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Peerless Ponting steamrollers England's hopes

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Tom Fordyce | 18:33 UK time, Thursday, 9 July 2009

You can make statistics tell you almost anything, but some stand up and speak for themselves.

Ricky Ponting has played in six Ashes series before this one. In half of them he'd scored a century in his first innings of the series. No-one can say they weren't warned.

A day that had begun with such brio for England ended with a familiar feeling of depression hanging over the home crowd. 56 overs and four hours without a wicket, 189 runs stolen and slapped in an unbroken stand, Ponting trotting off supremely satisfied on 100 not out.

The pairing of Ponting and Katich squashed the life out of England as slowly and surely as a steamroller. The match remains alive - the lead is still 186 runs - but so too does the partnership.

At no point did either man cut loose. Australia's 200 came up off 348 deliveries. But it's not that sort of pitch, and it wasn't that sort of occasion.

Ponting's 38th Test ton was a chanceless knock. En route to it, he passed 11,000 Test runs, should that one-off match against the Rest of the World count in your scorebook. It sometimes feels like 10,000 of them have come against England.

Simon Katich and Ricky PontingEngland fans have always feared Ponting. Katich's complementary century came as a ruder surprise to those unaware of the quiet success story in the last year of Test cricket.

He endured a horrible tour here four years ago, averaging just 27 and looking as lost as a kangaroo in Cardiff Bay, and was dropped from the national side before the year was out.

Since being recalled last summer, however, and being converted to opener rather than a number six, he has been a batsman reborn. In India he averaged 48, at home to New Zealand and South Africa 53 and 54, on tour in South Africa 43.

On Thursday he was happy to take a back seat, first to his dashing young opening partner Phillip Hughes and then to his skipper. It was sensible rather than swashbuckling, restrained rather than rapid - his ton took 214 balls and 267 minutes - and it suited his team's needs perfectly.

There was a near-impossible caught-and-bowled chance off Flintoff at the start, and a lbw shout from Graeme Swann on 56 that any umpire in the world except Billy Doctrove would have given. That was it. The 33-year-old treated it all with the equanimity that only experience can bring.

England's five-man attack could do nothing else to dislodge him until he'd sailed far past his previous Test best score on these shores. And that, for Andrew Strauss, is an ominous omen for the remainder of match and series.

The central plank of England's bowling strategy on this pitch was the selection of two spinners. When Nathan Hauritz finished with three wickets in England's first innings, the stage seemed set for torture by tweak.

But while Swann was economical, shipping just 49 runs off his 20 overs, he found turn infrequently. When the ball did grip, the tweak was slow enough for the batsman to react to it with ease.

Monty Panesar twirled with familiar animation. Unfortunately the only cheers he could raise from the packed stands came for his engagingly enthusiastic fielding.

It's at times like this that a skipper tends to turn to his talisman. For a while at least, that looked like working.

Flintoff tore in from the River End after lunch to cut Hughes in half and then have him caught behind as he backed away to leg. He raised his arms to the cavorting fans in the main grandstand, and everyone sat forward expectantly for more.

It never came, despite his speed frequently getting up to 93 mph. When he got Ponting down the other end for the first time, there was to be no repeat of that legendary Edgbaston over four years ago, no matter how many times the Barmy Army sang the Flintstones theme or booed the chomping Punter.

England's other pacemen struggled even more. James Anderson's aim was off, with little sign of the swing that Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus had found on the first day, and Stuart Broad retired to the pavilion early with a sore calf.

It had all started so differently. Under grey skies that suggested early swing and danger, England had raised memories of 2005 - if any more were needed - with a tail-end tormenter of a morning for Ponting's men.

The rough par score most had agreed on over breakfast was around the 380 mark, but as first Broad and night-watchman Anderson, and then Swann, cut loose with wide-eyed glee, that was passed at a pace that brought a quiet Cardiff crowd to its feet.

It was the sort of clean-limbed hitting that delights one captain and beetles the brow of the other. Broad drove with long-limbed elegance; Swann reverse-swept and biffed over the top.

There were 67 runs added for the ninth wicket, 99 off 16.5 overs in a frantic hour. At first it was just fun, but as Mitchell Johnson and Siddle toiled fruitlessly and the Barmy bugler tootled furiously, it became increasingly serious stuff.

