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King KP comes to the party

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Tom Fordyce | 08:21 UK time, Sunday, 5 December 2010

Adelaide, South Australia

"Kevin will make someone pay dearly for his poor run of form."

When Graham Ford, coach of the Nashua Dolphins, came out with that statement just before this Ashes series began, it seemed like nothing but hopeful bluster - the sort of empty threat Dr Evil might make if he ever turned his attention from death stars and mutated sea bass to out-of-form cricketers with a penchant for switch-hits.

Kevin Pietersen had finished his last Test series with an average of 23. Dropped from the England one-day side, he had then been dismissed for 0 and 1 in his next first-class outing. Coming into this match he hadn't made a Test century in 21 months.

We should have known better. Ford knows his former pupil's batting inside out; Pietersen loves nothing more than a stage and a set of spotlights.

In Brisbane he played beautifully for 43 but then got himself out. Here in Adelaide he played beautifully for 43 and then carried on playing beautifully for another 170. If the rain hadn't come down as if this was South Wales rather than South Australia, he could have creamed it around until Christmas.

England have piled on 551 runs for the loss of four wickets and hold a 306-run lead over the Aussies after three days, despite the rain thwarting play after tea.

In this sort of shape, Pietersen is like no other England batsman in memory. There have been more prolific run-scorers, there have been more graceful stroke-makers. There have been more pugnacious fighters.

But no-one else combines all three of those virtues, and then adds the swagger of Shere Khan and the strut of a show-pony.

At times on Sunday it was like watching Viv Richards in his pomp. If you weren't here to witness it, that will probably sound too lofty a comparison - Pietersen doesn't have King Viv's weight of runs, or number of centuries, or place in history.

What he does have is a similar ability to dominate not just the bowling but the entire drama, sucking in the attention of the entire ground, ripping the opposition's fielding plans to pieces and emptying the hospitality marquees and beer tents as effectively as a fire alarm.

When Pietersen is struggling, as he did all summer against Pakistan, he resembles the player who made so small a splash in his early professional years - a lower-order swiper and slogger, blessed with meaty arms and a sweet eye but lacking the patience or discipline needed to convert starts into centuries.

The bat comes down across his pad, the head falls across to the off side and the hands push too firmly at anything full and fast.

Kevin Pietersen was in imperious form for his unbeaten double century
Kevin Pietersen punches the air in celebration. Photo:Getty Images

Not here. His bat was plumb-line straight, his concentration Cook-like, his resolve rock-solid and his determination total.

The unconventional shots were still there - the bottom-handed whippy clip off one leg through midwicket, the slashing sweep, the sashay across to drill a ball from a foot outside off to the fence at long on - but so was the timeless technique of a born conformist.

When Peter Siddle tried to trap him with old pitched-up inswinger trick, Pietersen crunched him back down the ground with front elbow high and head motionless. When Ricky Ponting grew desperate and fed him short stuff with three men out in the deep, he lanced successive bouncers straight through the small gaps with surgical precision.

Pietersen hasn't always been every England fan's cup of tea, too fancy-dan and Hello! Magazine for those raised on humble pie and dusty Wisdens.

Even in his greatest triumphs there is something slightly ridiculous about him - the exaggerated displays of emotion, the flamboyant holding of a post-shot pose, the milking of his moments in the limelight. When leaving the ball, normally the most prosaic of movements, he does so with the ostentatious flourish of a matador waving past a bull.

Each of his landmarks here saw the theatrics ramped up a little more.

On 100 he ripped off his helmet and pointed his bat in a regal arc around the ground. At 150 he threw a clenched fist upwards, like a man upper-cutting an invisible opponent. And on 200 he topped the lot, sprinting off with arms out wide towards the Barmy Army encamped on the grassy hill in front of the old scoreboard before sinking to one knee as if about to propose to himself.

We should forgive the histrionics. It takes a particular type of character to sit around with his pads on for almost 11 hours, watching his team-mates pile on the runs, and still manage to stroll in and steal the headlines.

He has also probably been lying in bed at night thinking about playing like this on an occasion so important ever since he first picked up a bat.

There is no opponent he enjoys playing against more, no rivalry that gets him quite so stirred.

In the Ashes of 2005 he announced himself on the international stage with a series average of 52; in 2006-7 he bettered that with 57, compared to his overall Test average of 48. Only in 2009, shackled by that sore Achilles, did he struggle - down to an average of 38, full of promising starts but low on big finishes.

That Australia began this series with the genuine belief that Xavier Doherty would prove his nemesis now seems vaguely surreal.

For most of the time so far, England's batsmen have been so dominant that Doherty hasn't even had the chance to bowl at him. For the second innings in succession they have compiled a score of more than 500, the first time in Test history they have ever done that against Australia.

When Doherty has finally faced him down the other end, it's been with his figures in pieces and his confidence in tatters. So far in this series he's conceded 268 runs for just two tail-end wickets, feeding the scoreboard with a mix of long hops and full bungers and looking no more the answer to Australia's spin problem than anyone else who's been asked to fill Shane Warne's shoes.

The list is now at nine and counting, a mix of has-beens and never weres: Stuart MacGill, Beau Casson, Jason Krezja, Bryce McGain, Cameron White, Nathan Hauritz and Brad Hogg. Steve Smith should come back and eventually come good. But it is a sobering roll-call for Australia's selectors.

