Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Things that go bump in the night

(Apologies to Laurie, if he reads this before his time-shifting reveals the capitulative horror of it all)

With my incessant talking about it, people at the lab here have started to ask me about the Ashes each day when I arrive. They didn't today, though, because yesterday I declared in no uncertain terms that the match would wind towards a draw on what had been a pretty uninspiring pitch.

How wrong I was. I woke up late this morning - there was no reason to get up early - to the cricinfo headline that England had collapsed and that Australia were pretty much cruising towards an unlikely victory chasing 168. Even the pirate radio I had been tapping seemed to have abandoned the match for dead, as they weren't passing on the coverage for the final 10 runs, which I watched float by as text commentary on cricinfo.

It's a remarkable victory, as surprising a result as I can remember perhaps since Langer and Gilchrist sank Pakistan in Hobart. I watched highlights this morning and the Australians seem to have bowled really well. Warne was more hostile even than his figures suggest - the ball that got Pietersen was a jaffa, which beat him in the air and then ripped outrageously off the pitch - and Lee swung it both ways at pace. A few of the decisions were shaky - Strauss, and McGrath's LBWs - but that's going to be the rub of the green when you're playing attacking cricket. What's more, said green is always going to rub hard against a side that scores only 70 runs in 54 overs of batting.

Once the batting collapse was over with, the English were basically playing a one-day game against the world's best one day side.

For the record, Australia made their 168 in just under 33 overs. Imagine the figures reversed: England make 168 in 33 overs and force Australia to chase 265 off 54. This probably should have been their plan, but it certainly didn't look that way the way they were batting.

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