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Revolution in the head

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Tom Fordyce | 07:53 UK time, Saturday, 4 December 2010

Adelaide, South Australia

Slumped shoulders. Angry words. Looks that could, if not quite kill, at least leave a rather nasty scar.

While England's batsmen enjoyed another remarkable day, Australian tempers first frayed then tore at the Adelaide Oval.

Ricky Ponting, having been dismissed for a golden duck and watched his side skittled out at bargain basement price on a lovely track, lost his rag with Andrew Strauss on day one. Peter Siddle and Xavier Doherty, impotent all afternoon as England raced to a lead of 72 with eight wickets in hand, stood stony-faced with hands on heads.

Doug Bollinger, reduced to puce rage by the sight of Alastair Cook making it a staggering 1022 minutes without being dismissed, might have torn his hair out if he hadn't paid so much for it.

England, for so long stereotyped as feeble-minded fall-guys in Ashes dramas down under, appear to be remorselessly gaining the upper hand in the psychological stakes as well as the physical battle.

"Friday night showed that Ricky Ponting is ruffled," says Michael Vaughan, former England skipper and watching events at the Adelaide Oval for Test Match Special.

"There's no need to do what he did in public. If he had a problem he could have done it round the back of the dressing-rooms.

"He did it to me in 2005. He wasn't happy with me throwing the ball in to the 'keeper - he thought I was throwing it at the batsman but I wasn't, I just wasn't throwing it very well. After a bad day for your team it doesn't look good to be doing what he did."

Ricky Ponting seeks assistance from a higher power as Australia toil in Adelaide - photo: Getty

Justin Langer, former Australia opener and now the team's batting and leadership coach, sees something else in the body language.

"With all the hype that comes into an Ashes series - we've seen people be written up, written off - there's going to be tension there," he told me. "And if there's tension there, the pressure builds up and stuff comes out. That's life. That's cricket.

"I've got four beautiful daughters. I love those kids more than anything else in the world. But sometimes, if I wake up in the morning and one of the girls spills milk on the counter or drops her cornflakes, I might get a bit grumpy with her and snap at her.

"It doesn't mean I don't love her. It's just a human reaction under pressure. If I'm a bit tired, I haven't had enough sleep, the baby's kept me awake - if one of the girls then talks back, I'll ask her what the hell she's doing."

Saturday was another chastening day for Ponting and his men. It wasn't just another unbeaten century for the transformed Cook, or the way Kevin Pietersen looked like he could repeat that trick from his viral video and bat blindfolded without too much trouble.

It was just as much that Australia, having taken the gamble of dropping two of their big-name bowlers after struggling to take wickets at the Gabba, find themselves no better off. And that would surely worry the strongest of characters.

"You've been told how rubbish you are for the last week, you're determined to do well, you get out or struggle with the ball - of course you're going to be grumpy," says Langer. "This is your life. This is your livelihood.

"What happened with Brad Haddin and Ponting was human beings reacting to difficult situations. Anyone would be the same. They're also tired - we've had back-to-back Test matches on flat wickets.

"There won't be a parent in the world who won't get grumpy with their kids every now and then. But it doesn't mean they're a bad parent. It's the same in cricket. Sometimes, when you're under pressure or a bit tired, you might say something. You're reacting under pressure."

England batsmen have struggled to cope with that pressure on recent Ashes tours to Australia, but since the start of their second innings in Brisbane, the current line-up seem to have dealt with it with previously uncharacteristic aplomb.

"The essence of good cricket is having a clear mind, so the strategy for the fielding side is to get the batsman thinking about other stuff - whether it's the runs he has or hasn't scored in the past, what his feet might be doing, what his head position might be, what the selectors might be thinking about him, what the crowd might be saying," explains Langer.

"As soon as you start thinking about those things, you're away from having clarity in your mind. That's what sledging is for me - sowing some seeds of doubt in a player's mind. But if you're playing well, with that clarity, it can't touch you."

Ponting has lost his rag in an Ashes battle before, when his run-out by Gary Pratt at Trent Bridge in 2005 triggered a furious rant at England coach Duncan Fletcher on the home balcony. Has Andrew Strauss been trying to provoke that temper again?

"When Ricky's batting you say nothing to him," reveals Vaughan. "Maybe the odd little bit, but the way you wind him up is by playing good cricket. Just have a good day. You do your answering on the pitch with runs and wickets, and the language you create out in the middle.

"Most captains get a bit edgy when the team isn't playing as well as it can. They get a lot of stick on the press, there's a lot of talk about your position - it's all pressure. All your energies have to be on performance, and getting your team to produce to their maximum.

"What's important is that your lads stay very tight, so that if there is a confrontation everyone on the team backs each other up. That's what being in a team is all about."

The team that Langer played in - unbeaten in Ashes series for 16 years and utterly dominant in world cricket - had an understandable hold over most England teams of the era. When Shane Warne called Ian Bell The Shermanator, no-one imagined Bell would come back with a riposte of his own.

"With Warnie and Steve Waugh and McGrath you pretty much knew that if you went at them they would have an answer to it," says Vaughan. "I don't think this Aussie team have really got much to chat about.

"Here I see one team in England playing with confidence, and one team in Australia playing without confidence.

"James Anderson's body language and talk just shows his confidence. He feels that he's now the leader of this England attack, and he thrives off that. If he thinks he can unsettle a batsman in any way, with the odd word, he's going to say it."

This series is just a match and two days old. There is a lot of cricket left to be played. There is also, believes Langer, likely to be a lot more psychological warfare.

"It's how cricket should be," he says. "They're men, aren't they?

"Players are actually pretty respectful. I took a catch off Vaughany in the 2003 series here, and I knew I'd caught it. But Vaughany said, 'No no, I want to go to the third umpire'. If you do that they're never going to give it, but we all knew it was out.

"I said to him, 'I promise you I caught it'. And he said, 'No, I'm going to the third umpire'. I was furious. Fuming. I probably swore at him, told him whatever. That stuff goes on.