Doherty's dismantling, and the similar impotence of the rest of his side's attack, means that England go into the fourth day with a remarkable lead of 306, six wickets in hand.

Even bearing in mind the ghastly collapse of four years ago, there is no way they can lose, and ordinarily there would be no reason why they shouldn't arrive on Monday morning confident of victory.

Then again, ordinarily a summer in these parts doesn't include a two-day forecast of thunder and heavy rain.

That is Australia rather than England who are left praying for rain does not make the satellite maps for the next 48 hours any easier on the eye. Thanks to the deeds of Pietersen and his team-mates, the tourists should be leaving Adelaide with a 1-0 series lead in their suitcases. If it's still level pegs heading into the third Test in Perth, the stormy mood may take a while yet to abate.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    First comment??
    Great article, great innings!

    Surely declare overnight and give ourselves two rain filled days to bowl them out??

  • Comment number 2.

    Great news for KP, hopefully he will be able to carry it through to tougher batting pitches, and his average is getting much closer to the glory of 50+ again. Shame Collingwood didn't get to fill his boots, but he made a useful amount, about his average, so his place should still be safe.
    ----------
    Even bearing in mind the ghastly collapse of four years ago, there is no way they can lose, and ordinarily there would be no reason why they shouldn't arrive on Monday morning confident of victory.
    ----------
    I'd like to think so. With the rain forecast and even with the score equal to that of four years ago, I'd be tempted to put Australia in in the morning. It would be a symbolic way of showing England know they are not the same team as then (although they do have many of the same players) and nor are Australia, quite apart from time considerations. With the first innings failure in their minds, Australia might feel the already intense pressure to save the game, as England had to in Brisbane, even more keenly as a result.

    Oh, and the 'swagger of Shere Khan'? Brilliant. It fits perfectly; that confident, menacing assurance, the attitude that suggests he is just indulging you because it amuses him. He also wasn't quite as good as he cearly felt, but I'll ignore that.

  • Comment number 3.

    Good article, but just one point, Stuart MacGill does not deserve to be on that list of spinners who failed in the aftermath of the Warne era. He played 44 Tests and picked up 208 wickets at 29.02, picking up 5 wickets 12 times and had 2, 10 wicket Tests, so he was good. You have to remember that he played most of his career behind Warne. Unfortunately for MacGill his best years were behind him by the time Warne retired. If MacGill was in the early years of his career today he would walk into this Australian team unchallenged. His bad luck can be seen by the fact that he had to wait so long behind Warne that he more or less retired at the same time while Australia have no spinners worth talking about today.

  • Comment number 4.

    FIGJAM!

  • Comment number 5.

    Draw?

  • Comment number 6.

    Great to see KP back in form - and how. All of England's top six look in awesome nick whilst only Watson and Hussey do for the Aussies. Only rain and the Ponting of Old Trafford 2005 can stop us now.

    Double Trouble & The Able KP - Day 3 at Adelaide disected http://bit.ly/fpHs2v

    ...and who should the Aussies blame? A good place to start would be with Andrew Hilditch http://bit.ly/g8UqyB

  • Comment number 7.

    Good job Hogg retired almost straight after Warne. He was clearly the stand-out on that list.

    Probably.

    I don't really know what I'm talking about. I just remember him looking very good for Australia once Warne retired.

  • Comment number 8.

    England have had the momentum from the 2nd innings in the last test, and they have really run with it. The current Aussie bowling attack has been put to the sword by the England top order.
    I hope Kevin Pietersen's great knock will now bury the ghosts of the previous two odd years.
    Maybe Aussies should go for the unthinkable - call back Brett Lee and Shaun Tait for the next three tests (if their bodies can take the strain)!!
    Ricky Ponting's captaincy lacks imagination and Andrew Strauss's players have capitalised on this. Xavier Doherty's bowling has been a big disappointment. whatever his faults Nathan Hauritz is a far better bowler for these conditions.

  • Comment number 9.

    Rain affected draw.
    This series, like it or not, will go to the wire.

  • Comment number 10.

    Reesy, MacGill was the best in that list outside of Warne. He had 208 Test wickets which is good for 12th all time on the Australian wicket taking list. Amongst Australian spinners he is 3rd all time behind Warne and Benaud. He was unlucky in that age and injuries robbed him of being the no 1 spinner after Warne retired. If he was 10-15 years younger he would walk into this Australian team today unchallenged.

  • Comment number 11.

    KP is in excellent form

    England should declare tomorrow morning and try and bowl Australia out in their second innings.
    Australia got to bat out two days to save this test match

    Weather forecast for next two days is rain and my help Australia get a draw

  • Comment number 12.

    Tom - your copy is brilliant mate.

    The Doug Rug & Grace Jones had me in fits.

    Outstanding stuff.

  • Comment number 13.

    I hope Papa Shango will be eating more humble pie this morning, and the other guy I saw writing probably even more absurd, contrary to the evidence, remarks. Collingwood may have got out in the forties, but it wasn't a failure as the stand compiled 101, and him and Pietersen normally enjoy batting together. Bell has carried on in a fluent manner and really helped push things along. Such a shame rain intervened. Hopefully it won't have too much of an effect on the next days play. I can see England batting for another session to get a 400 run lead before declaring thus ensuring that if Australia managed to get 450/500 the target would be small.

  • Comment number 14.

