Stop me if you’ve heard this before. England won the draw, Vince and Stoneman started but couldn’t continue, Cook didn’t make it to 50, neither did Jorut (obviously). So England looked like they were going to do a good job but screwed up in the end. The only bit of a surprise was that the dog wasn’t hit until the last two times this time. Often, the futility of our efforts is revealed earlier.
Unfortunately, I think we also know how the next chapter reads: England’s low ranking collapsed – so let’s go from a relative strength of 228-3 to a poor 280 overall – and then Australia amassed 500 points, Steve Smith scored 450 of them. Nathan Lyons then pushed Australia to an innings win on Day 4, taking more wickets in the ban than Mohn Ali had in the entire series.
Despite a 4-0 loss in the series – avoiding a whitewash as MCG’s poor positioning allowed Cook to score once – Tom Harrison declared that all was well and no scrutiny was needed as we could win the upcoming ODI. He then disbanded the regional tournament entirely in favor of a new T10 Champions Cup featuring the top eight teams from the city’s new T20.
Sorry…I was a little rushed there. As England’s batsmen seem to do so often. What the hell was Root thinking when he smacked the ball into his leg with 5 minutes left in the game? Has anyone else spontaneously caught fire at that moment? Instead of kicking the cat, I burned it.
Then there was Jonny Bairstow’s decision to reject the Night’s Watch. Yes JB, it’s good to take responsibility, but aren’t you following the show? If you give fate a chance to kick your gonads, it obviously will. oops.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, however. We are almost certainly doomed, not absolutely doomed. I’m slightly optimistic for two reasons: (a) the pitch should be fit for tomorrow’s batting, and Starc is clearly not 100% fit (so the tail might not be decisively thrown away), and (b) I have a dream at the end of Moeen Ali Score a night of the century!
While I fully understand that a cricket blogger’s dream isn’t always a reliable harbinger of success – the Tests took place in the middle of the Vietnam War and the rest of the England team were old school friends of mine – there’s no reason to be optimistic about this winter. So I see this dream as a useful straw. I’ll hold on to it like an alcoholic clutching his last bottle of absinthe at the store.
The other talking points on Day 1 were Root’s decision to hit the ball first — a likely 50/50 decision given that Jimmy Anderson probably swung a lot in the first quarter — and Dawid Malan’s continued success.
Given that we picked two spinners, I thought hitting the ball first might be the right move. However, if Mo and Maran fail to form a partnership tomorrow, we face the prospect of Australia striking out on Days 2 and 3, when the pitch may be at its truest. I think after Joe’s fiasco in Adelaide, if he does, if he doesn’t, he deserves to die too.
It’s a pity that Stokes was unable to play, and Walkers was also injured. England’s strength over the past four years has been our bottom-to-center batting. The team we’re using for this game reminds me of the darker days of Fraser, Giddings, Tufnell and Malcolm. Conceivably, the series results (0-4) will be very similar as well.