a bad side by the way), but he would have recognised Strauss' words as a captain backing his own team to win and not being in thrall of their opposition. He'd always do the same.

    Its a shame about the weather, but its an English Summer and we'll see what happens. Certainly no reason why it can't produce a riveting finish. All it takes is a couple of remarkable sessions and we could have the game of the series on our hands. Maybe that is wishful thinking, but its certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.

    #5 makes an interesting point, but if the game did come down to England needing a few wickets during the final session on Monday then it'd look pretty silly to have rested Fred. Always pick your best team if available.

    Whatever happens, when there is some play I think its guaranteed to get people off their seats.

    #1 and #8 both touch on an interesting issue: Why not have a test ground in reserve for a washed out test? The test could replace a couple of one dayers and be played at one of the grounds missing out on a ODI so they don't lose revenue. Income from the test could then be paid to the other ODI venue missing out. Sky would still get their cricket (which more people would probably watch, increasing advertising revenue), the reserve ground could prepare a ODI and a test strip just in case and tickets could be made available on the gate as with a normal 5th day. I realise I've over simplified this, but it would be worth looking into. Looking at the schedule ahead with 6-7 ODIs v Aus and then a Champions Trophy, I think we can afford to lose some one-day cricket!

  • Comment number 13.

    "when opposition teams are not confident of beating you."

    Surely the 'NOT' in this defination of aura shouldn't be there.

    Straus' mistake or a misquote?

    Having said that I reckon the Aussie aura of invincability has finally evaporated - though I was still a bit nervous going into the final day at Lord's!

  • Comment number 14.

    Robius3,
    Why is it disrespectful?! This Australian team does not have any sort of aura, so Strauss was stating a fact. If he's asked the question he is entitled to answer. What would Ponting say if he was asked if the England team had an aura? He would probably laugh for 10 minutes then say "you're kidding right?".

    And as for respecting Ponting: I don't care how many runs he makes, I can't have any respect for a man who is the captain of his national team, the most prestigious position in Australia, even more than the Prime Minister, yet he spends his every waking hour chewing gum. Does he realise how dreadful and tacky he looks? In Australia he is the personification of the word "bogan".

  • Comment number 15.

    Of course I really do know how to spell Strauss! ;)

  • Comment number 16.

    Australia go into the 3rd Test Match at Edgbaston desperate to avenge their loss at the same venue to England 4 years ago.

    Having won the 1st Test at Lords in 2005 England dominated the 2nd Test at Edgbaston but a fantastic last wicket partnership between pace men Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz got Australia to within 3 runs of what would have been a miraculous victory, however the tourists held their nerve and emerged victorious by 2 runs, England used the momentum they gained from that victory to good effect and they went on to win the series 2-1.



    On this occasion it is England who take a 1-0 lead into the Edgbaston Test Match and Andrew Strausss men beat Australia by 115 runs at Lords last week.

    http://oddsbet.typepad.com/odds-bet/cricket/

    England were dealt a huge blow last week when it was announced that their star batsman Kevin Pietersen has been ruled out of the rest of the series due to a Achilles injury that he sustained earlier this season.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 17.

    Some excellent replies. If I could highlight number five - it's a fine point you make. Given that Flintoff will really struggle to play a full role in all three of the remaining Tests, perhaps the most pragmatic decision would have been to rest him for this one, all things considered. But it was never going to happen given his sheer desire.

    CollisKing - I always associate Old Trafford and The Oval with pace and bounce, but not Edgbaston. Was it a bouncy deck in the 60s and 70s?

    As for what to do at the toss (no. 11), it's a bit of a lottery I think. It might be a good one to lose, as they say...

  • Comment number 18.

    Why is Oliver Brett's comment for his own blog awaiting moderation?!

  • Comment number 19.

    Yes, what happens if we rest Andrew Flintoff and the decision backfires horribly?

    Incidentally, on the aura comment, Rickie Ponting himself agreed that the Australian aura has disappeared. No disrepect there, only honesty and pragmatism. If anything, the Cardiff near debacle was because the players were giving Australia too much respect. In all his interviews Andrew Strauss has warned that Australia are still a good team and can be expected to roar back. Compare that with some of the comments out of the Australian camp in this and in previous series.

