FAN FOLLOWING

First-person reports from the stands

Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 2nd day

December 15, 2013

Route 666 to the WACA

Lee McDonald


Mitchell Johnson held on to a difficult catch running backwards, Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 2nd day, December 14, 2013
Mitch Johnson: wouldn't be out of place in Sea World © Getty Images
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Choice of game
Unfortunately, like most cricket tragics, I have a day job. I live in Perth but having had some time off from work to attend the Adelaide Test Match I couldn't justify taking more leave to head to day one of the Perth Test. So I chose to head to day two instead. When I am Supreme Overlord of the Universe, my first order of business will be to declare all Test-match working days as holidays for cricket tragics.

Team supported
England. I have spent most of my life in Australia but I was born in the UK and I was brainwashed by my father to support England from an early age. The first international match I attended was England taking on the might of the West Indies in a one-dayer way back in 1987. Despite 51 from Logie, 45 from Sir Viv and five wickets for the great Joel Garner, England triumphed by 19 runs thanks to 71 from Allan Lamb and four wickets for the late Graham Dilley. I was hooked.

Key performer
A special mention must go to Alastair Cook for his gritty 72, but for me Ryan Harris was the key performer. He conceded just 26 runs during his 15 overs of pace, swing, good length and guile. Ryano also took the wicket of Michael Carberry just when the opening partnership looked like flourishing and that opened the door for Australia to put the clamps on England.

One thing I'd have changed about the day
I'm not sure if you have heard but it is hot in Perth at the moment. It is melt-your-face hot. It is surface-of-the sun hot. The local transport company has numbered the special bus service running to the WACA during the Test Match as "Route 666", presumably so you know for sure that it will be hot. So yeah, if Mother Nature could have turned the heating down a tad, that would have been nice.

The controversy
The controversy of DRS strikes again! Marais Erasmus didn't seem to think Joe Root nicked a ball from Shane Watson, but Australia did and Marais obviously decided to change his mind, seeing as they had asked so nicely. Root didn't think he nicked it so he referred the decision, but then he didn't seem so sure. The third umpire, Tony Hill, reviewed the decision and had there been a camera on him I'm sure we would have seen him shrugging his shoulders and utter the words: "Stuffed if I know". In the end, the decision stood but the replays seem to suggest Root hit his pad and not the ball.

The lowlight and the highlight - in one ball
Having uncharacteristically battled intently to score 19 runs from 58 deliveries, Kevin Pietersen decided to play a truly awful cross-bat slog to the 59th. The ball ballooned in the air and looked to be drifting over mid-on. But at mid-on was Australia's moustachioed saviour - Mitchell Guy Johnson.

Johnson back peddled and then, just as the ball appeared to be creeping over him, flung himself in the air like a dolphin leaping high out of the ocean. Only Johnson has hands, not fins. This crucial difference between Johnson and a regular leaping dolphin allowed Mitch to take a spectacular catch, giving Peter Siddle KP's wicket for the tenth time in Test cricket in the process. Poor shot, superb catch.

Player watch
Being at the cricket always gives you a different perspective on the match, particularly regarding the movements of players in the field. I attended the day's play with my brothers and dad, and we were all captivated with the busy-ness of Root while England were bowling. He was constantly clapping and encouraging, eagerly looked for the ball to be thrown to him at all times, dished out a few high-fives, and played rugby with other players in between overs using his fielding helmet as a ball. It appears that the demure-looking Yorkshireman is England's pep man on the field.

Shot of the day
Not so much shot as shots. Cook and Carberry played multiple gentle defensive pushes for four at the start of England's innings. It was a fantastic use of the pace and ice rink outfield that the WACA has.

Crowd meter
There was some early singing from the Barmy Army but the oppressive heat seemed to take its toll on the crowd's ability to muster much cheering beyond boundaries and the fall of wickets. However, the crowd did spring to like halfway through the last session thanks to some encouragement from Michael Clarke.

With Cook and Pietersen blunting the Australian attack, Clarke threw the ball to the Harbinger of Doom, aka Mitchell Johnson. In between each ball of the over Australian captain gesticulated to the crowd to make some noise. The crowd obliged with some raucous cheering when Mitch ran for each delivery that over as they attempted to will the Australian strike bowler towards claiming a wicket.

Fancy-dress index
Due to the heat, the fancy dress index was low. However, there were men in dresses and men dressed as Smurfs in dresses. My dad, my brothers and I attended wearing red-and-white bow ties, but no dresses.

Entertainment
During the tea break a very casual-looking Greg Blewett tried to hit some tennis balls into a hole in a target 50 metres away. I think it is safe to say that if Test cricket involved hitting tennis balls into a hole in a target 50 metres away, then Blewett's Test career would have been much shorter than it was.


Spectators dressed in bow ties, Perth, December 14, 2013
The proper attire for a day of Test cricket © Lee McDonald
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Tests v limited-overs
Twenty20 is fast food, one-dayers are a good pub meal, Test match cricket is your mum's Sunday roast. So if your mum is a bad cook you probably don't like Test cricket.

Banner of the day
On the eastern side of the ground, there was a banner that read "The Bell End". It was crude but giggle-worthy.

Marks out of 10
9. It was a tense, enthralling and hard day's Test cricket. It was one for the purists.

England would be happy with taking 4 for 59 in the morning session and putting on 85 for the first wicket. However, Australia managed to squeeze out four wickets by bowling much like England did during their recent (but increasingly distant) glory years. The Aussies bowled immaculate line and length, swung the ball, dried up the runs and waited for the batsmen to make mistakes. Australia are ahead in this match and they have one pinky finger on the little urn.

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Lee McDonald is a stodgy opening batsman and cut-shot enthusiast for the 2nd XI of his local cricket club. He loves Test cricket, not the much-loved board game, the much-more-loved actual game. He has his very own cricket podcast called The Cut Shot. You can follow him on Twitter here and check out the podcast here and on iTunes.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Posted by   on (December 15, 2013, 15:16 GMT)

A succinct, humorous report. "Test cricket is your mum's Sunday roast" - couldn't agree more!

Posted by   on (December 15, 2013, 9:07 GMT)

England team needs to regroup. They need to counter attack johnson. Defending is not thr way. and only KP can do that

Posted by   on (December 15, 2013, 3:13 GMT)

I wonder when the England batsman will realise that Johnson, although very fast, is all puff and wind and has very little idea of the location of the stumps. He is either landing the ball in his third, notice I said third not half, or sending it wide of the sticks.

But once again, he has claimed a wicket, that of Stokes, with a ball that was of the latter variety and did not require a shot to be played. I just don't understand it.

Johnson can only bowl in short spells and it is highly unintelligent to try and knock him around the ground. Let him wear himself out, for goodness sake.

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