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Ashes back in the balance

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Tom Fordyce | 12:16 UK time, Saturday, 18 December 2010

Perth, Western Australia

Sometimes statistics don't make sense.

A bowler who returns figures of 0-170 in his last match takes four wickets in nine balls in his next. A batting unit that scores 1,215 runs for their last six wickets loses five top-order men for 20 and then five more for 58. A team that was 69-5 on day one goes into day four with an enormous lead and only tail-enders between them and crushing victory.

At other times, they cannot lie. England have never successfully chased anything like 391 to win a Test match. They have only ever passed 300 on the way to a win three times in history. In 11 Ashes matches here at the Waca they've come out on top in just one.

With 310 needed, just five wickets in hand and two days of unbroken sunshine heading this way, they won't be coming out on top in this one either. Even for the most optimistic of cricket calculations can't conjure a way out of this mathematical mess.

When the Waca clocks showed just over an hour to go to the close, there was still optimism alive in the massed ranks of England supporters spread out on the grassy banks beyond the mid-wicket fence and clustered around the bars beneath the Prindiville Stand.

While Alastair Cook had departed on unlucky 13, the pitch was behaving respectably and the shine fading from the new ball. Get through to stumps with Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott still standing firm, said two former England skippers watching from the Lillee Marsh Stand, and this match might yet produce a glorious conclusion.

Then, as shadows stretched across the verdant outfield and the faint outline of the moon popped up on the Perth skyline, the madness descended.

First Strauss, neither forward nor back, poked Mitchell Johnson to an exultant Ponting at second slip.

Kevin Pietersen, striding to the crease with boozy boos ringing around the concrete stands, survived his pair and then began to loosen up in the limelight. With Trott digging his trench at the other end, he signalled to the England balcony for a new bat and sent the old piece of willow back to the dressing-room.

If he'd only waited a moment longer he could have carried it there himself. His waft at Ben Hilfenhaus's wide one was needless, the edge straight down Shane Watson's throat - 227 brilliant runs a fortnight ago, a total of four in two innings to follow.

England's hopes faded when Ben Hilfenhaus removed Kevin Pietersen cheaply - photo: Getty

When Trott went the same way in the penultimate over the ignominy seemed complete, but never underestimate an England collapse. With the travelling hordes still lobbing plastic pint pots down in dismay and disgust, Paul Collingwood lunged at the final ball of the day and gave the slip cordon another reason to laugh themselves to sleep.

Collingwood booted the crease. Johnson screamed abuse at nightwatchman Jimmy Anderson's crestfallen face. Thousands of Melbourne residents picked up their phones and dug out the MCG box office number.

From the stellar heights of that innings victory in Adelaide, England have come back down to Perth with a bump.

Pretty much everything went to plan in South Australia. Most players performed at their peak. Out here in the west, only new man Chris Tremlett has done close to the same.

This has not suddenly become a great Australian side. There are flaws everywhere you look, from Phil Hughes at the top of the order to Steve Smith batting at six to skipper Ponting's dreadful run of scores and vice-captain Clarke's similar lack of form. The selectors are still unsure of their best side, still alienating good players with their strange rotations and picks.

Despite all that, they have been able to build a platform for victory thanks almost entirely to the efforts of two men. On Friday afternoon, Johnson's contribution came as a surprise. On Saturday, Mike Hussey's did not.

That first-ball edge off Steve Finn on the second day in Brisbane, the one that fell two inches short of Graeme Swann at second slip, feels a long, long time ago. His 116 here means that since that career-saving escape he has scored over 500 runs at an average of 103, the first man in Ashes history to post six successive scores of 50 or more.

"I've known him since he was 18 years old, and I've never seen him batting this well," says Justin Langer, former Western Australia team-mate of Hussey and now Australia's batting coach.

On a ground he knows better than any other in the world, 10 miles or so from the Mullaloo backyard where he first held a cricket bat and took guard, Hussey took the game away from England and celebrated like the homecoming hero he had become.

England's tactics against him were curious at best. On a wicket that suits purveyors of shots played with a horizontal bat, they fed him the short stuff and then watched puzzled as he pulled with untroubled success.

On 17 occasions he attempted the pull shot in his innings, and on each and every one he connected, picking up 40 carefree runs in the process.

In able support, Watson looked just as untroubled for most of his spell at the crease. Then he looked up at the scoreboard to find himself on 95, and the troubles came back with late revenge.

Most batsman have experienced the 'Nervous Nineties'. For Watson it's more like the 'No No Not Again Nineties'. When Tremlett trapped him lbw with a century once again a single shot away, it was the six time he'd reached 90 in his Test career and the fourth he'd failed to push on to the ton. His happy ending would come later, standing in the slips.

England are not suddenly in crisis - 1-1 with two Tests to play is the sort of scoreline that most touring parties would have grabbed with both hands. But they do have issues to resolve.

Collingwood, a wonderful fielder and model team man, is in horrible form. Over the last 12 months he has averaged 33 in Test cricket; in this series just 15. Ian Bell, in the form of his life, is coming in at six and running out of time and partners before his boots can be filled. Steve Finn has looked tired in Perth and gone at a run a ball.

Whatever happens, the series will be alive come Sydney in the New Year. With the surfaces in Melbourne and at the SCG still a matter of conjecture, that guarantees drama and ding-dong to come. And, after the twists and turns in the story so far, there is very little that anyone who has been watching could possibly rule out.


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

    Game on!

    Remember 2005 - the Ashes victory will be all the more glorious if it is preceded by ample amounts of doubt and despair

  • Comment number 3.

    Not taking away from Johnson's spell yesterday, or Hussey's knock, I still think that England have only themselves to blame if (and when) they lose this test. 69-5 should have sen the Australins get no more than 150, leaving us with 280 ish to chase, a much more achievable and realistic target.
    2 to go, let's hope that this test was just a temporary dip in form, I said before the series that the best team would win the series - England!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    No need to panic, Australia were always going to win at least 1 match so its not the end of the world. Perth was the ground that a lot of people predicted England would struggle on and as its proven, they have.

    It's 1-1 and the series is very much on!

  • Comment number 5.

    even though england are likely to lose this test match it would be good for the team to wrestle back some momentum tommorow. Try to bat as long as possible and Ian Bell finally getting a century against the aussies would also bode well for the rest of the series.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hussey seems the only constant in this series. Bell also looks in fine form, must be promoted. Johnson no wickets Brisbane, dropped, then carves his way through the top order. FIGJAM a double century Adelaide, then a total of 3 this match. They are both just average sides, so will be prone to collapses, but also sessions of dominance. All up makes for an interesting final 2 tests.

  • Comment number 7.

    Good that there's a slightly longer gap between Tests after this (and 24 hours extra, with it finishing in four days). Hopefully England will be able to take it on the chin and completely re-group.

    That said, Australia have destroyed England here. I can't imagine what a psychological boost that must be for the entire Aussie team. That longer gap may mean nothing at all.