  • Comment number 20.

    reply to #13 are you serious ?
    what is it about us english supporters ?
    were you not nervous going into the last day at cardiff ?? or like the last 5-0 ashes loss is it "forgotten"
    lets remember we are all here to see a good competition and thats what we have on our hands to say either team has lost their aura is just media rhetoric, and to say that any australian team has lost the confidence to beat you is.... well to say the least ridiculous.....
    one win does not count for a lot in this game
    well it did in 2005 !!!
    bring on the sun in edgbaston lets hope this series goes down to the last ball and that that all players are fit and in form
    post #14
    bogan is now in the australian dictionary as a batsman or any batsman who has deserved respect through scoring more runs and victories than any englishman EVER !!
    we should treat that with respect...

    bring on the sun lets play

  • Comment number 21.

    I thing the Aussies will bring in another seamer given Johnsons form, for either Hauritz or North. There inability to bowl out sides twice was on display in Cardiff and now there one down they will want to bolster their attack. Hopefully not too much rain. Come on Aussies!

  • Comment number 22.

    Odgeman,

    When Ponting gets rid of the gum, stops looking like a bored teenager on the field and in media interviews, stops being at the centre of some of cricket's ugliest incidents of recent times, and starts looking and acting like a 35 year old man who is in the most privileged position his country has to offer, then I will show him some respect. Until then, I don't care how many runs he has scored; there is more to earning respect than a number in the records book.

  • Comment number 23.

    its disapointing there has been so much money spent on other sports Olympics etc. The Ashes is BIG isnt it? it is here in OZ, but Edgbaston has no rain protection over the field a (comparativly) small amount of money to guarantee a good game in a great event.
    They are charging plenty for the tickets 90 quid a day or somthing, plus tv rights, they compare the cost with 2hrs of soccer but at least in soccer you see a game and on a great surface & in most case in excellent facilities.

  • Comment number 24.

    Good blog and lots of interesting banter. Unfortunately folks the chances of any play Thursday are, in the words of the groundsman, not likely to start on time and not much hope before lunch. He went on to say that any play on day one unlikely with the current weather problems and I have to say living not far from the ground and watching the heavens drop from 11am till 9pm wed, its a fair comment. Weather ok for fri but more of the same predicted for sat and sun. Its been like this for the last 10 days and I suspect that this could be the turning point in this Ashes encounter. RP will be quite happy with a draw from edgbaston.

  • Comment number 25.

    No issues from me about Strauss honestly answering a question about the Aussies lack of 'aura'. As Punter said himself, this is a young Aussie team, who will have to work hard over a number of years to create their own aura (if they can).

    I certainly have a great deal of respect for the cricketing talents of many of the players in the Aussie line up. Bottom line though, they are definitely beatable (as shown by the Indians and South Africans in recent series).

    Any team which loses great players like Warne, McGrath, Hayden, Langer, Martyn, Gilchrist and Gillespie (sorry couldn't help put that last one in......), will lose a lot of its air of invincibility.

    The Aussies are most definitely 'back in the pack' of leading cricketing nations, instead of being the one team way ahead of everybody.

    This is very different from them being useless team though. These 2 sides are pretty evenly matched so far (the stats would even indicate that they have played slightly better over the 2 tests). Not much in it though and one or two sessions could determine the result in all the remaining tests.

    I expect a draw in this one, due to the weather. A shame as we have such a good history at the ground and I really fancy our chances.

    I'd certainly go into any test match with our best team available, and that of course includes Freddie. If we have a chance of a positive result here, then we will need him firing in and intimidating them.

    Bring it on and take back our little urn boys.

  • Comment number 26.

    Scenario being a mirror image, one up at lords heading into Edgbaston with revenge on mind, Justin Langer is into comparing portents, pinning similar hopes from KP's Achilles as England reaped from McGrath's treading on a an errant ball in 2005.
    One heck of a toss is coming up.

  • Comment number 27.

    12.50pm here in Australia, I have been home sick all week, was looking forward to the 3rd test only to hear in Birmingham - its raining. How do you English cope with that? oh well, I can get $1.67 at the local TAB agency for a draw, sounds like easy money. comment 24 is a bit out of line, at least he is not a whimp!

  • Comment number 28.