"But it's what we want to see in sport. We want to see boys going mad when they make a hundred, when they're under pressure.

"That's the beauty of sport - seeing how you react. Sport has to matter, and when it matters, people are going to react."

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Before anyone gets too excited, check out the weather forecast for Adelaide the next three days. Rain and thunderstorms. Very poor article and podcast from TMS to not even mention that. Part of their job is to inform listeners of likely events in the match and they failed on this hugely significant point.
    One more word of warning for us England fans, if it is 0-0 going into the last three, anything can happen. Cook won t keep playing as well as this so we ll need others to step up lower down the order.

    Remember SA touring a few years ago in England, Smith got two double centuries, they dominated the batting but the series finished 2-2.

    Not being negative, just putting a few points out there to balance the inevitable premature victorious comments that will follow.

  • Comment number 2.

    Before anyone gets too excited, check out the weather forecast for Adelaide the next three days. Rain and thunderstorms. Very poor article and podcast from TMS to not even mention that. Part of their job is to inform listeners of likely events in the match and they failed on this hugely significant point.
    ----------
    Except they did mention it on the TMS podcast. Aggers briefly raised it after 9 minutes or so but Boycott was in bombastic mood and dismissed it as a major factor, but it was mentioned.

    This is an odd series so far, and the second test seems to be playing out like the first only in reverse. I just hope when the Aussies do get in we get a bit of luck and can get in to the middle order fairly quickly to get a result.

    -------------
    Cook won t keep playing as well as this so we ll need others to step up lower down the order.
    -----------
    Indeed, it is inevitable. We do have players in the tail capable of decent scores though, so I think we'll be ok

  • Comment number 3.

    Agree with Stevie.How big a lead did Australia get in the 1st innings at Brisbane?Adelaide is a decent place to score runs,however scoreboard pressure helps.

    See what happens with the weather over the next few days.Maybe,if all goes to plan,we can get the Aussies in tomorrow for the last hour or so with a 250 lead.

  • Comment number 4.

    Not being negative, just putting a few points out there to balance the inevitable premature victorious comments that will follow
    ------------------
    Very sensible. Though given this is indeed very similar to the position the aussies were in in the last match, I'd bet good money there were premature defeatest comments then, so it all evens out. Celebratory comments on what was demonstrably a good day should pass muster alright, but I'm always wary of declaring victory won against Australia, especially at Adelaide after last time.

  • Comment number 5.


    Inform England batsman Alastair has been making runs and creating problems for rival bowlers for quite some time. He is playing wonderful cricket and makes Test cricket so exciting. May he go on and on. Congrats to the centurion.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 6.

    Nice blog again Tom. To be fair to Ponting, even a great captain like Jardine would have struggled to take wickets with the current Aussie attack on that wicket.

    But hats off to Cook, Trott and KP. Until now there was only one choice as to who was the most famous Cook to land on Australian shores - and here's a clue it wasn't Gordon Ramsey. But the present day Cook seems to be on a one man mission to change this.

    Cook serves up a dish of deja vu as the Aussies get thrown on the barby in Adelaide, Day Two disected - http://bit.ly/ePG9rS

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    Bollinger's body language in particular was terrible - his champagne had obviously gone flat. At least Harris and Siddle ran in and gave it everything. A recall for Mitchell?

  • Comment number 9.

    Amidst all this talk of psychology, one wonders what Jung or Freud would make of Justin Langer comparing this Aussie side to little girls. Hmm...

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm not going to declare victory yet, lets see what the lead is before doing that. That aside, England have been fantastic today. Yeah Trott got lucky with some dropped catches but that's cricket, it happens when you're under pressure. Strauss mis-judged one but a lot of people say we need our top order batsman to fire and that's exactly what they're doing at the moment. KP looks like he's enjoying himself and it looks like its going to take something special to dislodge Cook.

    Whether they will continue during the series is another argument for another day. For now though, England are exactly where they want to be at the end of day 2.

  • Comment number 11.

    A very good day, now england need to stay focussed and get big runs again tomorrow, then be prepared to be patient for the 2nd aussie innings.

    I think Australia over reacted by dropping their 2 attack leaders after 1 test. They failed against england in 1 innings on a flat pitch - MJ may be off form but he has been one of the best bowlers in the world over the last 2 years, which you cannot say about his replacements. Now the spinner is under pressure having only just come into the team.

    Does all this chopping and changing remind you of anyone?

  • Comment number 12.

    No one expects a lot from this Aussie attack, they have only played 35 tests between them. Jimmy Anderson has played 54 and Broad 34 tests each. Really lopsided bowling experience between the 2 teams. Unfortunately for Australia they have a long series in front of them and Cook looks like he is only at the entree stage, with more dining out to come.

  • Comment number 13.

    "might have torn his hair out if he hadn't paid so much for it. "

    On, that's flown over the boundary, up in the air...it's a six!

  • Comment number 14.

    Well if England end the first innings in the position that Aus were in the 1st test 200+ ahead, there is one major difference between England bowling at that lead and Aus doing it. Swanny.
    Of course if bad weather comes in and we get some disruption with rain and cloud, then we also have Jimmy Anderson who will look at the clouds and not be too disappointed.
    It's going to take a lot of rain or at least a couple of Aus batsmen to walk on water to save the Aussies here.

  • Comment number 15.

    If the weather is poor on Days 4 & 5 then maybe it will bring good conditions for bowling... Could be good news, couldn't it???

    Just a thought to upset even more those who can only see doom and gloom.

  • Comment number 16.

    Fordyce: "Doug Bollinger, frustrated by the sight of Alastair Cook making it a staggering 1022 minutes without being dismissed, might have torn his hair out if he hadn't paid so much for it"

    Line of the blog for me this Tom, didn't half make me chortle!

    Look, I think we need to take things into perspective a little - we don't have to be shakey about a possible collapse in our 2nd innings/mammoth Aussie second innings. We can however be positive about the first two days of the test, which are undoutbedly England's. We can't presage the outcome of up-coming days play, but what we can say is that England pretty much couldn't be in a better position at this point in the match and we should be rallying around the team encouraging them to go on and win. It seems to me to be distinctly English to fear the worse, be overly mindful of risks, and ultimately not to believe in victory. You go into a battle believing you will win - let's worry about defeat once it happens, but until then a little spirit of victory, and some fire in the belly, wouldn't go amiss!

