July 14, 2013
Choice of game
It doesn't get much bigger than day four of an opening Ashes Test and this one was set up perfectly. It was my first live taste of the Ashes since Edgbaston 1997 (Nasser/Thorpe and all that) when I was only eight, so I was like a kid on Christmas eve last night.
This Test has Edgbaston 2005 written all over it and the Aussie tail should not be written off. If Agar is given licence to attack in the morning then he could rapidly take the target below 100, which is a huge psychological target in itself for the visitors. England haven't won an opening Ashes Test since 1997 - maybe I'm a lucky charm?
Proud Englishman. I'm prouder to admit I'm one of those rare county cricket obsessives.
Stuart Broad. Ian Bell deserves a huge amount of credit for his wonderful century but the hard work was done yesterday. Broad's contribution to that partnership, and a half-century of his own, ensured Australia were chasing 300-plus, but it was his bowling this afternoon which may end up winning the game. The deliveries that accounted for Shane Watson and Michael Clarke were, in the context of the game, impeccably timed.
One thing you'd have changed about the day
It's incredibly hard to find fault after such a gripping day of Test cricket. The weather was perfect, the ground was packed and the game ebbed and flowed as it has throughout the match. The only minor gripe would be England's apparent lack of impetus in the morning when they could have really got away from Australia - but I'm an eternal pessimist so I wouldn't have been happy even with a lead of 400.
The interplay you enjoyed
Funnily enough, it would have to be Anderson's over to Agar right at the end of the day. There was a genuine buzz around the ground when he came out to bat at No.8 with everyone expecting him to go out swinging but he showed admirable patience against the King of Swing himself and may yet deliver a fairytale win for his team.
The wicket of Clarke was absolutely huge and resulted in the two biggest cheers of the day; the first when the England players celebrated the edge in the first place and the second when the edge was confirmed following the review. Swann trapping Steven Smith the very next ball just put the icing on the cake.
Shot of the day
Shane Watson's majestic cover just before lunch which thumped into the hoardings in front of where we sat in the Radcliffe Road End. It was a day of few boundaries and that was a real signal of Australia's intent and determination to reach their target.
Ball of the day
Mitchell Starc's opening ball of the day would have been talked about for years had it been the first ball of the match and the series. A beamer that threatened to decapitate Watson at first slip; five no balls that could end up being the difference between the sides. Yes, I think Australia will get that close.
Despite the ground being full, the enthusiasm in the crowd followed the pattern of the day's cricket - us Poms just can't cope with this unusual thing called summer. As you would expect the crowd was predominantly English, but there were a handful of Aussies near us who made their presence felt. One in particular insisted on referring loudly to England as 'Wales' all day, in some sort of reference to the British Lions. What he failed to realise is that the intelligent cricket fans among us, from both sides of the Ashes void, took no notice because rugby league is a far superior game.
Fancy dress index
I don't think there is such a thing as unusual fancy dress at the cricket these days. Two drunk nuns making an early exit earned a good ovation as did someone dressed in full Ironman insignia. That spectator has my admiration for persisting with their fancy dress in such heat.
Tests v limited-overs
Test match every day of the week (well five days of the week anyway). There are so many ODIs played these days that even the rare close games are forgotten in an instant. Test matches, particular those in an Ashes series, go down in history. To be part of that is a privilege.
A fascinating day of cricket and the proof of that lies in the fact that we still don't know for sure who will win on Sunday.
Marks out of 10
9/10. The only way it could have been improved would have been if England had ripped through the tail to win the game while I was there. Tomorrow, tomorrow…
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