Action: fourth Test December 27, 2006

Not the same old story

There’s a headline on the BBC site today saying “Same old story”
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There’s a headline on the BBC site today saying “Same old story”. It’s true that England are once again in a losing position, two sessions after being in a promising one. But as soon as you look at how it happened, there’s nothing same old about it. The way the game turned was new: a different and rather unlikely story.

Twelve wickets fell yesterday, followed by another three this morning. And it could easily have been more: Australia dropped a few catches, probably because of the vile weather, and England had those excellent lbw shouts against Matthew Hayden which Rudi Koertzen, perhaps subliminally influenced by the huge crowd, couldn’t quite bring himself to give. So in the first four sessions, the bowlers created at least 20 chances, and the two teams together scraped 270 for 15. Since then, it has been 261 for two.

What changed? Some of the bowlers got tired – Andrew Flintoff had given his all. The ball got older, and there was no Shane Warne to weave a little hair-replacement magic on it. The fielding was ordinary: somehow, Steve Harmison found himself in the covers early on, where he played the part of a record-company PR man – handing out free singles.

Hayden was well set, and unlike Andrew Strauss, he was able to turn his 50 into something immense. Andrew Symonds blossomed under Hayden’s wing: the Queensland fishing-mates connection visibly helped, and made you rue the fact that England have had no two batsmen from the same county playing in the series. Symonds went from scratchy to domineering in double-quick time, as if he was playing for one of his many counties. England have suffered most forms of violence at Australian hands in the past decade and a half, but here was a new one: being hammered by an Aussie allrounder, a species that had been thought to be mythical, like the Aussie metrosexual. The different story turned out to be a lurid tale of horror: Attack of the Bright Pink Bat Handles.

The pitch had something to do with it too. Drop-in pitches aren’t bad exactly, but they are eccentric. Five years ago in Christchurch, New Zealand, England benefited from this. The pitch started as a minefield and a hundred by Nasser Hussain, a bad-pitch master, was the only score above 45 in either side’s first innings. Going in again with a lead of 80, England slumped to 106 for five, before Graham Thorpe and Flintoff put on 281. Flintoff, just like Symonds, made his first Test hundred. England declared when the lead reached 550 – and very nearly lost the match, as Nathan Astle produced one of the great do-or-die performances, walloping 222 off 168 balls.

This pitch hasn’t flattened out as much as that one did, and the MCG boundaries are not as short, and there was nobody in that scenario like Warne or his scriptwriter. But funny things can happen on drop-in pitches. Poor old England are going to need some tomorrow.

Tim de Lisle is the editor of Intelligent Life magazine and a former editor of Wisden

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jarrod on January 2, 2007, 15:14 GMT

    While you all bicker about umpiring decisions (which were consistently frigid) and the English side (which has issues), I'm going to reminisce proudly of the day Haydos and Symmo put on that blinding and massive pink-handled partnership.

    Power, brutality, courage. These men both have. I would like to see them as an opening partnership. Ridiculous? Nope. Hayden is Symmo's rock, and so Symmo should be with him as early as possible.

    It could be an opening partnership which, for a short time at least, could be even more efficient and far more devastating than that of Haydos/Langer.

    Of course, when Hayden retires, Symmo should drop back again.

    To the man who doubted Symmo, you, my dear friend, are underestimating someone you can't control. Be very, very wary.

  • Bilal Tariq on December 29, 2006, 14:47 GMT

    I beleieve that in game of Cricket Captians have a very important role to play . We must remeber that England were without their Captian of Last Ashes that is Michael Vaughan . It has also weekened their batting strength. There is nothing to take away from the ruthless approach o Australians but absence of Michael Vaugh had its impact. Therefore

  • Mark on December 29, 2006, 1:28 GMT

    I'd have to agree with what Dan said above. England have not played anywhere close to their ability in this series. Why? Probably poor preperation, but you would think if that was the case they would at least be getting better as the series went on and not worse.

    Australia did bowl superbly yesterday, but there is absolutely no way England should have been bowled out for 159 in the first innings. They were 2/100 on a pitch doing a lot then got knocked over with hardly a fight.

    I must be the only person who thinks that Warne didn't bowl superbly on Boxing day. Apart from the Strauss dismissal (which was a good ball) the Englishman just hit catches from balls they did not get to the pitch of (No they weren't bad balls. Yes, the batsmen were beaten in flight. But, they weren't balls that you would expect to get batsmen out).