    Sorry Fordyce, but i have to disagree about the macgill comment. At one stage he was the 2nd best spinner in the world but couldn't get a game for his country. He was a good bowler out of luck but he did get to marry a hot chick from 'neighbours' called rachel friend.

  • Comment number 15.

    Does anyone know if we are starting early tonight after the rain delay?

  • Comment number 16.

    "There is no opponent he enjoys playing against more, no rivalry that gets him quite so stirred."
    I think, it is South Africa that gets him very much stirred(or if to name 1man, it has to be Graeme Smith).
    Mcgill with other 15.... I think, Macgill was lot better and deserves better and his stats speaks for themselves. And if my crude mathematics and memory serves well, he probably took more wicket than even warnie when duo played together.
    Nice article otherwise

  • Comment number 17.

    yes doubletap. i think half an hour earlier and if it rains down in south australia as much as it's been raining here in queensland,i dont think it will matter how early they start.

  • Comment number 18.

    I just checked stats n it comes out that Macgill took 82wickets in 16tests @22 while Warnie 76 @29 n who can forget new year test of 98-99 ashes when took 6 on 4th day to deny us a victory( series would have been leveled)

  • Comment number 19.

    @laughingjackass Thx for the info :) Although I hope rain doesn't affect this match any further. Any local knowledge we can tap into on the boards?

  • Comment number 20.

    Andrew Strauss will always be my favourite player in the England team, but I LOVE Kevin Pietersen and was really delighted to read of his return to form. The Ego certainly has landed back, safe and sound!

    What also appears certain, is that this might be a watershed of sorts. It was really interesting to read the words of Andrew Miller on Wisden:

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/the-ashes-2010-11/content/story/490523.html

    where he spoke of how KP's attitude seems to have changed, or mellowed rather in light of his struggles. He no longer appears the brat who took everything for granted. He now appears to be more respectful in a way of struggle and while the old brashness is there, he has now channeled it for the team cause. This might probably end up becoming the making of the real Kevin Pietersen!

    I don't know how much Andy Flower has had to do with it, but KP has certainly been singing the praises of his old pal Graham Ford for the work they did together. It's hardly a wonder that KP wanted Ford to be England's coach, and one would feel that if the late and great Robert Andrew Woolmer had become England coach after the World Cup KP would have gone to new heights as a player!

    What really upsets me though is how many people still do not really warm to the guy. I think after this innings we need to really appreciate him for the kind of guy he is in terms of his commitment and the work he puts into getting his game right. As I've said before, now that he appears to be going along the right path and straight along with the team ethos, we will see more great things from him. I've certainly never doubted his ability, and am just so glad that he's back to his best.

  • Comment number 21.

    It was another excellent knock by an England batsmen on this tour. What made this innings from KP so good was that he actually put some value on his wicket. He needs to do this every time he walks to the crease; if he can do this and continue scoring runs when it matters (i.e. when England are struggling), then he might one day justify the 'world class' tag given him. However, I still trust the top 3 more in a crisis.

  • Comment number 22.

    I was not lucky enough to watch much of the swagger/pomp of Sir Viv, but what KP did this morning (picking holes and making a mockery of Punter's field placings) will live long in the memory.

    As for the game. Declare overnight would be my tactic, but I just think Strauss is too conservative a captain at times and I wouldn't be surprised if we came out for one session tomorrow morning.

  • Comment number 23.

    England have to declare overnight as it's almost certain there will be quite a bit of rain. Hopefully there will be enough time for England to complete a victory but it will have to require Swann and Anderson to be at their very best.

  • Comment number 24.

    I drifted in and out of sleep on the sofa but from what I saw, the Aussies have no answer to our top order. For me, come out and bat half an hour to an hour, push it to somewhere near 600, get KP to his personal best of 226 and declare, give the Aussies a difficult hour before lunch and don't let them settle. Swanny will find some turn towards the end of this and as somebody mentioned it's light enough to make up some time for rain anywhere up until 8pm, realistically give us 5 sessions to bowl the Aussies out and possibly have to chase 80 or 100 on Monday afternoon. Weather dependent its an England win or at worst a draw, Australia cannot win this test

  • Comment number 25.

    306 is a lead fraught with uncertainty. Its hardly enough to declare on and feel completely comfortable, but then again, you are almost assured of not losing.

    The rain ain't helping.

    Personally though, I would like to see the England team set a marker. Get the Aussies out there first thing. Don't give them any chance to see what the pitch and ball is doing.

    Excellent work from England though. Great to see Pietersen back to his swaggering best.

    As for Surreybloke123 - A good knock by Collingwood, but hardly the kind of knock that will get the pundits claiming he has batted himself back into form. We have a tendency to think one good knock makes up for a hatful of bad. I for one would keep him in - however, I would like to see Morgan given a couple of tests, as he is the future and blood his ashes career in what could be a one sided affair - could be highly rewarding.


  • Comment number 26.

    #25

    I agree that it won't be enough for the pundits to say he's back in form. Maybe one good omen is that KP got 40 something in the first test, and has now hit a double hundred, so maybe that awaits Collingwood in the next match. I agree that it would be good to unleash Morgan on them during this series. The problem for England is that they obviously like Collingwood for their fifth bowler option, although you can counter that by saying that he didn't get much of a bowl in the first innings at Adelaide. It would be a lot of fun to see what Morgan would make of this bowling attack - could be even greater carnage.

  • Comment number 27.

