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Aussie decline stirs up mixed emotions

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Tom Fordyce | 11:40 UK time, Thursday, 16 December 2010

Perth, Western Australia

There was a moment just after lunch here at the Waca when some England supporters briefly experienced the strangest and most unusual of emotions.

The catalyst was the fall of Australia's fifth wicket. There were just 69 runs on the board. The emotion? Sympathy.

It didn't linger long. Half-centuries from Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin, and less predictably Mitchell Johnson, allowed them to recover from total ignominy to mere significant distress at 268 all out, with England's openers closing the gap to 239 by the close.

While it lasted, however, it felt both enjoyable and slightly improper, like flirting with your best mate's attractive new girlfriend or reading a work colleague's copy of Heat magazine.

Many things are supposed to happen before England cricket fans feel sorry for Australian batsmen, including the sun reversing round the moon and Geoff Boycott admitting he's got something wrong.

That it happened at all, on a ground where England have won just one of the last 11 Ashes Tests, is an indication of how completely the traditional Ashes balance of power seems to have shifted.

Almost nothing Australia have tried in this series has worked out. Almost everything England touch turns to gold.

The hosts brought in Phil Hughes and Steve Smith to bolster their struggling batting. They scored a total of nine runs between them. England brought Chris Tremlett in for the injured Stuart Broad, and he bowled with pace, fire and pin-perfect accuracy to blow away three of the opposition's top six.

Every tiny nick or edge from an Australian bat this summer has been pouched, often with remarkable skill, by an English fielder. On a normal day, Graeme Swann's two-handed take above his head at second slip to see off Haddin would have been catch of the day, but so spectacularly splendid was Paul Collingwood's one-handed effort at third slip to bad Ricky Ponting that someone would have had to take one between their teeth to top it.

Paul Collingwood's slip catch to dismiss Ricky Ponting was a breathtaking moment - photo: Getty

For those lilly-livered tourists who still felt benevolent towards Australia at the end, there were former England internationals, long-suffering and still carrying the scars, to put them right.

"I played in seven Ashes series and lost all seven, and that's why I don't feel sorry for them in the slightest," 133-Test veteran Alec Stewart told me.

"As an England player, or an England supporter, I'm loving it. Everyone should be. If and when we start to dominate, cash in.

"I know what they're going through, but don't anyone feel sorry for Australia. Why would you want to feel sorry for the opposition, whether it's Australia or anyone else? Never feel sorry for the opposition. Never take your foot off their throat.

"When you've got a side down, keep them down. Yes you want to see a contest, but it still will be a contest, because Australia are a proud nation. But when you've got them on the ropes, keep them there. Have no sympathy for them at all."

What saved Australia from being knocked out, just as in the first two Tests, was the batting of Hussey and Haddin.

Hussey has been responsible for almost a third of his team's runs in the series so far, and is averaging almost bang on 100. Add in Haddin's 257 runs at 64 and the pair have scored roughly half Australia's overall run total.

This was Hussey's fifth consecutive score of fifty or more against England, only the second time in Test history that an Australian has done that. The other bloke? Some chap called Mike Hussey.

What will disappoint both the stalwarts was that, this time at least, they did not push on to the big score that might have dragged their side to safety. Hussey's dismissal on 61 came from a fine drifting, turning ball from Swann, but Haddin gave his wicket away with a wild adrenalized drive when both he and his partner Mitchell Johnson looked well set.

For all Australia's hopeful bluster in the build-up to this Test, theirs felt like a team picked on optimism rather than logic. Hughes has been in poor form in domestic cricket this season and averages 20 in first-class cricket at the Waca. Smith averages 17 on this ground.

"I've been told that I've got to come into the side and be fun," Smith said a few days ago. This was a performance more whoopee-cushion than beaming smiles. But the established stars above him in the order were arguably more culpable.

Hussey has been by far and away Australia's best batsman in the series so far - photo: Getty

"The shots that Ponting and Clarke got out to were just poor shots," says Stewart, here in Perth as an expert summariser for BBC Radio 5 live. "They are both experienced players, but they're in bad form.

"That just wasn't a Ponting shot. On another pitch, you could play that. But this was a classic Waca dismissal - the sort of shot that you expect from a visiting player who only bats on it every four years.

"It's hitting only a fourth or fifth stump, so he's tried to hit it off the back foot through cover. But because of the extra bounce, instead of hitting it off the middle of the bat, it's hit higher on the bat and taken the outside edge.

"Clarke's shot was worse. It was awful. He wasn't even trying to score off it. To me that is a man in bad form, and I think he has been all series.

"He's wary of the bouncing ball - he's made it known that he's been working on it in the nets, and that means he's looking more for the short ball than anything else. He's thinking, 'Is it short, no...' and by the time he's thought, 'Ah, no, shouldn't have played it', he's nicked it.

"We talking about bowling at a fourth stump, but the ball from James Anderson that got him out was only just hitting the seventh stump. He wasn't doing anything with it - he just hung his bat out there.

