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Peter English at Adelaide
December 5, 2010
Often the Australian cricket team seems removed from the thought patterns of the rest of the country, but over the past week the players have been asking the same question as everyone else. Why aren't they taking wickets?
In England's past two innings they have scored 1068 runs for the loss of only five batsmen, and they still aren't finished after being 4 for 551 when rain arrived at tea. "That's something we've been talking about the last week, really," Shane Watson said. "What are the reasons why we haven't been able to get as many wickets as we would have liked?"
He blames fine England batting and Australian bowling that has been unable to build and then sustain pressure. The same problems were highlighted and discussed after the draw at the Gabba, but there have been no answers provided despite a re-worked attack that includes Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris.
"You can't take anything away from the English, they have batted very well, Alastair Cook especially through these last two Tests," Watson said. "His concentration is something we have to do as batters, and stay out there for long periods of time. The wickets have been fairly flat, but that's no excuse as well. We're skilled enough to make the most of what's out there."
Cook was dismissed early in the day when he was caught behind off Harris, but then it was Kevin Pietersen's turn to burn off a long period of frustration during a masterful 213 not out. Once again, Pietersen and his team-mates were allowed to wait for the full ball on their legs or the short one outside off. Throughout this innings they have scored at almost four an over with only pockets of danger from the hosts.
"It is unfortunate and it's very disappointing we're where we are," Watson said. "But there's a couple of days for us to do everything we possibly can to draw the game." That task first depends on an England declaration, and the response will then start with the opener Simon Katich under a fitness cloud.
Katich hurt his heel and didn't field late in the day, but he is determined to make some impact on this match after being run-out without facing a ball in the first over on Friday. "It's going to be interesting to see our running between wickets after the first innings," Watson said. "If I call it might make things a little bit easier. He'll be sweet. He'll be out there fighting his heart out."
England's position has become so strong - even though the series score-line is still 0-0 - that the Australians are admitting to the pain of being so unthreatening. "It hurts," Watson said. "It hurts in general whether it's in our own conditions or anywhere else around the world. We have so far been outplayed in these three days, that's the reason why it does hurt, because what we've been doing hasn't been good enough."
Despite the state of the match - England have a lead of 306 - Watson still believes. "I never doubt our ability and our talent," he said. "It's more so what we can produce on the day and the last three days haven't been good and they have been better than us, no doubt.
"The only way we can turn that around, in this game anyway, is to bat as long as we possibly can." The rain may encourage Australia again, with showers forecast over the rest of the contest, but in their current state, even that might not be enough.
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Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge