The first three days of the first Test have seen a dramatic turn around in the demeanor of the Australian cricket community. I will not harp on about the achievements of the team thus far, for there has already been much rejoicing, both on air and off. Credit is due of course, to Messrs Siddle, Hussey and Haddin. However, I would like to issue a cautionary note: Remember Cardiff.
In all of the euphoria of the 300 run plus partnership, good old Mark Taylor did remember Cardiff. A mountain of runs and a huge first innings lead did not result in a victory to Australia. The series was then lost. On the government broadcast, Roebuck also made the point that in 2009, most of the matches was dominated by one team. Cardiff, of course and the three matches that had results were all comprehensive victories. England is by no means out of this series, or indeed this match. I still believe that they field a better team than Australia. It is also worth remembering that they are made of sterner stuff than the teams of 1989 to 2003.
It makes an impression on me that in my above acknowledgements, it was necessary to list only three Australians. The game is almost half over and just three of the team have done outstanding things, while the rest have done little (half marks to Katich, I guess). Question marks were over the heads of all those three (at least in the media), along with most of the rest of the team, it has to be said.
Siddle is a good bowler but I don’t think he can perform such great deeds too often. Contrast his golden spell with Anderson yesterday. Anderson bowled an unplayable over to Hussey – an over in which Hussey would have been out had England not frivolously squandered their referrals – and had no result from a wonderful ten over spell. Hussey could have been out on 85, the record partnership should have been over while Australia was still behind, England would not have dropped their bundle and it would be a different ball game.
Whatever happens for the remainder of this game, I think it was a mistake to leave out Bollinger. Most thought he would be first picked if he was fit. Over the past 12 months, he has easily been Australia’s most potent bowler, averaging 22 in taking 46 wickets in ten Tests. The selectors will need to look at some under performing players who have big reputations. Michael Clarke’s first innings was painful (to Clarke as well, I’m sure – surely he was not fit to play). And Australia can’t afford to carry Johnson for another Ashes series. I know he had a sensational match with bat and ball in the preceding Shield match but no wickets and no runs (and an awful 19 ball duck it was) indicates that he head is gone.
But please don’t let my melancholy analysis spoil this Test match. The cricket has been wonderful. It is just what cricket needed. It’s what I needed! A good, honest struggle after months of corruption and too much of the shorter form of the game have renewed my enthusiasm.