  • Comment number 8.

    So it's not going to be so easy after all.

    Perth is one of the cleanest cities in the World, but Mike Hussey and the Aussie bowlers made sure that England spend the night in the little known Brown Creek located somewhere near the WACA.

    Here is our dissection of the day including why Steve Smith is the luckiest Australian since Liz Hurley invited Shane Warne in for a nightcap.

    Day 3 dissected #Ashes Hussey & bowlers put England to the sword

    and maybe some inspiration from the past for England?

    Perth Hero: Chris Broad

  • Comment number 9.

    I was pretty angry and disappointed earlier, have calmed down a bit now. Only a bit. It's almost as if Andrew Strauss' team talk before the 2nd innings batting went along the lines of "Ok lads, let's go out there and approach this innings in exactly the same manner as our first innings. After all, it can't possibly go as badly now can it?" (end silly huddle). I was staggered. KP has spent two of the last 3 days fielding in the gully watching wickets fall by people wafting needlessly outside off stump, and along he comes and waves his brand new bat around like Harry bleedin' Potter casting a spell. Only he knows what goes on inside that head of his. Venting frustration on the walk back is all very well, but how can he explain that shot choice?

    Anyone with any nous, surely, will have watched Hussey (Perth born and bred) play a majestic innings and say to themselves "so that's how you play at the WACA" and tried to follow suit. But apparently not. Australia bowled well, but England should have batted better.

    And to eat some humble pie, I've criticised him in the past but Mitchell Johnson really showed true bowling class this test match.

    My hope for tomorrow is someone shows some fighting spirit (Bell?), so they don't go to Melbourne completely deflated. Although Australia have seemed to bounce back quite well from their tonking, so maybe England can too. All square for Melbourne with everything to play for...

  • Comment number 10.

    I dnt mind that colly failed to score again. What bothers me more is how cook has got out the same way he always used to. I sense the aussies may have finally got him pegged.

    Everyone keeps suggesting dropping colly and if he's dropped the only real solution is picking bresnan (morgan cant bowl and has so far not been amazing in tests with the bat, getting to 60 and getting out isnt good enough at the moment) but i cant see bresnan getting the scores that can win matches.

    Either way i just hope that Bell and prior can make the aussies toil for half a day at least. You never know if they can both get to 50 without losing their wickets all of a sudden without a spinner the assuies may not feel so confident.

    However as 1-1 seems likely by close tomorrow im still confident that we can retain the urn.

    P.S just a suggestion of when broad is fit replacing collingwood with broad and having a very formidable 5 man attack.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hold your horses Tom! Yes victory is now very unlikely for England. But if Anderson can get a few runs, and England build a respectable partnership after his wicket, the momentum swings partially Englands way. It isn't completely over. Although if I was a betting man I ould pick the Aussies to level the series

  • Comment number 12.

    It felt like we went back in time overnight - 02/03 or 06/07!

    Hussey is a class act and unfortunately we don't seem to have a decent plan to combat him.

    I am sure I was not alone in having a bit of a chuckle that Watson failed to convert another 50 to a century, falling LBW again. Even better, he referred the decision and lost a referral because it was plumb! However, if Colly could have the same problem of not converting 50s to tons we'd be happy with that, as at least he'd be contributing more than spectacular catches. Bell should definitley be batting at No.5.

    Before the series I was predicting a 2-2 draw and as long as we win one of the remaining Tests we retain the Ashes. Whilst the groundsmen will try to replicate WACA conditions at the MCG & SCG it should not be as bad as here, where we are simply not good enough against the extra bounce.

    England to lose this Test by 175 runs but to bounce back at the MCG, like we did at the Oval in 2009, and go 2-1 up.

    Hopefully Bell and Prior can score some runs to annoy the Aussies tomorrow morning and we'll see what happens...

  • Comment number 13.

    Yes Tom, you have to feel sympathy for those Aussies. Getting whalloped 1-1 by England.

    Australia are not that terrible and England are not that great. But the 'sympathy for Australia' blog goes up there with the famous 'embarrassed by the number of Olympic medals GB is winning'.

  • Comment number 14.

    Salute them, you bold English chaps:
    The boys in the baggy green caps!
    Yer noble tradition -
    Dectuple dismission -
    The Olde English batting collapse.

    C'mon you Aussies!

  • Comment number 15.

    england still are the better side but they should beware handling this beleaguered Australian side any sort of sniff, for they can come roaring back in the series...
    this match is gone..forget about it.
    england's focus should shift to Melbourne now and they should treat that match as the decider..lose at MCG, and the urn will be gone at SCG

  • Comment number 16.

    If the inevitable happens - and boy are Ian Bell and Matt Prior going to have to bat out of their skins to avert defeat - England will go in to the Boxing Day Test locked at 1-1 in a series where they have shown that they are clearly the better team.

    They should win at least one of the remaining tests to secure the urn, but what events at the WACA have shown is that our batsmen are lacking on a fast, bouncy pitch. The same thing happened in Johannesburg last winter.

  • Comment number 17.

    Pure arrogance ever since the first day, we had them 69-5, so what do we do take our foot off their throats when were just about to choke them.

    When it comes round to our turn to bat, we see the 13 overs out on the first day and start patiently on day 2, to then capitulate through arrogance and a lack of application to 187 all out. Yes Mitch was making it swing a bit, but this is supposedly world class batsman were talking about.

    We come to bat 2nd time round having seen first hand for the best part of 2 days how to play on this WACA pitch by Mike Hussey, to then have a complete lack of application to the situation of getting 391.

    Collingwood is going to have to be dropped, hes in no form whatsoever, but to bring Morgan in is a risk in itself, as he is gunho like Pietersen and wants every ball to hit the boundary. Bell is going have to be promoted up the order and Pietersen should drop to 6 as he's too head strong and arrogant.

    Finn looks like a knackered horse, and going at nearly 5 and over is excessively expensive

    With the exception of Hussey we are man for man alot better than this Aussie side and in this test we have taken 5 steps backwards just in the sheer lack of application.


  • Comment number 18.

    1-1 and anything is possible, but certainly its completely a live series if Austrlia win this one. Not taking anything away from England, but in Adelaide Australia only had themselves to blame I feel. ;-)

  • Comment number 19.

    the batting is fragile againt true pace. for all his good fielding colly should be dropped and another batter, perhaps morgan should be given a chance. I dont expect much more from pietersen, he's all show and not a class bat when the going get tough. It will be tough to retain the ashes now , I cant see them winning it if they prepare hard and fast pitches for the last 2 tests.

  • Comment number 20.

