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The West Indies squad was given an early taste of Wellington's famous wind as they landed into the city on Sunday and it left some of them joking that they'll take the bus next time.
The flight from Dunedin needed two attempts to land into gale-force winds leading Darren Sammy to tweet a picture of himself looking distinctly uncomfortable. "#neveragain do I want to land at Wellington airport..so scary," was his accompanying message.
By all accounts he was not the only one a little unsteady as they left the aircraft. Even some New Zealanders on the same flight commented that it was one of the roughest they had known.
"I don't suppose anything can prepare you for that," Ottis Gibson said. "It was a little bit scary, I've experienced it before myself in South Africa but a lot of us haven't. There were a few finger nails chewed down to the bitter end. But the pilots do every day so they know what they are doing. It was experience."
Any although it would be a six-hour road trip to Hamilton it has already been suggested. "It has been mentioned," Gibson said. "But we've recovered from it now. For some it was good fun, for some a bit terrifying."
Kepler Wessels, writing for the Daily Telegraph, pays tribute to Nelson Mandela, highlighting Madiba's impact on politics, sport, and South Africa as a whole.
Mandela understood that everyone had a role to play in rebuilding the nation. He also knew that the pressure on the team was intense. South Africans expected our national sporting teams to dominate as they had prior to isolation. Never mind the lack of international competition for 21 years. They wanted success. Immediately. "Sport has the power to unite and you will achieve that by doing the best you can and fighting hard," he said. "I am proud of you."
Mitchell Johnson's performance on the third day at Adelaide Oval will live long in the memory, but Greg Baum writes in the Sunday Age that it should not be remembered solely as a "blood-on-the-pitch" spell.
Yet it is too simple to dwell on Johnson's powers of intimidation. Englishman RC Robertson-Glasgow once wrote of Don Bradman: "Poetry and murder lived in him together." All seven Johnson wickets here were from full-pitched balls. Four were bowled, two caught behind the wicket and one was lbw, the first and only of the series. He did not spare the bouncer, but the threat of it did more damage than the actuality.
Andy Wilson in the Observer considers the way Johnson has bounced back from the cutting and cruel mockery he received from the Barmy Army in previous Ashes.
But there is also the fact that he seems such a thoroughly good bloke. Perhaps not when he's at the top of his run with the ball in his hand, or snarling at Jimmy Anderson after dismissing him for a golden duck. But Johnson was affable, engaging company as he waited for a couple of coffees at the stall behind the Sir Donald Bradman Stand after Australia's net session on Wednesday morning. The express bowler really did order a double espresso, honest, and didn't blink an eye when the teenage girl behind the counter, surely one of the few who has remained unaware of the most recognisable moustache in the land, asked what name she should shout out when it was ready.
In the Sun-Herald, Malcolm Knox argues that England's capitulation has been all the more disappointing because they have played so far below their potential.
There have been substandard England teams before, but none quite like this since 1958-59, when a team of champions came to Australia and lost 4-0. The teams that lost eight Ashes series between 1989 and 2003 generally played to the limit of what their abilities and the overwhelming talents of their Australian opponents allowed them. This time it's different: these English players are substantial Test cricketers who recently defeated Australia 3-0 and have glittering records. It is hard to think of any team that has performed so far beneath its potential. It is nowhere near the worst team to leave England, but unless the players can turn this around, it will be one of the worst to leave Australia.
And Stephen Brenkley in the Independent on Sunday suggests that this England outfit appears to be finished as a force.
There are few able replacements, none proven and, bizarrely, most of the batsmen may have to survive. Matt Prior and Graeme Swann may fear the knock on the door from the selector, but dropping them would be no kind of answer. Doing nothing, however, in the wake of what is likely to be two heavy defeats is not an option in big-time cricket if credibility is to be preserved.
England slipped behind the eight ball again in Adelaide, facing a first-innings deficit of 535 with nine wickets standing. Many, including our own George Dobell, have begun to wonder if the gig is up for Alastair Cook's team and Martin Samuel, writing in the Daily Mail, focused on how quickly the momentum has shifted after England's 3-0 series win earlier in the year:
So while Test cricket may be a slow game to watch, in a sporting context things can change, and fast. England came to Australia on the back of three straight Ashes series wins, looking for a fourth, a record in the modern era. That should have been the clue. Records stand for a reason.
England have won as many as seven straight Ashes series, but not in living memory. Those levels of domination were attained in the 19th century, when Australian cricket was in its relative infancy and a series could be a matter of two Test matches. So this little trot is exceptional; and changing cycles of superiority are a constant in sport.