  • Comment number 17.

    It will be interesting to see the change in the mindsets if we don't get a win in this Test.

    The longer the series goes on with England having the upper hand, but missing the victories, will doubts begin to creep in ?, and the Aussies believing that England have played their best cricket in the series suddenly being to gain confidence from this.

    How often have we seen in other sports one side/person dominate only to be hit with a late goal or a sucker punch ?

    Although the current Australia squad is not as strong as in the past, they still have that fighting spirit, and the unshakeable belief that the show ain't over until Warnie clears his throat.

    Only when we are two up with one to play will I truly believe we can beat the Aussies.

    Sad but True.

  • Comment number 18.

    Papa Shango,

    give up, all your dignity has gone

  • Comment number 19.

    Lacking accuracy and discipline. No one suggested England's bowlers were tired or woeful during the 300-odd partnership last test. And there's the difference. I've been a lot less worried than some about taking 20 wickets; you bowl well, things happen. You fail to build pressure, batsmen score freely. Ponting's fields looked averagely thoughtful although dropped chances are deadly on flat tracks.

    Put simply, their bowlers do not present a united front, fail to bowl in partnerships and worst of all, no one seems to know what the best Aussie attack is.

    Fleming played his cards well, he had to. Ponting's been too used to having a spare pair of Kings up his sleeve and now they're gone he can only play what's in his hand, which he isn't good enough at.

  • Comment number 20.

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

  • Comment number 21.

    I agree with the comments that this test seems to be following a similar pattern as the 1st Test.
    Australia used to pride itself in its fielding. It quite frankly has been abismal so far. England's run out of Katich was very good, but lets face it their was a run there. When a similar run out opportunity came to Australia they simply blew it. The chances that England gave today SHOULD HAVE been taken and would have 4 years ago.
    No, Austeralia has not got the bowling attack of MacGrath and Warne, but that does not excuse the poor fielding. They may not have looked poor like Pakistan can be, but the efforts were just not their.

    England want to win this series and Austrlia seem to thinkthey can just win it with conditions and a bit of home crowd support.

  • Comment number 22.

    Last night I was hopeful that I might wake up to a scoreline of 300-3 or 4. To wake up to 317-2 is simply marvellous. England now need to take a leaf out of the Steve Waugh book of tactics and not just put their boots on the Aussie throat, but jump up and down on it.

    England need to bat once and bat massive; to not give the Aussies even a sniff of victory. I'd be tempted to bat into the 4th day if possible and take our chances on the weather. Rack up a score of 700 and give the Aussies five sessions to save (or preferably lose) the match.

    And if the predicted weather does arrive, we could have the prospect on days 4 and 5 of Anderson hooping it round corners while Swanny's turning it square...

  • Comment number 23.

    Stevieeng34
    I live in Adelaide, dont worry about the weather. Worse case scenario a few short delays. We have sunlight from 7am to 9pm at the moment so plenty of oppportunity to make up time.
    Wicket will turn big time day 4+5.
    This test is over - no way back for Aussies.

  • Comment number 24.

    It seems that Cook's hundred against Pakistan in the summer will be the most decisive runs in this ashes series.

  • Comment number 25.

    O.K. call me an old softie (& it has taken some effort) but I do actually feel a bit sorry for Punter. After his first baller yesterday & lack of success today, the poor little chap must be feeling like opening his 10 presents on Xmas day to find each one is a Cindy doll with a bit broken off. Hold on though, this is THE ASHES !!! Whoopeeeeeeeeee

    Sorry put this on yesterday's blog, what a twonk

  • Comment number 26.

    Excellent batting by Cook
    Already it looks like Cook will be the top run scorer for England in the Ashes

    England must now aim to bat out most of tomorrow and get a lead of 300+
    Then Australia will be in real trouble and may need to bat out 2 full days to save this test match

  • Comment number 27.

    24. At 11:37am on 04 Dec 2010, mini-macc wrote:
    It seems that Cook's hundred against Pakistan in the summer will be the most decisive runs in this ashes series.

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

    Wise words indeed, and very true :)

  • Comment number 28.

    Bearing in mind that it has no difference on the actual outcome of the match, I am going to dream/predict the outcome.

    Cook carries on to another double ton, assisted by a hundred from KP, and big runs from Colly and Bell.

    Declaration tea on day 4 at around 700-6, and Aussies close the day on 54-4. Jimmy and Swann combine to clean up the tail on the final (overcast) morning to win by an innings and runs with two sessions to spare. Punter left last man standing in the 90s.

    Overly optimistic? Maybe, but given that all the talk yesterday was of today being a key day/make-or-break for the whole series, etc, etc, the batsmen have done their job and there is no life in the Aussie bowling attack. Contrast that with the performance in the field by England (including the fielding) and it could be entirely possible, if not really believable.

    But then this ashes series has already been about re-writing the record books, so why not?

  • Comment number 29.

    Don't get me wrong I am a very happy man at the moment. Being on top against Australia in any sport is always a good day and it is happening with more and more regularity lately. But Langer can go and whistle with this pseudo psycho babble.

    Equating the snivelling Ponting to a father figure is laughable - 'Grumpy' ' just a human reaction'!!! what a crock!. If it was an English captain spitting the dummy he'd be saying it was a weakness, and he'd be right because that is exactly what it is.

    This Australian side are weaklings and their captain is puffing his chest up because he's got no other answer to the excellent cricket on display.

    It's laughable that your article is mainly just quotes form Justin Langer but even more laughable that some on here take his words with anything other than utter contempt.

  • Comment number 30.

    24. At 11:37am on 04 Dec 2010, mini-macc wrote:

    It seems that Cook's hundred against Pakistan in the summer will be the most decisive runs in this ashes series.

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

    I completely agree!