    Pietersen was back to his very best. Simply outstanding. Welcome back KP.

    I would like to see a declaration over-night. Hopefully Jimmy will get some wickets when the ball has some movement in it, then we can get Swann bowling into the rough.

  • Comment number 28.

    My feeling is that we need to get a quick 100 runs tomorrow and then set Anderson and Swann on them. A 300 lead isn't quite enough on this pitch at this stage whereas putting a bit more wear and tear on the pitch and giving them 400 to get and 1 1/2+ days to survive will be too much (even with the odd rain break).
    There's an extra 1/2 hours play in the morning so all good. So 250+ for KP, 100+ for Bell and a King Pair for Punters all well before lunch tomorrow ! Marvellous !

  • Comment number 29.

    We must hope that the declaration - whenever it does come - is not too late. The argument for allowing ourselves a very (VERY) short burst with the bat again tomorrow morning, for just 10 overs or so, to really smash it about and and demoralise them, will not come at the expense of 5 or 6 overs we may need at the end.
    Ona nother note, did anyone else see David Lloyd use a camera man to explain to a rather bewildered Nasser Hussain his slow-left-arm technique last night!?

  • Comment number 30.

    Tom

    I have just read Mr Agnew's column...a fair and well balanced article. Sadly, I don't really agree with your blog.

    Objectively, the Aussie bowlers are not of the calibre that one would expect. Is KP's "coming of age" because of a weak bowling attack? Or (hypothetically) could he / would he do the same if he was facing more precise or aggressive bowling?

    I find it unsettling that you're talking superlatives so early in the test series. A 1 x 200+ plus score and you wallpaper over the complex issues which have affected his career/influence on the team in the last couple of years. I think it is too early (what happens after the Ashes?) for you to judge him.

    I liked Agnew's themes about Ponting's issues. You know, talking about improving our chances for the Ashes / world dominance etc rather than patting KP on the back and saying well done.

    Don't treat him like an spoiled, over paid footballer.....what about saying "not bad, KP, how about paying back our patience and winning the Ashes before Sydney AND carry on doing what you are meant to do" blah blah blah






  • Comment number 31.

    Tom,

    Your way of the mark putting MacGill on the list of failed spinners, the guy was a class act, just had the small problem of Shane Warne keeping him out of the side.

  • Comment number 32.

    The performances of both KP and Cook in these 2 tests show that the England team backroom staff know their players inside out - when Cook was playing (if you can call it that) as badly as he was in the summer most people (including me) were baying for blood saying he'd no chance in Oz; but the team kept faith and now he's Pontings biggest headache. They took the opposite approach with KP - chucked him in the engine room for a while to get some practice.
    How the England attack has dismantled the Aussies must look to us how their attack dismantling England batting line-ups of the past did to them.
    If I was Strauss I wouldn't be sleeping too well - to declare first thing or wait an hour is a huge decision. Psychologically a 300 run deficit is surmountable. 400 would seem like such a tougher task. But an hour is a long time in cricket and meteorology.

  • Comment number 33.

    Form is temporary, class is perminant. KP has lifted his game on the biggest stage. Granted, this is not the Australia of old but who cares?!? I certainly don't; you shouldn't worry about the opposition, just worry about yourself which I think England have done great in this Test. KP scored runs in 2005 & 2006/7 against the best Aussie team so there's proof of his talent.

    It was great to see KP and Bell bat together; the two most talented batsmen in the England side* (*purely my opinion)

    I think we should declare overnight and then attack them hard. I reckon there is bound to be rain delays so we need all of the time left in the Test to bowl them out. I'm hopeful we'll claim a 1-0 lead but knowing Australia they will not go down without a fight, even if they are not the powerhouse they once were.

  • Comment number 34.

    No. 30 Duggles:

    That is not a fair thing to say about KP. He HAS repaid their patience and with the right encouragement will go on to consolidate his form. Yes the bowling has been poor, Doherty in particular has been shown up, but you can really only play against what's in front of you so I would NOT look a gift horse in the mouth. As Tom said at the top of the blog, he has been working really hard with Graham Ford and Pietersen himself was quick to point to his influence. Granted, he may need to iron out any remaining chinks, but it's not fair that instead of giving him the plaudits for what Mr. Agnew himself calls a largely chanceless innings, you compare him to a 'spoiled footballer'. HE will build on this, mark my words!

  • Comment number 35.

    A Average of 29 and over 200 wickets and MacGill was a failed spinner?
    Very funny, Ive been watching cricket since the 80's and let me tell you Macgill was a excellent spinner. It appears your knowledge, for a BBC cricket blog writer is awful. Please stick to sports you know something about, football maybe???

  • Comment number 36.

    #35 - I don't think Tom suggested that MacGill was a failed spinner; more that he was past his best once Warne retired, which is a fair point. When the Aussie selectors picked him following Warne's retirement he was a "has-been" as Tom put it, not a failure.

    Maybe some people should read the blog a little closer before commenting...

  • Comment number 37.

    Ill Quote Tom then shall I.

    "The list is now at nine and counting, a mix of has-beens and never weres: Stuart MacGill, Beau Casson, Jason Krezja, Bryce McGain, Cameron White, Nathan Hauritz and Brad Hogg."




    Hey Tim how about YOU read the blog a little closer before commenting!

  • Comment number 38.