    In contrast Australia were 5/84 on a no worse wicket, and managed to score over 400. Sure England copped a few bad umpiring decisions, but that is no excuse for taking the foot off the throat (something Australia would never do). Taking nothing away from Hayden and Symo, but setting the field back at 5/100... what is that all about?

    I don't think there is as much difference in ability between the two teams as 4-0 indicates. But, with just about everything else to do with cricket 4-0 probably does justice to where the two teams stand.

  • Guido on December 29, 2006, 1:11 GMT

    No no no you have got it all wrong Dan, not Bangladesh, Kenya are more deserving then England to play against us in a test series

  • David on December 29, 2006, 1:09 GMT

    In reply to Gareth Wilson. How many English batsmen made centuries at the MCG? You can bag Symonds all you like but at least he has some heart and looks like he wants to play for his country

  • Ed Eccles on December 28, 2006, 23:46 GMT

    So will it be five nil? You bet, and that result will be precisely what many England followers felt prior to the series. Australia were determined to crush the England team after 2005, and therefore had the motivation. Two great bowlers about to retire have added to that motivation. The question has to be asked why England management refuse to let the England players play four day games; permanent net practice is no substitute. Why were Giles and Jones chosen? With a strike rate in excess of 83 before the series, Giles was never going to trouble Australia. Similarly, Jones had a test batting average of under 26, five more than Read, who is an infinitely better keeper, yet Jones is chosen for his batting!! Most of the bowlers had been injured and had bowled only slightly more than the unlucky and talented Simon Jones. Then to cap it all, the warm up matches are almost non-existent, unless you count fourteen a side, etc. Perhaps the England management should have askes Alec Stewart and Adam Hollioake what they were doing for the remainder of the series. All of the above are down to bad management of an England team, that, one or two players aside, do not deserve to be on the same pitch as Australia. Have Trescothick, Vaughan and Simon Jones made SUCH a difference?

  • Stephen Clarke on December 28, 2006, 19:36 GMT

    Dearest Abhishek,

    I'm not saying it's right that umpires make mistakes, just that in this instance I'm glad. There were as many howlers denied Australia as there were England. Do you know how many times Javed Miandad was given out LBW in tests in Pakistan? Perhaps Hawkeye's time has come. He (she? it?) makes mistakes too, but at least he's stateless.

    Dan,

    I thought it was odd when the Poms got gongs for winning in 2005. If the Australians were recognised in this way for winning Ashes series, they'd surely all be the Duke of Portland by now.

  • Jason on December 28, 2006, 17:46 GMT

    "a lurid tale of horror: Attack of the Bright Pink Bat Handles."

    Dying of laughter. Good one, Tim.

  • Andrew Keogh on December 28, 2006, 16:51 GMT

    Can we stop this now? It's no fun. Fifth Test? Can't bear the idea.

  • Allistair on December 28, 2006, 16:17 GMT

    Tim,

    Not only has this test not been 'not the same old story', this entire series has been 'not the same old story'. It has been mystifying. This tour, and its build up, has been characterised by a complete collapse of the clear, lucid management, that has seen England make fantastic progress since the Hussein/Fletcher partnership. I can't fathom it. At best this tour hints at the worst of the Atherton era, at worst, we have witnessed something very new. Bad picks, bad decisions, low morale, witlessness, nanchalance, some good play, but mainly timourousness bordering on the total abdication of decent cricket that this team, and set up, can perform. And that's the rub. This is still a good team. They are still a good unit, but largely through self-immolation England have regressed to somehere hitherto no England team has been.

    This series has been uniquely different to others past, because for once, we were the Ashes holders, for once, we had a decent team (with areas of concern for sure), and for once, we had a decent set-up. All of which has exploded in our face in the space of a month.

    I do not advocate any change in our set up though. It's proven, it works and works exceptional well. However, in view of this unique series, it needs re-tuning. Fletcher and the EWCB have done well for years, and will continue to do so, but lessons from this tour must be learned.

  • Jarrod on January 2, 2007, 15:14 GMT

    While you all bicker about umpiring decisions (which were consistently frigid) and the English side (which has issues), I'm going to reminisce proudly of the day Haydos and Symmo put on that blinding and massive pink-handled partnership.

    Power, brutality, courage. These men both have. I would like to see them as an opening partnership. Ridiculous? Nope. Hayden is Symmo's rock, and so Symmo should be with him as early as possible.

