England v Australia, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 4th day July 13, 2013

An English plan made in Australia

Something that David Saker had seen in Chris Rogers' batting led to a wicket and an on-pitch tribute from England's leading bowler

James Anderson wasn't looking at his captain. James Anderson wasn't looking at the catcher. And James Anderson wasn't even looking at Graeme Swann in the seconds after his Chris Rogers wicket.

Anderson was looking at someone though. He was pointing. He was screaming. He was connecting with a special person on the balcony. It was passionate and romantic. But instead of a beautiful woman wearing a white gown leaning seductively on the balcony, it was the round, flushed face of David Saker.

Saker didn't blow a kiss at Anderson; he just gave him the thumbs up.

Only lip readers will know, or at least think they know, what Anderson said to his beloved coach. Anyone who didn't believe in cricket coaches might have been converted by this dramatic moment. Saker is certainly of more use to Anderson than merely driving him to and from the ground.

This all came about, like the best crime films, with a plan.

The plan was not all that complicated. Anderson would bowl around the wicket to Rogers. He would pitch it up on off stump. There would be a short midwicket. And Rogers would eventually flick one in the air to the short midwicket.

It could have been something Saker had seen in this innings. Or it could have been something Saker remembered from a Shield match against Rogers in 1999. It's even possible that Rogers showed the weakness to chipping in the air when Saker was Victoria's assistant coach.

Saker coached Peter Siddle and James Pattinson before leaving Australia for the England job. He was under Cricket Australia's nose for over five years. Victoria's fast-bowling line up was scary, and Saker was getting credit. In any of the many recent overhauls Saker could have been tempted back home to finish the job he started at Victoria.

Instead he plots the downfall of his countryman and gets screaming adulation of the opposition.

It wasn't just any wicket either; this flaccid flick from Rogers was what has given England their chance to win. With Rogers at the crease, Australia had one end locked tight. Rogers had dulled Graeme Swann. Australia had moved past 100. Michael Clarke was still with him. There were reasons to be optimistic. Hell, there were reasons to tease random English people that their 10-0 prediction may not last until lunch on Sunday, if you're that kind of fan.

And it wasn't as if a James Anderson late-hooping million-dollar ball took him out. The ball couldn't have been any straighter if it were a Southern Baptist Preacher. It wasn't particularly quick, maybe the slightest bit of pace off. It played no tricks off the pitch. Had there not been the yellin' and screamin' at Saker on the balcony, it would've looked like a lucky wicket.

Maybe it was. But England seemed to get a lot of lucky wickets. They continually aimed at Shane Watson's massive front pad until they hit it. They gave Ed Cowan a part-time spinner to hit out of the rough knowing that he might be more likely to have a go off Joe Root than Swann. They kept the ball in the place Clarke is most likely to play a half shot and nick behind.

But until tea, England were ordinary. They were flat. Steven Finn was hidden. Swann looked out of sorts. Anderson was manageable. And Broad looked more pantomime villain than cold-blooded assassin. They were playing like a side who thought 311 runs were way too many for Australia, even though the evidence was proving otherwise.

According to Ian Bell, the break came at the right time. Sitting his bowlers down, the man with the round face and Australian accent gave them new plans.

After tea Australia lost four wickets. They had to use their Ashton Agar. They only scored 63 runs in 34.2 overs. They lost all advantages. And referrals. They were naked.

Saker and Anderson had made them so. The coach, his 'most skillful bowler in the world' and their simple plan.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 14, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    I think England had a few hings going for them. For eighe days England had not watered the pitch and they created a sub continental style wicket to reduce the effectiveness of Pattinson and Staarc. It could have been an easy win , but agar and Haddin had other ideas. What a game. But if Australia is sensible, they can still come back. They should play Watson and Rogers, he is bloody useul in getting the ball to reverse too. Cowan is low on confidence , he should be replaced .Bird should play soon. Australia should believe in themselves. Warner should play soon. Swann was manageable and Finn was bad . Broad was lucky. Things will change and Australia has to belive in themselves, Ramanujam sridhar

  • Dummy4 on July 14, 2013, 12:12 GMT

    Nick Busieta, Watson was promoted mid-series 2009, when Rogers wasn't even in the squad. And for almost 2 years, it worked a treat. And he didn't move from 6 to open, he wasn't even in the team at the time. Fair crack!

  • Dummy4 on July 14, 2013, 7:44 GMT

    Swann was not up to much in India, hasn't played well here. When will the selectors get a grip and pick Panesar as first spinner.

