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England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 5th day

Still reasons for Clarke to smile

Australia were always going to lose this Ashes. A victory in this Test wouldn't change that. But just by winning this Test they could have proved something to themselves

Jarrod Kimber at Old Trafford

August 5, 2013

Comments: 51 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke watches the rain fall, England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 5th day, August 5, 2013
Michael Clarke's Australia controlled most of the Old Trafford, but the weather let them down © PA Photos
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Michael Clarke is a man with a smile. Whether it's standing beside his wife on her wedding horse, in his tight underwear on a billboard or as he makes an iconic innings at his home ground, he lights up a picture. In real life, he seems to smile even more. He very rarely looks angry, or upset. He's composed, calm and happy.

None of those descriptions could be used as he barked and pleaded with Marais Erasmus to stay on the ground at the end of the fourth day at Old Trafford. Clarke had carried his team on day one and two. His bowlers had backed him up on day three. On day four they had put themselves in a position to win the Test. Clarke knew it as much as England did. All they needed was time. But when time was taken from Clarke, he exploded.

Clarke knew coming off the field that he couldn't regain the Ashes, and that Cricket Australia's #returntheurn hashtag would have discarded. It was a culmination of poor preparation, random cricket logic and a team that wasn't as good as the opposition. Australia were always going to lose this Ashes. A victory in this Test wouldn't change that. It would have prolonged it.

But just by winning this Test they could have proved something to themselves. That they could win a Test against England. That the incompetence of Lord's and the streakiness of Trent Bridge were only part of their story. That they could compete and beat England when it mattered. And they did everything they could to do it.

Chris Rogers' first innings was the sort of knock that not even Rogers would have expected to play at Test level. It surprised England as well, while setting the scene for Australia. He drove the ball like an eager teenager, not a crusty old opener. He scored freely against a quality attack. He handled Graeme Swann well. As a 34-year-old you only get so many chances, and he may not have cemented his spot, but he will get at least all five of this Ashes based on an innings of that quality.

The second innings situation was perfect for David Warner. No matter where he batted in the order, the need to score quickly and not have all the fielders up couldn't have been more perfect for him. His 41 was not a massive total, or one that will rock your world, but he did his job, looked comfortable doing so and looked like the David Warner Australia want him to be. With the press, Barmy Army and Aussie Fanatics he played with his new pantomime villain status. To use the lexicon, he is definitely a positive to be taken.

Steven Smith is a rough batsman. On skill and technique he is not in Australia's best six. On fight and confidence, he might be. He is a perfect flawed batsman for a flawed team. He scores quickly, believes in himself, and when he plays spin it's hard to believe he is really Australian. His wickets at Lord's were handy and his fielding is going to live with us forever on Youtube highlight reels. If this team was better, they wouldn't need him. He should have got a hundred in the first innings at Old Trafford. And a proper Test batsman would have converted it. Or at least got out in a nicer way. But as a No. 6, or even a seven, he is the sort of junkyard dog cricketer a team like the current Australia can really use.

 
 
Ryan Harris' spell this morning proved yet again that he is one of the best Test bowlers on the planet. He's quick enough to hurry anyone. He's smart enough to out-think quality players
 

It some ways, Brad Haddin is not needed by Australia. His selection in this team was more about team bonding and attitude. Something that Warner's punch and Arthur's sacking fixed much quicker. His first innings hitting was exactly what Australia needed. Haddin saves his best cricket for the Ashes, and in two innings he has shown good form and timely runs. His wicketkeeping is not going to get any better - keepers' hands and knees don't get better - and Mitchell Starc is not an easy man to keep too. Or on some occasions, even reach. But he's in form, and clearly is desperate to stay in this team. If nothing else, he'll force Matthew Wade to improve.

Ryan Harris' spell this morning proved yet again that he is one of the best Test bowlers on the planet. He's quick enough to hurry anyone. He's smart enough to out-think quality players. And he does enough with the ball beat anyone. At his best he's a carnivorous force that will stalk you until you are head. At his worst, he is injured. There is little Australia can do about that. When he is fit, he should be given the new ball and the best medical treatment they can afford.

Merv Hughes was a decent Test-quality bowler who helped keep the flame alive between Lillee and McGrath. Hughes' job was mostly to try hard, bowl the dog spells, bounce out batsmen on flat tracks and use the conditions when they suited him.

Peter Siddle also averages 28 and takes four wickets a match. In almost every Test he is used in a different way. He's bowled with the new ball, come on third change, and will bowl into the wind or with it. But no matter what you do with Siddle, he tries very hard, hits the pitch very hard and makes you beat him. It's hard to hate a man who went to Euro Disney between series and gave up bacon and steak to be a better player.

Starc is capable of amazing feats with the ball, and even the bat. Playing him is a chance that Australia sometimes likes to take. Shane Watson's comeback at the top of the order might already be over. He also only has one wicket. But his bowling has been very handy, and he deserves more. No cricketer in this series has the ability to improve more than Watson. Usman Khawaja doesn't look a Test No. 3 right now, but it's hard to believe a man who bats with that much time can't make runs at this level.

Nathan Lyon is not Graeme Swann. One is a fridge that cools things, and the other an American style fridge freezer that will give you water and ice on demand. Everyone wants the bigger fridge, but life doesn't work that way. Lyon bowls good dipping offspin outside off stump spun well toward the stumps. But Swann's straight ball is far more devious. Swann gets more spin. Swann is smarter. Swann is a top fielder and a handy slogger. In some ways, the difference between the two teams is summed up in the spinners. Lyon tries hard; Swann has 19 wickets in this series.

Every player in this team has something holding them back including age, consistency, injury and skill. Clarke is their best cricketer. But his back is a problem. When he fiddles with his back, takes a pain pill, or does a stretch, there is little smiling. And while he might have lost the anger he had when screaming at Erasmus, that won't be replaced with smiles knowing they have already lost their chance to retain the Ashes.

This team is not perfect, and it's not going to be for a while. But they came into this Test as gruesome victims on a hotel bathroom floor, and they outplayed a better opposition for the entire Test. It's not a win, but it is something to smile about.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by oscoli67 on (August 7, 2013, 10:28 GMT)

I'd be first to admit that Clarke batted beautifully at Old Trafford, which is no surprise as he is a high quality player. Where I was surprised however was in what I would consider to be his average at best captaincy. Firstly, he won a very good toss to win. There are 5 situations I feel he could have handled better; He declared 1st innings at the precise time that Haddin and Starc were flaying very tired England bowlers to all corners. Eng have been 3/30 more than once and that could have been achieved the following morning with in excess of 400 needed to avoid the follow on. He was half asleep when at first slip for a catch from Cook off Lyon. Also he pulled Lyon out far too early when KP was attacking him. A skied catch then and Australia win. He failed to review KP's lbw off Watson - an ashes losing error, and worst of all he batted on far too long in 2nd innings when everyone knew the rain was coming. He broke the 6 game losing streak but 5-0 will now be 4-0, that's all.

Posted by   on (August 7, 2013, 7:22 GMT)

@landl47 is quite wrong to think there will be a get them in Australia feeling. However, realistically you could expect the Aussies will play better on their own turf. It is hard to believe they would perform as badly as they did in 2010/11. That was an aborration for most of the players. I think the clues for likely performance are more in how the Aussies played against the South Africans. The Aussies were by far the better team statisticlyagainst the Saffas as they were in England in 2009. It's whether they have enough mentally to finish teams off. If you look at the stats of the players who played in the recent Third Test, there are some interesting figure comparisons. There's no doubt that Siddle, Starc and Harris are better performed than the English quicks. Swann is of course better than Lyon (or Agar). Haddin's keeping and batting is better atm than Prior and the batsmen are relatively comparable. Yet the series score is 2-0.

