July 12, 2009

Ashes

All eyes on 'Hauricane'

Nishi Narayanan
Ricky Ponting drives, England v Australia, 1st Test, Cardiff, 2nd day, July 9, 2009
 © AFP
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England trail by 219 on the final day in the first Ashes Test of 2009 in Cardiff and this is the chance for offspinner Nathan Hauritz, who has never taken a five-wicket haul in any form of top-flight cricket, to not only to win a Test for Australia, but also to lay claim to a permanent place in the side, writes John Stern in the Sunday Times.

... an Australian wag in the press box joked under his breath: “The Hauricane will be licking his lips — he might even get two second-innings wickets.” Hauritz is self-aware enough to understand his unflattering image. “I would be shocked if they didn’t have a go at me,” he said before the Test. “If they can get on top of me early, it will be very hard to come back from that.” It was hardly the sort of declaration of intent that we have come to expect from Australian spinners, but times and personnel have changed. Hauritz is simply the latest man standing in a game of musical chairs that the Australian selectors have been playing with their spinners over the past 2.5 years since Shane Warne retired. They have tried seven specialist spinners since then; their combined efforts have yielded 51 wickets at an average of 54.

In the Sun-Herald, Peter Roebuck wonders if Nathan Hauritz might have the last laugh, which could be the sweetest of ironies.

Back in the Sunday Times Simon Barnes suffers as England's bowlers are outplayed by Australia's batsmen.

Panesar is a man diminished. He was powered for a time by the belief that everything would be made all right, but now that has gone from him. Nor does he seem to have much else. Meanwhile, Graeme Swann, now England’s first choice as spinner, simply couldn’t get it right, and that made for suffering all round. It is not a moral failing to be outplayed . . . but it is even more painful than just messing it up. The real cause of this suffering wasn’t that England could have done better, it was the fact that they probably couldn’t.

In the Observer Mike Brearley wonders why there wasn't a short leg in place for Ricky Ponting who gave a chance at that position early in his innings before going on to score 150.

... to someone who lunges so far this is just where he is vulnerable; if the ball comes back off the seam, or if the batsman looks for marginal swing away and gets too far over to the off side, he is liable to get an inside edge on to front pad. Secondly, having the short leg in place might well make him play differently, might make him less keen to get forward, and this opens up greater possibilities of getting an lbw decision.

In the same paper, Simon Jones, Ashes hero of 2005, talks about how it feels to be reduced a spectator for this series as he continues to struggle with injuries.

England's toothless attack in this Test may prompt the selectors to recall Steve Harmison, writes David Lloyd in the Independent on Sunday.

However Simon Hughes writes in the Sunday Telegraph, the calls for changes in the XI is to miss the point.

It was the decisive footwork, straight bat and appetite of the Australian batsmen that in the end secured them a position of such dominance. The England bowlers need to match their discipline. Same bowlers, different bowling.

Scyld Berry is already looking ahead to the second Test at Lord's, where England last won a Test in 1934.

Malcolm Conn in the Australian writes that the Test has been a major embarrassment for England and has raised questions over the strength of Andrew Strauss as a leader.

And there are a couple of Ashes diaries to keep track of in the Sunday papers in Australia. Here's Mike Hussey's first installment for the Sunday Telegraph, while in the same paper Kerry O'Keeffe says that his Ashes-watching trip began with him feeling so ill on the plane that "pet pigs in the hold have requested masks".

Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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