Ashes July 20, 2009

Australia keep Strauss's nerves jangling


In the Guardian, Vic Marks argues that a fancy declaration from Andrew Strauss has jeopardised England's chances of a victory.

Once the option of the follow-on had been rejected on Saturday, presumably on the basis that England could lose the Test by having to bat last, the logical step for Andrew Strauss was to allow his side to continue batting until the game was absolutely safe: to score so many runs that, even if the Australians, on an excellent surface, were still there at the close of play on Monday, they would not have enough runs to win, to leave them batting without hope of victory

Another Strauss decision being debated is whether England should have enforced the follow-on. In the Daily Telegraph Scyld Berry, the editor of Wisden, backs Strauss' move to bat again.

Supposing – just supposing – Australia had scored 313 for five off the first 86 overs of their second innings, as they did in the fourth innings of this match, and then ploughed on. It is likely they would have posted 400 and England would have faced a target of 200, at least, to chase on the last day... England would have had a run-chase under real pressure – saddled with the extra thought that they had beaten Australia only once on this ground since 1896.

After a day in which three Australian batsmen were dismissed by contentious decisions, Paul Hayward writes in the Guardian that the umpire decision review system is looking like a good idea.

What we needed was an Australian Didier Drogba to march on to the field in his flip-flops and shriek "it's a disgrace", into a Sky camera. Ponting is the closest the Ashes holders have to a Drogba but he confines himself to glares. Third umpires, though, will seem a grand idea down under after three decisions went against Ponting's suddenly ragged side.

Christopher Martin-Jenkins remains unconvinced about the umpire decision review system, but he writes in the Times that the officials sold Australia short on Sunday.

Ricky Ponting, who was angered by Engand's gamemanship in the final session of the Cardiff Test, adopted a go-slow approach when England's batsman were in charge in the Lord's, prompting Simon Barnes to wonder in the Times what the "spirit of the game" really means.

In the Courier-Mail, Robert Craddock says that in 11 days Mitchell Johnson has gone from being the most important player in Australian cricket to the verge of being dropped. Johnson's performance in the three-day warm-up game in Northampton will decide whether he plays the next Test, says Shane Warne in the Times.