"All of a sudden you're four wickets down, and you very rarely recover from there. Hussey's played well, Haddin and Johnson have played well. But the big guns, the ones you'd expect to be making centuries, have gone, and they've exposed the rest of the batting while the ball still has its shine and the wicket is still fresh."

How bad a score was the Australian total on this pitch? The Waca does not traditionally produce big first innings totals. The average here in the last 10 Tests is 304. Australia also produced a worse return four years ago, when they were dismissed for 244.

What happened next? They won that one by 206 runs to recapture the Ashes inside 11 days of cricket. Hussey was the first innings top scorer in that game too.

History, however, is unlikely to repeat itself. There is no Adam Gilchrist this time to lay waste to England's bowlers in the second innings; Clarke, who made 135 in partnership with him, was on a very different trot then.

England's batsman on this tour have been in unprecedented run-making form. The pitch, green at the start, was playing beautifully at stumps. Australia picked an attack based on winning the toss and bowling, not chasing the game on days two and three when batting conditions should be at their best.

No side has ever won an Ashes Test at Perth having been behind on first innings. Should England's batsmen once again make the most of the opportunity created by their bowlers, it would be a brave man who bet against that record remaining in place.


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  • Comment number 1.

    All about the England first innings. Rack up another 500+ and we're hot favourites, have our own problems and struggle and the Aussies are right back in this. First couple of hours crucial.

    And no sympathy, save that until it's over :P

  • Comment number 2.

    Sympathy ? ... are you kidding ?

    For an Aussie there's only one thing worse than a whingeing pom .. a gloating pom !


  • Comment number 3.

    I think the only Englishmen you've been talking to who feel sorry for the Aussies are ones that are slightly inebriated.

    Me, I'm loving it. Feel sorry for them? You've got to be kidding, did they ever express any sorrow every time they mopped the floor with us? Some people just like to hand-wring, it seems.

    Sympathy is for the weak. I for one am ruthlessly enjoying what I'm hearing.

    Honestly, sympathy for the Aussies. I've not heard owt so daft in a long time.

  • Comment number 4.

    Another good result for England after day 1, even if the bowling itself wasn't always at its best. Great to see Tremlett stepping into the breach created by Broad by taking three wickets. Hopefully he can sustain the performance today into the future and provide an additional option for England.

    Anyone who doesn't appreciate how good Collingwood's catch, and how much that helps the team shouldn't call themselves a cricket fan. I haven't yet seen the catch in motion, and have only seen the photo above, but it looks absolutely stunning. Catches win matches, and by restricting Ponting yet again, Collingwood has helped give England a great chance. Imagine the morale boost the rest of the players must get from him, and the inspiration a moment like that must provide.

    He may not have been in as cracking form with the bat as the rest, although his opportunities have been very limited, but you really can't underestimate the importance of a catch like that, particularly when it helps to dismiss the opposition's captain.

    Keep the foot on the Aussie throats and bat them into the ground tomorrow, and for as much of day three as possible too. Lets see Australia try and survive for 2 to 2 1/2 days. Not a chance they could manage it with the mindset most of their players have right now. Even Hussey will fail at some point, and nearly did in Adelaide but for the difficult chance Anderson dropped when Hussey was on just three.

  • Comment number 5.

    Tom, Mitchell Johnson scored one more run than Hussey, making him top scorer in this innings.

    Sorry to be a pedant and kibosh your omen.

    On topic, I feel no sympathy for them, and am with Alec Stewart all the way.

  • Comment number 6.

    i started watching cricket back in the early 90s as a kid and saw english cricketing idols reduced by a swaggering australian team time and time again, every time you thought they were down they came back to win (when they weren't already winning), i choke on my cornflakes at the idea of sympathy for the australian team :) :) :) :D. Also it's great to see such a good English team - far more to the point !

  • Comment number 7.

    Sympathy?! Are you kidding?!

    Maybe, just maybe, I might feel sympathy if we had bowled them out for 150 or under 268 is another matter entirely.

    But who am I kidding, I would be more likely to point the finger, laugh, and enjoy the feeling for as long as possible.

    A 5-0 white wash, now that's something to evoke sympathy - I am 100% with Alec Stewart on this one - keep the foot to the throat!

    If I have sympathy, it's for Ponting, and Ponting alone. Ponting is one of the best batsmen of his generation, and has been a pleasure to watch when in form - to see him in such poor form, captaining a below-par Aussie line-up, is sad.

    Hats off to Tremlett - vindicated his selection and in so doing achieved what none of the new Aussie selections could.

    If our batsmen can knuckle down and post 400+ the game should be beyond the Aussies.

  • Comment number 8.

    This flucky England Team just keep on rolling.

    Big morning session tomz then its time to put the bubbly on ice, the Ashes are coming home. Well done england another great effort, i wouldn't say we even got into top gear and we still steam rolled them bar the tail. But that to me shows that this wicket is actually a belter to bat on that the Ozzy top order are not good enough. ( Ponting and Clark ware fantastic players but i think there time at the top as come to an end). As i say Big session tomz, you never know there powder puff attack might bring them back in this game. We should be looking easily to 400+

  • Comment number 9.

    No sympathy here either!

