Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 4th day January 6, 2011

No-balling and no calling


Third time lucky
There is one statistic in this series in which Australia's bowlers have completely trounced their English counterparts. Unfortunately the statistic in question is their no-ball count. Two further oversteps from Shane Watson took Australia's tally to 21 for the series, compared to England's seven - and two of those, Mitchell Johnson at Melbourne and Michael Beer at Sydney, resulted in wickets being overturned on review. Today, Ben Hilfenhaus came within millimetres of a third such reprieve, as Matt Prior thrashed uppishly at a short wide bouncer, to be caught behind for 118. After a wait that was more agonising for the bowler than the batsman, the signal was finally given for umpire Bowden to send Prior on his way. But it was a mighty close call.

Watson's woeful running
As a makeshift opener, Shane Watson has forged an impressive career since his call-up at Edgbaston in the 2009 Ashes. But there's one aspect of his game that keeps undermining his performances, and those of his team-mates - his running between the wickets. In the first over at Adelaide he stuffed Simon Katich before he'd faced a ball, and at Melbourne last week he sold Phil Hughes a dummy to end his most promising start of the series. Today, he and Hughes reprised their comedy routine, as they jogged a single through midwicket, only for Watson to turn without thinking and hare back for a second. Hughes thought for a split-second about responding, deciding better of it, and planted his bat back in his crease, even while his team-mate continued coming unabashed. It was the seventh time in 49 innings that Watson had been involved in a run-out, but only the second time he'd emerged on the wrong end.

Hughes on the way down
Despite surviving Watto, Hughes could not kick on, and his gradual improvement since re-entering the Test team has stopped. After scores of 2, 12, 16, 23 and 31, he fell for 13 in Australia's second innings, edging a Tim Bresnan ball going away from him to Matt Prior. Katich's heel injury in Adelaide gave Hughes three games to secure his place in the medium term, but he has failed to show he is an essential choice. Australia's next Test series is in Sri Lanka in August and the selectors will have to pick between the experience of Katich and the unpredictability of Hughes.

Tremlett's hat-trick assault
Chris Tremlett was memorably denied a hat-trick on his ODI debut against Bangladesh in 2005 when the crucial delivery bounced off the top of Mohammad Ashraful's bails and rolled away to safety. He didn't quite come as close to that today, but nevertheless, Peter Siddle - who himself claimed three-in-three on the first day of the series - was still required to dig out a pinpoint yorker to prevent his own stumps being rattled. It was an inspired burst from Tremlett, who prised open the tail by bouncing out Brad Haddin, before serving Mitchell Johnson his eighth duck in 11 Tests with an inswinger that took out off stump. In a pumping atmosphere, England claimed the extra half-hour, but couldn't quite force victory with a day to spare.

Not so super Mitch
The Barmy Army have a couple of songs about Johnson and neither are complimentary. In one they say: "He swings left, he swings right, he bowls a lot of shi**". In the other they are being ironic when belting out Super Mitchell Johnson. Johnson was Australia's leading bowler with four wickets for the innings, but he finished it on an expensive low. Graeme Swann was the chief aggressor when Johnson's final two overs went for a crushing 35, taking his return to 4 for 168 off 36.

Delayed Tied Test anniversary
It was a month late but the nine surviving members of Australia's squad for the 1960-61 Tied Test finally got their anniversary lunch. The match occurred at the Gabba in December 1960, but a 50-year celebration of the event was delayed because Cricket Australia didn't want it to diminish the start of the Ashes series. Richie Benaud remembered Bob Simpson hitting Wes Hall's first over of the MCG Test for 18, a perfect example of a man following his captain's orders to attack the damaging fast bowler. Neil Harvey, Alan Davidson, Bob Simpson and Ian Meckiff were some of the other former Test stars in attendance.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo and Andrew Miller is UK editor

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jody on January 7, 2011, 1:36 GMT

    Congrates to England, they did what was expected, really it should have not come as a surprize to any one. This Aussie side is a weak example of a cricket team. Im getting tired of people talking this team up, really its on par with teams of the 80's before Border took over. And those teams were poor.