Posted by Wefinishthis on (August 6, 2013, 23:30 GMT)

It's pretty obvious to anyone that Clarke and Harris are the only two world-class players in the Australian lineup (ie would walk into any team - even South Africa). The problem is that neither of them are young and they only have a handful of years left in them - possibly only until the next England ashes series at the latest. Rogers will probably be retired at the end of the return ashes series in Australia. Pattinson lost his pace and accuracy in England and got punished heavily for it. Starc is like Watson, an ODI specialist and not test material. The tail has better batting records than the top order. The selectors keep picking incompetent spinners who cost us 100's of runs and ignoring our best spinner (O'Keefe) and best emerging spinner (Zampa) from Aus A. The only good potential we have is Bird, Sayers, Cummins, Maddinson, Silk, Patterson and possibly Steve Smith if he can learn to score big test centuries.

Posted by usernames on (August 6, 2013, 22:42 GMT)

Warner, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Smith, Watson, Haddin, Agar/Lyon, Harris, Siddle, Bird -- looks a solid bunch to me.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (August 6, 2013, 19:13 GMT)

Harris and Siddle have big hearts and they always give more then 100% and we are lucky to have them. Smith batted well and Clarke was amazing. Khawaja got a bad call otherwise he was setup for a big score and in my opinion will be our long term number 3, he has the game to do it and its only his second game back and he top score in lords. Have faith in Lyon, it was only his first game back.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (August 6, 2013, 18:23 GMT)

Good article by Kimber. Agree that Rhino was fantastic and so was Haddin and Smith. Disagree on Khawaja not being the right man at 3, he is just what we need at 3, young and has the game to excel at that position. Top scorer in Lords, got a shocking call in this game and went for quick runs in the team's interest in the second innings, i predict he will be a key batsman for us in the comign tests. And I know Lyon didn't perform in this game but he will come good in future tests though this pitch might not suit him entirely.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (August 6, 2013, 18:08 GMT)

I like how we played in this match. Umpiring was terrible and Khawaja got a shocker but aside from that the game was high quality. For the coming match Bird should be bought in if its a green deck. Rogers and Watson should be persisted with as openers and Khawaja will come good for us at 3 as he did at Lords as he is a long term option for us at 3. Smith is looking good in the middle order and hopefully our young batsman can convert their starts. The team is starting to come together under boof.

Posted by hhillbumper on (August 6, 2013, 18:02 GMT)

I do lie the Aussie optimism.They were better against South Africa_ You lost, Should have won this test but you didn't.England are nowhere near their peak and have beaten you.There are times in each test match where you have chances to win and England have taken theirs. It is ironic how the moaning re umpires decisions comes down to bad luck.In the 98-99 series if Slater had been given out then we would have tied the series.But he wasn't and we didn't. Aus have a good bowling attack and an awful batting line up minus Clarke.How would it go if England chose a proper bowler instead of Bresnan and a proper batsman instead of Bairstow.Also there is pleanty of young talent coming through in our bowling such as Overton and Topley.There is far more potential then is being shown in this England team.So well done on the third test but you did not win it.

Posted by landl47 on (August 6, 2013, 12:27 GMT)

Oh, no- now we're getting the 'wait till we get you in Australia' line (TheBigBoodha, Daniel Sijmons). We saw this is 2010 before the Ashes series. Let me remind you of that series. England's scores included 1-513, 5-620, 517 and 644. Their top 5 in batting were Cook 766 @127, Trott, 445 @ 89, Bell 329 @ 65, KP 360 @ 60, Prior 252 @53. Bowling: Bresnan 11 @ 19, Tremlett 17 @23, Anderson 24 @26, Finn 14 @33, Swann 15 @39 (and if you don't think much of Swann's figures, the combined Aus spinners took 5 @ 135, which tells you what the wickets were like for spin). All those players are still in the squad.