    At the risk of sounding like Mamma Shaggo (and after following the fortunes of English Cricket for around 50 years) I felt before this series started that this England team was average at best, with a flaky batting line up and a pop gun attack. All lulled into a false sense of supremacy after a run of wins against rubbish opposition.
    Dreadful past experience of hiding behind the sofa, not daring to watch; or waking up in the night not daring to turn on the radio, should have prepared me for this game...but no, I still switched on in hope of England being in a match-winning position by lunchtime!
    My friends ridiculed me after the first two games (and I hope they will after the end of the fifth!) but I know deep down that, on a bad day, England's tail starts at number 1 and the selectors have forgotten to pick any bowlers. Luckily they don't have too many bad days recently; but they've certainly had a few in this game.

    Ah well - Bell and Prior to make 100 each tomorrow, with Anderson and Swann chipping in 50 each...job done!

    (P.S. - Why on earth send Anderson in as nightwatchman, and then not get him to take strike in the last over???)

  • Comment number 21.

    It really gets to me when people say drop Collingwood because he's a valuable member of the team. Ok, he's not having a good time with the bat but he has only had 4 innings in the entire series. He's a superb fielder and brings vital experience to the team.

    He's also a handy bowler and allows the pace bowlers to take a rest in hot conditions and he's saved us countless times in the past, including a gritty innings at Cardiff in 2009.

    I agree that he should be demoted to six with the in-form Bell at 5.

  • Comment number 22.

    We´re all experts with hindsight, but, England clearly expected a fastish, bouncing (good cricket) pitch, hence the selection of Tremlett. Why then put Australia in and expose only three seam bowlers to long bowls from day one ?. Even worse that the batters failed so badly, denying their seamers a decent period of rest between australian innings. England´s seamers - especially Tremlett - must be lionhearts but, as a German general once said of the British army, led by lambs.

  • Comment number 23.

    Harris to Collingwood, OUT, and it costs England! Collingwood has edged the last ball of the day to third slip, where Steven Smith takes the catch low to his left, that's a tremendous finish for Australia, and had they taken the single off the previous ball Collingwood wouldn't have been on strike
    PD Collingwood c Smith b Harris 11 (27b 1x4 0x6) SR: 40.74
    Harris to Collingwood, no run, nudged away behind square by Collingwood, not in much control of that. Collingwood wanted a single but Anderson didn't - but his job as nightwatchman is to protect Collingwood

    This is the commentary from Cricinfo contrary to Bbc version which is next to useless for serious cricket fans. If true, then surely Anderson deserves a reprimand.

  • Comment number 24.

    Would have loved to have wrapped up the Ashes in Perth, but it does make the whole series a lot more exciting than it looked like it was going to be when Oz were 65-5.

    Hopefully this is just a blip, like Headingley in the last series - England are clearly the better team, though not by a huge margin as it looked at one point. You can always expect one missfire - this is still England after all!

    This test should all be over in a session tomorrow, and I'm already looking forward to a packed house at the MCG and hopefully a classic encounter (won by England!)

  • Comment number 25.

    i dont half feel sorry for them australians

  • Comment number 26.

    I think that we(England fans)need to put the events of the last couple of days into perspective. We're playing the Aussies on their home turf, they were woeful in Adelaide and the press/fans let them know that they were, like any top class team they have responded as they should have done.Anybody who thought that we were going to steamroller them 4-0 after the second test was in dreamland, especially with our record at the WACA. Will be interesting to see how England now respond to what has been a pretty poor performance - let's see how good we really are!

  • Comment number 27.

    I went to bed last night with about an hour to go before lunch, with Watson and Hussey looking unperturbed at the crease. The score was 138 for 3.

    I woke up this morning not knowing what to expect.

    When I checked the score, it was like a nightmare. I wished it was! But my conscious self tells me it for real. It would take a real miracle for England to save this match.

    I admit I was over-confident and thought the Oz was as good as dead. Perhaps they should have played Beer. That might have inspired some hope for a second consecutive England win. But, alas, it’s looking bleak! What a capitulation!

    Kevin Pietersen has let us his ‘country’ down for the second time in the match, in a big way. Ditto Paul Collingwood. Eoin Morgan must now be brought into the team in place of Collingwood. It is no longer an option.

    You can never count these dastardly Aussies out. They are a tenacious, resilient bunch. The urn may still travel back to England. A month ago, I predicted a 2-1 series win for England. That may still be the case.

    You can bet I will be keeping a close eye on the fat diva.

  • Comment number 28.

    Yesterday prior to the 2nd innings collapse, I said England's batting remained an accident waiting to happen, I said 2 collapses in 5 innings when of course they only batted once in the second test, so its now 2 poor totals, 2 x 500+, and a current one that is likely to add to the poor totals..

    Having a team at 60 odd for 5 on day 1, and yet by lunch on day 4 you could have lost suggests that England became a little cocksure of themselves, in that moment on day 1 they may well have thrown away the Ashes. The game is about momentum.

    Having scored 500 + in 2 innings, again a cocksure feeling that maybe letting them get away to 268 was ok, the weakness inherent in our batting had been resolved, besides the opponents were on the ropes. That though is when opponents as tough as Aussies are at their most dangerous, what has he to lose, may as well try for the lucky punch.

    England I suspect in failing to kill the Aussies off in that 1st innings have heaped all the pressure back onto themselves, only 1 winner now I am afraid.

  • Comment number 29.

    I went to bed last night with about an hour to go before lunch, with Watson and Hussey looking unperturbed at the crease. The score was 138 for 3.

    I woke up this morning not knowing what to expect.

    When I checked the score, it was like a nightmare. I wished it was! But my conscious self tells me it is for real. It would take a real miracle for England to save this match.

    I admit I was over-confident and thought the Oz was as good as dead. Perhaps they should have played Beer. That might have inspired some hope for a second consecutive England win. But, alas, it’s looking bleak!

    Kevin Pietersen has let his ‘country’ down for the second time in the match, in a big way. Ditto Paul Collingwood. Eoin Morgan must now be brought into the team in place of Collingwood. It is no longer an option.

    You can never count these dastardly Aussies out. They are a tenacious, resilient bunch. The urn may still travel back to England. A month ago, I predicted a 2-1 series win for England. That may still be the case.

    You can bet I will be keeping a close eye on the fat diva.

  • Comment number 30.

    So let it be written - so let it be done. And Australia move deservedly and inexorably toward a deserved victory, which, whatever the problems within their players and team, will surely propel them back through sheer grit, courage and tenacity to genuine Series contenders, and as likely winners as England, perhaps more so.

    As the game moved away from them (helped by them too) many of the old frailties of past England teams resurfaced. The pressure was on and it wasnn't and isn't being handled well. The batting in the second innings is as good an example as any.

    On the crest of a wave, all seems almost easy, but reality has hit and will they get back to where they were? I think unlikely and confidently select Australia to do as I predicted before this 3rd Test and go on to win the Series, probably 2-1, and regain the Ashes.

    In that eventuality, where that will leave England, and how much damage will that cause to the players, is likly huge. However, it is said that some things are written, and fulfilment of that prophetic belief for Australia would be considered one of that Country's greatest triumphs of all time.

  • Comment number 31.