    Another very fine day in the field for England on this tour. It's all about tomorrow though; if we can get to 330-4 by stumps tomorrow I would be very confident that we could build a significant 1st innings lead. If we do that Australia will not win the match and it is likely we will. However, after many years of watching Australia I will not write them off just yet!

    That man Hussey scored runs again, as did Haddin too. How on earth must Haddin feel when he sees Steve Smith at No6 on the teamsheet?! Haddin could play as a batsman at the moment.

    Yet again, Hughes has been found out. Why don't the Aussies pick Marsh to open; isn't he averaging 50+ in Aussie domestic cricket this year?

    Finally, the Collingwood and Swann's catches were screamers; not sure Morgan or Panesar would have held onto them....

  • Comment number 10.

    500+ looks easy against their no-hope attack

  • Comment number 11.

    What a wonderful way to wake up with the Aussies at little for many. Shame we didn't really put the foot in and skittle them for less than 200. A wagging tail is often critical in the result.
    Collie's catch was a sight to behold, let's hope this gives him the confidence to score a ton and silence his critics.
    I bet that if the Aussies lose this one Punter is history. A shame to see him go but should he have really been there in the first place? Who's going to replace him as surely Clarke has to be dropped also....

  • Comment number 12.

    I must admit - the word sympathy in the title of the blog grabbed my attention, but that's about it.

    I know most England fans would've taken bowling them out for 268 on the first day, but from 69-5 I can't help thinking that we let themoff the hook a bit. Still, if England continue to bat as they have done, on what looks to be a good wicket, we should have a healthy first innings lead and wrap this one up without too much trouble!!

    Oh, and I thought Tremlett was excellent, especially on an Ashes debut.

  • Comment number 13.

    It makes such a change to wake up to all the good news from Australia that has been happening this winter!

    I would like to see a contest - but after we've already retained the Ashes!

    But Alec's right, you don't take your foot off their throat, actually what you do is jump on it! Need Cook and Strauss to dominate and really crush the Aussie moral.

  • Comment number 14.

    Roamer, lets' hope Colly doesn't need to score a ton after the top 4 do the business again.

  • Comment number 15.

    Aussies saved from total embarrassment by Hussey and Haddin again. I think we let them off the hook a bit though and should have got them for sub 200.

    Then again if you'd have told me yesterday they'd be all out for under 270 and in reply we were 30 without loss at the end of day 1, I'd have taken it.

    I think we'll have a better idea when we wake up tomorrow as to whether today was a good day or not. 300 odd for 3 and we're flying but we'll see. Am hopeful though as the wicket didn't seem that scary and the top order is in brilliant nick......

    Oh, and having an Aussie girlfriend, I have to feign sympathy.......:-)

  • Comment number 16.

    The only aussie i have sympathy for at the moment is Mike Hussey, and even that is at a stretch. He deserves better than what is aorund him at the moment. However, i am very much enjoying seeing the aussies on the ropes, and hoping we can keep our foot on the gas tomorrow and produce yet another excellent batting performance. If so I think this match and ashes are ours for the taking.

    Excellent bowling all round by the team, with everyone chipping in with crucial wickets, and excellent catching in the field. Swann's was great, but Collingwood's was special, even more so that it was Ponting he snared. It would have only been bettered if Strauss had held onto to his chance early on. All we need now is the batting to come good and hopefully Ponting will once again be saying how we bettered them in every department.

  • Comment number 17.

    But Warnie predicted Australia were going to win because England were complacent;perhaps he was complacent regarding England's complacency.
    I say 'perhaps'because I don't want to seem complacent.

  • Comment number 18.

    No chance of any sympathy from me. I grew up watching Ashes cricket and thinking that our players were absolute rubbish after seeing the Aussies pummel us so often. It's great to see them struggle so much and I hope it continues. I mean you only have to go back 4 years to the last series down under when we were whitewashed. It's not as if we've been spanking them for years, and they'll improve anyway (it's not like they can get much worse). But until they do I'm going to savour every minute of it and use ti to wash away the many humiliating performances they've dished out to us.

    Very good day's play from England and we certainly have the upper hand although as everyone knows we now have to turn that into a winning position by having a good day with the bat tomorrow. As we saw from Siddle in the first Test, one good spell is all it takes to swing the momentum back to the opposition. But if England continue to bat as they have been on this tour and the Aussies continue to struggle with line and length then it could be a very good day indeed. The forecasters are all saying the pitch will be at its best for batting on over the the next couple of days so it seems like it was a good toss to win. Shame the bowlers let the tail wag for as long as they did but still a very good start.

    Nice to see all the bowlers get in on the action as well. Finn was a little expensive and showed a bit of immaturity here and there but once again he will have learnt a lot from the day and still took a couple of wickets. Anderson once again showed how terrific he is swinging the ball around. Tremlett came in and didn't look out of place at all getting things started off brilliantly. And as for Swann he got the important wicket of Hussey at a ground where Warne struggled a bit. Hopefully if the picth starts to deteriorate he can play an even bigger part in the second innings. As for Collingwood's catch, well that is up there with the best slip catches ever taken and always will be. What made it even better here was that it was to take out the oppo skipper and pile even more pressure on a line-up already low on confidence.