  • Harvey on January 6, 2011, 23:42 GMT

    Hilfenhaus is also not test quality. Certainly not a strike bowler or an opening bowler. He doesnt even have a 5 wicket innings in tests and his wickets have come at nearly 35. He is closer to a tame pussy cat.

  • Dominic on January 6, 2011, 20:36 GMT

    Something_Witty not only is Johnson he is not inconsistent he is not close to being a test bowler. take away Perth and he averages 80 a wicket and those figures grossly flatter him as his wickets are taken when the oppo are in one day mode with 300+on the board. He gifts at least 60 runs + an innings. It's no good being devastating once every 2 years when you hit ideal conditions. It's no good talking about potential either at his age and experience. Contrast him with Anderson - an almost exact contemporary - who used to be a bowler who was devastating on his day but a pie thrower otherwise. Anderson is now class on any surface in any conditions and it is Australia's good luck that he hasn't had any Anderson friendly conditions in this series! Johnson has gone backwards and backwards. It's hard to see him getting close to selection for India, South Africa, England, Sri Lanka or Pakistan. Might get a game for Bangladesh though I suppose. Physical attributes are not enough.

  • Dummy4 on January 6, 2011, 19:58 GMT

    @ Chiggers. Your argument is a bit over stretching of the facts with regards to the no-ball stats and fines for slow over rates. India did bowl 23 no balls in the match but only (when i say only i mean this wrt to your stats and not that it isn't disgraceful) 12 in the second innings. Along with 2 wides that makes 14 re-bowled deliveries. That's still good for 2 overs though so they were still 1 short. I would think Sreesanth's antics (complaining about the crowd slagging him off at the boundary) and Singh's tinkering with the fields were the chief culprits. India are always slow and its good that they were punished.

  • Ian on January 6, 2011, 18:16 GMT

    Hughes may have weaknesses, but he has youth and potential on his side. You don't take South Africa apart in South Africa without a bit of talent, as India have just discovered. He should be nurtured and his flaws worked on, it's not like he's really costing them victories at this point. Australia's weaknesses mean that it's rebuilding time, and Hughes is one for the future. I'd even go as far as to suggest North being nurtured too, although I'm not sure if Smith and Beer are quite Test level. Khaswaja's novelty value aside, he's looked really good on his own merit, and hopefully these youngsters will form a core around which a new generation of Australian talent can be built around.

  • oscar on January 6, 2011, 17:38 GMT

    How can you blame Watson for Katich's run out. He was ball watching a should have made it easily, similar for hughes but that run was much tighter.

  • Chris on January 6, 2011, 17:01 GMT

    @SAM_SAYA - India bowled 23 no-balls (the equivalent of 4 extra overs), and there's a load of Indian fans elsewhere moaning about being fined for going 3 overs overtime; Now to me the reason for the latter seems to correlate fairly strongly with the incidence of the former - wouldn't you agree?

  • Khawaja Saad on January 6, 2011, 15:05 GMT

    Just checked: India bowled 23 No Balls in ongoing test.

  • John on January 6, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    Also, Craig Bruton, that is exactly what I think Smith should do as well. He can already bat, anyone who has watched him at domestic level knows how good he is with the bat, I also love watching people with unorthodox techniques. I would love to see him really develop his leg spin, as the value of a good leg spinner cannot be overstated.

  • John on January 6, 2011, 12:49 GMT

    5wombats, not sure what you hope to gain by your post. It just seems like flamebait to me. But if you're serious about it, watch some replays of Hughes batting in Perth and then in the the second innings in Melbourne and this match. If you watch closely you can see there are many things he's been working on. Firstly and most obviously, he's reined in his aggression somewhat; he's also trying to play much straighter. If you look at his back foot, he's done a lot of work correcting and preventing that little tentative shuffle to the leg side that it used to do, he also seems to be getting his front foot to the pitch of the ball more often, and making sure his head is covering the line properly. Of course, you won't notice these things if you're not really paying attention. As for Johnson, no he is not below average for a test bowler, he is just inconsistent. I have not denied that and it would be foolish for anyone to. Also being hit around a bit by tail-enders happens to all bowlers.

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