    306 is probably enough to beat a team low on confidence. The forecast suggests cloudy conditions, which will help the seamers swing the ball, and Bollinger's footmarks will give Swann huge encouragement. I would declare overnight, particularly with rain pretty much assured.

    I agree that AS is a cautious captain, and may worry that 306 is not enough, but does it matter whether Australia have to get 450 to save the match or if England have to get 150 or fewer in their 2nd innings to win.

    If AS decides to bat on, then maybe go for a T20 onslaught for 10–15 overs on a flat track. If conditions change and England don't get too many more runs and wickets fall, then it will give encouragement to the bowlers with runs already on the board. If they get another 100-plus runs in short order, then it could be a coup de grace that irrevocably damages Australia's confidence for the rest of the series.

  • Comment number 39.

    #37

    I'm with Tim and Tom on this one. MacGill was not a failure over the course of his career, but he was a failure as a replacement for Warne following Warne's retirement. Which is what the article says.

    As for KP, I've never understood why people knock him. He's not the greatest at the cerebral side of batting, but in terms of pure ball-hitting ability, he's one of the all-time greats. I've never seen another batsman better able to put any ball from any bowler anywhere on the field or into the stands.

  • Comment number 40.

    I already did. This is how I see it...

    When Warne retired they replaced him with MacGill as their main spinner, despite the fact he was in his mid/late 30s, i.e. a "has-been". It just goes to show that Australia did not have a younger spinner available. MacGill was a fine spinner in the late 90's/early 00's but by the time he got his chance it was too late and he retired.

    I read the blog mate and understood Tom's point of view.

  • Comment number 41.

    37. At 1:18pm on 05 Dec 2010, Des1976 wrote:
    Ill Quote Tom then shall I.

    "The list is now at nine and counting, a mix of has-beens and never weres: Stuart MacGill, Beau Casson, Jason Krezja, Bryce McGain, Cameron White, Nathan Hauritz and Brad Hogg."




    Hey Tim how about YOU read the blog a little closer before commenting!


    ----------------------------------------

    You just confirmed what he had posted. Way to go.

  • Comment number 42.

    Yes Des you're not even reading what you've re-written

    "...a mix of HAS-BEENS and never weres...".

  • Comment number 43.

    #30

    "Don't treat him like an spoiled, over paid footballer.....what about saying "not bad, KP, how about paying back our patience and winning the Ashes before Sydney AND carry on doing what you are meant to do" blah blah blah"

    You didn't actually watch his innings, did you?

    Did you see Samir Nasri's goals for Arsenal this weekend? No-one's saying he just won the league, but to deny they were sheer brilliance is ludicrous. Similarly, KP has not just won England the Ashes with his 200, but it's not just the score but the way he got it.

  • Comment number 44.

    Nice article Tom, shame some people seem to see this forum as a chance to insult people with no danger of recrimination, rather than discuss the sporting issues at hand. Des1976 this means you!

    KP - keep it up! Arrogant, swashbuckling and utterly dominant. It's funny how even when some in England are slating him and calling for his head, he's always the one the opposition want to get the most. Strange reflection of the English mentality, that. Something to do with tallest flowers...

    Bat for an hour - with KP, Bell and then Prior at the crease the score should rattle along. Stick 'em in and watch a very poorly-constructed house of cards collapse! This is the most confidence I've had in a whole England team that I can remember.

  • Comment number 45.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 46.

    I think the vast majority of the above postings must be due to the fact it is Sunday and people have a great deal more spare time than usual. Please. Our most aggressive and dominating bastman has just scored a double hundred in Australia, for one of the first times in recent memory, England have dominated a Test from start to present and - weather aside - we have set ourselves up into a fanstastic position to win the Test.
    And you are complaining that McGill has been called a has-been. Which he was, when he became Australia's premier spinner. He himself admits he retired because he just wasn't good enough - and that wasn't long after Warne retired.
    Please. Stop the nit-picking, go to sleep and get up in time for an earlier start tonight.

  • Comment number 47.

    A little unfair on the unlucky Stuart MacGill, although he probably was a has-been by the time Warne retired.

    Also, this might be the time to cease using the tedious cliché, "to come to the party".

  • Comment number 48.

    I am increibly happy to see KP finally hit some form.

    I have been saying for a few weeks now, he has looked happy and content and that would hopefully reflect in his batting. Glad to see he did it against the aussies :)

  • Comment number 49.

    Can posters move on from making Stuart MacGill the focus of this thread? It is a complete distraction. The comment made by Tom in his blog was a good point well made. It had nothing to do with MacGill's career record. Reading some of these posts, I am reminded of bald men fighting over a comb.

    For me the most interesting issues here are:

    1. Why does KP cause such divisions of opinion. Another analogy: Peter Mandelson and the Labour Party. In the context of his world, Mandelson was also highly talented but divisive. I recall Tony Blair saying something along the lines that the Labour Party will never come of age until it learns to love Peter Mandelson!

    2. What will AS decide to do regarding a declaration?

  • Comment number 50.

    what would people think about dropping collingwood for a 5th out and out bowler, and if so, who?

  • Comment number 51.

    I don't believe it. I simply don't believe it. A blog. On the BBC Website. In English. Wonderful. At last a piece with a narrative voice and idiom that makes you want to read the next line, not smash the screen with the mouse.

    Sorry, where was I, Oh yes KP. What a star, what more needs to be said, except I am sorry I shouted at the telly and told the selectors where the sun fails to plant its warming rays. Perhaps the better part of it all is the tripartite, death of 500 cuts assault and the look on the face of that nice Mr Ponting.