    It could be an opening partnership which, for a short time at least, could be even more efficient and far more devastating than that of Haydos/Langer.

    Of course, when Hayden retires, Symmo should drop back again.

    To the man who doubted Symmo, you, my dear friend, are underestimating someone you can't control. Be very, very wary.

  • Bilal Tariq on December 29, 2006, 14:47 GMT

    I beleieve that in game of Cricket Captians have a very important role to play . We must remeber that England were without their Captian of Last Ashes that is Michael Vaughan . It has also weekened their batting strength. There is nothing to take away from the ruthless approach o Australians but absence of Michael Vaugh had its impact. Therefore

  • Mark on December 29, 2006, 1:28 GMT

    I'd have to agree with what Dan said above. England have not played anywhere close to their ability in this series. Why? Probably poor preperation, but you would think if that was the case they would at least be getting better as the series went on and not worse.

    Australia did bowl superbly yesterday, but there is absolutely no way England should have been bowled out for 159 in the first innings. They were 2/100 on a pitch doing a lot then got knocked over with hardly a fight.

    I must be the only person who thinks that Warne didn't bowl superbly on Boxing day. Apart from the Strauss dismissal (which was a good ball) the Englishman just hit catches from balls they did not get to the pitch of (No they weren't bad balls. Yes, the batsmen were beaten in flight. But, they weren't balls that you would expect to get batsmen out).

    In contrast Australia were 5/84 on a no worse wicket, and managed to score over 400. Sure England copped a few bad umpiring decisions, but that is no excuse for taking the foot off the throat (something Australia would never do). Taking nothing away from Hayden and Symo, but setting the field back at 5/100... what is that all about?

    I don't think there is as much difference in ability between the two teams as 4-0 indicates. But, with just about everything else to do with cricket 4-0 probably does justice to where the two teams stand.

  • Guido on December 29, 2006, 1:11 GMT

    No no no you have got it all wrong Dan, not Bangladesh, Kenya are more deserving then England to play against us in a test series

  • David on December 29, 2006, 1:09 GMT

    In reply to Gareth Wilson. How many English batsmen made centuries at the MCG? You can bag Symonds all you like but at least he has some heart and looks like he wants to play for his country

  • Ed Eccles on December 28, 2006, 23:46 GMT

    So will it be five nil? You bet, and that result will be precisely what many England followers felt prior to the series. Australia were determined to crush the England team after 2005, and therefore had the motivation. Two great bowlers about to retire have added to that motivation. The question has to be asked why England management refuse to let the England players play four day games; permanent net practice is no substitute. Why were Giles and Jones chosen? With a strike rate in excess of 83 before the series, Giles was never going to trouble Australia. Similarly, Jones had a test batting average of under 26, five more than Read, who is an infinitely better keeper, yet Jones is chosen for his batting!! Most of the bowlers had been injured and had bowled only slightly more than the unlucky and talented Simon Jones. Then to cap it all, the warm up matches are almost non-existent, unless you count fourteen a side, etc. Perhaps the England management should have askes Alec Stewart and Adam Hollioake what they were doing for the remainder of the series. All of the above are down to bad management of an England team, that, one or two players aside, do not deserve to be on the same pitch as Australia. Have Trescothick, Vaughan and Simon Jones made SUCH a difference?

  • Stephen Clarke on December 28, 2006, 19:36 GMT

    Dearest Abhishek,

    I'm not saying it's right that umpires make mistakes, just that in this instance I'm glad. There were as many howlers denied Australia as there were England. Do you know how many times Javed Miandad was given out LBW in tests in Pakistan? Perhaps Hawkeye's time has come. He (she? it?) makes mistakes too, but at least he's stateless.

    Dan,

    I thought it was odd when the Poms got gongs for winning in 2005. If the Australians were recognised in this way for winning Ashes series, they'd surely all be the Duke of Portland by now.

  • Jason on December 28, 2006, 17:46 GMT

    "a lurid tale of horror: Attack of the Bright Pink Bat Handles."

    Dying of laughter. Good one, Tim.

  • Andrew Keogh on December 28, 2006, 16:51 GMT

    Can we stop this now? It's no fun. Fifth Test? Can't bear the idea.