    The forecast leading up to Lords was poor and very little time was missed there. The mindset must be positive by the players or they could get caught out and look like right Charlies! However I must question whoevers decision it was not to spend money on the drainage at Edgbaston - this is an Ashes summer for heaven's sake!
    With this second lot of back to back tests and the amount of cricket played and injuries about, you would think the teams will have to consider resting bowlers as a matter of course much more in the future. Personally I think it would stick in your throat if you had to kill yourself bowling on a batting wicket at Edgbaston, only for someone like Harmy to come in and get the glory on a Headingly wicket that does a bit, but it must be the way things go to meet the demands upon the game.

  • Comment number 29.

    Dabluelagoon: Edgbaston used to have the "Brumbrella" which covered the whole playing surface in a matter of minutes. They had problems with reliability (the spare parts came from Finland, I believe) and, in the end, ditched it, because it was having a very damaging effect on the grass. It was quite a sight watching it deploy.

  • Comment number 30.

    Weather update: My hotel is two miles from the ground and though yesterday's rain finally stopped atabout 8pm sadly it was drizzling about half an hour ago. Thankfully that has now passed and there's even some blue sky around. Is that the sun I just saw?

    News update: Big rumour that Shane Watson will replace Phillip Hughes as opener. Well there we are.

    More updates throughout the day on www.twitter.com/bbcsport_oliver

  • Comment number 31.

    Why should they be worried about whether their opposition have an 'aura' or not - and why have England not got their own 'aura'? The fact that Strauss wishes for the England supporters to be 'raucous and partisan' is also telling - is this why England perform so poorly abroad, where they don't for most of the time have a 'raucous and partisan' crowd to stir them on?
    As regards the 'little sign' that 'may touch a raw nerve' - I remember seeing a banner in South Africa that showed an elephant drinking South African beer and urinating Aussie lager: it was hilarious. Those of us who have not succumbed to politically-correct brainwashing will see the sign for what it is - good-natured banter.... and the Aussies themselves are not averse to using such humour - I think they'll find it very funny!

  • Comment number 32.

    Oliver, we were told yesterday that, even with sun today, the first day would be in real doubt. Certainly, the pictures didn't look promising: the ground was half flooded and with poor drainage and any further rain, one would have to wonder.

    CricInfo is showing the Watson for Hughes story as confirmed, but no word of where Watson will bat. Australian fans were spitting bullets commenting on the story and muttering darkly about Hussey's run of form.

  • Comment number 33.

    don't worry, it just rained down here in Adelaide, but then again, it is winter down under, and us aussies do like some good natured banter. hopefully watson will help us and i reckon clarke should get the nod.

  • Comment number 34.

    Post 14 Gonna explain "Bogan" to the Poms ?
    Ricky isn't a bogan - When was the last time you saw him in a flannelette shirt ?
    Mind you I agree with you about the gum.

  • Comment number 35.

    @12 @14 @25

    Strauss is paid to enhanced the Aura of England; not downtalk to Aura of the opposition. He should has quickly stated that was a question for punters; rather than a freelance stir. Let Putters answer questions on his own team.

    Ricky Ponting is a world class batsman.(bar gum, whinging etc).once he gets in, forget winning a test match. The 11,000 facts speak for themselves, Ave 56..how many current international batsmen are in this league, few. The man's a run machine. That's batting Aura.

    Concentrate on one's own cricket on the field; don't dirt the opposition, don't stir crowds into yobbish fooball like behaviour.

    Remember Tony Greg and his words he had to eat?

  • Comment number 36.

    Robius, which Tony Grieg quote are you talking about? The one he actually made, or the misquote that is generally published? I actually heard him making those comments and, even though they were taken out of context, he was pilloried for them. The fact that they just fired-up the West Indians may have something to do with it! Mind you, certain recent Australian players suggest that each series will be 5-0 and no one takes umbrage. It's all part of the game. Reacting over-defensively shows mental fragility, which is just what the remarks hope to reveal.

    Most of us were expecting a fairly close series but had been alarmed by the Australian revival in South Africa, although apart from young Phil Hughes, there was no one in this side that we really feared, unlike in previous Ashes series. Learning not to fear your opponent is the first step towards winning (and that is a grain of wisdom that came from Mike Brearley when he tried to face up to Dennis Lillee in the 1981 Ashes series).