    My critisizm of Cook for a long time has been that he does just enough, when he's playing well he gets to 100 then gets out. Well that appears to have changed and long may that continue! With KP looking like he's found a little bit of form that only leaves Colly as a worry. It is a good time to be an English cricket fan, to wake up after 2 days of domination in Australia - never thought I'd see the day. Though we must remember this is the Ashes, things change quickely as it is a long and intense series! Lets hope the weather stays good enough and we rack up a 300+ lead and can really turn the screw.

  • Comment number 31.

    Alastair Cook was the ability to become a true world class great. But will he be able to see that potential come true?

  • Comment number 32.

    It's so strange to see an Aussie bowling attack that's so toothless. What's even stranger is that the guys they're using are hardly young, they don't have a lot of internation experience but they have a lot of first-class experience. Where are the young up and coming bowlers to take over?

    Great day's play for England again, made the Aussies pay for a couple of mistakes, the run out was tough but Hussey should have taken that catch. However you can't criticise him too much, without his performances with the bat the Aussies would have been lucky to get over 200 this time round and probaby wouldn't have made it over 300 in the last match. Hopefully we can get a win out of this game and take a nice lead going into the break. It will be tough but as someone else said if the clouds do start to come over will that help Anderson to get it swinging?

  • Comment number 33.

    The best complement I can give this English team is that they've delivered thoroughly Australian performance to date. To continue in that vein, they mustn't let up when they have the opposition down.

  • Comment number 34.

    The first two days of this Test could hardly have gone better.

    England should look to bat for most of tomorrow. Bowl 5-10 overs before close maybe. Or do we want a brand new cherry first thing on day 4?

  • Comment number 35.

    When Ponting took over from Steve Waugh the Aussie fans were none too pleased. They would have had the flawed Warne anytime as they knew that Ponting cannot inspire anyone with his demeanour. He is a flat track bully of a Captain who has never won a match through tactical brilliance. Now he has the weakest team in two decades he can do nothing to lift them because he doesn't know how. End of the series will see a 3-1 victory for England or 2-1 if the weather gets involved. Ponting will be sacked for losing 3 series out of 4 and there is no successor. I see 5 years or more in the doldrums for a rapidly unravelling team. I guarantee if Border, Taylor or Waugh were in charge it would still be advantage Australia. Good riddance of the most limited Captain Australia have had in decades!

  • Comment number 36.

    You guys may be interested in the reaction of the Australian public... I'm a Pom born and bred, but I've been living in Aus for over 10 years now so have had to live with the highs and lows that being an English cricket supporter has provided over the last 4 Ashes series... Well.. they're rattled. Very rattled. Rather than admit that Australia have a poor side that are being out classed they are doing the next traditional Australian thing of completly ignoring the cricket! It's great to have the shoe on the other foot.

    In all seriousness though I have to say that I think that what's been highlighted here is not how bad the current Australian side are, but how good the last lot were. I wonder how Steve Waugh's legacy would have looked if he didn't have Warne and McGrath to throw the ball to!

    But Ponting is an immature baby whose "toys out of pram" antics have been forgiven too many times... And Clarke is his successor?? Dark days for Australia.

  • Comment number 37.

    Matt,the weather has to come into the decision of how long we bat for.Perhaps the best thing is for England to be bowled out,forcing the game along.(Hopefully with a decent lead.250 minimum?)

    Also,surely the Australian bowlers can't bowl as poorly again.(Maybe they can and don't call me Shirley).I couldn't understand why Hauritz didn't play at Brisbane?He'd certainly offer more control for Punter in the field.

    Also we collapsed quicker than a cheap tent at Brisbane in the first knock,so let's not assume this is won just yet.

  • Comment number 38.

    matt-h88 - I'd have a go at the Aussies for 10 overs. They'd been in the field for the better part of 2 days. Tired, possibly demoralised and then they have Broad & Anderson racing in with a new ball to face......

  • Comment number 39.

    The negative comments about following the same pattern as Brisbane. Must remember we are in an ideal position to bat Australia out of the game in that the best they can hope for is a draw. England only need to draw the series to retain the Ashes, so 0-0 is good enough. A Swann 5 for and an England win will be far sweeter though.

  • Comment number 40.

    36. At 1:14pm on 04 Dec 2010, SkippyD wrote:

    Rather than admit that Australia have a poor side that are being out classed they are doing the next traditional Australian thing of completly ignoring the cricket!
    ___________________________________

    I remember them doing exactly the same in 86/7.Pat Cash was all over the papers,plus AFL stories.No cricket headlines though.

    Bit like the Scotsman newspaper putting England's rugby WC win on page 17 with a 2 sentence news story.

  • Comment number 41.

    Finally impressed with papa shango. Well done mate that is without doubt the 1st positive mention of england this tour. And not sure we need colly to score as it seems unlikely that he'll get in unless the aussies learn 2 bowl overnight.
    Beginning to believe this australian bowling attack has replaced the bangladesh and zimbabwe's as the worst in test cricket. Strauss made an aweful mistake but we can let him off this time lol.
    Hopefully we build a 250 lead before tea and give us a session and a half to nick 3 or 4 wickets bowling at them. Hope to have some cloud cover but no rain.
    WELL DONE ENGLAND

  • Comment number 42.

    Top level sport is so often about confidence. At the moment our guys are brimming with it and the aussies have lost all of theirs. This is more important than any 'momentum' that is carried from one match to the next. This bodes well for the series and long may it continue.

  • Comment number 43.

    What's kinda weird is that in tours past, any one of the Australian state sides (NSW, QLD, SA etc) have looked like they could give England a run for thier money. But having finally had a decent preparation for an Ashes test and humbled (or close to it) all three oppositions, I wonder where the wheels fell off. Are England that good? Have Australia become that bad?
    I personally think that Langer as a batting coach is not constructive for Australia. Did anyone else read his clap trap that justfied why Ponting ranted at Strauss? It started with justification for shouting at one of his four duaghters if they didn't finish their weetbix, and kinda got worse. Langer - LOT of respect for your ability as a batsman, but other than that, you look lost without Hayden's support and are giving a negative influence to the Australian dressing room.