    All in all a very good start once again from the bowlers and fielders. Now let's see the batsmen continue their good form and put us in a terrific position.

    As for sympathy, sorry but there's no chance of me even contemplating that emotion. This series isn't even nearly won yet, maybe when we've won 4 or 5 Ashes in a row I might start to feel like that but that's a long way off.

  • Comment number 19.

    Sympathy, no way, not yet. I'm still fearful of the aussies coming back into this series and the feeling wont go away until the Ashes are won and officially back on their way to England.
    I don't want to see a contest I would much rather a 500+ score on the board and a couple of days to bowl them out.
    Don't take your foot off their throat, stand on it with both feet, jump up and down, then give your someone a piggy back while you continue to jump up and down!

  • Comment number 20.

    A Rolling Stones title neatly captions your article Tom - Sympathy for the Devil?

    Sympathy for Australian cricket is much like the English Monarchy....the Aussies don't really want it but accept that it is part of their lives and can't change it anyway.

    An 8th consecutive "wonderful days cricket" for England but 20-odd years of Ashes torment still bite hard...lot of work to do.

    I for one will not let myself believe that Ponting and Clarke will continue to fail with the bat and Hussey won't convert a "start" - the question is merely will England have put the Ashes out of reach by then?

    Only that will give me true Satisfaction!!

  • Comment number 21.

    I feel sorry too, but for us, the followers of cricket.

    An Ashes series in Australia has always been a challenging task for England, and whichever team wins we enjoy a great spectacle. Somehow we're seeing less exciting cricket even if as an England supporter I'm excited at the possibility of retaining the Ashes.

    Oh, and of course I'm sorry that Ponting is playing as tho' he's at the end of his career as one of the all time great batsmen and Oz Captain.

    Cricket and at Club level cricket has until now been a sport where spectators can enjoy both teams and their performances - I hope it stays that way. There's nothing better than being in a bunch of Bangladeshi/Windies/Indian supporters at the Oval to receive a detailed examination of every player in both teams, wonderful!

  • Comment number 22.

    i dont feel sypmathy for Australia, but i do feel slight disappointment that they are in such a mess as we could have been in for a classic series rather than the whupping we are getting, and as a lover of cricket this would have been great. As a patriot though and, like all the above, a survivor of the last two decades of lashings - i am loving seeing us gubbing them.

    I lay the blame squarely at the feet of the Aussie selectors and administrators, joke selections, poor planning, forcing Bolly to go to the IPL, not forcing Clarke to take proper rehabilitation, the list is endless and doesnt square with the ethos built by Taylor, Waugh and the old order.

  • Comment number 23.

    1989 - first Ashes series I can remember - result - we got thrashed, this is then followed by 16 years of thrashing until 2005 and then normal service was resumed in 2006/07. A close win in 2009 and now here we are. Sympathy? No.

  • Comment number 24.

    Nice Article...However
    I have absolutely have no sympathy for the Aussies...
    Also I am getting rather annoyed with reading comments on different blog's and other articles of how the Aussies could improve.
    After years of childhood disappointments this is a marvel of a time English Cricket. Let's give them a good trashing...

  • Comment number 25.

    Why should anyone feel sympathy with people who were celebrating a 5-0 Ashes whitewash two days into the series and reciting "same old England"???

    For arrogance, it takes some beating!

  • Comment number 26.

    To be honest, it looks like the Ashes have been won after today - England will win this test, unless rain arrives for 3 days.

    England will also win the next 2 tests, again unless the weather sets in.

    England are playing at their best, they are out bowling, out batting, out fielding and out thinking Australia - every England player is playing well - very few Aussies are and that is why its so 1 sided.

    Australia have a massive rebuilding ahead of them and England's team is young enough to stay together for another 4 years probably, maybe with the exception of Collingwood.

    Absolutely everything is going for England and nothing for Australia, but thats what happens when you work hard, sometimes sport is like that.

    I'd be amazed if England drew any of the remaining games - they really are so far ahead, ite embarassing for Australia.

    Australia need to sit down and decide what they want to do in the future, have a 4 year plan and stick to it, no point dropping players after a couple of games, England have stopped doing that and look how they have reaped the benefits.

    Cook was supposedly under pressure coming into the series and he's scored a million runs!!

  • Comment number 27.

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

  • Comment number 28.

    The fact that two of the three stooges (according to Warne) could score runs shows how bad most of the aussie's top order are playing. England need to see off the opening burst tomorrow morning and then look to cash in on a very good batting wicket.

  • Comment number 29.

    Maybe Australia should look at importing some foreign talent into their country and stealing some Englishmen/South Africans or Indians - That might help them.

    It's all over, might as well bring everyone home after this test and save the BBC a fortune.

    I actually still can't believe how many BBC people are there, unbelievable, nice work if you can get it though.

    I wouldn't mind a 2 month fully paid trip to OZ!! I had to pay for my year there and thats why i'm so disappointed with the aussies, i expected more.