Aus's best players in this series so far have been Clarke, Siddle and Harris. Did they play in 2010? Yep- Clarke and Siddle all 5 games, Harris 3. Harris bowled well at Perth in the Aus win but otherwise did nothing before going down injured. The only player who stood out for the Aussies was Mike Hussey, 570 runs @ 63 and he's gone.

See you in Australia.

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 11:28 GMT)

Rogers is 35 (nearly 36) not 34

Posted by uncanny on (August 6, 2013, 9:44 GMT)

the main problem for AUS is replacement, find a replacement for pointing, hussey and warne(surprising no one yet), give them a long run, atleast 20-30 matches, play them on their replacement batting positions. Test needs a settled line up, not a floater like T20. Every player should have fixed playing position. In the first test match they had 4 test openers in the batting line up, where this will lead to???

Posted by RichardG on (August 6, 2013, 9:06 GMT)

Daniel Sijmons: And so are Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Anderson, Tremlett and Swann...

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 8:50 GMT)

They keep coming close but not quite getting over the line. It flatters the side though when it's Pup that's getting all the runs again, okay, Rogers, Smith and Haddin got half centuries, but some of these other guys have got to break through and get a big century. Pup might go on and get two more double centuries in the next two tests for all I know though so it mighn't matter.

It's absurd to me that Khawaja is at 3 and Hughes isn't in the side, but I bet they don't want to go back on their selection so fast, so Hughes gets the shaft. I think Hughes or Cowan will replace Watson and Khawaja will stay in the side. Also, may as well try out Fawad Ahmed. Why not?

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 7:34 GMT)

Jarrod is ridiculously kind to Lyon here. He bowled about four good deliveries all match. There have been good reasons for him being in an out of the team lately. Sadly, the selection panel feel that picking the best spinner from the Shield comp ISN'T the way to go and so we get other bits-and-pieces bowlers. Of the ones in the mix at the moment Agar actually IS the best. But we shouldn't have any at Durham. Bring in Bird, give him the new ball and let Star play second change. My only other change would to be considering dropping Watto, but if we're not picking from outside of the squad there's not much point.

Posted by badmanners on (August 6, 2013, 6:08 GMT)

Jarrod, Swann is a superb bowler but only has 19 wickets in this series because our guys have major issues facing quality spin.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (August 6, 2013, 5:53 GMT)

Aussies should be really bold now and bring Bird in place of Starc. That will further improve the attack. Starc although having the ability to bowl magic balls is too inconsistent and releases pressure at crucial stages of an innings. Bird is unlikely to do so and is very unlucky like Graham Onions not to have played a Test in this series.

Posted by DeckChairand6pack on (August 6, 2013, 5:17 GMT)

@BigBoodha that was a phenomenal series in 12_13 against SA. Another way of looking at it would be to say that Aus played out of their skins in the first two tests and that the 3rd test was a truer reflection of the 2 sides. The Australian batting displays during the first two matches were incredible, and at a level they've not come close to since. This Ashes series has been compelling, but it has been crying out for the sort of quality that was on display during that tour.

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 4:55 GMT)

My team for third Test would be 1)Watson=I think after this series he should retire from test cricjet

2)Rogers 3)Khawaja=No place for Hughes Khawaja played few promising innings 4)Michael Clarke 5)Steve Smith 6)David Warner 7)Haddin 8)Siddle 9)Harris 10)Bird=because he strikes in regular interval 11)Lyon

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (August 6, 2013, 3:16 GMT)

People saying "ENGLAND ONLY PLAYED HALF THEIR BEST.", Well i got news for you, YOU CAN ONLY PLAY YOUR BEST WHEN YOU ARE ALLOWED TO, Aussie bowlers havn't let them play at their best, that English top order ain't out of form, they just ain't up to it.