    Once again were all calling for Bell to be promoted, his England career is a constant cycle, starts at 3 gets no runs, relegated to 5/6 gets runs, promoted back to 3/4, does badly, and so on. If he is getting runs where he is, keep him there, underrated player of the series so far in my opinion

  • Comment number 32.

    Detail in #23 is a shocker. Firstly turning down a run, and secondly offering PC a guaranteed start for Day 4.
    82/4 and could still be a 20% chance, but game over now.

  • Comment number 33.

    Well, the England collapse is alive and well, and our supremacy over our Antipodean cousins was nice whilst it lasted (about a week by my reckoning).

    We missed Broad's control with the ball, with Finn so painfully expensive. Tremlett has "out-Finned" Steve in this game (ie been the tall bowler who produces steepling bounce and takes plenty of wickets), but no one has filled the void left by Broad as a controlled bowler who keeps a tight line and can wield the willow at 7/8 in the order. Bresnan must come in for the clearly exhausted Finn, whose time will come again.

    The other major worry is Colly's form with the bat - all others in the top order have made at least one big score, and one would have to hope the Waca was a one-off under conditions, and facing a bowler on a mission, unlikely to be repeated at the MCG and SCG. I had us down for a 2-1 win beforehand, with the Aussie win at the Waca, and I still hold to that. The big call is who replaces Colly. Morgan has barely held a bat this tour and failed in his one game, so would be a gamble.

    Should England be brave and go for 5 bowlers? I would, as just retaining him and hoping for the best smacks of an over-cautious approach where we are looking to avoid defeat more than go for the win. Give Shahzad a spot as part of a 5 man attack, which then has more variety and more options for Strauss to use in the hot Aussie sun. Prior would then have to stand up and be counted at 6, but that is a risk worth taking.

    Let's not get too down - Australia still have plenty of problems. Hughes is a walking wicket, Punter and Clarke don't know where their next big score is coming from, Smith looks two places too high at 6 and his bowling is clearly not trusted, Hilfie is not threatening to take wickets (KP got himself out) and Siddle has not really impressed of late, they have no spinner of Test quality ready for the often spin friendly conditions at the SCG and Mitch blows cold as often as he blows hot.

    We need to be positive and try to win the two remaining games as going into our shell and playing defensive cricket will play into the Aussie hands. We need to come back as hard at them as they have just done to us.

  • Comment number 34.

    What an absolutely spineless, gutless, cowardly and depressing performance from the pathetic wimps masquerading as team representing my country in this test match - totally unacceptable.

    Part of the reason for this lies with the ridiculous post-Adelaide hubris, from the over the top we've already won the Ashes celebrations, through the unprofessional preparations, to the arrogance and complacency seen from the moment Strauss put the Aussies in. Explanations must be demanded, and got, from Flower and Strauss who carry the can for what borders on professional negligence. The rest of the team should hang their heads in collective shame for a performance that has exposed the pitiful failings of a side whose brittleness and misplaced arrogance has always been but one batting collapse away from disaster.

    The more deep seated reason for the debacle rests with the fact that our cricketers have always lacked, and continue to lack, the tenacity, resilience and sheer determination of the Aussies, whose (hardly vintage) team was always going to respond with trademark guts and character to the recent flak. I very much doubt that England's bunch of largely home counties wimps and prima-donnas will be able to do the same. Expect to hear lots of management-speak garbage about 're-grouping' and 'all to play for', and plenty of excuses and false bravado in ghosted columns, but no-one should be fooled. The plain truth is that England have crumbled at the first sign that the Aussies are getting their act together, and will now disintegrate completely in the face of the abuse and hostility that will rightly come their way.

    When the series is lost, Flower, Strauss, and whichever amateur buffoon is currently running the ECB should be sacked. The team should pay their own way home, and donate their tour fees to compensate the many English fans who have coughed up huge amounts of genuinely hard earned cash to watch this tripe, which is an insult to England fans everywhere.

  • Comment number 35.

    Well said Jezza - bit of positivity, like it!!!

  • Comment number 36.

    Well there you go.

    Why are some of you analysing this yet again woeful performance?

    Most of you just miss the point. Australia didn't get any better, they didn't get any worse. England as a Cricketing country do not have the ability to keep their confidence and have self belief. Just watch again some of those crass school boy errors and tell me why we, as a paying public (and we all do pay for them in one form or another) listen to the excuses over and over and over again.

    As a nation all Sport is certainly not our forte given the millions upon millions that are pumped into it. Anon

  • Comment number 37.

    Putting Australia in was a good move as it had them five down with only 60 plus on the board.

    But the non bowling of Swann and the part-timers of collingwood (who when he did bowl did ok) meant that a four man attack becomes a three man and so it was more difficult to exploit (bouncy wickets help spinners as much as quicks). If it is because England fear the treatment Swann will receive from Hussey then we do have a problem as our major weapon is nullified.

    For the next two games England either need to include another bowler and rotate the others (bring in two of shazad, bresnan and panesar, depending on wicket) or work out a plan for hussey so swann can bowl loads and also bowl the part-timers more. A tired three man attack isn't going to win the ashes.

    As for batting: bell should move up one above collingwood. If you are going to drop anyone then I would bring in Hildreth who is with the deveopment squad, scoring runs for fun against Ausssie states and on a roll, rather than Morgan who hasn't batted in anger for months.

  • Comment number 38.

    With Collingwood seriously lacking in runs and the seamers (particularly Finn) looking extremely tired, I really feel Bresnan should come in for Colly at the MCG. I love the fact that we've employed a consistent selection policy under Strauss and Flower but England are not in a position to be employing what is turning out to be a specialist fielder who can bowl the odd over and only contribute an average of 15 runs. Bresnan could offer a genuine threat with the ball and perhaps more importantly give Finn a bit more rest during a day in the field. I'd be suprised if he didn't get a couple of 50's as well. This second innings was made for Colly but he's given it away at the worst possible time. I really can't see how he can keep his place on current form and the extra bowling option would keep our attack fresher.

  • Comment number 39.

    I guess you were right about the (new) pitch. It was a bit delusional to think we might get 300+ despite the stats on high fourth innings totals in the last four years at the Waca. Having said that, we batted poorly, and, if I could shoehorn in a terrible pun, our batsmen played like rabbits suffering from Mitchellmatosis...
    Some more morose thoughts and analysis here:

  • Comment number 40.

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

  • Comment number 41.

    Agree with No 23, the BBC "stream" is pretty anodine if you are a serious cricket listener. Too much chat about traffic in SE England, Tarquin´s preferred tipple at university, etc. In Adelaide, one of your scribes even claimed that Cook´s 200 odd was product of his having been privately educated. Cricket has become increasingly middle class dominated, a vehicle for selling products/making money, a tendency compounded by neo liberal cuts to sports budgets at public sector schools, the removal of terrestrial TV coverage, and non access to TMS for non-resident brits. And Agnew (another public school product) et. al. lament the falling attendances at matches.