Perhaps England should have taken note. If the tail-enders could bat with such ease, what could the fourth highest run-scorer in Test history produce?

There was always the nagging worry that this pitch was better for batting on than England's top order made it appear. There is now a related concern to add to that - where their supposedly superior attack are going to find this next wicket from.

It needs a big start on Friday morning. And it needs a big morning to follow. This was Australia's day in almost every way.

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    If England can only muster Anderson and Broad as there new ball bowlers then there is no way we will beat a side ranked above us. Anderson looked very ordinary and lacked a bit of fire. Broad bowled better than his figures suggested but was made to look average by the australian batsmen. As for Englands supposed superior spin bowling well what can I say. Hauritz turned the ball square off the wicket(No footholes needed) right from his first over of the day. Then when swann and panesar turned up somehow the ball hardly gripped at all. In fact anyone watching cricket for the first time over the last 2days could see that hauritz is equal if not better than our attack. I will even put my neck out and say he will take more wickets than either england spinner this series. In fact probably even combined

  • Comment number 2.

    Its too early to panic as we are still ahead in the game and get to bowl last but it would have been nice to see KP or Colly given an over or two just to see if they could get the breakthrough. The way this first Australia innings has gone it will be very difficult to know what a declaration total would be if we are going to try and bowl them out in a second innings...if we even get the chance. We can only get better tomorrow and its up to the coaches now to come up with strategies to get the 2 centurions out.

    All I really hope is that we get no rain delays at the weekend when I will actually be able to see some of it.

  • Comment number 3.

    Has anyone yet not realised that the cheers for the "enthusiastic fielding by Monty Pansar" are simply cheers of irony!

    I have to say I think he make the team uncomfortable, he simply cannot bat, cant field (without the crowd effects), cant run and does not appear to have the faith of his team mates or importantly his captain.

    He was placed in the team based on 3 wickets in a warm game (Steve Harmison and Michael Vaughn must wonder what they did wrong)and his usual array of the same ball every ball was again in edvidence today.

    Nice fella but I think he unbalances the team, his clownish persona now feels uncomfortable and really with the training and time he is being given by England surely we should be seeing a match winner by now?

    I heard he commented that "he had paid no attention to England whilst he had been dropped"....extraordinary statement to make, surely he would have been served very well by watching his team mates improve and more importantly improving himself.

    Sadly I fear the Monty Pansar we now see is a slightly embarrassing bowler, who looks embarrased to be there and simply doesnt have a clue how to play cricket?

    He does nothing alter his field placings, does nothing to increase/decrease his speed, direction and appears to be the only bowler in the world who when faced with a match winning fifth day bowls within his limits and without tactic.....

    Nice Fella like i said but think England need to ditch him as he just seems to make us look silly....

  • Comment number 4.

    Looking back at the England scorecard it really looks weird after what Katich and Ponting did today.

    So many decent starts but nobody went on to a hundred.

    This is a 500+ pitch and Australia have shown that today.

    I fear a big first innings lead.

  • Comment number 5.

    I wouldn't take much comfort in the idea that we could be bowling last. I don't think Australia have any plans to bat more than once. I'm sure they've got their eyes on a score of over 700.

  • Comment number 6.

    It's too early to call this match as a probable draw but, with rain threatened at the weekend, that may yet be the outcome. I take three conclusions from today's play:

    (i) Broad and Anderson were thinking more of the 2006/07 Australians than the current variety; there was a little awe there that held them back from doing what they have been doing so well against lesser sides.

    (ii) Monty Panesar, although it pains me to say it, is really living on borrowed time and one wonders how long he will be selected ahead of Adil Rashid. In 2004 the selectors kept faith with Ashley Giles through a bad patch and he repaid that faith but, at the time, there was no clear alternative. Adil Rashid bats better and, in the World T20, showed that he has nerve with the ball. The Monty of 2009 is not the attacking option of 2006 when he added so much to the attack - mind you, he has not been since he was prematurely and wrongly put into the ODI side - and there is something to be said for sending him back to Northampton to bowl a lot of overs and giving Adil Rashid a chance to show what he can do.

    and

    (iii) The 2009 Australian attack lacks a cutting edge when things do not go to script. When Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann are making your best bowlers look pedestrian then there is something seriously wrong.