  • Allistair on December 28, 2006, 16:17 GMT

    Tim,

    Not only has this test not been 'not the same old story', this entire series has been 'not the same old story'. It has been mystifying. This tour, and its build up, has been characterised by a complete collapse of the clear, lucid management, that has seen England make fantastic progress since the Hussein/Fletcher partnership. I can't fathom it. At best this tour hints at the worst of the Atherton era, at worst, we have witnessed something very new. Bad picks, bad decisions, low morale, witlessness, nanchalance, some good play, but mainly timourousness bordering on the total abdication of decent cricket that this team, and set up, can perform. And that's the rub. This is still a good team. They are still a good unit, but largely through self-immolation England have regressed to somehere hitherto no England team has been.

    This series has been uniquely different to others past, because for once, we were the Ashes holders, for once, we had a decent team (with areas of concern for sure), and for once, we had a decent set-up. All of which has exploded in our face in the space of a month.

    I do not advocate any change in our set up though. It's proven, it works and works exceptional well. However, in view of this unique series, it needs re-tuning. Fletcher and the EWCB have done well for years, and will continue to do so, but lessons from this tour must be learned.

  • Morgan on December 28, 2006, 15:15 GMT

    Tim. Your now infamous bias rears its head once more. England were not the only team that had umpiring decisions go against them. Unfortunately for you and the rest of your kinsmen the Aussies appear to be the only ones good enough to take advantage of a life. Still it goes without saying...Shame on Rudi.

    This pitch that apparently got easier somehow got more difficult again in time for England's second innings did it? How unfortunate.

    Quit trying to blabber up excuses...Once again thoroughly outplayed.

  • Syed Ahsan Ali on December 28, 2006, 13:27 GMT

    Mr.DAN. Aren't you being too arrogant. In midst of whole arrogance, can you foresee what it would like to play without Warne and Mcgrath for you people in coming days.I am already waiting for Ashes 2009.Things and especially words can backfire, and that too fairly quickly. Well done to Australia, but still they are not what they were under Steve Waugh. And Mr.Dan World Cup is not too far. Good Luck

  • David on December 28, 2006, 13:16 GMT

    Just an idea from left-field ...

    Tim mentioned the Queensland connection between Hayden and Symonds and lamented that there are no two English batsmen from the same county playing this series. Well, I've been chatting recently about the cricket with a young English mate of mine, who says he was stunned to see the quality of the team that turned out for NSW in their tour match against England back in November. The thing is, with a two tier county system and 18 teams in total, there's no way you're going to be able to cobble together a county team that is anywhere near as strong. Yet virtually every single Australian state side could field an equivalent team to that NSW one. The difference in the competitiveness of the competitions is vast - the English county sides are glorified 1st grade teams, while each Australian state side is a virtual national A team (this is no exaggeration - if there are 12 core players in the national team and another 12 on the fringe, then every state side has on average 4 players with current test experience. As well as this, each team usually has 1 or 2 retired test players as well as one or two who haven't yet made it into the Australian team, but are sure to be in the mix in the next couple of years. In other words, more than half of each state team is of test or almost test standard - a virtual national A team).

    So why doesn't England unashamedly try to emulate Australia's national competition in the hope of giving their best players a competition that will consistently stretch them? My suggestion would be to keep the county championship unchanged, but to use that as a feeder competition for a new, elite competition between six regional teams, say, SE (based in London), SW (Bristol), Mid-East (Cambridge), Mid-West (Birmingham), NE (Middlesbrough) and NW (Manchester). You have much stricter restrictions on foreigners so that English players can get tested against the best of their peers and the regional division means that people can still get behind their local team.

    What's England got to lose?

  • Doug on December 28, 2006, 13:03 GMT

    Well my English friends, do any of you think it is even remotely possible to pull of a win in Sydney? Well I think the best chance you have is a draw, if you get 4days of solid torrential rain! And as we are in a drought at the moment that is just as likely as Geraint Jones getting a century! But lets just reflect on the awesome 156 from 'Roy', how good was it? Lets just hope he can continue his Test career for many years to come, he's a great addition to this Aussie team and a real entertainer, which is what people pay to see. And last but most definately not least, how about that blonde leg spinner? What can I say, warney!!! warney!!! warney!!!

  • Peter on December 28, 2006, 12:46 GMT

    As an Englishman I agree with Dan. No words can be too harsh for this England team and, on balance, the umpiring decisions have even gone England's way.

    In 2005, we caught a complacent, arrogant Aussie side who even lost an ODI to Bangladesh. As soon as the Ashes were over, England lost an absolutely winnable test against Pakistan and have kept on playing mediocre cricket and simply failing to compete.