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 2:31 GMT)

Reasons to smile msybebmore like a cursory grimmace more likely. I have ranked eaxh player for the 3rd test .... Rodgers 7 Watson 4 Khawaja 5 (only by his tough call) Clarke 10 Smith 7 Warner 5 Haddin 6 Starc 6 Harris 8 Siddle 8 Lyon 4 Based on these I would have to drop Watson and Lyon for the next test bring in Bird and Agar move Warner to open witj Rodgers. Both starc and Agar look like they can handle the bat reasonably. Watson is a liability at the moment bowlers have identified his weakness and exploiting it. Wether he opens where he faces the new ball or down the order where reverse swing is in play his technique is not strong right now. He needs to go back to grass roots to reinvent himself. In saying that i dont believe his career is over as yet. Khawaja needs ti show something in the next test or he too will join Watson. What do you think guys?

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 1:34 GMT)

I for one can't wait for England to come down to Australia where Siddle, Clarke, Warner and Harris are at their most destructive...

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (August 6, 2013, 1:25 GMT)

@ Jagger......... I agree, yet sadly Harris will never been seen as great (the stats people rule cricket perception). It always amused me Alderman and Thommo were never great either........ averageness for extended periods strangely seems superior these days :(. What ever happened to Tyson being great ? Only exploded a series single handedly......... Last great England bowler I saw happens to be Tremlett....... am I blind ?

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (August 6, 2013, 1:18 GMT)

Steve Smith is far from being his best. Although the whether is very different, this series in some way reminds me of 1953. In that series Australia (in a re-building process) dared to introduce 3 "bits and pieces players".

Ron Archer (a brilliant 19 yo allrounder - think Agar ?), Alan Davidson (a 23 yo left arm swing bowler who can bat - think Starc ?) and Richie Benaud ( a 24 yo that when only 24, would wish he could bowl bat or field near as well as Smith - ask him !). Other than Archer suffering a horrible injury at 23, they all turned out to be near alright players ?

It's difficult to express to non-cricketers how talent shows. EVERY great cricketer both batted and bowled. Hobbs, Bradman, Hammond, Tendulkar & Clarke for example could all have been very good bowlers. Pietersen started as a spinner as did Morris. Lindwall was a batsman, Starc a wicket keeper etc etc etc.

Bring on the "bits and pieces" cricketers ! They were and always will be the best cricketers.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (August 6, 2013, 0:53 GMT)

@asraruwantnow "england are going to play with a lot of freedom and to their full potential, and once that happens we all know what will be the match result."

Can you guys give this "England are supermen waiting to burst forth" delusion a rest? With your top order being demolished for 6 innings in a row the penny should really have dropped by now. Australia have damn fine fast bowlers, and your batsmen can't keep them out when there is shine on the ball and bounce in the track. Given that the English management have laid down the dullest, driest tracks ever seen in England, I would say that rather than the best being in front of your batsmen, your top-order has an even worse nightmare awaiting them when they play in Australia. Harris has always been exceptional, Siddle is vastly improved over the last few years, Starc is yet to hit his straps but can be devastating on his day. Then we have Pattinson, Bird, Cummins, Hazelwood & co waiting on the sidelines, and all are very, very good.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (August 6, 2013, 0:44 GMT)

No, Australia could most certainly have won the Ashes. Sometimes there are milimetres in it. SA beat AUS in a test series recently where they were outplayed for most of the series. Australia had the better of two tests, one where they were totally dominant and where only the breakdown of their main bowler and two overturned dismissals against Faf kept from a massive win (about 2mm in one DRS which Faf survived after being given out LBW early on the last day - those 2mm decided the series). In this Ashes series of the same number of tests so far, England were dominant in one game, Australia in another, and the third went right down to the wire. England have been better by probably a similar amount to what Australia was better than SA in AUS. Yet Australia lost 1-0 in AUS, and is trailing 2-0 here. One tiny tickle through the the keeper and a half-heated guess-appeal (Haddin), a couple of mm on an LBW DRS, a little fickle weather and the entire result changes.

