Australia in England / Features

England v Australia, 2nd Test, Edgbaston, 4th day

Losing the length

How England's tendency to bowl short on the fourth day nearly cost them the match

On the Ball with S Rajesh and Arun Gopalakrishnan

August 7, 2005

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Throughout the first three days of the Edgbaston Test, Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff bowled with impeccable control on a slow pitch: they realised the futility of bowling short, and instead kept the ball up to the bat. With victory only sniffing distance away, though, they lost the plot completely, reverting to short-pitched bowling. It looked good on television, and occasionally caused the batsmen - particularly Brett Lee - physical discomfort, but it did little for England's cause. As the graphic shows, the short ball is a great option when used as a surprise weapon, but when overdone, it becomes an excellent run-scoring opportunity for the batsmen - even Australia's tailenders managed to get those 28 deliveries away for 30 runs, whereas on the third day their top order only eked out five from 15.

Meanwhile, England's win at Edgbaston means that the venue continues to be a lucky one for them - they've won 21 Tests and lost just seven here, while Australia's win-loss record has gone down to 3-5.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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