    Every England player's reputation hasa been tarnished by this rout, which followed a year of self-indulgence from Straussy and Cooky and Belly and Colly and KP and Freddy and Harmy etc. All too matey and not prepared to tell each other when they bottled it.

  • josh on December 28, 2006, 12:34 GMT

    Being a time-strained Melbournian, today was actually the first opportunity i had to watch any live cricket over here. If there is anything i gained from watching the series live, it is that England are pathetic. I cannot believe that these individuals are representing their country. Yes they are completely outclassed and boast nowehere near the talent of Australia, but even so, their performances are unforgivable. None of the batsmen appear to want to apply themselves with 'hard work'. This team has absolutely no idea how to beat a good side. Today they appeared as if they didnt care or were helpless. This certainly isnt the first time i've seen Australia dismantle a touring nation, but even the demoralised West Indies and New Zealand have looked more determined than England.

  • Don on December 28, 2006, 11:27 GMT

    I'm not going to comment on the umpiring, since both sides suffered from very poor decisions (including both Warne and McGrath from both umpires).

    I do want to comment on this line: "the Queensland fishing-mates connection visibly helped, and made you rue the fact that England have had no two batsmen from the same county playing in the series"

    Australia has limited itself to 6 first class sides. Attempts by the ACT and the Northern Territory to add teams were rejected. Also attempts to add seperate Sydney and Melbourne sides. Six sides make for very good teams - and also for close relations with your state team. Only 120 regular first class players in the entire cuntry. Everyone knows Warne is a Victorian first, Australian second. Everyone knows Ponting is from Tassy. Likewise - Hayden and Symonds are Queenslands backbone - even if they turn up for just 3 or 4 matches every season. This brings a great deal of friendship into the team.

    Lehmann is pushing Cosgrove forward. Warne is backing White for future captaincy. Martyn and Langer both favour Voges as an addition to the side, while the strong NSW contingent doesn't understand why the Blues aren't allowed to form the entire national team (or at least draft Jaques, MacGill ).

    This simply doesn't happen in England where 671 county teams compete, and the first class competition needed to be divided into two divisions (both, ridiculously, still counted as first class!). It also means the likelyhood of 3 or 4 players coming from the same county is extremely low (having a look at the current squad only Lancashire can boast 3 players, 2 of them minor test players, while Durham and Warwickshire 2 each).

    The second point related to the length of "apprenticeship" before graduating to the test side. I won't go into details here - but it is well known Australians serve a long period of time in first class before admitted to higher levels. This means they had every chance to bond with their state-mates. The English players barely have time to remember the names of their county squad before being shipped off into test cricket.

    Symonds commented at length on how Hayden was his rock, when he needed him in the middle.

    I bet Harmison, Anderson, G Jones and Mahmood could have used a rock like that over the first four tests. None there to be found.

    Parhaps lessons ahead of the next ashes, after a clean 5:0 loss here.

  • kevin w on December 28, 2006, 11:16 GMT

    reply to dan well played to Australia on regaining the ashes in style australia will most likely win this series 5-0 but watch england learn from there mistakes and take them back in 2009 england have been let down by poor management and poor selection but england will learn by these mistakes

  • Wade on December 28, 2006, 11:14 GMT

    Well well well. Thats listen to the we-got-a-raw-deal-English supporters, again. Yes there were ordinary umpiring decisions, and yes the English players did contribute to their downfall, but! But, the truth of the matter is that Australia are the number 1 test team in the world for a reason, and England, well, are very ordinary. England cannot handle pressure, they cannot handle persistent, single-minded ruthlessness, and most of all, are no better than a 1st class Australian State squad. Supporters will have to accept that at best, the final scoreline might be 4-1, but still an absolute thrashing in anyones language! Even without Mcgrath and Warne, 2009 will be no different.

  • Odie on December 28, 2006, 11:10 GMT

    Interesting that Collingwood et al are now bleating about "preparing for 2009".

    I remember hearing that sort of thing from that same bunch following their dismal showing in the Champions Trophy.

    Funny thing about cricket: keep looking too far ahead and you don't see what's right in front of you.

    Maybe that's why the English lads are taking such a rollicking right now...they've already time-travelled two years into the future and have completely departed this dimension.