  • Comment number 42.

    Is is the WACA, not not Waca.

    Western Australian Cricket Association.

    Show some respect and some knowledge of the game Tom Fordyce.

    Otherwise do you have any credibility?

  • Comment number 43.

    England let their resolve slip in the first inning, perhaps overly elated by the comparatively low Oz first innings total. Now they know how tough it is even to retain the Ashes. They need to regroup, may be bring in Morgan and Bresnan.

  • Comment number 44.

    It's no great surprise that Australia have bowled better than us here. Their quicks are quicker than ours, they've got four of them, and in Perth, their stand-out bowler (Johnson - look at his career figures) is three times the player he normally is.
    If you look at Australia's batting, only two of their players got a real start in the second innings - but how they made it count! 9 of their players contributed less than 100 between them - like our first innings, in fact. Whether Bell and Prior have the application to get themselves in tomorrow remains to be seen, but we have to assume that the match is gone.
    Which leaves us going back, not to Adelaide, but to Brisbane, where the draw achieved there after conceding a 220 deficit on first innings may yet be crucial to the series. Before the series started, most of us, I think, would have settled for all square going to Melbourne and Sydney with two spinners in our squad better than any two, apparently, in Australia.
    With hindsight (20/20 as always), it might have been an idea to have played Bresnan for Swann here, and I wonder whether Finn might have a breather for Melbourne. For moment, we can only give credit to Hussey and Johnson (coincidentally, both Western Australian and cricketing residents of the WACA) for showing us how to play there.
    #34 - what a disproportionate rant, if I may say so. In Alice and Wonderland, when the Cheshire Cat fades away, only the grin is left. When you fade away, is the grin replaced by a snarling sneer?

  • Comment number 45.

    Re #44 - Alice IN Wonderland, of course - sorry.

  • Comment number 46.

    RE 40 - 'What has Colly done since Cardiff 2009?'

    Well he was brilliant in South Africa where he saved us from defeat in 2 matches, he scored runs in the summer against Pakistan and he's taken some vital catches.

    Need him

  • Comment number 47.

    England are so predictable it's untrue....I would have bet my house that they would (again!)have a batting collapse. I'm afraid it's back to the bad old days with England and when one or two wickets fall then the wickets tumble at an alarming rate, look at the Aussies in the first innings....68-5 and yet they go on to get 268, England are 78-0 and are all out for 187! The England second innings is a disaster and some of the shot selections were awful (KP what are you doing?)...oh well at least we have two more tests to put things right. England must not let this opportunity (to win the Ashes) slip against an average Aussie side..then again England are looking fairly average at Perth

  • Comment number 48.

    By the way, I see that in Centurion, the top-ranked test team in the world has just conceded a first innings lead of 504, after their opponents declared with just 4 wickets down. There's always someone worse off than yourself!

  • Comment number 49.

    The negativity of these comments makes me ashamed to be English sometimes. One of the best perfromances of swing bowling you're likely to see from an aussie who's finally come to the party, but it's still all about how bad we are.
    The game of test match cricket will fluctuate, we've batteed Australia for 8 days of cricket, and as soon as they come back our own fans write us off and surrender our chances of retaining. Well, the situation remains the same, we need to win a test match with two to play. Get behind the team!

  • Comment number 50.

    Great post Tom - I wouldn't disagree with a word.

    At traumatic times like this - in what other sport would you wait 24 hours with your team in the condemned cell before their execution? - I turn to mates from neutral countries.

    The Indians and Kiwis are loving it, and even bringing themselves to welcome the Aussie resurgence. From them also some comfort - Johnson and Hussey apart, Australia still look a poor test team, while England are a good team with a couple of weak links - Collingwood's batting and Finn's bowling come to mind.

    So - when the inevitable happens tomorrow and we lose the 3rd Test, let's remember we're best placed to win in Melbourne and Sydney and thus retain the Ashes.

    Team selection after this will be interesting; I don't expect England to change the batting order, but I do think Finn's profligacy will mean that he'll be replaced, probably by Bresnan.

    Meanwhile kudos to the Aussies for climbing off the canvas and fighting back. Test cricket at its engaging best.

  • Comment number 51.

    #37 Agree about Hildreth, Scored runs for fun in all forms back home this year and has continued his form down under, surprised he hasn't even been mentioned! His temperament at the crease is similar to Bell and when on form (which he is) he looks near impossible to get out.

    Interesting to see how all the tops teams in the World seem so inconsistent. Just look at India, Aus, SA and ourselves. Wouldn't like to bet on any of them against the others on a neutral ground, home advantage seems pretty important these days.

    Game on for the rest of the series! Still fancy our boys

  • Comment number 52.

    Not crisis but poor preparation. The Aussies picked a side that knew how to play in Perth and we did not prepare for the pitch. Most of the batsmen were beaten for pace and movement. COllingwood really ought to be dropped as he is wasting a place which should be taken by Bell. The tail is too long as well. Strauss should have batted first in any case.
    1-1 by lunchtime tomorrow with Bell 60 not out as usual. As to the remainder Aussies will win one of the tests which leaves it in the balance and tipped in their favour. Too much hubris has done for England.

  • Comment number 53.

    How we miss a Thorpe or Lamb to hold things together how can a player like Pieterson score 200 in one test and be so iresposibe in this test when he walked back because to the pavillion he was beating himself up perhaps he should see a shrink because he has a mental problem which is no use to England.

  • Comment number 54.

    As a new contributor but regular follower of cricket blogs and the subsequent comments, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly we can be to turn on our own team. Yes, Pieterson played a daft shot. But Pieterson's 227 helped win the last test and whilst I sometime don't appreciate his (unnecessary?) flamboyance it is who he is. Take it or leave it. Finn is still very young and unexperienced - Test cricket is a harsh arena but he's done alright and should only get better. Collingwood has come to the party so many times before but I agree that he does look woefully out of form (as does Ponting and Clarke).

    We are in Australia playing against Australia and its 1-0, potentially 1-1 after 3 tests. In my lifetime we've never even still been in a Ashes series by Melbourne, apart from 86/87. Perth is unlike anywhere else in the world and look at the Aussies - like Tom said, the non WA Aussies struggled on that track as well.

    My point is this. We have been outplayed in this test. The Aussies were outplayed in Adelaide. Both teams have average attacks (on occasion) and the ability to collapse (England perhaps more so than Australia - take a bow Mr Cricket). The series is still wide open and all to play for. How about we support and back our players rather than gunning for them at the first sign of trouble?

  • Comment number 55.

    I was hoping like hell it wouldn't be the 2009 Ashes all over again but, oh God, it's the 2009 Ashes all over again.

    So long as it has the same conclusion...

  • Comment number 56.

    The rumours of Aussies' demise has been greatly exaggerated.

  • Comment number 57.