    It's a concern that the spinners did not look threatening. However, some of the criticisms are overstated. England are still around 200 ahead and a couple of wickets tomorrow morning would change things radically. The Australians will have to bat well and bat for at least two sessions tomorrow to pass the England total.

  • Comment number 7.

    This could be Panesar's last match if he doesn't bowl some of his secret deliveries. He was lucky to get into side after dismissal form. Whether the pitch is helping or not he needs to take wickets. He is still same good spin bowler but bowls with no clear strategy at all. How hard it could be if someone is just playing cricket all the time...

  • Comment number 8.

    Simply put we need Harmison back. As much as I rate Broad he's not a consistent wicket taker. And Anderson is hit and miss. We'd have to keep both of them which means a spinner would have to make way. The Aussies looked uncomfortable against Monty but he cant bat, and against Swanny they looked comfortable but he can bat. It's a big dilemma but I think without Harmison, as erratic as he can be, we lack that guy that can bang it in and rough up the batsmen (Flintoff aside and he cant bowl all day) and he can make things happen as is proved in home series.

  • Comment number 9.

    Where is Harmison when you need him?
    Why is the first test in an Ashes series being held at Cardiff on this pitch?
    Where are people in the England side who can convert good scores into centuries?
    Why do the English lack the killer instinct?

  • Comment number 10.

    I agree with the other posters about Panesar. This match is Monty's last chance saloon but sadly - so far - he can't seem to find his pistol. And when batting becomes ever more important, while Swann can hit 47 not out coming in at No.10, Monty's batting seems to be getting worse. Perhaps, he should change his 'batting buddy!'

    The time has come to give Rashid his chance. Shane Warne thinks the spinner has excellent prospects while the youngster can also bat!

    As for the fast bowlers, yes, you can blame the ball for not swinging but that isn't an acceptable excuse at the top level. Today, the English bowlers simply weren't good enough. Only Flintoff appeared on level terms with the Australian batsmen.

    Tomorrow is another day. 10 overs into the morning and England can take the new ball. Perhaps, this one will miraculously swing!!

    I feel Harmison should be given another opportunity, given the right opportunity. In the 'Lions' match he seemed like his old 2005 self, quickly nullifying Hughes, and really showing positive aggression.

    My present verdict for the game with rain forecast over the weekend - a draw.

  • Comment number 11.

    Well it's going to be an interesting series, because the teams look quite evenly matched, dont they?

    1) It appears England have the better bowling attack (at least while Lee is unfit)... Australia has no Flintoff!!!

    2) The england batting is back to its usual form... plenty of ability, but lots of "kamikase" too!!!

    Anyway this should be a recipe for a series of fascinating, seesawing test matches.

    Hope it doesnt bloody rain!!!!!!!

    An Expat Australian

  • Comment number 12.

    Best news Ponting has heard in months:

    Harmison out. Panesar in.

  • Comment number 13.

    One thing that Monty needs to learn, is that umpires generally react badly when a bowler appeals three or four times in an over, usually when he must *know* that there is no chance of the appeal being successful. Geoff Boycott said that he did not appear to be familiar with the lbw law: if any other player tried it on like that we would be calling for the match referee to step in with a fine or, at very least, a warning.

    In winter 2005 and summer 2006 Monty was genuinely a breath of fresh air: an attacking spinner who bubbled enthusiasm. Since he took a bucketload of wickets against the Windies in 2007 he seems to have turned from a strike bowler into a stock bowler. I don't hold much truck with the theory that his experience in Australia destroyed his confidence: in fact, he took more than half his wicket haul for the entire tour in just one match and had done little to justify his call-up to the Test side other than not be Ashley Giles! His decline seems to coincide with England deciding to play him in ODIs when Northants, warely of destroying him as an attacking force, rarely, if ever played him in domestic one-dayers. He now tends to bowl too fast, too flat and has totally abandoned any attempt to give the ball some air and tease the batsman out.