  • Comment number 30.

    The overconfidence expressed here and in other match reports is simply silly. Australia are not so bad that their top four will fail every time and England's top four are quite capable of failure.
    After failing to capitalise on having Australia at 69 for five, clearly if England don't make at least 400 in their first innings there could be a great deal of pressure on them batting last.
    Is everyone forgetting the first innings in Brisbane - England 260, Australia 481!

  • Comment number 31.

    Great post as usual Tom. I tend to come down on the Alec Stewart side of things - I'm in my mid-30s, so seeing us hammer the Aussies (and it's only 1-0 so far) is an experience I've not witnessed since I was a young lad back in 1985.

    I do however feel sorry for Ponting. Yet again he was dealt a bad hand by the selectors - Smith a number six? - and he continues to display honesty whenever he is in front of the cameras. For such an all-time great to have three losing Ashes series on his CV as his epitaph seems a little unfair.

    But hey, who cares when England are playing this well. As you said Tremlett was outstanding and indeed positively Sinatraesque on his test comeback and some of the catches were breathtaking.

    We're quite pleased, because we've been banging the drum for Tremlett's recall for quite a while...

    Day 1 at Perth dissected: Tremlett's Sinatraesque Comeback

  • Comment number 32.

    #25 spot on, it's hard to believe those blogs on days 1 and 2 actually happened!

    What a wonderful feeling it was waking up this morning bleary eyed, checking the score to see Australia picking up where they left off - under the cosh of a seemingly relentless England juggernaut

    The whole team are producing some brilliant cricket at the moment, I think England would be beating any side on current form

  • Comment number 33.

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

  • Comment number 34.

    Just remember Ausstalia scored 244 in the 1st innings at Perth 4 years ago and won the test by 200 runs. Lets just keep things in perspective until the ashes are safe

  • Comment number 35.

    Sympathy? - Open a dictionary and you'll find it between sh** & syphilis

    No quarter asked, and none given. That's what The Ashes is all about

  • Comment number 36.

    Paul Collingwood emphatically stated why he is an invaluable piece of the puzzle. The catch to dismiss Ponting is the stuff of true champions. It was world-class by all standards.

    For me, it was the turning point in the match. Ponting had looked to be in imperious nick up to that point. If allowed to settle, he could have caused some serious damage, unquestionably.

    Another good first-innings score would put England in a commanding position to win the series.

    The decision to field first was brilliant. The England skipper obviously saw something in the pitch and his bowlers did not disappoint. The Australians look very ordinary, a few loping steps behind their recent past of total world domination.

    The urn, happily, is traveling back to England in grand fashion.

  • Comment number 37.

    So Papa how do you see the next few days going/, how do you think Australia will win this?

    "Finn a decent County Trundler", I know you like to deal in facts so why don't you look at this trundlers Test stats, And then come back and tell me which other 21 year old started there Test career with as many wickets. What it shows to me is that Finn already has in his locker the ability to take wickets but does bowl a few bad balls. With experience these bad ball will start to decrease in numbers. I am sure that this is what Happened to arguably the best bowler in the world at the moment Mr (the One) Anderson

  • Comment number 38.

    Papa - foldaway chair set out, sandwiches by the side, flask of tea at the ready with a nice slice of battenburg, hooks baited and line cast....sit back and wait for the nibbles....

  • Comment number 39.

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

  • Comment number 40.

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

  • Comment number 41.

    #38 - spot on!!

  • Comment number 42.

    Papa, what about Swann? Surely you missed the fact how lucky he was to get Hussey out. It's as if the ICC brought the DRS in just for his benefit. Another lucky wicket for our no. 2 in the world average county tweaker. Can't believe we keep picking him. And as for his catch, that was a dolly, Monty would have caught that in his teeth.

  • Comment number 43.

    And as for Colly, not a bad catch, but he'll have to score a doube hundred to make up for the fact he's ginger

  • Comment number 44.

    Collingwoods catch was a fluke.

    Clarke was unlucky to get out.

    The tail enders showed just how weak Englands Bowling attack is.

    Tomorrow Cook and Strauss will be out early doors. Its not as though they have scored many runs this series.

    KP will be revealed as a woman and therefore ineligible to play in the mens team, Trott will quit Test cricket in the morning and Bell will decide he cant play in the same team as Collingwood because he wont return his late night calls.

    See, anyone can be papa for the day...although its hard to know who the real papa is.


  • Comment number 45.

    No mixed emotions here. Just one pure one: joy! I have as much sympathy with Ponting as I would have with a bulldog who was no longer able to bite me due to having lost his teeth!
    My son has only just got into cricket so if he wakes up tomorrow morning without one of our boys having banged 200, he'll be most disappointed!

  • Comment number 46.

    What is it with England and sport? Either its a story of being terribly pessimistic and hoping to put a jolly good show, but not expecting to win, or when they do achieve victories, they're over-confident and complacent, and expecting to lose at any moment so that they can feel reassured again that everything is right with the world.