    Why do England never learn? Bring the WAGS accross and it all goes pear shaped. A small point but symptomatic of the change in fortunes we are now seeing. I always had a bad feeling about this Test match - The Austrlalians are like the Germans, write them off at your peril. The collapase was always waiting to happen at some stage and we just never seem to learn. Forget the pitch, KP at slip could see how to play from watching Hussey, yet he didn't take it on board - criminal.
    Totally agree with the above post, far too much hubris. Australia aren't great at the moment but neither are we and there has been far too much bravado in the press and by some of the other posters previously on these boards, acting as if it was all over - madness. Bottom line now is that the Australians will now have all the momentum going into the last 2 Tests and it is going to be very difficult now.
    As for retaining Colly - its a tough one. A great fielder but past it as a batsmen. Unfortunatley we don't have much cover as I don't see Morgan or Bresnan doing much better. Bell should definately be at no 5 on current form - wasted batting with the tail. I feel sorry for Tremlett - a great effort after years in the wilderness but we should have got them out for far less in the first innings....that is what initially cost us IMO. Got to be more ruthless, the Australians of yesteryore wouldn't have let it happen...the difference between good sides and great ones.
    A tough few weeks awaits...

  • Comment number 58.

    BlueRoo, chill out, it's still the waca.

  • Comment number 59.

    Bell has to move up to 5- Collingwood out for Bresnan. Bell would be scoring big centuries if he wasn't batting with the tail or coming in to set up a declaration. Bresnan needs to come in and hold an end down now that Broad is out and none of our quicks seem able to bowl a string of maidens. And brezza can bat a bit too, unlike the rest of the tail. Its not all doom and gloom- the aussies have more problems with their team than we have....but there can be no repeat of the batting display in Perth

  • Comment number 60.

    I too am one feeling groggy after an unwise spell of jubilation at the end of day one. We were 29/0 needing "only" 239 to begin putting the game to bed. On the back of 500+ scores, twice (!), and for the loss of few wickets, it seemed unlikely that we would lose. All it needed was for Strauss, Cook, Trott & Pietersen - or even only two of them - to go on doing what they've been doing since Brisbane.

    I am now going back to my more usual mode of thinking - viz, that as far as the game of cricket is concerned you never know what's going to happen from one minute to the next. Also, singing before the fat lady amounts to impertinence!

  • Comment number 61.

    England just need to pull their finger out and bring this series home against a poor Australian side. In Andy Flower, I think they've got the right captain of the ship, and I am confident England will triumph.

  • Comment number 62.

    Whatever happened to the BBC's once ever-reliable full cricket scoreboard on its website? It used to be up-to-date at all times, both during play and overnight. Now it's often a day out - as it is right now when it's showing Australia 119 for 3 in its second innings, 9 hours after the end of day 3, when in fact England is 5 down in its second innings. This has been going on for weeks, and it's simply hopeless.

  • Comment number 63.

    England probably wont but it wouldn't surprise me if 2 changes are made for Melbourne with Finn and Colly sitting out and probably Bresnan and Morgan coming in. that would bolster the batting a bit and in Bresnan would provide better control than Finn who at 21 is probably no surprise he is getting tired in these conditions. Looks a good prospect in my eyes though.

  • Comment number 64.

    I've said it twice before, I'll say it again. This series will finish 2-2.
    England will retain the Ashes while failing to banish all their hang-ups about facing Australia.

  • Comment number 65.

    Am i wrong or are England the only team who go from playing world class international test cricket to a kind of low rate village style game in the space of a week.It always seems to be the case that if one players form drops the other ten follow suit.

  • Comment number 66.

    I knew everyone was getting carried away with this England side. The only difference is we have a better spinner. Collingwood fails yet again but it appears he is undroppable. But he's a good fielder so that's ok. Cook had a purple patch on a couple of flat wickets, and this test shows yet again England's susceptibility to a batting collapse.

    We bowled them out for 260 and everyone was talking as if we did them for 100.

    To draw this series would be an achievement. England think they are a far superior side to Australia but there not. If Australia win this we are in trouble. Never write them off.

  • Comment number 67.

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

  • Comment number 68.

    Sometimes 'overconfidence' in cricket takes its toll in a strange fashion and this is true with England in this historic test match at the windy city of Perth, Australia.

    Unless a miracle happens, Strauss and party are going to face a big defeat in this test match and might eventually have to give up the coveted Ashes trophy.

  • Comment number 69.

    Re No. 44 - I think my comments are entirely in proportion to one week of post Adelaide happiness vs 20+ years of Ashes misery in Australia.

    Your Alice in Wonderland analogy is an interesting one. Colin Meads, the great All Black lock, said that one of the reasons the Lions won in New Zealand in 1971 was because they stopped believing in fairytales. I am with Meads on this. You are either in fantasy land or unwilling to face facts if you think this England performance has been anything other than a disgrace. Back on planet earth, things will not get any better for England from here. The complacency, the total inability to deal with the slightest pressure, the self inflicted wounds before and during the test, the woeful technical flaws of batsmen and bowlers now exposed by a (relatively weak) Australian team, the abject surrender of the initiative, the chronic lack of professionalism - this is the hard reality of history repeating itself yet again.

    But hey ho, the WAGs are in town, so why should the players bother? Shows their sense of priorities really - they don't give a stuff about the rest of us shivering back home, waiting for some good news to cheer us up.

  • Comment number 70.

    The English team is a bit like the Euro, a strange conglomeration of elements which could work together well, but starts to fragment under pressure.

  • Comment number 71.

    England so dominated the last Test match and a half that one is left wondering whether the course of the Perth Test has been decided by some dodgy betting syndicate in the Far East. Of course it hasn't (has it?) because what we have witnessed is merely a change of luck compounded by a few players' change of form. Funny old game, cricket.

  • Comment number 72.

    Strauss, who always has the befuddled demeanor of a dachshund trying to get up a set of stairs,is only capable of captaining a successful side will not be able to instill any confidence in a team on the verge of a thoroughly embarrassing loss.He doesn't possess that touch of charisma and passion to agitate and cajole the best out of this loathsome lot. In the words of the great Aussie songwriter Paul Kelly, it's all downhill from here.

  • Comment number 73.

    "only tail-enders between them and crushing victory."

    That's not a very fair or accurate description of Bell and Prior.

  • Comment number 74.

    #34 & #69 - thanks for the reply. I think what I meant was that your rant was disproportionate to the importance of a game of cricket in the grand scheme of things, but we may have to disagree as to what that importance is! I tend to the view that most sport doesn't really matter very much, although I would readily accept that if it doesn't matter at all, there's no point doing it.
    I think it's unhelpful to turn on a team during the course of one bad game during what is generally acknowledged to be a good run of results, and to question everything from their ability to their virility, taking in their courage and motivation on the way. Until England fans get better at treating the twin imposters the same (see "If" by Rudyard Kipling), this sort of bipolar hormonal hysteria in response to our good days and bad days alike will continue.
    Can't people simply acknowledge and enjoy the fact that this is a contest between two, at best, slightly better than average teams, during the course of which, the advantage is likely to change hands many times?