  • Comment number 37.

    Englands single biggest problem in my opinion is their mental game - once you have learnt all the technique of a sport all there is left to train is your own mental psychology. Obviously nobody has given them a lesson if they still need an uplifting crowd.

    None the less Strauss is at least keeping his Captains eyes on the game - he is making some smooth decisions about team choice and keeping focused on the task at hand.

    I doubt we will see Harmy, which is a pity, but there is no way he can dish out some pain in a swamp. I doubt even more that we will see Panesar - whilst there is a chance, I doubt it is going to dry up.

    As for Ponting... he sufficiently overshadows all his achievements with his own personal raincloud he brings with him. Really, he should not be Captain, he could be a batsman. Your Captain doesn't need to be a great player or legend, Ok so it helps, but more importantly they need to be a great people person and communicator.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think this test match will inevitably be upstaged by the rain and therefore I can only see a draw. The pitch from what I gather is good for batting so I am not sure a low scoring match will occur to bring about a result.

    As for the team England will remain unchanged I am sure even though I am a Harmy fan and he is on fire. It does seem odd that from comments flinging around after Lords about Stuart Broad that no-one seems to question his position much and the last place is between Onions and Harmy.

    Onions has done a fairly decent job again and it could only be the injury doubt that brought his not playing into contention. Broad (a bit harshly) was criticised after Lords but this seems to have died down. I suppose his batting gives balance but in the long-term a 40 average with the ball is not good enough. I believe he offers a great future along with anderson to the attack but he will have to be more consistent and leak less runs as he progresses.

    Btw happy birthday Jimmy Anderson I only realised we shared the same birthday yesterday.

  • Comment number 39.

    Update for posts 30 & 32 there are clear blue skys and sun here in the centre of Birmingham.

    Looking towards Edgbaston the sky is a lovely bright sky blue and there is barely even a whisper of very thin pale white cloud.

    It isn't going to rain in Birmingham this AM.

  • Comment number 40.

    @36 Strauss comments will be taken for what they were; a weak Radley snipe. I can well imagine Punters firing up his bogans and chozzies using Strauss's ill advised Aura comments. Vaughan or Brearley would have wisely swerved this one.

  • Comment number 41.

    Re #13 I've just worked out that the 'not' was not misplaced ;-)

    I guess that Strauss means that he is now not not confident of beating the Aussies!

    I reckon that is why there did not seem to be the same nerves on the morning of the final day in Lord's the bowlers just did the job and the Aussies didn't even get a sniff.

    Bring on the Sunshine I'm off to the pub in Bondi to watch the first session with my Aussie mates!

  • Comment number 42.

    37. At 09:16am on 30 Jul 2009, AGnomeCalledJimmy wrote:

    but more "importantly they need to be a great people person and communicator" don't know where you get this idea from. more importantly, ponting is a good captain and scores century after century with the captaincy to go with it. sick and tired of punter baggers, his team lost the ashes and retained it against flinoff flops, 5 - 0, how embarrassing.

  • Comment number 43.

    Too right about the aura. Us Midlanders love our cricket, and not in a posh way

  • Comment number 44.

    "Post #6: I don't think it's fair to have a go at Strauss. He was asked a straight question and gave an honest answer"

    Just like Ponting answering questions about English time-wasting in Cardiff yet it didn't stop the indignant England supporters tearing strips off him...

    We're gonna win 3-1!!

  • Comment number 45.

    An 11am inspection but, despite good drying conditions, the prospects for play are poor, at least for several hours. One more heavy shower and that will be that for the day and even, potentially, for tomorrow morning.

  • Comment number 46.

    I think I'll just leave it to Cricketing_stargazer for the rest of the morning.... I'm wearing sunglasses defiantly but am sorry to say grey clouds are rolling in

  • Comment number 47.

    The Aura comments have seriously gotten under Punters skin. He's replied already that "England don't have an Aura". Strauss..not wise.

    Punters will either explode out on England in this series; or implode fatally.

    This test match should be known as the "Aura" test match; if ever the sun stays out

  • Comment number 48.

    Oliver, it seems that the outfield is completely sodden. No standing water, but as soon as you walk on the surface it starts to splash up.