  • Comment number 44.

    Delighted with the way things have started in the series but sense a bit of over-confidence seeping in with our fans , and hope this is not mirrored with the team.

    Would also point out that several of the Aussie players quite clearly came over to Cook at the end of play & sportingly congratulated him , so the early tone of the blog is slightly unfair imo.

  • Comment number 45.

    Wow:

    1. I fell asleep with the game on and the players going off for lunch.

    England looked great at 1/90. Cook and Trott appeared untroubled and set to repeat an epic stand;

    2. My prediction for the end of day two was, 2/267. Well, the lads were 50 runs better at 2/317. As you can see, it was not a bad prediction...:);

    3. Andy Strauss must feel a bit daft to shoulder arm his bails away like that. Hey Andy, next time cover the stumps with your pads and let the umps give you the benefit of the doubt;

    4. With KP set for a big knock and England looking at 600 plus, Ricky would need more than a prayer and deivine intervention. Australia cannot win this match and it would take a Herculean effort to save it.

    Well done, England.

  • Comment number 46.

    Good article Tom. I can fully understand Punter being grumpy, lets face it he's got alot on his mind like:
    1. Him plus the selectors are clueless on what is the best Aussie XI!
    2. Were is the next bowling wicket coming from?
    3. No proper spinner?
    4. Pace bowlers are too wayward & wilting badly in the sun?
    5. Who is going to drop the next catch?
    6. Must start working on the draught letter for the pending captaincy resignation!

    A shame perhaps for one of Australia's all time greats, but are we really bothered? England keep up the excellent work!

  • Comment number 47.

    Dont worry about the weather too much. I lived in Adelaide for 7 years, and they have almost no rain in the summer, and they often forecast rain or showers and almost nothing comes along. It always is delayed too. There is only the possibility of a storm on the final day as the forecast at the moment. That will likely end up showing up the next day, and hardly last 20 minutes.

    The showers forecast before will probably not interrupt today since they play through small showers now.

    Sad to see not very negative comments from papa shango.... not got his act together at all today.

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

    England's decisions on how aggressively to bat tomorrow need to be based upon the weather forecast.

    Personally, I'd encourage KP to let loose once he's got his century, promote Broad up the order for some quick runs, all while Cook keeps doing what he's doing at one end.

    I presume that at this of all venues, Strauss won't even consider declaring, however good a decision that might happen to be, so batting in ODI mode down the order might be the way to go if rain is forecast.

    Checking three separate weather sites I use, only one suggests rain during the day tomorrow, and one doesn't even expect rain during Monday either. That's great news if it's true...

  • Comment number 50.

    England need to push on a bit, get 600+ by tea and have a session at this poor Australian team. The weather could yet be a problem but overcast conditions could be the result of the weather forecast and if so, nothing can save the Aussies.

    I almost feel sorry for the Australians, until I think of the rubbish we'd be enduring if the shoe was on the other foot.

    This test match seems to be going to prediction, as I think the series will go. All of the English top order are scoring runs and their bowlers are considerably better than the Australian attack. When we get to SCG, with it's history of spin, I think we can pencil that in as a victory already, as Xavier is clearly awful.

  • Comment number 51.

    'Only when we are two up with one to play will I truly believe we can beat the Aussies'


    The very imbodiment of the Englishman's attitude to sport.

    Look, this England team is the best we've had for a long, long time. Embrace it, because they are everything we're saying they are, confident, strong and very able.

    I don't see it as 'jumping the gun' to say that I believe we'll win this series comfortably, because I truly do. It's a poor Aussie side with the exception of one or two (who aren't in good form themselves) and they just happen to be playing a test series against a very strong cricket team.

    To summise, waft away those metaphoric rainclouds, and accept what's in front of you - an England cricket team to be very proud of.

    Matt

  • Comment number 52.

    Unless there's due to be a major squall come in or something, I wouldn't worry about the weather yet. It most definitely should not be allowed to rush the batsmen into making silly shots and giving away wickets for the sake of more speed, less haste.

    I believe 500-550 is definitely the target here to try to really ram the boot down and force a result. That's relying on a consistant scoring rate, if they're scraping about for runs trying to eek their way to 600 then it's not worth it, better to give the Aussies a target far away enough to give us some wiggle room while not so impossibly looming that they go right into defensive turtle mode.

    The key thing for England is to not give away early wickets tomorrow, to bowl well, and not to be chasing 120 or so for the win...just because of historical nerves and all that ;) We should be looking to make this an innings win, with (weather permitting) a good couple days of bowling at them to get it.

  • Comment number 53.

    Papa - good on you mate! That's the last post anyone would have expected of you :) keep on keepin on mate and well done for a thoughtful and correct post. Although, as you'll have noticed, hardly anyone commenting on your posts now! Proof that the secret to comment success is just to disagree :)

    Let's hope England continue to prove your worries wrong - starting with Collingwood!

  • Comment number 54.

    All this talk of declaring at 500 or 550 is just plain daft. Would the Aussies do it? Would they heck. England need to bat to stumps tomorrow and then into the first session on day 4. Grind the buggers down and show no quarter.

    As others who live or have lived in the Adelaide area have said, the predicted poor weather is almost certainly over-hyped. England need to put down a marker and be ruthless. That means a total of 700+ if possible and no way back into the game for Australia.

    Look what happened in 2006 - an early declaration at 550-6 (with the benefit of hindsight, it has to be said) and Australia were back in the game. That must not be repeated. As a wise man once said 'those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it'.

  • Comment number 55.

    England supporter here who lives in Adelaide SA.

    The forecast for the next three days is pretty much warm, with considerable clouds with a shower or thunderstorm in spots. As long as we don't bat on into day 4 (which we won't) I don;t see too much of an issue.

    So with high humidity and a wearing pitch what more favourable conditions does the England attack need?