Posted by HowdyRowdy on (August 6, 2013, 0:40 GMT)

Would all those who said that Peter Siddle is nothing more than a try-hard trundler of limited ability, undeserving of a place in the Australian side please put their hands up and say: 'I admit I was wrong about Siddle'.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (August 5, 2013, 23:04 GMT)

Australia lost any hope with their strangely conservative declarations in this Test.

I said (knowing the weather forecast - as did Clarke) during the first innings they needed 600 to 650 to maximize the chances of a follow on as you'd expect England to make 400 ish on that pitch.

And for a bit of a gloat, in the first Test I said England would need a lead of at least 300 - and Oz was only a few runs short of that, and in the second they could have pretty much declared with their first innings lead - I think Oz ony passed it by a few runs in the end.

Both proved right. For a while there I was worried my "600 to 650" prediction for this Test was going to be proved wrong.

Enforcing a follow on was Australia's best chance of victory in the predicated for days, so why they didn't maximize the chances of it still baffles me.

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 22:33 GMT)

a bit harsh remarks for Khawaja dont u think, he doesn't get continous opportunities like some of his fellow Australians do. Clarke needs to stick wih him for a year. Since debut this was only Khawaja's 8th test match and Australia play a lot.

Posted by landl47 on (August 5, 2013, 21:42 GMT)

While Australia played very well in this game and really deserved to win (and certainly England deserved to lose), to suggest that this is an Aus team that is going to get better is an illusion. Clarke made a very big hundred and batted well again in the second innings, but what of the others? Rogers batted well, but he's 35 (not 34 as the article says). He's not the future. Haddin made a not out 50 and is second in the Aus test batting averages. He's 35. Starc made runs, but he's there to take wickets. Harris was Aus's best bowler, but he's 33 with chronic fitness problems.

Warner, Khawaja and Watson got 106 between them for 6 times out. Starc was all over the place, especially in the second innings. Lyon took 1-95, building on Agar's 2-248 in the first two tests.

So the only real rays of sunshine for Clarke were the ever-reliable Siddle, who has been a tower of strength for a couple of years now, and Smith, who batted very well in the first innings. It's not much to build on.

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 21:09 GMT)

sorry but did we not just watch a first test where right to the last day the result was far from clear ? did we not just watch a 3rd test where one side put a draw on their bucket list almost before a ball was bowled, ( how many mentions of Manchester weather and guarenteed wash outs does one need to hope for)and were outplayed in every dept.

The 2nd test should have fed England's confidence and full credit to them but please you must be blind or naive if you cant see the seedlings have taken root. Just as evety boo makescwarner stronger, we have yet to see the best of Captain Clark, lets enjoy our sport a little more from the boundary.

Posted by Montague_Withnail on (August 5, 2013, 20:47 GMT)

"and they outplayed a better opposition for the entire Test"

Very very nearly, but not quite. They comprehensively lost the middle session on Saturday to Pieterson and Bell and that was enough to prevent Australia from winning this game. It was the only session they lost in the entire game and it seems so harsh that they didn't win the game considering that, but the truth is cold and hard. One session was enough. I backed England to force the draw even if the rain had stayed away. The moisture that had made batting so difficult in the morning would have rendered that ball utterly lifeless by the 40th over.

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 20:19 GMT)

If you want to say that this team made some progress in the ashes ,forget it ...and for those who are saying that england is superior to australia ,it may be so ,but ....england have thier own problems...while australia is painfully rebuilding...england are yet to suffer a decline of thier own ... .australia have depended too much on warne ,mcgrath and lee when they were in thier pomp and never gave other fringe bowlers a decent run ,england are doing the same with broad ,anderson and swann at the core ,and for obvious reasons, but more than that ,is the fact that both england and australia have been great benefactors of dubious umpiring decisions over the years against various teams ,and as long as they remain the core of the cricketing superpowers,this rivalry will always be thought of in high regards ,when there are clearly bigger problems for both teams ,such as england's inabitility to win world cups and australia's own decline in first class cricket