    Not good!

    Are you any good driving a super-sopper??? Mind you, I suspect that the England camp will not be too displeased if this is a rain-sodden draw and Freddie hardly has to bowl.

  • Comment number 49.

    Aura = Australia No 1 world ranking, England = i think no 5 ranking.

    2 hours delay at least? and grey clouds rolling in? dam the weather.

  • Comment number 50.

    Why the big deal about Strauss? I think it's great that England are giving some back to Australia. Hasn't anyone noticed how much Ponting & Co fire their mouth off in press conferences? No? Probably cos you've all got used to it

    But times have changed - this australian side is not one of the greatest of all time anymore, and they don't like that.

  • Comment number 51.

    another decent article brettster.

    isn't it about time the bbc took you to a decent photographers for your mug shot? mcnulty does alright out of them!

  • Comment number 52.

    Post 46 it is raining in the centre of Birmingham and the dark clouds are going your way at Edgbaston.

    In an hour it has gone from clear blue skys to steady rainfall. There are gaps in the cloud with sun poking though so it might just be a passing shower.

  • Comment number 53.

    its raining from what we see our live coverage back in OZ, apparently Edgbaston ground has poor drainage and they should spend more money and fixing the issue, couldn't agree more.

  • Comment number 54.

    "Birmingham was a miserable, desolate place on Wednesday."

    er...Yes! And your point is...???

  • Comment number 55.

    Only cowards pray for rain. Lets win the Ashes proper, 4-0.

  • Comment number 56.

    All this off the pitch stuff..is silly..IMO

  • Comment number 57.

    Curious confusion on air: "if this rain keeps up you have to doubt that we'll play today" and then stating, again "at least 2 hours delay". If the conditions are as bad as reported, there is no chance of starting in 2 hours, even if the rain stops quickly.

  • Comment number 58.

    I can't believe all these comments from people saying they don't respect Ponting because he chews gum and pouts and whatever else you can come up with.

    How would the English react if I said I didn't respect Flintoff because of all his posturing after he takes a wicket?

    There's a distinct difference between 'like' and 'respect'. I don't expect many English to like Ponting but how can you not respect his achievements in cricket. I think most Australians are pretty respectful as to rival achievements and I for one highly respect Pietersen and Flintoff's ability (and I really don't like Pietersen at all).

    As for post 7.... can't compare him to Lara and Tendulkar. Please! Next you'll be saying Steve Waugh was a hack....

  • Comment number 59.

    GUM CHEWING
    who cares i thought this was a cricket blog not an etiquette discussion !!
    aside from this think of the likes of vivian richards and alex ferguson both sporting legends and knighted for their efforts, are we to judge them by their flavour of gum ?
    or is this hatred of ricky purely the amount of times he has chewed and spat out your team?
    unfortunately the rain is washing away the aura of both teams this morning and an apparent draw is inevitable but the more i sit here listening to the english bag the aussies just cause they won a game the stronger i feel the aussie aura glow.....
    strauss...... mate really bad thing to say never tell an australian sportsman they are no good as a team they will squash you shortly after and chewing gum or not it will hurt.....
    ricky..... keep chewing and and forget what they say, you guided your team through a great victory against a mighty south african team, keep it up, i prefer to watch you chew gum than that smarmy smile on strausses face as he claims to be king without just cause..
    cant wait to hear the teams announced this morning much speculation involved and a wicket we are yet to see.
    watson , hughes or johnston we will find out if its all just a twitter advertisement.
    pieterson no big loss for uk as he was carrying that Achilles with care anyway and it gives us a chance to see if it was australia who haunted bell or just 'warney'
    ive got a feeling the bell is going to ring in this game and wouldnt be surprised if the harmy gets in this possibly shortened game to stir up the aussies
    bring it on !!


  • Comment number 60.

    robius3,

    Neither team has an aura. Both captains, when asked, stated that neither team has an aura. So I think the only person is bothered by Strauss's Aura response (not comment, he was asked) is you. So I doubt very much this will be the "aura" test.

    Moresby-Park; good point, those in my former home won't know what a bogan is. A bogan is kind of like a chav; typically drives a Holden or Ford V6 Ute, drinks rum and cola mixers, watches Big Brother, is ill-educated, rough, and laughable all at the same time. You're right, Ponting probably isn't quite a bogan, but he is hardly a shining ambassador for his country...