    Probably England will not pick two spinners again this summer although I do wish that they would give Adil Rashid a chance. Based on today's showing, an extra quick - someone with genuine pace - would be a more likely bet. It's a pity that Anderson and Broad who were regularly hitting 90mph v the West Indies seem to be no better than lively fast medium just when a few really quick ones in support of Fred were indicated. It's awfully tempting to say that it should be Steve Harmison instead of the much slower Graham Onions (whose pace may be to Australia's liking). If you want someone who can hold an end up with the bat and take wickets, Liam Plunkett is showing some useful form again but, really, you should be looking at someone who can bowl some really fast and hostile overs with the new ball because there is just a suspicion that if a couple of wickets go quickly the Australian middle order might not prove as resistent as some other Australian line-ups of recent vintage.

  • Comment number 14.

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

  • Comment number 15.

    It is interesting when you compare the England '09 Ashes bowling attack with the '05 one that Harmison is the missing link. Bring back Harmison and you then have Anderson 4 Hoggard; Broad 4 Jones; Swann 4 Giles; with Flintoff in his usual place. So, bring back Harmison for Panesar and the jigsaw is complete!

    Meanwhile, for variety, there is the medium pace of Collingwood and Bopara and spin from Pietersen. I reckon that Strauss's decision to have two spinners at Cardiff will backfire.

  • Comment number 16.


    It's amazing isn't it - all the media huffing and puffing about the lack of spin of the Australian bowlers - and yet these not terribly good Australian bowlers got our batsmen out for 436. Meanwhile, our utterly fabulous bowlers have done not a lot. Are we looking at hype, are our bowlers utterly useless or have the groundsmen at Cardiff produced something which doesn't suit our style of play? This is what they all do abroad. We haven't learned, have we.

    Let's hope rain stops play in this one, otherwise it's a disaster for England (and we're so good at plucking defeat out of the jaws of victory aren't we?) Bring back Michael Vaughan who knows how to deal with the Aussies .........

  • Comment number 17.

    In the run up to this series the 'experts' have almost written the Aussies off, proclaiming England's attack superior. How, why? Yes, Anderson, Broad looked good in the winter/spring - but that was against Windies. Could they carry on with that form against a superior side, the No1 team - Australia? Add to the fact a young Australia attack went to be slaughtered in South Africa - but forgot the script - and ended up winning the series - all the while England lost in Windies.
    Yes, it's far too early to be making these assumptions after 70 odd overs - but Broad bowled rubbish, Anderson was the old inconsistent Anderson, Monty is trying to find his form.
    I fully expect the Aussies to fill their boots and make 550-600+

  • Comment number 18.

    An ominous omen eh? What other sorts of omens are there?

  • Comment number 19.

    Come on Pommy fans, dont get too disheartened. You still have a decent lead and our bowling attack will never run through you like previous series. I was very impressed with the English tail. They could be the difference this series.

  • Comment number 20.

    Very sensible batting from Ponting and Katitch - this is exactly how to bat in a test match.England´s tailenders this morning surely did wag very effectively after yesterday´s throwing away of certain wickets.
    I predict this will be Monty´s last Test unless he manages to grab at least 5 wickets which looks very unlikely after today´s performance.I expect in the 2nd Test England will bring in Harmison for Panesear,and Australia will drop Siddle & Hauritz for Lee & Clark making a much stronger side to challenge England in the rest of the series.

  • Comment number 21.

    pyattl01 - fair point about the turn Hauritz got compared to the English spin twins. Sobering for Strauss, that.

    Well argued, cricketing_stargazer. Gerrardswhiskers - the forecast is patchy for Saturday. Thedicey - we're not distant relations, are we?

    TheShowPony1980, HunterSWestHam - seriously, Harmison on this pitch? There's no bounce and not much pace. Maybe at Lord's, at a push, but I can't see him having any joy on this surface.

    MickGatting - agreed about the Test match batting. And thank you wylergnu for lifting the mood a little...

  • Comment number 22.

    great to see the poms getting disshearted.

    Australia can bat all day tomorrow, and get a good sniff of victory.

    Go Australia!!

  • Comment number 23.