    Well done Cookie, always knew you were an excellent player and I'm glad you've not only sorted out your technique but made many, many doubters eat their own words. If we had more players with your mental strength and application over the last 20 years we would have provided a much better contest in Ashes series during that time.

    We have a strangle hold over Australia physcologically right now, so now the foot is on the throat, time to press down hard boys!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 56.

    Didn't we bat first in that one though? Having them fighting to save is a bit different, especially if the wicket is going to deteriorate in last two days as has been widely predicted.

  • Comment number 57.

    Just possibly the first innings of the First Test has given a false idea that maybe this Test is no different to that one and will end in similar fashion. There though you had a side that was understandably nervous and that conquered its nerves big time after a slow start. The Australians collapsed horribly at the end of their innings first innings and have not been at the races since. From the moment that the sixth Australian wicket fell at Brisbane they have lost 16 wickets for 388 runs, while England have lost 3 just wickets for 834 runs. Make your own conclusions from those numbers.

    There are a few fantasists who thought that Australia would have gone past England’s 517-1 in the first Test had they been able to bat on on that last afternoon, but really their batting has shown little to support that idea. So far this series there has been one big Australian partnership and not a lot more for them to shout about.

    There are people who think that if England can’t win this match – which the side never expected to win anyway – desperation will set in at letting the Australians off the hook twice. It begs the question though that it is Australia who need the wins, not England and they are looking increasingly unable to force them. Andrew Strauss needs just a 0-0 result but, with each passing innings it looks only a matter of time before Australia go down in the series. If England can win one the Australians need two wins to regain the urn and, right now, seem bereft of ideas how to get them.

    Just on that 2003 series v South Africa. Yes, it is true that Graeme Smith started with two double centuries and a fifty in the first two Tests. With South Africa 1-0 after two, Michael Vaughan took the captaincy, the series changed direction totally and Graeme Smith hardly scored another run. It could happen but, can anyone imagine Australia ditching a captain in mid-series and staging a similar comeback??

    England have been in good form for 18 months now and have been in good form on this tour. Australia have lost 3 and drawn one of their last 4 Tests: their confidence must be about as low as it can get. It will take a superhuman effort to recover from here.

  • Comment number 58.

    Cook has batted longer without being dismissed than any other England player in history! If that's not answering your critics I'm not sure what is.

    And if Pietersen can go on to a deserved hundred tomorrow that will be the top 4 all scoring hundreds after 3 innings of a series. When was the last time we could have said that?

    Don't worry about a declaration. Bat all day if necessary. 600+ would be nice. Tomorrow is only day3 of the match. That would give us 2 days to bowl out this rag-bag aussie team. Swann should come in to his own on a drying pitch and when we wake up on monday or tuesday we can read about someone consuming another portion of humble pie.

  • Comment number 59.

    I think we need to put things into perspective. This pitch is pretty flat and the Australian bowling attack fairly ordinary.

    On top of that the England batters are on form and not feeling any pressure to perform. Australia on the other hand are feeling the heat and that's showing with their batting and fielding performances.

    With this in mind, England need to take advantage while they can. They shouldn't be considering a declaration until they are at least 400 runs up. Think Australia have missed a trick by not including Hauritz. This Doherty guy doesn't have a particularly good record in first class cricket and his fieldings been poor. Australia's batting line up is ageing and having a reliance on Haddin, with Watson opening up the order shows Australia are some way of their peak. England must beat this below-par side.

  • Comment number 60.

    Ferge & Mango - you both took the words out of my mouth. Fair play Papa (although can't forgive you being a wrestling fan).
    Australia have major problems. They tried before lunch to sit in and test Cook & Trott's patience. 20 minutes is lasted and then started bowling both sides of the wicket.

    Oz have dropped 2 bowlers for this test. Doherty is worse than ordinary and will surely be dropped. Clarke & North must be in line for the chop aswell. They resemble England from the mid 90s.

  • Comment number 61.

    btw Stargazer - astronomer or ageing 70s rocker?

  • Comment number 62.

    42. At 1:31pm on 04 Dec 2010, simonhill77 wrote:
    Top level sport is so often about confidence. At the moment our guys are brimming with it and the aussies have lost all of theirs. This is more important than any 'momentum' that is carried from one match to the next.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Wouldn't you say that 'momentum' and 'confidence' is the same thing? Most would.

  • Comment number 63.

    I don't think they have a likely candidate for the captaincy to turn it around at the moment. Isn't Clarke usually expected to be next and he's been worse than anyone.

    Also don't their ex-captains usually get dumped altogether, not sure they are ready to drop him yet.

  • Comment number 64.

    If there is a declaration - maybe wickets will fall and it won't happen - I would wait until half an hour before lunch on Day 4. That way you force the Australians to bowl on a fourth consecutive day, just wondering how long the torture will continue. You declare long enough before an interval to give the bowlers a decent bite with the new ball, but still have enough shine on it for them to get what is effectively a second new ball burst after a rest. And, by that stage, the lead is big enough that the batsmen come out knowing that they bat out 5 sessions or probably lose by an innings: even getting ahead and making England bat again will be tough.

  • Comment number 65.

    Isn't it telling when Monty Panesar would walk into Australia's team as their #1 spin bowler by some margin?

    Hauritz can't take wickets consistently at Sheffield Shield level, so who else is there?

    Answer, no one.

    Ponting doesn't look such a great captain when he can't throw the ball to Warne or McGrath to get him a wicket or three.

  • Comment number 66.

    What an excellent show from England. It was such a pleasure to watch such a brilliant performance from our batters but what I enjoyed the most was watching the toothless australian bowlers being ground into the floor ending up almost on their knees!. Apologies if that sounds harsh but how many years have we had to endure the australians ego's. And its really funny that now they are under the cosh the toys are being thrown out of the pram and they are all having little sulks and turns. Even if we don't win the series (and I think we will) what a valuable lesson we have taught them thus far..England are mentally much stronger

  • Comment number 67.

    Steak and Ale, let's just say that I am probably the only person on here who can use the phrase "it's not rocket science" without it being a cliché :-).

    We will see what the morrow brings but, I for one hope to stay awake for longer tonight.