    I wish a certain individual would just get a life. Go and annoy people somewhere else. All this nonsense on every single Ashes blog is beyond tiresome! To now have people saying that there is over-confidence with England is frankly daft. If you can't feel confident having gone 1-0 up, having "won" 8 days of Test Cricket in a row, and where the opposition is clearly demoralised, can you tell me when we should feel confident? Its timid to start worrying about being confident. England are in a great position, in all contexts right now. Okay, they may not necessarily be the best team of the last 10 years, and they have the occasional worrying batting collapse, but India apart, they are probably the second best Test Match team of the moment. Hell, we've even one our first ICC OD tournament, having brought home the bacon from the 20/20 World Cup.

    You don't think Australia has been successful for so many years by worrying when they were winning about feeling too confident going into a match? Don't be daft, course they didn't. They smelt the weakness in the other team, and trampled on it even harder the next match. The majority of matches England had been winning from 1989 up to 2005 had been when the series was already dead.

    Finn is clearly not a county trundler having, as I've already stated before, been one of the leading wicket takers in Test's this calendar year. The guy is young and can't be expected to at the top of his game everytime. He did manage to take a couple of wickets today though, which isn't bad for someone not at his best.

    Someone needs to grow up, and as I mentioned previously, end the ridiculous comments that have absolutely no foundation and are just childish and write something sensible, and constructive. If you can't do that, I would really love it if you could simply go.

  • Comment number 47.

    #44 hilarious!! I only realised after I did a double-take of the name :)

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

    The little man is suffering from a critical case of obsessive compulsive behavioral disorder.

  • Comment number 50.

    yes we let them off the hook but that pitch looked dead in the evening session. there was at least 1 ball an over after tea that got killed by the pitch to give the aussies a near enough free hit. i think if we see off the new ball it will be quite a simple task. no spinner also means they dont really have any variation unless clarke bowls

  • Comment number 51.

    #47 me too!

  • Comment number 52.

    Collingwood catch was ok... He wouldn't last a second out there in a real cricket match though.

  • Comment number 53.

    The wicket was perfect for spinners - Swann obviously is not that good only taking two wickets on a green seamer. Monty would have taken his catch...would have taken Collingwoods easily as well.

    What England need is someone with the all round abilities of Robert of the best fielders going. He could replace Collingwood.

  • Comment number 54.

    As with Sam, above, I tend to feign sympathy for my Ozzie girlfriend´s benefit. Actually, I feel quite symapthetic to her, as she doesn´t care where the Ashes are, yet all of her English colleagues are giving her stick. Other than that, I don´t want to see us letting up or being soft to the Ozzies at all. We really don´t need to patronise them as such. We´ve just got to find our barings and figure out how to react to being on top.

    Tom, I´m thoroughly enjoying your blogs. Particularly the insights from less than expected angles!

  • Comment number 55.

    Did let them off the hook a little but all out for 268 and Strauss/Cook successfully negotiated that tricky little spell. Fantastic position to be in at end of day 1.

    First 10 overs tomorrow are crucial. If Aussies get an early wicket or 2, could make things very nervy for England. If however Strauss & Cook can see off the new ball, expecting them to fill their boots and rack up big scores before Pietersen & Bell come in to just smash the Aussies out the game.

  • Comment number 56.

    #46 amen to that!

    #48 idiot - the catches were more than okay. Why do you continue to parade your ignorance so publicly? Mind you, having read some of your previous comments about non-cricketing issues on these cricket blogs, your ignorance doesn't start and finish on the subject of cricket. Can't you see that you are being consistently ridiculed on here? Is that really how you get your kicks?

  • Comment number 57.

    And while the papas are shamming, India is burning. 27-3 and trembling.

    After seeing how the fans of some other sides react to any kind of decent position in a Test, it is hard to believe that some people are reproaching the England fans for enjoying being on top.

  • Comment number 58.

    "Think the match is far from over & see it being 1-1 for Xmas!!" If you are wrong.....will you come on here and admit that you were incorrect again?

    See that Collingwood catch? Could anyone else in the England squad have made that catch? Think not.....

  • Comment number 59.

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

  • Comment number 60.

    How is noone noticing that in letting slip 69-3 to 268 all out is quite an appalling display from the English bowlers.It is reminicent of their own shaky past, unable to grasp the nettle.At 268 Australia can still easily draw or even win this and should that come to fruition it will be due in no small measure to Monday's insipid midiocrity from the bowling attack showing so much unnecessary benevolence.

  • Comment number 61.

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

  • Comment number 62.

    I prefer to talk about what has happened and is more probable to happen next.

    England have been really good, getting so many of the top order before the pitch flattened and the ball died.

    Australia are unlikely to take so many so quickly, so England should get a big lead. Another potential innings win on the cards?

    Sod fate and all this talk of 'the next hour is crucial'. The next hour is the only hour, all of them matter.

  • Comment number 63.

    Anyone feeling sympathetic or sorry for the aussies needs their heads testing. I'm 29 now, so have never experienced us being this dominant against the Aussies in almost 16/17 years of following cricket, the 2 series we did win were very close fought and very nerve wracking, to see us now doing what they did to us series after series after series is BRILLIANT, utterly utterly brilliant. I can only hope that in 15 years or so time it is the Aussies handing out medals to their team for being the first Aussie team in 15 years to win an Ashes series

  • Comment number 64.