  • Comment number 52.

    unfortunately England are not going to get the victory their performance deserves due to the rain

    gutted

  • Comment number 53.

    The more defensive part of me says "Slog for an hour, see what happens", although if bowling conditions are perfect in the morning, 306 should be plenty, and I don't think Aus will get up to 150, but even if they do, England's top order are in seriously good form.

    Should England win this test, I don't think people have given proper consideration to the situation Aus will find themselves in. Recalling one of Hilfenhaus and Johnson to replace Bollinger, and anyone to replace Doherty.

    And that hasn't even touched the batting. Katich looks like he's struggling, Clarke & North are struggling, Ponting needs runs (but you can never write him off), it's looking pretty bleak for the aussies. They've been pretty average in the field during this test match as well.

  • Comment number 54.


    Fine show by Team England. Congratulations to KP. Well played.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 55.

    Let them bowl the 20 overs with the old ball and declare once they can use the new one. Give them a bit of a run around in the field. Should give us a good chance to add some quick runs and put them really up against it.

  • Comment number 56.

    declare and have the whole of the 4th day bowling at them

    Aussie cannot win the match so let's try and bowl them out before the rain comes

  • Comment number 57.

    25. At 12:04pm on 05 Dec 2010, Tinoflyer wrote:
    306 is a lead fraught with uncertainty. Its hardly enough to declare on and feel completely comfortable,

    mmmmm.....right...306 as a FIRST-innings lead isn't enough to declare on...? Methinks u long-time losing poms have become a tad paranoid over the last 20 years of annihilation....how many run exactly would you like to get on a first innings lead until a declaration becomes safe? Incidentally, can anyone tell me if England have ever had a higher First-Innings lead - ever!!!???

  • Comment number 58.

    This is the best chance of a victory (and to go one up) subject to the weather that you get against our antipodean chums

    So, on the basis we have to get them all out for the sceond time round and the weather is iffy we should start asap. It is a no brainer - Strauss declares overnight, no-one quite know how the strip will play after its sweat for a bit under the covers and its already been roughed up plus more mositure in the air; then we have several potential rain affected sessions to do for them!

    A draw is all but guaranteed with 2 days to play a 300+ lead and didgy weather ahead so

  • Comment number 59.

    spot on Nobby

    go for the win asap - immediately

    England cannot lose from here

  • Comment number 60.

    How ironic the Aussies should spend all their time whinging and being saved by the weather. At least thats something at which theyre now better than us 'poms' ;-)

  • Comment number 61.


    Surely the decision (to declare) needs to wait until the morning, to see what the weather looks like then.

    With a perfect forecast England should unquestionably bat on, but that is not the case. Its conceivable we may lose a full day's play before this test is over and that would make bowling out Oz again quite a challenge.

    Tricky one.....

  • Comment number 62.

    From what we are told about the weather there losing an entire days play even across the two days is rather unlikely, mind you losing a session yesterday was said to be unlikely too.

    Doubt they will be as generous with their wickets as in the first innings but it should be more conducive to bowling so we shouldn't need them to be as helpful.

    Still think I'd take the first twenty overs of a lengthened day and then set to work getting them out.

  • Comment number 63.

    Hello gang - just to clarify something before I hit the hay, I was indeed writing about Stuey MacGill post-Warne - he was a fine spinner, and I was a big admirer, but after Shane retired he was sadly a little past his best, and then injured. His record in his pomp was excellent, as befits an excellent bowler.

    Hope that clears up any confusion.

    Thoughts with two days to go - can England force a win, even with the rain interruptions forecast?

  • Comment number 64.

    Karlos, from what I understand the problem re the weather is the last day which looks dodgy. I agree with you that given perrfect weather England should bat on for a few more hours, hit out and put maybe another 150 on, putting the Aussies totally out of the game and meaning they would have to bat for a day and a half to force a draw.

    If however England bat on later and then on the final day the weather turns bad then we've let them off the hook.

    One thing is for sure, the England camp should NOT trust the Aussie weather forecasters! Get the SP from the Met Office in the UK if I was them.

    Its a tricky one this and it all boils down to what the westher looks like for the final day when they are due to start play on day 4.

  • Comment number 65.

    If the weather is OK on Monday morning then I suggest England bat for the first hour to add another 100 then put the Australians in to bat.

    This should ensure we don't lose and give us some ideas about how the pitch will play after some further wear.

  • Comment number 66.

    How on earth is Stuart McGill a "has been" or "never was"?
    Look at his stats and tell me if any of Englands spinners since Derek Underwood can be mentioned in the same breath.

  • Comment number 67.

    #57 mightyandygray, it could be a feeling you grow accustomed to, judging by the selection of Doherty

  • Comment number 68.

    His last two test series in 2007 and 2008 in four matches he totalled 10 wickets from about 170 overs for 670 odd runs. I'd say that made him a has been pretty well.

  • Comment number 69.

    @ #65

    there is no way for England to lose this match as the Ozzies will never have enough runs to declare at the same time as having enough TIME to bowl England out

    there are only two possible results and if you delay the declaration with the prospect of rain the draw beomes most likely

    declare and get bowling

  • Comment number 70.