  • Comment number 68.

    Let's not lower ourselves by gloating, if the incredible and overwhelming superiority of England over Australia continues.

    If we go on to crush them (like the boot of a giant crushing a flea), as it looks as though we might, having so comprehensively outplayed them in every single department - bowling batting fielding and demeanour, (not to mention vocal support from the fans), let us do so with sympathy and an arm of comfort around their shoulder.

    On the other hand we might well blow it....there's still time.

  • Comment number 69.

    I think this is the strongest English batting side to have come here.
    They look fit and well prepared and that was from well before they got here. The bowling has been the standout though.
    The Oz performance has been hopeless at best. On the bright side Harris looks good and Johnston will come good in Perth because he has to.
    I'm hoping this rain will hit Adelaide, 8inches or 200mm in the last week over much of the Eastern States and we'll scrape a draw if they lose 12hrs.
    I blame it on Justin Langer. How can anyone stay awake listening to him?

  • Comment number 70.

    Well! Dunno about Ponting & co, but for myself, I'm feeling pretty happy. Takes a lot to make me happy in winter, so maximum thanks to Strauss & co. It's about time we gave Aussie a bit of the old one-two on his own patch. More!!!

  • Comment number 71.

    62. At 2:52pm on 04 Dec 2010, gorgeousninja wrote:
    Wouldn't you say that 'momentum' and 'confidence' is the same thing? Most would.

    In the last ashes series the winning team supposedly had momentum and went on to lose or under-perform in the next match, maybe as the teams were so evenly matched. I see it differently this time as both sides confidence levels are at opposite ends of the spectrum atm. I don't see an england win being followed by a loss.

    Alternatively, you may have a point and I'll shut up.

  • Comment number 72.

    I see HMS Invincible is up for sale. What say we start a kitty and buy her? We could re-name her HMS Cookie and if she set sail now she might just reach Sydney in time to bring the Ashes back home.

  • Comment number 73.

    Got to love crushing the aussies. To all those saying "oh don't get carried away" You lot say this every time England are on top in a test!

    As long as the England team keep doing what they're doing, all is well - they are in this position on the back of their own excellent work. As for now? Well there's a lot of aussie bating to be done, best get cracking

  • Comment number 74.

    Don't all get your hops up yet. I said before the test started that it would be a dead cert draw and nothing I've seen so far has changed my mind.

    If anything this is a better batting surface than the Gabba and it wouldn't surprise me to see England make 500 only to see the Aussies reply with 450 of their own on their way to running out of time.

    England DO look the better side but it will still be 0-0 come Tuesday.

  • Comment number 75.

    In fairness to papa shango, it takes a big man to admit he's wrong! I still think you're too negative and I hope you eat humble pie again when it comes to Collingwood and Swann! That comment at least shows that you're not a WUM.

    Today proved what I'd suspected for a long time and that is that Australian conditions don't, in truth, suit the Aussie bowlers. They don't have a seamer who can make things happen on a flat pitch. Ironically, I think the English swinging conditions actually made the likes of Johnson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus look better than they are. I'm not suggesting that Johnson looked good in England but at least he took wickets! Two changes to the bowling after the first test and things aren't improving, the Aussies are in trouble!

    This match is England's for the taking. Score 500-550 and give ourselves two days the bowl at Australia and I predict that Swann will be the match winner as the pitch deteriorates.

  • Comment number 76.

    But even if this comes out as a draw (and thats a big IF) England are winning the mental war and that can only be great for us

  • Comment number 77.

    Collingwood may well fail to pile on runs today, but I suspect that may be because he is willing to abandon his natural FC game and try and score quick runs when the situation demands it (unlike a Kallis for example, who is obviously a cut above as a run accumulator but often gives the impression of batting for himself rather than the team). I'm expecting Bell to cash in if he gets in- the situation is made for him and he looks bang in form.

  • Comment number 78.

    Difficult not to feel sorry for Ponting - he's a great batsman (not just on statistics) but has never needed till recently to be an inspiring captain with the players he once had at his command. In addition his own batting has fallen away by his own high standards. The two factors have combined to cloud his mind - compare him with Strauss as captain and batsman and Cook and Trott with the bat...

  • Comment number 79.

    I don't want to tempt fate here but does anybody know who was the last, if anybody at all, to score consecutive test double centuries please?

    (Ps. The Adelaide weather forecast is not looking too "hot").

  • Comment number 80.

    I can't resist commenting on Papa Shango. Yesterday he predicted us to be 150 all out and Aus 120-0 at the close. I have admit that when I optimistically predicted us to be 300-350 with a couple down, I didn't REALLY think we would do it, but we have.

    OK, Papa has admitted he was wrong about Cook, but what choice did he have?? 400 runs in 3 innings gave papa nowhere to hide. So he makes his postive comment and then cant resist "Collingwood will fail though". Poor show I say.

    In terms of what next, a few posters seem to be saying "bat for most of the 3rd day and declare with a few overs left". I don't agree. Assuming we don't get bowled out (and thus have the luxury of declaring), one more day will give us 300-350 more runs, which would be a lead of say 400. The Aussies could attain that in 4 sessions. I think we should bat on until maybe even lunch (or just before) on day 4, which would in theory put us +/-500 ahead and mean that (a) we wouldn't have to bat again (b) they cannot possibly win (c) they are more tired (d) they are more demoralised (e) the pitch is worn and Swann will have more impact and (f) we would still have 5 sessions (or more) to get them out which should be ample.

    Hopefully we can put ourselves in that postion. I say we should keep our foot on their throat. I know you're in bed Tom, but what do you (or others) think would be a sensible declaration?

  • Comment number 81.

    ...looks like it was the Sri Lankan, Thilan Samaraweera; I've just answered my own question.

    I would seriously love Cook to match that tomorrow...

  • Comment number 82.

    It's not all about just winning the match. In the event of rain or if the temperature drops much below 30 degrees, I think Strauss should at least offer to make a declaration, contingent upon Ponting resigning his captaincy.
    If the temperature stays above 30 degrees then he should keep them in the field just for the fun of it.

