November 30, 2006

Second Test, Adelaide

South Park Conservatives

Gideon Haigh
England train against the backdrop of Adelaide cathedral, Adelaide, November 16, 2006
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Adelaide Oval is routinely, if not rather unimaginatively, considered the most picturesque of Australian cricket grounds. Indeed, it takes that status rather for granted, and like a self-regarding beauty queen has been rather letting itself go these past few years. The Eastern Stand has damn all to recommend it; the profusion of canopies apparently inspired by Jean Paul Gaultier’s famous bra – think Madonna, on her ‘Blonde Ambition’ tour - don’t do much for the eye either. At least, though, the ground is not hemmed in by the skyscraper stands so popular elsewhere. Its communal benches and grassy verges defy the trend to one-bum, one-seat tyranny, while the 1912-vintage scoreboard provides a pleasing sense of continuity. Cricket in Adelaide, too, will always sound enchanting on radio: with bowlers operating from either the River or the Cathedral Ends, you could almost be listening to a broadcast from England.

In all, it is a ground on a scale and of a character a little more congenial to English visitors. There is something for Andrew Flintoff’s team to build on here, too, even if the conjecture about Glenn McGrath’s injury seemed like something calculated to help the Barmy Army’s morale, rather than seriously to incommode Australia. They had the better of the game against South Australia. The pitch will probably not deteriorate fast enough to deviate significantly for Warne: benign weather in the mid-20s is expected. We’ve even had a little rain, which briefly rinsed the outfield yesterday, the ground staff hastening to protect the pitch and the sponsors’ symbols on the outfield – fortunately in that order.

So, with a favouring breeze and a ration of good fortune, England could work their way back into the series here tomorrow. The toss may not even be quite so loaded as it was in Brisbane. The team batting second has led at half-way in three of the last six Tests, and Australia lost here three years ago despite making 556 in their first innings, 400 of them on the first day. The alternative? If England lose in Adelaide, at least Michael Vaughan can stop worrying about a comeback to Test cricket in this series. There won’t be any point.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

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Posted by Mark Duffett on (December 10, 2006, 22:33 GMT)

Oi, Haigh, unless you have a better shade solution, leave off any criticism of the Chappell stands. You've obviously never spent seven hours in 40 degrees in the previously shadeless outer at Adelaide Oval.

Posted by Paul on (November 30, 2006, 19:59 GMT)

Since when has being 36 years of age been considered old? If McGrath is injured, be very wary of the young fella's who get their chance in his place. They can play too, believe me. Go Aussies.

Posted by Venu on (November 30, 2006, 9:56 GMT)

England need to take twenty wickets or at least just enough to have a challenging fourth innings chase. Only then can England even think of winning. From the batting in the Second Innings, apart from two aggregious shots, England has sorted out its batting. I personally don't think England has the ability to win, but they did prove me wrong last year. Let's hope things get better from here on out.

Posted by Benjamin Conkey on (November 30, 2006, 8:43 GMT)

While the toss may not be as important as Brisbane, England desperately need to win it tomorrow. The reason England did so well in Edgbaston (apart from McGrath being out) was the fact they had 400 runs on the board. Freddie has to call the toss right or hope Ponting has another brain fade and sends England in. It is amazing the difference it makes to bowlers performances when their team gets runs in the 1st innings.

Posted by Syed Ahsan Ali. on (November 30, 2006, 7:38 GMT)

Ageing Australian attack are starting to expose with the news of Mcgrath probable absence from 2nd Test. Four bowlers, three with niggling late 30's can win you matches if your opposition play atrocious cricket again and again. This is too much to ask from Bell, Collingwood, KP and Strauss. Things will get better from Friday onwards for England. Character is there in English boys and they will not find any better time to show it. Come on England, take them on. Hit them where it hurts more.Right in the old and would-be exhausted bowling attack.Put some heavy score on the board, or if bowl first try and get them around 350-400 mark. Then sit and watch old australians runnning after kookubura all around the ground.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gideon Haigh
Born in London of a Yorkshire father, raised in Australia by a Tasmanian mother, Gideon Haigh lives in Melbourne with a cat, Trumper. He has written 19 books and edited a further seven. He is also a life member and perennial vice-president of the South Yarra CC.

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