  • Comment number 75.

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

  • Comment number 76.

    So wish we could finish off series' agains the best opposition when we have one foot on their throats. Still confident we will take the series 2-1 or 3-2 but same as in '09 and in South Africa last year, something seems to happen when we go in front and get blown away just as quickly as we went ahead.

    I like KP a great deal but if only he could do for England what Hussey has done for Australia and follow up a big ton with a run of more decent scores, compared to a double ton followed by 0 and 3 and a truly awful shot...shame he didn't save the flash car stunt until the series was won. All about perception.

  • Comment number 77.

    Andrew Strauss, diary entry Dec 18: DAMN!...

  • Comment number 78.

    #23 I e-mailed TMS on this point at the end of play. It didn't matter if Anderson got out; it was critical that Collingwood didn't. Colly set off for a run from the fifth ball, Anderson refused. Colly walked down and had words with him, not, I imagine, totally friendly, then went back and got out to a silly shot. With a Colly & Bell partnership, a faint hope. Without it, none. I hope that Strauss set Anderson straight on what his role is. Cricinfo were right, I don't think the BBC covered this properly.

  • Comment number 79.

    Good blog, but the assertion that only Chris Tremlett has come close to performing at his peak appears to ignore Ian Bell. An excellent knock in the first innigs, techincally excellent once again and only losing his wicket, when deciding to go for his shots having realised the tail was collapsing around him. Unfortunately, what opportunity has he tomorrow, other than wait and watch as five more wickets go in front of him. Move him up the order now and give hime the chance to bat with batsmen, rather than bowlers, who wish they could bat.

  • Comment number 80.

    No sex before a game! Sex and sports do not mix! The wives and girlfriends should have stayed in England (or in a different Aussie city till the match was over).

    It is not funny, either!

  • Comment number 81.

    We're playing the aussies in Ozzie land for gawds sake, did some of you really expect a whitewash? And is it really the end of the world that they won a test on their own soil??? Reading some of these comments its like we've lost the series already. It's interesting to note people's reactions to single results. There does'nt seem to be a lot of looking at the bigger picture with cricket fans. I've noticed the same with the australians. Lots of over reacting over one result. I'm still optimistic. We were always going to lose at least 1 test there, and lots of people said it would be the WACA.

    With everything to play for in the series the last thing I'm thinking is that losing 1 test is a disaster, far from it. After Adelaide I didnt think we were world beaters, just like after Perth I wont be believing that Australia are "back". Those kind of extremes are for those not looking at the bigger picture.

    It will all average out in the end (the series). And I believe it will average out in England's favour, I trully do.

  • Comment number 82.

    So it was sympathy yesterday & now feeling sorry for ourselves today.

    Cricket is the most unpredictable game to forecast & that is why it is such a fantastic sport. 22 players over 5 days of cricket & so many spectators with so many twists & turns.

    A side can be an 11 who pull together & make it.

    Another just a couple hold them together & then another one comes to dinner & eats the lot.

    Guess which is which. Hold your breath which will it be in the next two games. I think Australia have woken up & England will have to be at there best plus much more.

    Tactically I would put Ian Bell to number 4 Pieterson at 5 & bring in Eoin Morgan for Collingwood at 6 who,apart from catching, is past his best.
    Shezhad for Finn as at the moment the bowlers are not balanced & need variety a skidding character a little bit like Johnson. Shezad seems to me the type of character who performs best when he has to be competitive.

    But I suspect it will be the same 11 for the next test. I believe in playing your best in form players at the time. No point in playing an out of form player. Nothing like competition without it the out of form player has nothing to work at. The captain & manager will soon know when the out of form player is back on song.

    Win or lose this is exciting cricket at its best.


  • Comment number 83.

    Yes Anderson should have taken the single on offer but that is no excuse for Collingwood's shot selection. I keep hearing the man is the one you want under pressure but rarely see it. The Aussies set him up by putting him on the back foot & he just doesnt cope, you could see it coming a mile off.

    Warne said something interesting in commentary, your stats dont tell the full picture its how & when you get the runs & some of our players are falling into this trap of beefing up their averages when nothing is at stake.

    The worst thing is that we have given the Aussies all the encouragement they need to speed up the MCG next week as we just do not seem to cope on quick wickets at present, flat track bully is a tag we may get stuck with.

    We can still do it, they are not a great Aus side but they will be feeling more confident thatn ever & we only have ourselves to blame.

    We had 2 days to bat out but we seemed to want to get it done in a hurry, strange decisions.

  • Comment number 84.

    I really feel sorry for the english. You need to have massive mental edge over australia to overcome them in their backyard, which they had till the 2nd day of this test. England was all over Australia like stink on a monkey. All they had to do was bat through the day. Johnson's wickets on that day not only will lead his team to victory, but back into the series as England will loose big time. Now they can't possibly win the Ashes with the mental damage caused by the aussie bowlers. The worse Aussie team in 20 years will beat the best English team (to visit Australia) in 20 years. The english team will have to live with that for the rest of their life. They will remember back to that fateful 2nd day when from 0/78, all hell broke loose. They will think, Oh all we had to day was bat through the day. The ONLY thing in their favour is how badly they lost at Headingly and came back from nowhere to final the 5th one for the Ashes. That should give them confidence. But only reason they won the 5th test was that sensational session with broad taking 5 wickets out of nowhere. Best of luck England and hope you can pick up the shattered pieces

  • Comment number 85.

    those media hacks who were feeling sorry for Australia have got what they wanted - a competitive series. Why can't we just give them a thrashing for once - to heck with this competitive nonsense. We have suffered horribly at their hands in the past. Now we are struggling against a side with one bowler who has performed in one match, and a quality batsman who was about to be axed (with the support of a couple of reasonable batters). If we don't retain the Ashes these same idle hacks will be the first to condemn the side which lost to the worst Australian squad in living memory. The rot set in on the first afternoon thanks to this very British inclination not to rub it in; now we have some job to wrestle momentum back............and Punter has yet to make a contribution. All looking rather grim now. Thanks Aggers et al!

  • Comment number 86.

    Again I press the BBC's "Match Scorecard" link (see #62 above) and still the scorecard is frozen at the end of Day 2 with Australia 119 for 3. Has the person responsible gone on Christmas leave a week early?

  • Comment number 87.

    A picture paints a thousand words, reminds the old adage.

    After rising this morn, and before knowing what had transpired overnight, I turned on the Net to BBC Sports to see the pained look on Andrew Strauss' face and that said it all.

    Reading through the sordid details became only academic!

    Do you believe in miracles?

    Well, perhaps Matt and Ian can stall all day today and bring it home, heroically, like Roman gladiators, before lunch on ther final morning.

    Yeah right! wishful's all but over save the post mortem! Alas...beware of the wounded tiger's lethal jaws and claws...grr!