    What today showed all you poms out there was what a wasted opptunity you guys had in your first innings to bat Australia out of the match and you all blew it. Having all got starts, and not even one century smacks of a disdain of your opponents you guys have not earned and a total lack of passion your team has when you play against us. It probably has something to do with the imports in your team who have no true and underlying belief in the Ashes contest. Also picking Panesar instead of Harmison is a joke. No player no matter how good likes to face a 6 and a half foot bowler sending down delvieries at 90mph. Also, where has your vaunted ability to swing the ball gone? Sorry, the Aussie who taught you how to do it is now back where he belongs, in the Aussie camp. My predication for the rest of the match. Aussies to bat for the next day and a session and a half on day four, and for you pommies sake rain and lots of it. Ponting to make a double, and a century each for Clarke and Hussey. 1-0 Aussies, a best case draw, but big changes for second test for the home team. Business as usual.

  • Comment number 24.

    Not to come over too pro-Freddie, but the guy has found an important wicket and then bowled comparatively economically for the remainder of the day... where's his support?

    I'm so sick of England not being able to muster three good seamers, when most other countries have them in abundance. Despite his well documented dismissals of Hughes, I'm not sure that Harmison is the answer to the problem either.

    Katich and Ponting are obivously very capable and world-class respectively but how can they be in their for the majority of the day and appear so unruffled. I'm perhaps appearing rather negative given that it's only day two of the first test, but England have got to step up their game if they are to stand any chance of regaining the Ashes.

  • Comment number 25.

    Don't for a second think it is all doom and gloom England fans. I vividly remember the first test in 2005 when we flattened you lot, oh so nearly snatched the second, but eventually lost that magnificent series with a star studded Australian line up. This time I think on paper these two teams are pretty evenly matched. I think the wicket at Cardiff looks a little inert so I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up a high scoring draw. Day 2 was absolutely our our day but the match and the ashes are most definitely very much alive. Enjoy!

  • Comment number 26.

    As long as the selectors strangely continue to pick a weak link in Panesar, England will continue to find themselves behind the 8 ball!

    This chap is utterly 'useless'! Why is Harmy out and a dud in? Baffling indeed!

  • Comment number 27.

    Bringing back Harmison is not the answer. He's failed too often and should have been dropped earlier.

    England were below par in the batting, on a good pitch with several of the batters getting in for one not to make ton is criminal. Certainly I'd agree with the above posters, regarding Monty, his recent record his poor and his fielding and batting are liabilities. One poster said he hadn't followed England since being dropped, that's pityiful too.

    If we were to play with 2 spinners then Rashid was the obvious choice.

    Anyway all's not lost yet, the Aussies are still some way behind, though I fully expect them to surpass our total and leave us in a tricky position. We were hammered in the first Test in last home Ashes series and still came back against a much better Australian side.

  • Comment number 28.

    It is too early to be commenting adversely on team selection, or even state of the wicket. Best thoughts have presumably gone into the former. The wickets can vary from a batting paradise to a batsman's graveyard. Its neither. Obviously this one demands a high degree of application and patience from batsmen as well as bowlers.
    Now most England batters would be clearly ruing they could have applied better or been more patient. Strauss gifted his wicket through a technical gaucherie. KP, Anderson and Swann should have been more patient. Sad, the egregious Aussies are not making the same errors!
    The moment for playing on patience is here, and I do not need to list what the tools for this phase are. 'What could have been' is always tempting but in the past.

  • Comment number 29.

    From an Australians perspective, how does Swann get off complaining about an umpires single non-decision for an LBW against Katich, when the aussies had 4 maybe 5 turned down which were all out (KPs was absolutely stone dead out). This is why we call you whinging poms. You need to look at the class of your own swing and spin bowlers before knocking the Aussie attack. You all seemed to have forgotten about the 5-0 drubbing you received 2 years back all I keep hearing is 05, 05, 05 wishful thinking I reckon. Its game on now boys.

  • Comment number 30.

    The scary thing for me is, i feel our best bowler was left out (Stuart Clark) and one of our best most exciting batsmen for a long time, for me at least, is Marcus North. So i'll be excitedly awaiting his turn to bat sometime late tomorrow, or the next day! As for the show-pony Brett Lee...do you want him?!

  • Comment number 31.


    684 runs for the loss of just eleven wickets in two days play is a good start to a test series. Bowlers and fielders will have to come up with superlative performances to capture the nearly thirty remaining wickets. Congratulations to the two centurions.



    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 32.