    There is also a big pschological element to this conundrum. If we put them in first thing which I think we should undoubtedly do it is saying "come on then" show us what you have. I think Australia will bat defensively becasue they would need to go for at least 4 an over to make us bat again and even then they would be pushed to give us a target of more than 150.

    What I am saying is that mentally they will be playing for a draw. That is precsiely why we need as much time at them as possible. Even if the weather is good they and they are batting well by the end of the morning on day 5 they could not muster more than 450.

    We can win this but we must put them to the sword - one or two wickets in the morning session and they will be very very shakey!!!

    But what do I know!


  • Comment number 71.

    66. At 3:02pm on 05 Dec 2010, vickersone wrote:

    How on earth is Stuart McGill a "has been" or "never was"?
    Look at his stats and tell me if any of Englands spinners since Derek Underwood can be mentioned in the same breath.

    ----

    By the time Warne retired, MacGill was also nearing the end was was well past his best (a poster above said that MacGill admitted this himself). Hence he was a "has been" at that particular point in time. If you were speaking at the time, you would have said that he 'was' a very good spinner, not that he 'is' a very good spinner.

  • Comment number 72.

    57 Mightyandygray

    I personally would like to see the Aussies take to the field in the morning.

    But I would strongly suspect that Australia would feel confident of getting 306. If they don'y think they can get 306 in a third innings, then really, they may as well go home.

    Realistically, I think they would be looking to get a lead of 120 from that position. Which means England batting again on a 5th day.

    If Australia are not thinking along these lines, then they are already thinking they are beaten.

    Now throw in the problem of weather.

    England are favourites to win from this position, but its not clear - Ideally England do not want to bat again. Thats why 306 is not a declaring score.

    However, if you think England should declare because they are unlikely to need to bat again.

    Well that means you are confident Australia will not reach 306 in their second innings. That is more pessimistic than you are charging England fans with.

  • Comment number 73.

    Good blog as usual Tom. Bet its great fun to keep having to write about successful England performances!?! Really enjoying this role reversal.. Aussies praying for rain hahaha. A draw is still a distinct posibility but i think England have an excellent chance of going 1-0 up. We need to put them in now though id rather have taken their final 10 wickets and be needing 70-100 runs in the last session of the match than 2-4 wickets. How do you think the stormy and overcast conditions will now suit our bowling attack?

  • Comment number 74.

    Ask yourself, what would Australia like least? Overnight, their batsmen will have been thinking about when England will declare. Mentally, their top four have got the pads on already. A small amount of dislocation of expectation will help move things in their head. Bat for 20 minutes, make them wait, make them go and field, make them think about slip catching rather than batting, then put them in.

    Take every advantage that's available, only feed them them uncertainty where they have expectations. There is nothing more fun to play with than an enemy who doesn't know what's coming next.

  • Comment number 75.

    Another quickfire 100 runs.....declare and let Jimmie at 'em. KP fantastic show should go on for more memories of Ken Barrington, Tom Gravney and Robin Smith, go for it KP Lara is history .

  • Comment number 76.

    I am all for an "aggressive" deceleration but as post #74 says - make them field even if only for 20 minutes.

  • Comment number 77.


    Bat on even if for only 30 minutes - first of all to have the choice of roller (choose the weight most destructive to the surface) - second to jig around the minds of the Aussie openers and make them pad up in a hurry - third if the light turns poor bat on some more otherwise the Australians will be doing everything they can to get the umpires to come off.

  • Comment number 78.

    Pietersen has cost England this test match. We'd be perfectly placed if we'd been bowled out for, say, 450 (with a solid 25 or so from KP rather than the double century nonsense) and then had Australia at around 150 for 4 at close of play, still a fair few runs behind. Certain win. As it is, with the bad weather, and with the always super-cautious Strauss bound to have the team bat on for too long tomorrow, the draw beckons. Thanks a bunch, Kevin.

  • Comment number 79.


    Oh and almost forgot - put on the long spikes and make sure there is plenty of footwork around a Swanny length.

  • Comment number 80.

    In an ideal world I would wait 'til lunch to declare but it would be desperately unlucky if we were within 3-4 wickets from victory at the end of tomorrow only for the last day to be washed out. I am confident that if we have a total of 80-100 overs to bowl at them then victory should be ours but we've been saved by the weather in the past and the Aussies will be praying for similar mercies.

    Dream day: Strauss declares overnight, Anderson traps Watson lbw first ball, Ponting completes a painful 19 ball duck to bag a pair, Swann gets the ball turning sideways and takes 5, and Australia are all out for 225, just as the first drops of rain begin to fall at Adelaide.

  • Comment number 81.

    #78 - Lol, very good.

  • Comment number 82.

    :-)

  • Comment number 83.

    Hasn't anyone seen the change in the weather forecast? It seems that it is now NOT likely to rain on Tuesday!!! It seems that the accuracy of the Addelaide prediction is similar to that of intuition: a 50-50 effort at best.

    Kapnag, batting on is not defensive. It's what the West Indies invariably did at their best: bat until the lead is beyond all reason and the opposition only going through the motions and then come out and flatten them. Our attack is good enough to bowl them out easily in 5 sessions - trust our bowlers to complete the job.

    The one thing that we must not do is come out and poke around until lunch. Bat, make it count and try to add 100+ in, say 18 overs. Declare with a 400 lead and Australia knowing that they have to bat well even to wipe off the deficit, let alone reach safety. Declaring 300 ahead will give them time to get ahead, possibly even today and to build a lead and, once in the lead, they are half way to safety. Once they are ahead you have to start saving runs rather than just attacking for wickets and the batsmen would need time to chase them.

