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Peter English and Andrew Miller at the SCG
January 6, 2011
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 editorFeeds: Peter English
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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