    England need to get more Australian in their attitude - there's got to be more anger, more aggression, more sporting hatred. Anyone else remember Katich coming up the stairs in '05 and swearing about the Poms ? That's because he hates us - and now he's getting his revenge. And deep down, seemingly all Aussies hate the English (certainly in a sporting sense) - so let's start giving it back. We're simply too nice, we give our wickets away and don't make the Aussies suffer. Just makes me want to break into the England dressing room and give them all a good hiding - someone needs to tell them that decades of arrogant Australian supremecy really hurts the normal folk of this country and that they've got the opportunity to change that. Why else did everyone go so wild in '05 ? Sort it out boys.

  • Comment number 33.

    yawn.... what is more boring? test cricket or watching paint dry?

  • Comment number 34.

    PommiebasherOOIOOI, you are quite obviously a pom. Give it up.

    billionplus, I'll tell you what is more boring, that cliché line that just about every non-cricket fan has used 100 times. If you don't like it why are you commenting in a cricket blog?

    The best part about the Ashes so far for me is the blind media following by most of the poms. England's attack better than Australia's? Your spinners haven't troubled anyone (yet) and as far as I know this is easily their best chance. Remember both Clark and Lee are out at the moment and we still had you at ~5 for, at the same amount of runs. Johnson's bowling has been very average and will only get better, siddle slightly better and Hilfy is poised to have a great series. Hauritz was also getting MUCH more turn than your supposed 'great' spinners. I can't wait for Haddin to come in and get on top of both Swann and Monty.

    As far as batting goes Australia have shown that, when in form - as at least the top order seems to be at the moment - they are head and shoulders above England. We can bat down to number 8 but with Ponting and Katich playing like this, we won't need to. Huges may be a bit of a worry. Flintoff definitely shook him up a bit yesterday and he seemed extra jumpy when facing high balls from him. Although, I still think that if the poms continue to bowl bouncers at him they will only be wasting their time. He faced a much better bowling attack in SA, on tracks with much more bounce and came out trumps. He seemed to be a little rattled now but he will no doubt step up a gear as he did after his duck against SA.

  • Comment number 35.

    beeDUB75, lloydyb - very true about the first Test four years ago. Then again, look at the first Test two and a half years ago.

    pommiebasherOOIOOI - where did you got your username from?

  • Comment number 36.

    The difference between the 2 teams can be summarised generally thus - Australia's batsmen seldom look like getting out, whereas England's batsmen are always looking like they soon will; Australia's bowlers look for, and look like, taking a wicket most balls, whereas England's sometimes do. Add to that the intensity, determination, skill and commitment of the Australian players and you have what we have now - Aussie domination which will continue all Summer, weather permitting - yet somehow we go on watching and living in hope. We will not be rewarded other than the occasional minor session victory but still we watch and hope. Pathetic isn't it?

  • Comment number 37.

    Yeah not a good afternoon for us it has to be said (painful for a POM here in Perth, Aus) ......despite a great start to the day with the gift of 100 runs in a little under 17 overs from our tail enders. Freddie should have taken the new ball......and I would expect (hope) Strauss to throw it to him when it comes around tonight. But all is not lost.

    I'm glad half the people on this blog aren't picking the team or giving the team speech before play though. Anyone would think that we had already lost the test / ashes. Perspective gentleman (and ladies) please.

    England need a good 1st session to get a foothold back in the match. It doesn't look positive for us at the moment but Freddie is right ...we only need to look back at the oval in 2005 to see how quickly things can change (Aussies slumping from an imperious 267-1 to 367 all out). Things can turn quickly with momentum and that's what they will have to keep telling themselves. That is the joy of test cricket after all.

    Having said that more than likely England will be battling to save the test match. I fully expect the Aussies to send England back in with a deficit of 250-300 runs with 1.5 days to go. Funnier things have happened and there is plenty of rain expected all day on Saturday apparently....which could come to England's rescue.

    I'll be having a few beers tonight and be eagerly watching to see if we can raise the tempo.....and talking of tempos.........I've been really disappointed with the Welsh crowd. It sounds more like a test match in Australia than England..........far too quiet for my liking. One thing you can usually rely on from the English crowds is singing and chanting, however badly we are playing.....and this usually fires up the team. Sadly missing at the moment as well.

    Still a couple of early wickets tonight and we could be in for another close fight. Still the best part of 200 runs ahead still so no need to panic quite yet.