    Hand back the MBEs, boys. If being awarded them for the fortunate happenings of 2005 didn't cheapen that award in the first place, then your spineless performances and self-serving whining about how all the umpires are against you certainly now has.

  • Jorge on December 28, 2006, 11:02 GMT

    Viva Australia. What a victory. I particularly like Dan's comments and wonder if England are planning a ticker parade for their cricketers when they go 'back home'. Is it true that that Tony Blair to requisition the MBE's back as well as the rushed citizenship papers handed to Duncan Fletcher? I love it when Aussie wins! We copped enough in 2005.

  • Bob Coote on December 28, 2006, 10:37 GMT

    I have thought hard about the reasons for the Australian dominance and as a passionate Australian supporter I was putting together a comprehensive list but having heard Flintoff's post-match comments I now believe it is down to one factor; England haven't prepared for the conditions. I'm not talking about the pitches, the weather or the balls. I am talking about their mental conditioning. The most telling comment from Flintoff was when asked about his on-field decisions and his response that he goes with his gut instinct at the time. Playing test cricket anywhere but especially in Australia is about having and displaying mental resiliance. Having a captain that is prepared to just go with his instinct on the field says an awful lot about the lack of mental conditioning that this touring party has undertaken. Captains have to want to take control of the match and their team when they are in the field and that requires careful planning and the resiliance of the team to stick to those plans until there is a requirement to alter them. Gut instinct is fine when plans require altering, but please give the plans a chance and make sure that the players are prepared mentally to follow through on them. It is the captains job to insist that the players follow through on the team plans. Beating Australia in Australia is about building and maintaining pressure; session-by-session, not about going into a defensive holding pattern and hoping for an error. Flntoff's on-field captaincy has been mediocre at best during this series; defeatist, insipid and uninspriring if I was being really honest. It appears that the English leadership cannot accept or admit that it has made a mistake in appointing him; this is part of the mental resiliance issue, accept the mistake and make a change. A key part of most modern Austalian plans is to mentally disintegrate the opposing captain, I'm afraid this has not taken much of an effort during this series. Flintoff is a very good cricketer (in my book he won't attain great status until he consistently delivers the goods on tour) but on current evidence he is not a captain. Leading from the front can only get you so far in a team game, a leader has to be able to inspire and control others and I'm afraid I am yet to see any real evidence of Flintoff's ability to control his team in the field. This is becoming increasingly and painfully obvious and the continued failure of the English leadership to accept their collective and individual responsibilities and set an example by making a courageous decision will lead to even more calamitous tours down-under. I can only hope that for the sake of cricket that England is better prepared mentally for 2009 then they were for 2006/07.

  • Queen Elizabeth II on December 28, 2006, 10:26 GMT

    Dear Mr. Flintoff, RE: The OBE's and MBE's awarded to the English Cricket Team in 2005. I have included with this letter a self-addressed envelope. Please see to it that all awards are returned to Buckingham Palace as soon as possible. Regards. HRH Elizabeth II

  • Dan on December 28, 2006, 8:35 GMT

    I type this after Australia thrashes England by an innings inside three days. I am a passionate supporter of Aussie cricket and I like to think just what a superb side we have at the moment. After today, all I can think of is what a spineless, characterless, pathetic group of individuals is this English side. Any that post- 2005 received medals etc should immediately hand them back. All of you, hang your heads in shame. No ticker whatsoever. Bring on Bangladesh. We'll beat them but at least they show some spirit. At least they play to their ability.

  • Gareth Wilson on December 28, 2006, 7:33 GMT

    The Aussies thoroughly deserved this emphaic win which they created themselves through excellent bowling. The only batsman to get out to a poor shot today was Strauss, and that was forced on him by the accuracy of Clark and then, incredibly, Lee. Two points, however. First, without those greats McGrath and Warne the Aussies will find themselves in a position similar to every other test nattion finds itself in- that their change bowlers are coming on under pressure. I think Staurt Clark has bowled superbly this series, but can't help wondering if his success has been built on the work McGrath has done before him. Second, I'm very happy to bet now that Symonds never scores another Test century. He has a very poor technique that has been found out by each nation he has played against. Please remember even Jason Gillespie has scored a test ton...... Stick to the one-dayers, fella.

  • David Allen on December 28, 2006, 3:36 GMT

    What happend? More glaring than Flintoff's Gilesian fields for Panesar, were Flintoff's fields set to batsmen approaching centuries. To be allowed to canter to respective hundreds in singles and twos was an ineptitude that should precipitate Flintoff's downfall. The Barmy Army should already be baying, “Vaughny, Vaughny”.