Posted by pvwadekar on (August 5, 2013, 20:14 GMT)

Clarke has to try and lead on for another couple of years. This team will get better. It is just going to take them some time to do it. Australia already has a very good pace attack, a decent spinner in Lyons and an upcoming talent in Agar. They have some good talented players in Khawaja & Warner while Smith tries to use every ounce of his skills to make runs even if he doesn't make centuries now, the experience will serve him well later on. Also can become a usefull leg spinner. However Shane Watson has no business playing test cricket. As one author pointed out he is a "myth".. a walking wicket. His place should be given to Phil Hughes who atleast tries to play cricket with his limited technique. For the next two test, the batting line up should be Rogers, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Warner, Smith.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 5, 2013, 19:54 GMT)

Just think if they'd add proper test bowlers to their squad like Bird and McKay! With Siddle, Harris and Lyon, and part-timers like Smith and Watson (if he plays again) - Aus. could win a game at last.

Haddin is miles ahead of Wade; had Wade played, those 7 catches taken by Haddin in the 3rd game would not have happened.

Posted by Jagger on (August 5, 2013, 19:30 GMT)

Lillee, McGrath, Harris and Warne - looks perfect to me. QED.

The only current Oz players history will regard highly are Harris and Clarke. With Bird an outstanding prospect. The rest are all 'expendable'.

Re: Haddin - he is very poor on his left hand side and he should be made to wear a mouth guard because he is scared of the ball.

Posted by ThyrSaadam on (August 5, 2013, 19:26 GMT)

As much as everyone likes to bash Steven Smith he is the kind a person Aus needs. May be some might think i am nuts, but i look at him almost like a new Steve Waugh. There is that belief in himself, he just needs to knuckle down a bit. Aus should think they have a gem, now it is about cutting it to the correct angles to make it shine!

Posted by pulkit10 on (August 5, 2013, 19:18 GMT)

I think a better opposition is one that wins tests and not one that barely scrapes by to save them. When you call England the "better team", you need to back that up with something tangible in this test. They were thoroughly outplayed for 90% of it and save for KP's ton and Bell's fifty, had nothing to be proud of. I think the problem here is that Australia is downplayed too much. All the time, the English media has been portraying this side as a bunch of T20 specialists that have been struck together - the team has clearly disproved that. Australia are a bit like Peter Siddle then, never given enough credit for their performances. They played extremely well in this test and were unlucky to miss out on that win, just as they were unlucky to scrape by to one over at Trent Bridge.

The important thing to remember is that this is still a contest and it could easily have been 2-1 for Australia like it is 2-0 for England. Makes for good cricket.

Posted by asraruwant on (August 5, 2013, 19:10 GMT)

Australians played out of their skins in manchester and have given their best and england only played half decent cricket yet the aussies were unable to win. This draw is going to hurt the Australians a lot because by retaining the ashes now england are going to play with a lot of freedom and to their full potential, and once that happens we all know what will be the match result. I am predicting another draw in chester le street due to weather and the last test england will win at oval by a handsome margin. In the reutrn series Australia will definitely win a test or maybe even 2 tests but they wont be able to win enough to win back the ashes. Once Cook and Trott comes back to form Aussies Cannot beat England.

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 5, 2013, 19:08 GMT)

Just got back from a wonderful 5 days at Trent Bridge. The crowd on both halves was great with plenty of cheerful banter. It is great when you can all have a beer together at the end of the day. As for the cricket well once again Australia were very unlucky with the rain and the umpiring. Barring the second test we should have won both games. I'd say a 1-1 result would be more accurate about now but fair play to England, we'll let them keep it another 5 months. Thanks Trott too for all the outfield banter!

Posted by bobmartin on (August 5, 2013, 19:02 GMT)

There's an old saying.. One swallow does not make a summer... It will take more than coming close in one test match, and dominating another to convince the sceptics,, after all, in the test between those two, they got thrashed..

