The Kiss of Death

I have arrived safely on the Gold Coast, as I make my four yearly pilgrimage to andewg’s house – just to watch cricket. Happily installed, we watched the entire first day (except for a few balls). Don’t worry – I’m not going to give it to you blow-by-blow.

The summary is that it was more of the same. It looked like the first Test and most of 2005. England batted first, were well on top at tea, surrendered some ground in the final session and we will come back tomorrow and see what happens.

I’ll share a few interesting moments. Three times during the day, the “kiss of death” was applied to poor old England. The first was to Bopara. Hilfie came on about an hour before tea and started to swing the ball prodigiously. Once he managed to get his line and length right, we was very difficult to handle. Half way through an over of beautifully shaped outswingers, I comment to andrewg that Hilfie was bowling just like Alderman. Andrewg wisely pointed out that Clem would now bowl an in-ducker. I thought, “If only Hilfenhaus could do that.” Wouldn’t you know it, the very next ball, Hilfie bowled a perfect in-ducker and even more incredibly, Billy Doctrove gave his second lbw of the day.

As Australia bowled Michael Clarke from one end, seemingly to hurry the arrival of the new ball, I commented, “Wouldn’t it be a bonus for Clarke to pick up a wicket.” You need to understand that andrewg barracks for England because he hates Ponting. Fair enough. So I say these things to stir him up. The spinners had not looked like taking a wicket, even though Ponting had one bowling from one end for almost four hours. At any rate, two balls later, Collingwood had a moment and holed out to mid-on. Brilliant captaincy by Ponting.

And it was Beefy himself jinxing Freddie Flintoff. When the score reached 5-333, Botham observed that it was Nelson. And also that Nelson had claimed a wicket at 222. Flintoff duly edged to second slip and it was 6-333.

Back to the spinners. I cannot fathom why the spinners operated for four hours. Hauritz was injured after 8.3 overs (they found a new use for hotspot as Strauss scorched a hot caught and bowled back to Horrie – yes the ball did appear to collect Horrie’s spinning fingers at about 200 km/h, which is probably why one was dislocated). It made sense for North to finish the over. I wonder if Ponting realised that he only had to finish the over, and not the entire session. But there is more – North came back on straight after tea and ended up bowling 16.3 overs unchanged. And was then followed by Pup. There were 29 overs of straight spin from one end.

The reason I’m criticising this is that mid-way through the middle session, Hilfenhaus started swinging the ball. Until then, the medium pacers had looked ordinary. Once Hilfie started swinging it (which was just after Johnson conjured a wicket from nowhere and Pietersen was fresh at the crease) , why on earth didn’t Ponting see if Siddle and MJ could swing it, too? In fact, both of the bowlers swung the ball and took wickets when they next bowled.

You’re all probably bored by now so I shall close with some trivia.

Trivia: Who is the that impressive looking West Indian sitting in the English rooms? Most of you would know that it is Ottis Gibson, England bowling coach. But who is Ottis Gibson? No, he is not formerly a Motown performer. He is a West Indian pace bowler, who played two Tests for the West Indies. One in 1995 (at Lords) and one in 1999. He also played County cricket for Durham, Glamorgan, Leicestershire and Staffordshire, it’s not the most startling CV I’ve seen.

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