    Has anyone put papa shango in an anagram generator? You should - far too rude to repeat on here but good fun.

    On a more serious note, it will be interesting to see how the pitch develops on days 2 and 3. If it does go dead as predicted then England will fill their boots in time for the Aussies to come and find a few demons lurking on days 4 and 5...although if it goes to plan then perhaps thinking about day 5 will be un-necessary.

    The Ashes wrapped up for Christmas - now thats a present i am looking forward to!

  • Comment number 65.

    #60 - no ones over looking it but why always look at the negative? England are in a good position at the moment so we're enjoying it :)

  • Comment number 66.

    papa shango, I am disapointed. You are normaly much better than so far today.
    I am disapointed we didn't roll them over for less than 200, had we done so it would have made a 4 day victory possible.
    I'l settle for an innings victory in 5 days though.
    As for sympathy,'thankyou for turning up' in 2006 was over the top and deserves a sporting reply.They are going to get it.

  • Comment number 67.

    @ #59 - Its funny how often the words 'heavily' and 'Robert Key' crop up in the same sentance. Collingwood over Key anyday!

  • Comment number 68.

    Having been on the receiving end of gloating, patronising insults for twenty years it will be a cold night in Hell before I feel any sympathy for Australia. I hope that we win this test by a good margin and repeat the dose a couple more times just to make the point good and hard.

    What I would like to know though is, what has happened to all those Aussie journalists writing triumphalist pieces about the youth and dynamism of Australia and its all round sporting and cultural superiority versus the exhausted Poms, locked in a cycle of social and moral decline.

    The sound of folk trying to rationalise the fact that they may not be the master race after all is very, very funny! I suspect that their will now be a huge fall-off in cricket support now as everyone flees to Aussie Rules Football. It has the same advantages as baseball has in the States in that you can hold a World Cup without the risk of inviting any other countries!

  • Comment number 69.

    #60 - there is always going to be resistance. In the summer just gone, England's tail produced plenty of runs.

    Tailenders these days are much more capable with the bat than they were 10 years ago.

    It probably should have been 230, but that's the way it goes.

  • Comment number 70.

    Having read many a good contribution throughout the 'Ashes Summer' it all comes back to one sad little buffoon with a knack for being silly. Please don't give him (and even that is a pure guess) any more exposure......

  • Comment number 71.

    Beating Australia is one thing; beating them in Australia is something else entirely ... and comprehensively dismantling them in this manner is moving things to an altogether higher level that transcends sporting competition.

    Ricky Ponting could be prove to be the Orson Welles of Australian captains.

  • Comment number 72.

    Average Players are you for real,

    Cook - got to 4000 runs quicker then any other englishman ( i would makes him above average),

    KP- You don't get voted MVP at the 2020 worldcup for being an average player

    Swann- Ranked the best spinner in the world. 2 wickets on a 1st day pitch at the wacca that’s about average for a spin bowler.

    Trot- average over 60 not bad for average player, we need more average players

    Anderson – has taken a few wickets in Oz this year and that’s not bad for a average bowler who can’t bowl outside of English conditions, and is ranked 3 in the world

  • Comment number 73.

    Sympathy for the Aussies that just might be a little patronising!
    That said Paul Collingwood's catch might have been the moment that decided the match and series.
    Punter was in agressive mood and history suggests that if he'd got his eye in, the Aussies might still be batting with a score of 300+.
    I can't wait for tomorrow morning because if Messrs Strauss and Cook provide an impressive first wicket stand then a lead of perhaps 150 can be taken into the second innings.
    Anymore than that? then I believe the series is effectively over.

  • Comment number 74.

    Sympathy? No. But I am worried that Test cricket maybe in decline. Australia revitalised a terribly stagnant game 20 years ago. They challenged West Indies supremacy, ramped up thé scoring rate, took fielding to a new dimension, reinvented wrist spin, &c. They made Test cricket arguably thé toughest team sport in the world. Now they are in decline.

    England will contest SA and IND in the next few years for bragging rights. We don't yet know how match-fixing will pan out. The game of Test cricket is on a knife edge at thé moment.

    I don't feel sorry for Australia in the maudlin sense brought on by a few beers. But I do lament their demise. Lovers of proper Test cricket havé much to thank Australia for.

    Someone recently wrote that England don't do genuinely 'great' teams. There's some truth in that. But neither do SA or IND. Rather, each generation turns out a couple of great players. The passing of Australia into shadow leaves little to laugh about.

    But that's hardly England's problem.

  • Comment number 75.

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

  • Comment number 76.

    Flippineck, feel sorry for them? Not in this lifetime. Should you feel a twinge of sympathy, just picture Glenn McGrath's smirking face. They walked all over the entire cricketing world for a decade, the most ungracious winners.

    Everyone has good and bad periods, it always flows back and forth, even with the Ashes. But honestly, could this be one of the best all-round England teams ever? Certainly in living memory.