  • Comment number 88.

    I'm always amazed at the british public's attitude to their national sporting teams - ok England haven't batted at their best and a couple of players have thrown their wickets away, but surely Australia should be given some credit. They've come back from a beating and fought - even when 5 down in the first innings. England have done fastastically well to be where they are in the series and possibly have been a little complacent this match, but to nowhere near the extent that people are saying. Oz have bowled and (partly) batted well - England have (partly) bowled well and batted badly. It happens in cricket. Lets move on to the MCG and hope England get back to playing as well as they did in the last match.

  • Comment number 89.

    Poms are dead in the water, your much loved momentum is blown. 3-1 to Aus!

    But nice to see the misogynists show their red necks

  • Comment number 90.

    Looking forward to marks out of 10 for this game Tom and I hope you are as forthright about England's batsmen as you were about Aus after Adelaide.

    On a positive note. Ponts is still the Aussie skipper and only one more decent performance from us should retain the ashes. I don't think Australia were worldbeaters in this game. Just England were useless.

  • Comment number 91.

    There ain't no such thing as momentum. They thrash us at Headingly last year and we won the next test. We annihilate them at adelaide and they will win the following test.
    The series is all square and England is (just) the better team. They can't speed up slow wickets quite that soon in Melbourne and Sydney. Don't panic.
    Don't go over the top castigating the team.

  • Comment number 92.

    Playing somebody of Bell's class at 6 is just ludicrous, Colly needs to be replaced by Eoin Morgan, afterall Morgan cannot exactly do any worse. People talk about Colly's fielding and bowling but Colly's primary role in the team is to score runs, something he is failing miserably at. Also Finn was pretty poor at the Waca, we should give Shahzad a go, at least he can offer some reverse swing with the old bowl. The team should be at Melbourne:

    1. Strauss
    2. Cook
    3. Trott
    4. Pieterson
    5. Bell
    6. Morgan
    7. Prior
    8. Swann
    9. Tremlett

  • Comment number 93.

    People will always support their team (or political party) and try to invent positives, even when it is blatantly obvious they are doomed.
    Over the past few weeks I have read about the doom of Australia cricket and how the future looks bleak.
    The fact is the opposite is true. Ponting's form will come back. You don't beconme the 2nd highest run scorer in history through a fluke, he isn't "on the way out" (remember what you want is different from what will happen)
    Australia fielded terribly in the 1st two tests, they merely have returned to the standard we expect. The fielding will only get better, creating more problems for England. Johnson hasn't had a sudden rush of form, he has merely regained form, to (again) what we expect.

    England should have lost the 1st test, they aren't the better team on paper nor on the field. They have played ONE better test out of 3 so far. (A test Australia played terrible all round)
    Melbourne is't a slow pitch (look at the games played their so far this season....and also look at Adelaide,(this seasons 1st class games) it also isn't slow

  • Comment number 94.


    Great Blog. As an Aussie in London life has been pretty tough lately. If we finish it off tomorrow then that will be welcome relief. To be honest though, I am not sure that a victory will carry over to us suddenly playing like a 'new team'. I have a feeling England will bounce back from this and in reality the pressure is on Australia to counter that.

  • Comment number 95.

    I 'll remind people of Ashes 2009

    The Aussies blew England at Headingley and the series was 1-1 and there was the Ashes was lost

    Then Broad did one devastating spell at the Oval and Trott consolidated it with a century and knocked the stuffing out of the Aussies

    It then required a limping Flintoff throw to run out Ponting and England won the match


    For England play for a bit of pride at least...if Aussies are going for attacking fields tomorrow there will be plenty of room to whack the ball around

    Aren't people forgetting Australia still need to win both tests to be certain England just a victory in one of the two is enough

    As for Hussey..he's extraordinary will fail eventually just like Cook's did this test so the Aussies need their other batters to step up

    As for Johnson the WACA is his favourite pitch with the extra bounce so it remains to be seen if he can do it at other wickets

    For England

    Bell needs to go at No 5 and Colly at No 6

    If Finn is tired then Shezad should come in unless they want to shore up the batting with Bresnan

  • Comment number 96.

    It's hard to knock Colly because he has real grit and determination, but he has to go. For years now his batting form has been dire only to be saved by the odd brilliant innings, but once every 2 years isn't good enough. He defines the phrase walking wicket, the sad fact is his technique for a test batsmen is so poor that any decent delivery can get him out.

  • Comment number 97.

    I find it hilarious that England go 5 down and then everyone goes mad to say that Australia will win.
    We still have Prior, Bell, Finn, Swann, Tremlett and Anderson is out on the field at the moment.
    Prior and Bell could still bat the next 2 days out if they wanted but watching our guys play silly shots still frustrates wonder why the Batsman bother going out to play the most ridculous shot...well outside the stumps, they are expecting to be caught.....why?

  • Comment number 98.

    ANyone who seriously thought the Aussies were dead and buried hasn't learn anything from the last 20 odd years. However before we start jumping to rash dropping of players etc. Please remember that England of old. We have won one test and performed better than them in the other.
    This wicket is one on which we have never done well it is extremely bouncy and is not turning. So comments that Anderson and Finn have lost it are just plain dumb. Swann hasn't bowled well because its not a his sort of surface to be honest very few spinners would bowl well on this, even those mentioned by troll. Warne would but then he is a big turner of the ball.
    I wouldn't get too woried just yet, MCG is going to be a different surface we'll see how well Johnson bowls on that. He has been very very good here but then the conditions hav helped him swing it, when it doesn't swing lets see what plan b is if there is one.
    If we do drop Collingwood and he should not have been out Anderson had an easy run to protect him (his job) and turned it down. Bresnen is the better choice.
    Typical fair weather fans of the england team a couple of bad days in a 30 day series and they are already calling for heads.
    Troll you were wrong about the first two tests you are living proof that even blind squirrels find nuts every now and again. We'll see by the end of this when england have won the ashes and you disappear back into the hole you crawl out of twice a day to annoy people

  • Comment number 99.

    Il Leone

    Exactly I have heard the doom mongers do this before. It has swung a lot at the WACA and thats helped Johnson. Remember when it didn't swing first test we hit him so hard he was dropped!
    Sydney should be our test, MCG not so sure. For the doom mongers if its 1-1 after 5 we retain the ashes but it won't be I predicted 3-1 I will go for 2-1 now to England

  • Comment number 100.

    @ FoxesofNuneaton wrote:
    I find it hilarious that England go 5 down and then everyone goes mad to say that Australia will win.

    Aaahhh that's so sweet.

    I wish I could share that optimism but at the moment I feel like Justin Langer at the start of the last day of the last test. i.e. "I don't want it to rain to save Australia - this is how legends are made"

    At tiny ember of hope that we'll see "legends made" burns inside me but cold reality says no, write this one off.

    Like previous posters let's hope ultimate victory will all the sweeter for being hard earned over the whole series


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