  • Comment number 84.

    Like your way of thinking RoseSelavy, makes sense to make sure the pitch is as receptive as possible. Plus it might upset Ponting again.

  • Comment number 85.

    I have been staying up all night listening to TMS on the old "Tinterweb" what a Joy, the commentary is first class, and with the "guest Australian Commentators" it is even more so.
    Good work TMS you paint the picture better than the TV coverage, it is just a shame the TV feed lags the TMS cometary by 5 or so seconds or it would be worth watching whilst listening to the true professionals .

    England doing well in Australia, unheard of, just remember guys it is not Job Done yet, but keep Australia under the cosh.

  • Comment number 86.

    Doubt it, sagamix. This is a winning position too.

    Strauss has two choices in my opinion - ten overs of slogging to get to 600 (or, as someone suggested earlier, for KP to get to his best ever Test innings) before declaring, or declaring immediately.

    I'd go with the latter, for the sheer symbolism of declaring on 551 at this venue. The case for the former is the shifting uncertainty mentioned by RoseSelavy - good point on the roller too, hadn't thought of that one.

  • Comment number 87.

    Cannot for the life of me understand the calls to bowl a few overs before declaring. Do you people even understand that it is going to rain, a lot?

    Aus cannot win. It doesn't matter how many more runs we add, they aren't going to set a target and get 10 English wickets in the remaining 2 days. We have to play for a win and that means declaring and using every minute to take wickets.

    I detect a lack of killer instinct in my fellow English supporters. They are weak, all they need is a swift execution. No need to waste time setting personal records and targets they won't reach anyway.

  • Comment number 88.

    Rain, rain, go away...

  • Comment number 89.

    ShinyDavid, it's not just the roller, it is making the Australian bowlers come out again knowing that they are going to be punished. Even if they take 6 wickets in the morning it will not hide the fact that they have taken a shelacking and that it is too little too late. And if we can add 100 quickly losing only one or two wickets it will work wonders for their morale! :-D

  • Comment number 90.

    John, #87

    The weather forecast has changed. Again.

  • Comment number 91.

    @ papa shango
    Go troll somewhere else, mate

  • Comment number 92.

    I would like to say that there are still two days to go before the match is over and there aren't any real guarantees that the rain will last long. It perhaps might be better to declare overnight, but I suspect Strauss will want to bat for an hour and tire the Aussies in the field. Maybe Pietersen can get to 250 or even 300 and then the declaration can occur, or he could get out quickly thus speeding up the process. Either way, it wouldn't be that defensive a move!

    And No. 78, are you Papa Shango in disguise?! :)

  • Comment number 93.

    Excellent article about the state of Aussie cricket. We may be filling our boots for some time to come!
    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/the-ashes/harsh-reality-hitting-home-for-aussies/story-fn67w6pa-1225966076731

  • Comment number 94.

    KP's personal best in Tests is 226.

    He could exceed that with two boundaries if one of them is a six. And knowing him, he'll try to.

    The extra 'overs' before declaring might not even need to be plural. And you still get to choose your roller, and you still get to force Australian openers into a quick change, but you use up very little time.

    BBC forecasts hail showers for tomorrow, but another site I use offers up only a 20% chance of rain in the afternoon for Adelaide, while a third suggests isolated thundery showers, and expects Tuesday to be windy but dry. I'm remaining optimistic, whatever Strauss's call.

  • Comment number 95.

    I'm for staying out for another 10 or so overs, the roller choice is a good point, plus if Kp gets stuck in again looking for his top score, its enforcing the point that we've got the Aussie bowlers in our pocket.

  • Comment number 96.

    Brilliant article. Let's hope England can wrap it up on day 4 as thunderstorms look ominous.

  • Comment number 97.

    The latest forecast for Adelaide calls for intermittent showers on Monday and rain and thunderstorms for Tuesday.

    Okay gang, it’s not looking good. Mother Nature seems poised to deny England a much-deserved win. Ricky was seen the other day with eyes and clasped hands pointed to the heavens. He was obviously invoking higher intervention.

    It appears his prayers have answered.

    England now has no choice but to declare first thing tonight and try to bowl out the opposition before the heavy rains come.

    That six Kevin hit off that beleaguered spinner went a country mile. He walked up to the pitch of the ball and was about a third of the way down pitch when he imperiously launched it approximately 330 yards or 103 meters into the stands. If you were not awake to see that, you missed out.

    Well done, KP.

  • Comment number 98.

    Firstly, Aus can't win this, the weather is not going to allow them the time to do so even if their cricket was up to the task. Which right now it isn't.

    So England have the choice of going for the win tomorrow/tonight/monday or taking the weather induced draw on tuesday. What would the Aus do? Go for the win! Check the weather in the morning (that tuesday is still going to have be written off) and (especially if it's overcast) declare and go for it.

    A fine return by KP. Cook has befuddled his doubters. Now let the bowlers finish this. We risk snatching a draw from the jaws of victory!

  • Comment number 99.

    Their press can be even more negative than our own, so I wouldn't put much faith in that report.

    One thing it did mention of note though is that Katich has taken a bit of a knock which could be in our favour too.

  • Comment number 100.

    A troll was last seen riding a stationary bike in granma's basement.

 

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