  • Comment number 38.

    I find it all so bemusing...especially with many English fans...all these wild predictions of domination and success prior to play starting...waffle so distant from the reality of the teams...it makes you wonder if they are football fans who are looking for a way to fill the summer. ;)

    Anyone that paid any attention to the Aus v SA test matches in SA...will know that the Aussie attack is more than equal to the English one. Be grateful Johnson is curiously below par (maybe weight of expectation has him jittery..i d k)...he was spine tingling at times in SA and showed all the potential of being the sort of talismen that Freddie is.

    That said, they are too well matched teams this time around and just because Ponting and Katich displayed more maturity than any of the english batsmen and ground their way through the afternoon yesterday is not to say it's all going to be repeated today.

    England still have a sizeable lead, the Aussies have to bat a long time yet to catch up and exceed it. That's very possible, but what is very possible is a couple of fast wickets falling and the dynamic to shift to England.

    That's the beauty of a test match...so much time for the story to unfold.

    Thank God the Ashes are here...real damn cricket with a drama to develop and play out over days...unlike the sponsor's whore that T20 is.

    Both teams should be equally confident starting today...there is a long way to go yet. Keep your perspective. Predicting this English team, which I never saw as that daunting, would thrash the Aussies in this series (many seem to forget 05 was extremely CLOSE not a whitewash - 07) is as dumb as thinking only rain can save England in Cardiff now.

    Good luck to both. ;)

  • Comment number 39.

    The modern game is all about the batsman making loads of runs. The pitches are 'prepared' for batsman. I really feel for the bowlers like Swann and the quickies as once the shines off the ball they are pretty ordinary.

    I know that you don't want 3 day Test matches as this isn't lucrative but give the bowlers a break. At least have uncovered pitches to give them some assistance.

    As Thomo recently said '....batsman come out to bat dressed like Sir Lancelot and still complain...'. Limited bouncers, field restrictions and pitches ' prepared' for batsman isn't fair!!

    I hope that England get something out of this pitch this morning otherwise the Aussies are going to run away with this 1st Test.

  • Comment number 40.

    The ball didn't swing for England, while the Aussie bowlers managed to swing it a lot in short spells, particularly after tea....hmmm....it seems clear that England aren't applying enough, or indeed the right type of sun cream. May i suggest lots of that really thick white stuff.

  • Comment number 41.

    It always amazes me how people, including retired test cricketers, make assumptions about a likely innings total based on nothing more than how the innings is going so far. It is as if they have never witnessed a batting collapse. Time and time again history has demonstrated that just one breakthrough can lead to a chain of quick dismissals. A score such as ours could easily end up with a total less than the English total. It is a bit like clock patience (if you are familiar with the solo card game). You cruise along and then suddenly all the kings turn up and it is game over. Cricket is a game of twists and turns and its unpredictablity is its main attraction. You still have a handy lead with a competitive total regardless of what we get and our bowlers are innocuous. We will not get that far ahead, if at all, and the game will be (as it still is) very much alive. There is still plenty of time for either team to win and batting last is a big ace up your sleeve. Don't be despondent, enjoy the cut and thrust that is the beauty of test match cricket between the game's traditional foes in your picturesque land. Only those from our two nations are privileged to truly understand what the ashes is about and you are so lucky to be there. Enjoy the atmosphere and the CHANCE of winning because it could all start on the next delivery. Be positive.

  • Comment number 42.

    Its sort of strange Auusies batted well we bowled badly, but heh a lead of 200 hundred still, lets not panic. I suspect that we may see an early clatter of wickets today and England will be back int the hunt, how often does a team cruise the first day batting and fold at the start of the second.

    As for selection I can't buy the Harmison theory he's had his chance, I don't mind so much about his form in and out more that he may be up for this but irrespective how well he does, come winter he won't want to know, besides he's too mentally weak and is likely to fall apart at some stage.

    I agree about Monty, its goodbye and perhaps come back in a year. Rashid must come in and with the luxury of 5 bowlers its the perfect opportunity to ease him in without letting Auusies blast his confidence, and you can be sure thats what they will try. Batting at 8 really adds spine to the side.