Posted by whoster on (August 5, 2013, 18:55 GMT)

I'd agree that there are plenty of positives for the Aussies, but their selectors and management have to do a much better job in handling their players. They'll have to get what they're given injury-wise with Harris, but nobody doubts his quality. Siddle is the one bowler who's ticked all the boxes over a prolonged period of time, and the Aussie selectors will hopefully see the ridiculous error of their ways by showing loyalty to Lyon and allowing him the chance to do the same.

Good point made about Steve Smith; his technique isn't solid enough for a specialist batsman, but he's merited his place because he makes good use of his ability, is a top-class fielder, and can bowl useful overs. Rogers is nothing more than a stop-gap opener (though he played especially well in the 1st innings), and it's time for the Aussies to look forward by returning to Hughes and Warner as openers and sticking with them. They have to sort out their batting order, and the rebuilding should start now.

Posted by 2MikeGattings on (August 5, 2013, 18:55 GMT)

You'd think the only way is up. But what if Clarke's own injury problems deprive the team of its best player?

Posted by DeckChairand6pack on (August 5, 2013, 18:54 GMT)

No way would Siddle make the Proteas side. We have more promising bowlers in our A side. Same goes for Ryan Harris.

Posted by Murnau on (August 5, 2013, 18:34 GMT)

Australia's quality pace attack will enjoy Durham, if Harris can manage another game so soon. Maybe they should consider bringing in Bird for Lyon (though I do rate Lyon, who is just less experienced than Swann). But, regrettably, the series may well be decided as the Ashes were, by the rain. It won't be dry in Chester-le-Street next weekend.

Posted by Game_Gazer on (August 5, 2013, 18:28 GMT)

ouch ! that was really harsh on Steve Smith..In test cricket, pluck, confidence & know-how to score runs matter more than technique Mr.Kimber.. ever heard of certain another Steve ?!

Posted by Westmorlandia on (August 5, 2013, 18:11 GMT)

Also, I completely agree about Siddle. With Harris, he is Australia's best bowler. He would walk into the England team. And the South African team, even.

Posted by z0mbiezom on (August 5, 2013, 18:06 GMT)

Lots of positives for Australia. We need to keep in mind that they were 14 runs shy of this series being 1-1 still. I hope they pursue Rogers and Khawaja at the top of the order in the australian summer. Plenty of reasons to hope for a tight series down under!

Posted by Westmorlandia on (August 5, 2013, 18:05 GMT)

I thought that Australia would improve from Lord's, which seems obvious now but people didn't think so then. But at Durham, I think the reverse will happen - Australia will struggle to do as well as they did here.

It's easy to see directions and trends, and feel that Australia are on the path to salvation. But it's always more uneven than that. Just as Australia weren't, on the basis of own awful match, the worst team ever to leave Australia, they aren't suddenly, on the basis of one excellent match, a side brimming with quality and potential.

Even England won Ashes test matches in the 90's. Australia are still miles away from this series.

Posted by RichardG on (August 5, 2013, 17:45 GMT)

Australia need to forget their 'flashy' bowlers and build their bowling attack for the next few years around Siddle and Lyon. They may not be perfect, but they are the best Australia has for now. Pattinson, Cummins, Bird, Starc and Harris (when fit) may augment that attack, but for the past three Ashes series we've been hearing about the great new hope among Aussie bowlers, and no one has got close to matching Siddle's exploits. He may well be the most under-rated bowler in test cricket. He is also one of the best.

Australia seem to be getting a positive press for this test - and rightly so to some extent - but the true worth of this team will be shown by what the back it up with. England have been pretty good at following poor Ashes showings with victories in recent years (the Oval followed Headingley in 2009, Adelaide followed Brisbane in 2010 and Melbourne followed Perth). If Australia follow this display with something similar in Durham, then we can talk of a revival. Not before.

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