England v Australia, 4th Investec Test, Durham, 4th day August 12, 2013

Australia's roadrunner out of reach

Australia have got close to England a few times in the series only to be unable to quite catch them and when they have let chances slip they have done so in style

Wile E. Coyote spent his entire cartoon life thinking he would catch the roadrunner. On so many occasions he thought he had his dinner, only to end up falling off a cliff, getting caught in his own trap, being outsmarted or just blowing himself up.

Australia put England in an innings-long chokehold to gain the momentum. And then give it away with a bad collapse in their innings. Snap. Australia take three quick wickets to take charge of the match. And then can't stop Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell. Beep, beep. Australia take Bell and Matt Prior in two balls to keep the total chasable. And then England's tail mock them. Thud. Australia start their innings like the total of 299 is easy. And then they lose one wicket. Bam.

Other than routinely giving away good positions, Australia have done nothing consistently. Even their two collapses in this Test weren't consistent. One was half hearted after trying very hard to get a lead. The other was whole and complete. They stepped into the doom entirely, even before the clouds came over.

There are things they cannot be blamed for. Bell is better than them. Stuart Broad has those Tests. England are more professional. England have better players. England have a coach they're used to. England are playing at home. England are the better side.

But Australia are now 3-0 down from four Tests. In three of those Tests they have had chances. One was denied by weather, and KP. The other two they combined their worst with some of England's best. As far as losers go, they've been good ones. But losers just the same.

Ryan Harris probably doesn't deserve to be thought of as a loser. When in two years time he can't walk without wincing, it'll be because of days like today when he had to do the entirety of the world. As Tim Bresnan slogged him you could hear the fluid in his knee joints boil.

Peter Siddle was the batsman who offered the final catch as the dark clouds hovered above Lumley castle. In Ashes cricket he's taken hat tricks, large hauls, and put every single vital organ on the line Test after Test. For his trouble he's lost three Ashes series. Nathan Lyon, the spinner that nobody wanted, took seven wickets. Shane Watson came in at No. 6, a position he would have found unpalatable a few weeks ago, and played his best Test innings since he was at the Wanderers in 2011.

Even the accidental opening partnership did well. A player that Australia ignored because they always assumed they could find someone better, and the other who almost missed the entire tour for being an idiot. They batted in such a way that Australia believed they could finally catch England. David Warner proved again that when his head is still, and he wants to use it, he can score runs at important times. Chris Rogers hang on to the side of the boat for both innings, but no matter how many times England tried to force him off, he clung on.

But that's all Australia have been this Test, this series and of recent times, a team that can cling onto the edge and wait for the other team to break their fingers so they fall off. And when Australia fall, they fall. Today they fell so quickly it was impossible to distinguish each body from the next.

Had they been beaten by a truly great team, or even a team playing at their very best, they could draw something from that. This is not the case. England can only get better. Australia are two injuries to Harris and Clarke away from being a club side with grand ambitions. If Tony Hill and Aleem Dar could see Australia's future, they'd take them off the field for being too dark.

They will continue to fight, win the odd moral battle, have some great individual performances, and even steal the odd Test.

They can see the roadrunner, but he's just better than them, and despite the odd good sign, they might not catch it for a long time.

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

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