    Good to see Pietersen batting at four today; another batsman now maybe able to use the tail gainfully (in the manner of Hussey for example) rather than snipe singles for himself and expose the tail. One gets the feeling that every run Pietersen scores is one for his average, secondarily a run for the team. Special mention should also be given to Harmison, who managed to elicit an over - that is to say, six contiguous balls rather than spread over n overs - of quality bowling yesterday. I think he should consider retiring from touring, too. Apart from a West Indian tour, his touring figures have been generally Agnew-like – OK, marginally superior.

  • Don on December 28, 2006, 0:48 GMT

    well, funny how the decisions go with the home side, didnt hear too many english analysts complaining when Martyn's test career was sawn off by some almost comical LBW decisions in the last ashes series or the LBW against Katich which hit the middle of his bat. It almost seems that Koertzen has decided he isnt giving any decisions in the affirmative no matter what in this match after giving a few easy ones in the last.

  • Abhishek on December 27, 2006, 23:46 GMT

    Spoken like a true-blue Aussie, Mr. Stephen Clarke. No matter that the umpires got it totally wrong by not giving Symonds out - all that matters is that our mate Symonds has salvaged his career! Just wonder though what the reaction would be if it was an Indian or Pakistani who was the beneficiary of the umpires' largesse...

  • Peter on December 27, 2006, 23:00 GMT

    Oh, here we go again...it's all the umpires fault. Didn't hear much whining from you guys when Australia copped it even worse in 2005. The Aussies got so many rotten decisions, and were denied plenty that they should have got, and yet still kept the Ashes alive right up until the last session of the last Test, and for another 2 runs in Egbaston would have won the series. Now you guys cop a few dud decisions, and yet you look like going 4-0 down. And we hear nothing when the dud decisions have gone against the Aussies this series - both McGrath and Hussey got given out in Adelaide without hitting the ball, and Ponting and Lee copped LBW decisions that were brave to say the least... A good side will win despite bad decisions. You've been outplayed, just accept it...

  • Simon Watson on December 27, 2006, 21:56 GMT

    I do find it interesting that the only mention of umpiring mistakes is in favour of Australia. Having been at the ground both days, the shouts for LBW have been equally harshly dealt with. Both Strauss & Collingwood were 'plumb' 2 or 3 times. Without those decisions going their way, England could easily have been dispatched for 80.

  • Stephen Clarke on December 27, 2006, 19:47 GMT

    Thank God for irresolute umpires. Had Symonds been given the first time he was plumb yesterday, we would surely have been denied yet another chance to watch him in a test match, and that would have been too sad to contemplate. He may yet turn out to be the ornament to test cricket that he already is to one-dayers. If lions batted, they'd surely bat like Symonds, with impassive, irresistible, and breathtakingly beautiful violence. Imagine innings like the Wotld Cup slaughter of Pakistan translated to a critical ninth session of a test: drama a la Gilchrist, but with glide replacing the waddle. Here's hoping. Thanks, Rudi; thanks, Aleem.

  • Rachit Dholakia on December 27, 2006, 19:34 GMT

    Looking from the first 2 day's play, it clearly shows that difference between 2 side is Shane Warne - The spinner. Though England have good spinner in Monty Panesar, he was not supported by Caiptancy of flintoff when he put defensive field for him. As Collingwood said, "It's time to prepare for 2009"

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  • Rachit Dholakia on December 27, 2006, 19:34 GMT

    Looking from the first 2 day's play, it clearly shows that difference between 2 side is Shane Warne - The spinner. Though England have good spinner in Monty Panesar, he was not supported by Caiptancy of flintoff when he put defensive field for him. As Collingwood said, "It's time to prepare for 2009"

  • Stephen Clarke on December 27, 2006, 19:47 GMT

    Thank God for irresolute umpires. Had Symonds been given the first time he was plumb yesterday, we would surely have been denied yet another chance to watch him in a test match, and that would have been too sad to contemplate. He may yet turn out to be the ornament to test cricket that he already is to one-dayers. If lions batted, they'd surely bat like Symonds, with impassive, irresistible, and breathtakingly beautiful violence. Imagine innings like the Wotld Cup slaughter of Pakistan translated to a critical ninth session of a test: drama a la Gilchrist, but with glide replacing the waddle. Here's hoping. Thanks, Rudi; thanks, Aleem.