  • Sam on July 14, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    For AUS: a) For me, Australian selectors just can't use the resources available to them. That shows in their dip in ranking b) Chris Rogers with over 19000 FC runs averaging over 50, he could have been a world class test batsman if selected earlier. I mean what selectors were waiting for by overlooking him ? c) Aus should value experience players who have decent domestic players. If Aus throws a set of new inexperienced player, they will fall into a bigger trap. Send them one by one after grooming them d) Aus seem to try to some average FC players i.e. Quiney at test level which failed e) Simon Katich shouldn't have been dropped. He's still in Eng scoring double century f) Ricky Ponting deserved an Ashes recall g) Don't know why Micheal Hussey retired. He still has lot in him h) David Hussey is another player who can be tried out in tests. But Aus has dropped him in ODIs too despite being one of the best shortest former player, Nottinghamshire crowd certainly know that i) Many say Phil Jacques wasn't the same player after recovering from injury. But for me, he should have got a recall. He now has a kolpalk county deal j) Voges, Klinger & North should play for Aus A team regularly For Eng: a) The current XI is of full strength b) I don't like Bresnan. He just doesn't look like a fast bowler for me. Also not good test stats c) If Finn remains really wayward, Graham Onions should replace him d) Tremlett looked fine but didn't see him for a while now e) Root is a long term investment. He just had a test failure but picked up a crucial wicket f) Compton needs to wait more I reckon.

  • sam on July 14, 2013, 6:26 GMT

    Eng are very lucky that Aus are missing many of their front line players. David Warner could have done a lot of damage on this pitch which was flat at most times and ball got bit old. Aus in 1st inngs could have had 70 to 80 extra lead than they got. The bowling of Aus is as good as it gets and Mitch Johnson's presence would have got rid of the tail and the Bell and Broad partnership been quickly cut short as well as the Eng tail.From the position they were in,Eng would've made no more than 250. Aus be well with in sight of victory.

  • Robert on July 14, 2013, 5:56 GMT

    Agreed that Saker is a top-of-the-range coach (and Australia should be kicking themselves for not employing him after the great work he did at Victoria) - but it must be added that he also needs a top-of-the-range bowler to carry out the plans; Broad and Finn don't have the consistent accuracy to do it, it needs someone with the skill of Anderson (as Saker is the first to acknowledge). I shudder to think what Pattinson and Starc could be doing with Dave behind them!

  • Dummy4 on July 14, 2013, 5:08 GMT

    @Moppa - not sure you can dismiss his omission as 'with the benefit of hindsight'. A lot of people (myself included) has been banging on about Rogers for years. He should have been an automatic selection as opener when Watson went from number six to opener. That was blunder. That cost about 3 years of Rogers in his prime. Other blunders came when North, Marsh, Cowan, and Quiney were picked. Khawaja showed potential but lacked runs at FC level. David Hussey is another guy who was starved of opportunity because Ponting moved down the order to take up the available middle order spot. While guys like Rogers and Hussey have been plundering domestic attacks for years, lesser players have been picked because selectors were getting too cute with their selection philosophies. Simple - pick batsmen with the best form and highest career averages, and bowlers with best form and lowest career averages. Other factors should only come into it for line ball decisions.

  • Dummy4 on July 14, 2013, 4:57 GMT

    If England is going to choose slow, low bounce, Indian turners as wickets, they might as well take Monty instead of Finn, and potentially Woakes as an all-rounder ahead of Bairstow, with Prior moving to 6, or just go with 4 bowlers.

  • John on July 14, 2013, 4:30 GMT

    @cricket2Monkey on (July 13, 2013, 20:57 GMT), I think that the Australian management/selectors have fallen into a bit of trap, much as England have, of believing that they need a certain type of player to succeed when playing for Australia, even if someone who doesn't fit that mould has a better record. I think that, given his style of play, Rogers probably would have had a better chance of getting a gig for England than Australia.

  • John on July 14, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    @OhhhhhMattyMatty on (July 13, 2013, 21:09 GMT), that's a rather silly comment. Tremlett at his best could have done some damage, yes, but he's done nothing so far this season to suggest that he's back to his best. As for Compton, his last two Tests against NZ were worse than Root's here so to assume that he would have done better has no real basis, especially given that he failed in both innings recently for Somerset. The only sensible part of your comment is regarding Bresnan, who may well have done better than Finn. Finn's lack of control is still an issue, although his last spell yesterday was just what was needed. He needs to do that much more consistently though. Bresnan's ability to reverse swing could have been very handy on this pitch. To claim that England weren't at full strength when the players you mention were deliberately left out by the selectors is no better than RandyUK whining about the Australian selectors in India.

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