England nullify the McGrath-Warne effect

A rewind to Edgbaston 2005 and a momentum shift towards England (04:32)

December 2, 2006


Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 2nd day

England nullify the McGrath-Warne effect

December 2, 2006

The fact that Pietersen and Collingwood played Warne so well, was really important in the context of the series © Getty Images

Well, England have really turned the screws on Australia. There are some similarities here with the 2005 series. You had Australia winning the first Test comfortably at Lords and then they got into trouble in the second Test when England made a big score at Edgbaston, which they got very quickly. Though it wasn't that quick today in Adelaide, what was important was that they got a big score and ground the Australians into the turf, particularly Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. They've been the two tormentors for England for so long now but today they were basically shut out of the game by some brilliant batting by Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood.

Collingwood is an inventive player, he always finds ways to score runs and his temperament is terrific. I remember thinking a few years ago - I hope they don't pigeonhole this guy as a one-day player - because everything I saw about him told me that he would be a good Test player and I am delighted that it has proved to be that way. His innings at the Adelaide Oval, where he became the first Englishman in 70 years to score a double century in Australia was terrific.

I think it was Pietersen's innings; who started playing aggressively at the start of his innings; that really got him started. Even though Collingwood got a hundred, I still think Pietersen should bat at No. 4. Pietersen has improved his game in a few areas. Where he was hyperactive in 2005, I think he's now got control over his temperament and the other thing that I think that he's improved on is his off-side play. Earlier, people would think that he was deficient in his off-side play because he would play through the on-side so much, but now he's really improved his off-side play.

I think McGrath made a serious mistake by playing in this game with a heel injury; I think that is one injury you don't mess with

The fact that Pietersen and Collingwood played Warne so well, was really important to this innings and not just for this Test match, but for later in the series as well. England got themselves into a terrific position and I was a bit worried, that at one stage, [Andrew] Flintoff was letting the game stagnate a little bit. But then Ashley Giles got some runs, there were a flurry of runs and then they were able to get the final nail in when Flintoff went out of his way to hit McGrath for a six into the stands. They really seemed to target McGrath, not only when he was bowling but in the field as well and it looked like a concerted effort to basically push McGrath out of the series. I think McGrath made a serious mistake by playing in this game with a heel injury; I think that is one injury you don't mess with.

And then finally the declaration came, which I thought was a pretty good one with Flintoff giving himself enough overs to cause problems for the Australians. When you're the captain of a side you've got to look at the opposition and say - what would they least like to happen now- and you can bet your bottom dollar that the last thing that [Matthew] Hayden and [Justin] Langer wanted was to go out and face a dozen overs. And that was what happened and Flintoff was good enough to get the wicket of Langer, which was a very important one. And the thing that was interesting was that he took the new ball. He didn't give the new ball to [Steve] Harmison. [Matthew] Hoggard bowled the first over and Flintoff followed it up.

I think this pitch, if its plays to its normal manner will become a bit uneven in bounce. And it's the sort of pitch that will suit Harmison if he bowls well and Flintoff, because they bang the ball in. It's disappointing that England haven't played [Monty] Panesar- I think he could have been quite effective later in the game.

So England, with some very good cricket have got themselves into a very good position in this test match, a position from which they shouldn't lose. They've got a good chance of winning it but what they've done, more importantly with that Pietersen-Collingwood partnership is that they've stopped the Australian momentum dead in its tracks. They've now turned it around and got some momentum going their way. It's all there now for England to do, though I think they'll struggle to get 20 wickets in the [required] time and cheaply. What I think they've done is to frighten the hell out of Australia, so, it's been a great day for them at the Adelaide Oval.

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