Vic Marks, the former England spinner writing in the Guardian, looked for the positives after Michael Clarke had struck a dazzling 148 during a match-turning partnership with Brad Haddin:
This is the Clarke that is beguiling a nation with superb, elegant batsmanship, far more endearing and convincing than when he tries to play the rough, foul-mouthed sledger of old. The pendulum has swung rapidly. Of the two captains heading for Perth and their 100th Test, Alastair Cook is the one feeling the heat of being tormented by the opposition's premier paceman.
But Clarke could not avoid becoming the first victim for Stokes, which prompted a straw-clutching consolation for desolate Poms craving 2010-11 but seemingly witnessing 2006-07. Perhaps down the line Stokes, still only 22 years of age, will be the all-rounder that England always crave.
Clarke might have been out to the first ball he face on the second day, however, slicing Monty Panesar beyond the inner ring of fielders. The Sydney Morning Herald columnist Greg Baum mused on the condemnation that might have arisen if the ball had been caught, as well as Clarke's subsequent dominance:
The ball fell safely to earth. In a way, all that transpired on Friday flowed from that happenstance. Not in the least chastened, Clarke and accomplice Brad Haddin continued to hunt the England bowlers. Here, manifest, was the Lehmann credo.
Clarke's shots constitute not merely a range, but a repertoire. England's spinners chose lines and set fields that required him to come down the pitch and hit against the spin. He did it, repeatedly and unerringly, but don't try that in B grade. In this form, Clarke resembles a skilled carpenter, hammering in nails one after another, never mishitting, never wasting one, though dimly always conscious that a false blow will result at least in a bruised thumb. There were none. How Clarke sometimes must wish that he could handle sceptics and doubters with the lightly worn authority of his batting.
Australia's captain, though hammering another nail into England's chances of retaining the Ashes, fell short of a double-ton. Former Australia batsman Dean Jones, in the Canberra Times, wondered about the difficulty of reaching that landmark for batsmen of the modern age:
Michael Clarke is a man with a taste for big scores and on Friday at the Adelaide Oval he seemed well on the way to his fifth double-century before falling for 148. But despite two double centuries in similarly batsman-friendly conditions in Dunedin this week, there has been a noticeable decline in batsmen going ''big''.
When the South Africans wore pink in the opening ODI in Johannesburg on Thursday in aid of breast cancer awareness, the 'Indian connection' wasn't just restricted to the opposition. The pink helmets were manufactured and sent to South Africa by an Indian sports goods company based in Jalandhar, Punjab. Anand Vasu, in Wisden India, traces the association between TK Sports and a two-time South African hockey olympian who sourced the helmets in an emergency, for a good cause.
The range of helmets, called Shrey, gets its name from Shrey Kohli, the youngest member of the TK Sports family business. On November 17 last year, an enthusiastic Shrey got on the road from Jalandhar to Kanpur, intending to deliver a batch of equipment personally to Suresh Raina and some other Uttar Pradesh players. He would never make it as he was killed in a car crash, at just 21, when his life in cricket was just beginning.
The first day at Adelaide Oval featured an off-field controversy when Cricket Australia tweeted a photo of four turbaned men in Teletubbies costumes, with the caption "Will the real Monty Panesar please stand up?" The tweet was removed, but Martin Samuel writes in the Daily Mail that Cricket Australia cannot sink to such levels.
It was a cheap shot, immature and insensitive, and if Cricket Australia and some local boneheads cannot see this, it merely proves there is more to multi-cultural integration than having a token Aborigine speak a few wise words before the first day of each Test match. This is not about gestures, but attitudes - just as it was when white Spanish motor racing fans greeted Lewis Hamilton with black faces and curly wigs.
In the Guardian, Vic Marks writes that the selection of Panesar was a bold move, not only because England rarely play two spinners in Australia, but also because of Panesar's troubled year.
A further consequence of a selection like this is that it spices up the dynamics of the touring party, which may well be beneficial. England may have a rough idea of their personnel for Perth. But there is no certainty anymore. Now even senior players are put on their mettle.
Malcolm Knox in the Sydney Morning Herald considers Australia's batting and notes that batsmen can feel under increased pressure to succeed on pitches expected to offer the bowlers nothing.
Australia batted against itself on Adelaide's drop-in wicket, each man knowing only he could get himself out. Times past, winning the toss on such an easy-paced surface would have meant the lower order could pack away their gear for the day and find a nice place for a snooze. But most of the Australian batsmen are playing for their futures every game, not to mention the Ashes, and this was a day thick with pressure.
And in the Guardian, Russell Jackson shares his thoughts on the redeveloped Adelaide Oval.