  • Comment number 83.

    ...and Raymondo, please don't feel sorry for Ponting. Pitying any sporting competitor is a dangerous game, especially an Australian cricketer. He's a wounded predator right now. He's still dangerous and he's still capable of ruining our Ashes Winter for us.

  • Comment number 84.

    you won't feel sorry for Pointing if he gets in and reaches 150

  • Comment number 85.

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

  • Comment number 86.

    Alastair Cook looks set to break personal aggregates in an Ashes series. In three innings hitherto (in 10 days) his aggregate is 438, his average the same. If he gets out tonight, that number obviously will be halved, but still historic, still epic.

    Who would have predicted that back in the summer (when his place on the tour was in serious doubt) before his salvaging hundred against Pakistan, his personal elexir?

    BTW: the now expurgated Papa Shango comment was meant to stir up a bit of laughter, was made in total jest and never intended to be malicious in any way: the mod needs to lighten up a bit:)

  • Comment number 87.

    thefrogstar @82
    If the temperature stays above 30 degrees then he should keep them in the field just for the fun of it.

    -----------

    Hear sanguinary hear! Give 'em a run in the sun!

  • Comment number 88.

    At 10:15am on 04 Dec 2010, papa shango wrote:
    After airing my views on Cook on these blogs in the past few weeks I have had a huge slice of humble pie for breakfast! He has been faultless. Let's hope the rain stays away & Strauss makes the right decision on if/when to declare. KP will go on and get a big hundred tomorrow.
    Doubtful Collingwood will get any runs.
    -------------------------------------
    Doubtful Collingwood will get a chance to get any runs - we'll have declared 330 ahead by the time he's needed ... hopefully

  • Comment number 89.

    I'm not sure why you quote Langer so much here. He's infamous as a woolly thinker and a spouter of meaningless platitudes. Your take on things would be far more interesting than his faux-profound rubbish about his kids spilling cornflakes.

  • Comment number 90.

    Ponting is still an excellent batsman, just can't captain to save himself without all-time greats to throw the ball to when in trouble.

  • Comment number 91.

    Just to add, this wicket is wearing at a much greater rate than Brisbane. While the curator left a little more grass on it to start the Test its going the same way as your typical Adelaide wicket, it'll wear down by days 4 and 5 and take spin and start to get more variable bounce.

    Add to that days 4 and 5 will have quite a lot of cloud cover and humidity and you have a recipe for very good bowling conditions for swing bowlers and spinners alike - right down our alley. Under those conditions 4 sessions may be enough.

    Again I stress the forecast (and I;m a local) is for the odd, brief thunderstorm. The forecast is certainly not as bad as some are making it out to be here.

  • Comment number 92.

    ...and just to say that the only reason Doherty was picked in the Aussie side was because of Pieterson's supposed suspect record against left arm spinners (although right arm spinners have dismissed him more times in Tests).

    Doherty has done little in the Sheffield Shield competition for Tassie to earn a place in the team and is generally regarded around Australia as nothing more than a one-day specialist.

  • Comment number 93.

    Papa Shango>

    Credit for admitting you were wrong - but are you now going to go away and ask yourself where you went wrong? If not, you'll just keep making the same mistake. Collingwood? Haven't you learnt your lesson?

    Actually, considering the effect it's had, can you criticise a few more players (maybe Swann and Finn?) - and praise the Aussies while you're at it :)

  • Comment number 94.

    mtmfella (#88) - I go back to my previous post, and similar comments made by blogcabin (28), mangocrazy (54), simonhill77 (58), mr murray (59) and stargazer (64), I don't think Strauss would dream of declaring with a 330 lead. That would mean near the end of day 3, and would leave over 6 sessions to play out. In theory we could then lose. IE They bat for 5 sessions, make 450, get 150 in front and we get bowled out on a deteriorating pitch. OK, unlikely but an unnecessary risk, esp as we only need a drawn series.

    Stargazer has it spot on imo when he says "I would wait until half an hour before lunch on Day 4. That way you force the Australians to bowl on a fourth consecutive day". To add to that, we'd be in a position where defeat is impossible (450+ ahead with 5 sessions left), and whereby we could even win without having to bat again.

  • Comment number 95.

    I know we are doing well but talk of getting a lead of 450+ still sounds optimistic.

    Mind you talk of them bowling us out for less than 150 seems overly pessimistic

  • Comment number 96.

    The Game isn't over until the Fat Lady Sings or so they say:

    England are playing well, and given a fair wind should win this Test, but we have a long way to go, but winning this one will make the journey a tad shorter.

    What surprises me, is that when in the past England have been under the gun by the Aussies, they have a lot to say.

    At the moment we are deafened by the silence.

  • Comment number 97.

    @Spinonthis
    You don't sound as surprised as you claim to be...

    You want to hear from Australians? OK. You will win this series because you are the better side. And congratulations. Mind you, I was a kid the last time England won a series in Australia and now my few remaining hairs are grey.

  • Comment number 98.

    We're also a little quiet because it's 5.35 in the morning

  • Comment number 99.

    No way we bat into day 4 to get a lead of 450, even if we had the chance to do it. Strauss won't go further than end of play tomorrow if we are still batting then.

  • Comment number 100.

    I'd just like to agree with #94 (Boikey) and all the other sensible chaps he's mentioned (myself included). If we're in a position to, it would tick every box to bat through into day 4. It means that we've turned a negative into a positive and it's now the Aussies under the cosh, batting last on a wearing wicket. If we have atmospheric assistance for Jimmy and Stuart, then so much the better.

    The Aussies looked ragged enough coming of the field at the end of day 2. Can you imagine their mood if they are still in the field at the end of day 3? Punter's little outburst would look like a mild dose of indigestion compared to how he'd be feeling at that point.

    It also means that their (definitely rather chubby) bowling attack will have nearly 40 overs apiece under their belts. By that time they'll be giving runs away for fun. Apply the boot to the throat and do not remove until the job is totally and completely done.

 

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