  • Simon Watson on December 27, 2006, 21:56 GMT

    I do find it interesting that the only mention of umpiring mistakes is in favour of Australia. Having been at the ground both days, the shouts for LBW have been equally harshly dealt with. Both Strauss & Collingwood were 'plumb' 2 or 3 times. Without those decisions going their way, England could easily have been dispatched for 80.

  • Peter on December 27, 2006, 23:00 GMT

    Oh, here we go again...it's all the umpires fault. Didn't hear much whining from you guys when Australia copped it even worse in 2005. The Aussies got so many rotten decisions, and were denied plenty that they should have got, and yet still kept the Ashes alive right up until the last session of the last Test, and for another 2 runs in Egbaston would have won the series. Now you guys cop a few dud decisions, and yet you look like going 4-0 down. And we hear nothing when the dud decisions have gone against the Aussies this series - both McGrath and Hussey got given out in Adelaide without hitting the ball, and Ponting and Lee copped LBW decisions that were brave to say the least... A good side will win despite bad decisions. You've been outplayed, just accept it...

  • Abhishek on December 27, 2006, 23:46 GMT

    Spoken like a true-blue Aussie, Mr. Stephen Clarke. No matter that the umpires got it totally wrong by not giving Symonds out - all that matters is that our mate Symonds has salvaged his career! Just wonder though what the reaction would be if it was an Indian or Pakistani who was the beneficiary of the umpires' largesse...

  • Don on December 28, 2006, 0:48 GMT

    well, funny how the decisions go with the home side, didnt hear too many english analysts complaining when Martyn's test career was sawn off by some almost comical LBW decisions in the last ashes series or the LBW against Katich which hit the middle of his bat. It almost seems that Koertzen has decided he isnt giving any decisions in the affirmative no matter what in this match after giving a few easy ones in the last.

  • David Allen on December 28, 2006, 3:36 GMT

    What happend? More glaring than Flintoff's Gilesian fields for Panesar, were Flintoff's fields set to batsmen approaching centuries. To be allowed to canter to respective hundreds in singles and twos was an ineptitude that should precipitate Flintoff's downfall. The Barmy Army should already be baying, “Vaughny, Vaughny”.

    Good to see Pietersen batting at four today; another batsman now maybe able to use the tail gainfully (in the manner of Hussey for example) rather than snipe singles for himself and expose the tail. One gets the feeling that every run Pietersen scores is one for his average, secondarily a run for the team. Special mention should also be given to Harmison, who managed to elicit an over - that is to say, six contiguous balls rather than spread over n overs - of quality bowling yesterday. I think he should consider retiring from touring, too. Apart from a West Indian tour, his touring figures have been generally Agnew-like – OK, marginally superior.

  • Gareth Wilson on December 28, 2006, 7:33 GMT

    The Aussies thoroughly deserved this emphaic win which they created themselves through excellent bowling. The only batsman to get out to a poor shot today was Strauss, and that was forced on him by the accuracy of Clark and then, incredibly, Lee. Two points, however. First, without those greats McGrath and Warne the Aussies will find themselves in a position similar to every other test nattion finds itself in- that their change bowlers are coming on under pressure. I think Staurt Clark has bowled superbly this series, but can't help wondering if his success has been built on the work McGrath has done before him. Second, I'm very happy to bet now that Symonds never scores another Test century. He has a very poor technique that has been found out by each nation he has played against. Please remember even Jason Gillespie has scored a test ton...... Stick to the one-dayers, fella.

  • Dan on December 28, 2006, 8:35 GMT

    I type this after Australia thrashes England by an innings inside three days. I am a passionate supporter of Aussie cricket and I like to think just what a superb side we have at the moment. After today, all I can think of is what a spineless, characterless, pathetic group of individuals is this English side. Any that post- 2005 received medals etc should immediately hand them back. All of you, hang your heads in shame. No ticker whatsoever. Bring on Bangladesh. We'll beat them but at least they show some spirit. At least they play to their ability.

  • Queen Elizabeth II on December 28, 2006, 10:26 GMT

    Dear Mr. Flintoff, RE: The OBE's and MBE's awarded to the English Cricket Team in 2005. I have included with this letter a self-addressed envelope. Please see to it that all awards are returned to Buckingham Palace as soon as possible. Regards. HRH Elizabeth II