    Sadly Broad doesn't take enough wickets and must go, he needs to have a full season in County where he needs to take 80 odd wickets, remember thats how bowelers use to get in. I think England need to go in with another front line seam bowler and be less obssessed with the extra batter, Why Onions wasn't picked I will never know.

    Otherwise I can't criticise Miller that much although over the year some of his selections have been beyond comprehension. In a way I hope its a draw as a win may paper over the cracks, I think with Rashid and Onions in for Monty and Broad, we can and will stuff em.

  • Comment number 43.

    England's bowlers are great, when the opposition's second rate. This is Australia, they never have been prone to surrendering.

  • Comment number 44.

    Still mystified about the number of posts that ranks England's bowlers so far about the Aussie attack. lol. Wishful thinking I suppose, also heads in the sand, taken on the evidence so far (although 2 days isn't a lot to go on).

    Can only presume it's because of beating the WI's...who clearly didn't even want to be playing the last couple of matches...sulked around wishing they were playing in the IPL.

    I put a post up earlier trying to encourage the english fans to keep perspective on the match (goes with that, keep heart). But the more waffle I read that incorrectly elevates the english side over aus...in spite of the way things have gone the last few days...the more I start to want the Aussies to thrash the hell out of you.

    Perspective brought by force. lol.

    Keep up the good work...make sure the blinkers are sown on, they are going to take a few blows.

    p.s. who exactly thought it was feasible to get a 5 day game played out in Wales without the weather destroying it? Or was that just the money talking that got the game to Cardiff?

  • Comment number 45.

    How's Swann having a dig at the lbw decision against Katich?!? - he clearly wasn't watching for the couple of plum decisions that didn't go Hilfenhaus's way.

    And as for the pom supporters seeing doom and gloom, don't start writing off your lads just yet. Pitch could start doing all sorts of things soon and all of a sudden you're right back in it. It always amazes me how quickly people write off their players once they have a bad session. So you had two bad sessions yesterday - only takes one good today to turn it all around.
    In saying that, fingers and toes crossed for a Punter double ton.

  • Comment number 46.

    Mark my words, Strauss is a good player but no captain of England. Once the selectors get this through there very thick skulls, England can start to wonder on retaining the ashes. Replacement? There is no replacement, only M Vaughan to come back, bat at no.5, 6 or 7 and lead us to victory. For god sake ASK HIM! You asked Brearley (was his batting ave important?) in 81' didn't you? It is patently obvious to us who view Test Cricket as the worlds most intelligent game that if your top 5 batsmen cannot score a century on such a docile pitch and be out-gunned by the tail order, then see real world class batsman from down-under show you how to concentrate surely something needs changing. Strauss is just a secondary school teacher whom the pupils giggle at and throw board-rubbers toward when his head is turned. I expect a fortunate draw at best and then a loss in the next match. You have been warned. The only man in English cricket who would command the respect of Flintoff, Broad, Bopara, KP etc is one Michael Vaughan. Un-retire him and make him an offer, now!

  • Comment number 47.

    England's complaints about the ball not swinging are pretty childish.
    If you have Flintoff and Broad bowling short of the wicket to an opening batsman at the start of the day sure you may take an early wicket but it will screw up the ball for later on in the day where it wont swing at all and Anderson will suffer as without swing he is just an average bowler where England will then pay the price.

  • Comment number 48.

    Perhaps the recent test series againsts the Windies where England easily beat a very poor team gave us a sense of over confidence in the run up to Ashes. We all knew the Aussies would be a tougher outfit even without the recently retired superstars of the past 15 years, and so its perhaps no suprise our bowlers have initially struggled. but i have faith. As a bowling unit, i would have played another quick bowler, as Monty just isn't playing to test level at the moment. Fred needs to be used in short sharp spells of 6-8 overs, stick with jimmy, broad and swann as they all excellent bowlers who also add depth to the batting. Onions in for monty, simple. Onions is a guy who bowls tight to the wicket and doesn't give much away, something we need. Harmy is a joke. One half decent effort in the lions game and people are calling for his inclusion, he won't be bothered playing for england when they go abroad, it shouldn't be a case of picking when you want to play for your country.

  • Comment number 49.

    ball not swinging? probably worth taking some master classes from Wasim Akram? I'm sure he can spare a weekend (or maybe just a few minutes)

 

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