Filed under: Cricket | Tags: andrew flintoff, andrew strauss, Ashes, australia, batting, bowling, Cricket, england, first team, history, ricky ponting, victory
Another fantastic Test match, but strangely for England fans, it took place at Lords. Andrew Strauss’ men finally lifted the 75-year hoodoo, beating Australia at the home of cricket by 115 runs. The best part of it all: England were undoubtedly the better side and fully deserved their victory.
Galvanised by Andrew Flintoff’s retirement from Test cricket, the tone was set by Strauss and Alistair Cook’s superb opening wicket stand of 196. Strauss deserves special credit for demonstrating that the task of captaincy has not affected his batting, posting an almost flawless 161 runs. Questions will be asked again of the middle order, who once again failed in the first innings – contributing just 78 runs from Ravi Bopara to Flintoff. The latter, however, would use the rest of the match to rectify his mistake.
Australia’s bowling was uneven. Mitchell Johnson once again kept his ‘secret weapon’ abilities very much under wraps, conceding more than six runs an over in the first innings but mystifyingly claiming three wickets. With none to his name in the second innings, Ricky Ponting must be wondering whether to persist with the out-of-form bowler; an eager Stuart Clarke is waiting in the wings.
England’s bowlers, on the other hand, attacked with venom and vigour, which was palpably missing in Cardiff. Jimmy Anderson moved the ball, Stuart Broad found a better rhythm, Graham Onions was unfazed by the occasion. They all contributed and Flintoff iced the cake with a second innings performance we have not seen since 2005.
Returning personal best figures at Lords – 5 for 92, only the third five-wicket haul of his Test career – Flintoff was imperious, rampaging down the wicket with ferocious pace and movement. Strauss maintained a fine balance with his star bowler, who completed 39 overs at Lords compared to 35 overs in the second innings alone in Cardiff. This allowed him to function as the dangerous strike bowler England needed to achieve victory.
Looking ahead to Edgbaston, England find themselves in the rare position of leading into the third Test of an Ashes series. The scene of arguably the greatest Test match in history in 2005, England will be looking to emulate the result, and hopefully the drama for the spectators.
If Flintoff stays fit, and the middle order – as well as Bopara wallowing at three – get their act together, fans all over the country could well be celebrating another victory come August 3.
Filed under: Cricket | Tags: andrew strauss, Ashes, australia, batting, bowling, Cricket, draw, england, jimmy anderson, monty panesar, paul collingwood, pietersen, ricky ponting
The Swalec Stadium in Cardiff honoured its historic debut as the 100th Test venue by producing a cricket match so gripping many will be suffering slight malnourishment after a two day diet exclusively of chewed fingernails.
Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar deserve the plaudits being heaped upon them, surviving 69 deliveries to seal the draw. Yet the real hero of England’s second innings is undoubtedly Paul Collingwood, whose valiant 344 minutes at the crease displayed the temperament and gritty determination needed to succeed in top-flight Test cricket.
Escaping defeat in Cardiff will be a greater psychological boost for England than victory would have been for Australia. But let’s not get carried away. Strauss certainly isn’t:
‘We’re not going to sit here and pretend we are happy with the way we performed this week. We were down on where we needed to be, and Australia showed us they are going to be a tough nut to crack, no doubt, and we need to get better.’
England were totally outplayed until the final day of this Test match. On a slow pitch made for easy runs, the two top orders illustrated the difference in standard. Over two innings, England’s top five managed 314 runs. Australia’s scored 394 runs in one.
Perhaps this is a little misleading. After all, Strauss’ men were batting for a draw in their second innings; run scoring was not a priority. The order of the day was to bat out four sessions. Unfortunately, England’s batsmen are shown up once more; the top four managed just 119 minutes of defensive batting between them. On a dead pitch. Without facing Brett Lee.
A good point at which to turn to England’s bowlers. It was disconcerting to see the Australians exploit the difficult conditions far more effectively than England. Hilfenhaus found movement where Anderson couldn’t. Hauritz found more turn and bounce than either Panesar or Swann, who had his first poor bowling performance since returning to the squad.
Stuart Broad was ineffective and expensive, while Flintoff bowled 35 overs; far more than his remit as a short spell strike bowler should entail. Strauss seemed short of ideas, other than relying on Collingwood’s tame cutters to find a break through.
There was no inventiveness in his field settings, and when you’ve leaked 500 runs, why not throw the ball to Kevin Pietersen? Ricky Ponting turned to Simon Katich and Marcus North for something different. To no real avail, sure, but his willingness to try alternative measures is the important factor.
There’s a lot to do before Lords on Thursday, and don’t be surprised if Steve Harmison is recalled to lead the bowling attack.
Still, at least we got under Ponting’s skin again with some good old-fashioned timewasting. Now we just need Gary Pratt at extra cover.