    But I must say, big respect for Michael Hussey. Exemplary batsman, always has been-no arrogance, just get on with it. And they were going to drop him!

    I did feel sort of bad for Punter...until he had the absolute cheek to moan about sledging!

  • Comment number 77.

    Well I missed it so please enlighten me. And when you do send me the list of 7 better spin bowlers can you please explain how the ICC rankings system is malfunction again. Because these 7 spin bowlers don't appear above him. Very strange indeed

  • Comment number 78.

    #75 I've not seen a bed in here for a while.

    Having watched the Aussies pummel us for many years there should be no sympathy, no mercy. I for one will be delighted to see a 4-0 victory in Australia. I am not expecting England to dominate Australia for 15 years, but i will take it for this series and go from there.

  • Comment number 79.

    We need to start a campaign to keep Ponting as captain and the Aussie selectors in their jobs too. :)

  • Comment number 80.

    #56. Amen to that!

  • Comment number 81.

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

  • Comment number 82.

    Who wants to see the list of 7 spin bowlers better then Swann?

  • Comment number 83.

    Don't feed the troll.

    Swann getting a couple in the first innings bodes well for the second innings which should be more spin friendly.

  • Comment number 84.

    #81 let's just say no-one agreed, not on these blogs anyway

  • Comment number 85.

    Show me the money!.... sorry, list.

  • Comment number 86.

    #77 here is the list of people that agreed with papa

    Stevie Wonder
    The Abominable Snowman
    Lara Croft
    Harry Potter
    The GoCompare Man
    and Ian Chappell...but he will say anything for publicity

  • Comment number 87.

    LIST please!!!

  • Comment number 88.

    Oh, and Collingwood? I get tired of people saying he shouldn't be in the team, can't bat, etc. I wouldn't want him not to be there right now. Even if he doesn't produce, he gives something to the team, almost talismanic. He never moans, always gives his all (which can't be said for some in the past), and has had more than one very timely knock. And that catch, goodness!

  • Comment number 89.

    I for one expect them all to have cool rapper names as well as being top class spinners.

  • Comment number 90.

    please pondlife, let me feed the troll i like it.

    That was a ripper of a ball to get hussey today. legend

    whos been watching Swann's diary on ecb website? what a great bunch of players we have playing for england they make me so proud to be english.

  • Comment number 91.

    God, it never ends does it.

    I wish it were possible on here to block people whose comments you don't want to see. All these blogs end up being one long pointless battle between the village idiot, and those who can't tolerate the drivel spouted from said idiot's keyboard. It's truly been the only downside to the whole Ashes coverage. Just how many times can one person repeat that same nonsense...

    Not much point reading below the end of the blog anymore.

  • Comment number 92.

    Can you hear the Papa Sing NO NO, I have some very reasonably priced troll food available if you are interested. I take all major credit cards.....

  • Comment number 93.

    @ 91.

    I do agree with your sentiment, but to have a username which could be taken as a direct response to said drivel, and complain at the propogation of more drivel is kind of ironic.

    Did I just write drivel?

    I'm confused now....

  • Comment number 94.

    Hmm, Tom's sympathy for the Aussies suggests to me he is rather new to the game of cricket and remembers not the horrors of 1993. None of us old timers have a modicum of sympathy for that nation of gloaters.

  • Comment number 95.

    "That was a ripper of a ball to get hussey today. legend"

    Was a tiny bit worried after his first over went for ten runs, but next one got the result.

  • Comment number 96.

    #93 on a technical point of view, I believe you wrote drivel three times. You are probably right regarding the name, which could be inferred to be a response to "him". I'll think of something else...

  • Comment number 97.

    thats what makes Swann so dangerous as a bowler, most spin bowlers who get twonked in a over normally increase there pace the next ball, but not Swann more drift and slower balls is his way.

  • Comment number 98.

    Here's a thought would we already have won the ashes if their selectors had dropped Hussey before the first test? ;)

  • Comment number 99.

    #96 Whats in a name anyway

    I really fancy Cook to do well on this wicket. I think it will suit him down to the ground. KP as well should hammer some runs as well as long as he does not get overconfident.

    Overall i would expect England to have between 150 and 200 runs lead after the fist innings. I reckon England will have to bat again to wrap up the test on day 5, but i really cant see England not winning this test and retaining the Ashes.

    It might be a mute point but sympathy is usually deserved. I might have empathy with the Aussies at the moment knowing how it has felt like being an England supporter, but i am not prepared to transform that into sympathy just yet.

  • Comment number 100.

    Without going to the extremes of the people on here who are exercising caution to the point of being scared to go out of their suburban door in the morning for fear of possibly being killed by a stampeeding rhino, gloating can start when we have 300+ on the board. Calling a match after Day 1 is reckless to the point of insanity.

    No side has ever won at the WACA after conceeding a first innings lead. We must get past Australia's score losing as few wickets as possible and then we can start to enjoy the match. The Australian tail has shown that batting is far from impossible, but we have to concentrate now on batting Australia out of the match. Nothing less will do.


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