  • Comment number 61.

    The bottom line is that there are pools of water on the outfield (again). There is the prospect of more rain (indeed, it is raining now). I'd be very pessimistic about the chances of play today unless the groundsmen have something special up their sleeves. However, we were warned yesterday that this might happen. Soon it will be time to worry about the chances of play before lunch tomorrow.

  • Comment number 62.

    $1.40 for the draw now on the local tab, still $100 might be worth it, aussies at $4.50 and england at $7.00, they must think the aussies still have that "aura" thingy.

  • Comment number 63.

    anyone else hear Boycott v Hayden on TMS? Was it just my imagination or has Boycott just stormed out with the words "im wasting my time". Geoffreys the greatest.

  • Comment number 64.

    Well, if you look at the photo of Monty under his umbrella, at least he looks delighted; no doubt looking forward to a bit of a bowl(eventually). Something for the weekend perhaps??

  • Comment number 65.

    BennyB..No I think the response was made by Strauss; when a response wasn't really needed to the Ozzy aura issue; Pointing didn't respond to it initially; and responded later, tit for tat, just stoking things.

  • Comment number 66.

    62. I remember walking into one of those "tab" joints in Brisbane to get a beer. Didn't have a bet, though there were some v enthusiastic Barmy Army folk chucking their cash away on various wild punts. Remarkable that gambling on sport and drinking can take place legally under one roof in so many places in Australia.

    (Guess what - it's raining at Edgbaston... looks like a possible washot today)

  • Comment number 67.

    "Australia skipper Ricky Ponting gets into a "war of words with Andrew Strauss" after the England captain's comments about the Aussie squad's 'lost aura'."

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/8176002.stm

  • Comment number 68.

    Maybe we should scrub the Test and just have a bowl-out; provided that Mitchell is the designated Oz bowler (ooooooooooooh)!!!!

  • Comment number 69.

    I am thinking back to England v India 2007 at Trent Bridge,delayed first day start due to wet and dangerous outfield.I really hope Edgbaston are more brave in their decision to play.That day I sat and watched the teams practice during the delay at full speed and movement on the 'dangerous' outfield.Would a test in Australia be delayed due to the rock hard and dry surface? Those conditions present a greater risk of injury to fielders using modern fielding techniques.The more severe risk is the damage to the game and momentum of national interest,which a jobs worth risk assessment might cause. Fielders as in any other running sport, can injur themselves in any conditions. A wet out field is unlikley to increase the severity of injury,again compared to a hard and dry Australian pitch.Be brave,take account of the greater risk to the game, good luck Edgbaston

  • Comment number 70.

    The most inane slogan in sport:

    "It matters more when there's money on it".

    No it doesn't - ever!

  • Comment number 71.

    Aussie barmen: "an outdated stereotype".
    Really?!
    Discuss ...

  • Comment number 72.

    Can we please remain cautious and not so 'auraesque' about Englands prospects this Test amd chances in this series?? We might find the Aussies more eager this way to silence us !

  • Comment number 73.

    Perhaps one day, in the not-too-distant future, in every major cricketing center, we shall enjoy the comfort and stability of a multi-fuctional domed stadium where the weather will never again play spoil-sport. But this will require men of vision, courage, money and determination!

    And what a great that will be for cricket! If or when it becomes reality, imagine how revolutionary it will be for the schedule makers! Hell, you would be able to play cricket in the northern hemisphere year-round or even whist the jolly ole fella Santa Claus prepares his big bag of goodies.

    In the meantime, though, we will have to endure the agony and frustration of primitive days like today.

  • Comment number 74.

    "Birmingham was a miserable, desolate place on Wednesday"

    No change then!

    (and before anyone complains, I am native who escaped!)

  • Comment number 75.

    Everybody is saying it is a draw.I think you might get surprised. if we get 300 overs of play.There might be result.Cricket is a funny old game.

  • Comment number 76.

    Tis better to be humble with the words off the field and do the talking on it with bat, ball and mouth

  • Comment number 77.

    lets hope that middlesex get the 600,000 grant, because next time the ashes are in england we dont want what happened today with puddles on the field disrupting a day or two, on a venue that england have the highest win ratio over the aussies!!

  • Comment number 78.

    splendid sparrow

    In England (and for God's sake now Wales) we prefer to play Test matches in grounds smaller than Brentford FC holding less than 20,000 people and then charge spectators a King's ransom to attend. Of course we need decent stadia with proper facilties. Ask Messrs Clarke and Collier what they are doing about it. Probably planning a Test in Taunton...

  • Comment number 79.

    I wonder if SplendiSparrow will be singing the same tune if England were following on and five down??? I for one would be donning my Irapaho Rain Dancing Suit. Lets' hope it doesn't come to that

  • Comment number 80.

    Changes are never an easy thing to implement; they are invariably met with resistance, but are a very necessary part of the evolutionary process. And like the old adage goes: Build it and they will come!

    History is replete with examples of great ideas being initially scoffed at, but have they have revolutionised the world? Wilbur and Orville were laughed at by their neighbours before their Kitty Hawk experimentation. Today, people like Rodcan fly around the world with ease!

    Early doctors were punished for attempting to perform simple surgeries. It was against the church to mess with the Temple of God. In those regrettable days one could die from a simple finger fractureand so on and so on!

    One day a dome stadium will be built in England and people like Rod will make happy family plans to attend!

  • Comment number 81.

    I think that people are underestimating the impact losing Kevin Pieterson will have on this England team. It will be a huge psycological lift for Australlia. They know England have two genuinely inspirational matchwinners, and to lose one at this stage, the other being a permenant fitness doubt. I am certain this will be something Australlia will endevour to exploit. He destroyed the Aussies on their last tour here, if it wasn't for his innings at the Oval, Warne and Mcgrath were well on their way to bowling England out. It was on a knife-edge and he single handedly took the game away from them, ok so Giles played not bad as well. No other player in this England team has the ability to do that, with the bat, under that sort of immense pressure, Australlia will take heart from this, they're are bound to.. Even though he didn't set the world alight in Cardiff or at Headquaters his presence gives the team a immeasurable reassurance. He is due for a big score and I think the team realise this subconsciously and without him they will suffer mentally. I hope I will be proved wrong, but beware the Australlia fightback, Johnson will come good and Watson hasn't started badly. He has that true aussie spirit, something which critics have said their team has been missing lately. If Freddie stays fit he win the battle of the allrounders, but to overlook a fit and firing Steve Harmison could be an error that will come back to haunt England and their selectors. Stuart Broad is a terrific young cricketer, but his form has dipped and Harmison could really hurt Australlia. What about Sidebottom he took 8 wickets at Scarborough recently. Bear in mind it was only 16 months ago he was taking a hatrick in New Zealand and getting into the top 5 icc test bowling rankings. I think if a player is mis-firing, bite the bullet and make a change. Unless Onions and Broad set the world alight in this test match, give Harmy and Sidebottom a go.

  • Comment number 82.

    so, is it a bit too early for a weather update? its friday afternoon in Australia, would love to watch some decent cricket tonight - into the early morning hours, maybe with a lager or 2. Watson looked solid.

  • Comment number 83.

    My spies tell me that FF has had three Shredded Wheat for breakfast, so Doctor Watson better wtch out!!!

  • Comment number 84.

    Update for the dabluelagoon: Weather looks spot on for today; but some sort of boat would be useful from tomorrow onwards. If things go pear shaped for the Sons of Albion, I don't think I'll neeed my Rain Dancing suit!!

  • Comment number 85.

    Is it just me, or is anyone else getting tired with all the hand-wringing and hair-tearing arising from the absence of KP???? Talismans are all well & good, but they don't score runs; and frankly, neither has KP in this series. This is not Hogwarts; KP is not Harry Potter; and, even if he was, his wand is broken. If we can't win without KP, then we don't deserve to; and English cricket does not need a dose of Maclaren's Syndrome i.e. which assumes that we must have eleven specific players to make up an English team - even if that team loses most of the time. Please!! Far more worrying, it seems to me, is the English way of staying 'loyal' to players, way beyond the point when they should be excused games; Ravi Bopara being a case in point and perhaps Broad being another. Anyway, we seem to have made a moderately encouraging start today!!

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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