Eamonn Maloney refutes my naive idea that the Australian batting cupboard is bulging. “See I think local observers would tell you the cupboard is concerningly bare beyond the incumbents and we won’t be sniffing at 40-odd averages like Head’s over the next ten years. The next cabs off the rank at the moment are the previously tried and unconvincing, with the exception of Pucovski if he can stop getting hit on the bonce.”
Interesting. So is there any criticism of the Sheffield Shield as a batting school?
It’s lunch in Cape Town, with South Africa needing only another 41, seven wickets in the back pocket. Keegan Petersen’s 82 seems to have done the business. Jasprit Bumrah has apparently been fabulous, but with only one wicket to show for it.
Something to chew on
while the press corps in Tasmania are getting increasingly cheesed-off by this stoppage. Seems we might get more play now – with 70 mins possible, sorry for the the earlier misinformation.
Eamonn Maloney is using the rain break to pick at his heels “England’s inadequacies in this series have masked Australia’s own question marks. One of them was ‘is Cummins a no. 8?’ which the skipper seems here to have answered correctly in my view as a no. Starc every time when he’s playing, not just because of a good series with the willow. Carey has batted like the world is ending and needs someone to calm him down. Meanwhile Travis Head will only ever average 40 odd at test level because of his tendency to play away from the body, but he should play every match for the next ten years and have his central contract restored forthwith because of his ability to change games (see also B Stokes).”
Head was just brilliant today. In fact Australia seem to have an embarrassment of riches on the batting front.
And it’s still drizzling at Hobart with about 45 minutes left in the day.
A positive Test in the England women’s camp
“Following the second round of England Women’s scheduled PCR tests on Wednesday a member of the England Women support staff tested positive for COVID-19.
The staff member has been in isolation in accordance with state COVID management guidelines since the result of the test and will remain in Canberra when the group travel to Adelaide for the IT20 leg of the multi-format series.
The ECB medical team have been working alongside their CA counterparts to manage the situation. Additional testing and contact tracing has been undertaken and no additional positive cases have been reported.
A further round of routine PCR tests will be undertaken before the team fly by charter to Adelaide on Monday January 17.”
“Could you please update the Key Events for those of us catching the OBO on the sly?” asks James Debens. Ok, here we go: At 12-3, (ducks for Warner and Smith) Australia are on the ropes, despite Crawley dropping Labuschagne, going for a catch in front of Root’s nose at second slip. Superb bowling from Broad and Robinson. Then a counter-punch from Labuschagne and Head as England’s change bowlers struggle. Labuschagne falls in a banana-skin manner, but Green picks up where he left off.
Runs a plenty, and Head reaches a sumptuous hundred before giving his wicket away, Green falls for the bouncer trick to cheer up Wood’s day and England have a glimmer of a hope. Oh, and England left out Anderson – Stokes can’t bowl and Robinson seems to have injured himself out of the attack. Have I missed anything?
Time to top up your coffee. We’re still waiting for news from Hobart but meanwhile Alison Mitchell and Jeremy Snape are talking about mental health in what looks like a dungeon.
An email arrives from Finbar Anslow: ‘Morning Tanya, minus ten last night in the hills of Southern Piedmont.Just wondering if Jack Leach has a shelf life on his hat trick? Would it still be valid if he got a wicket with his first ball 2 years later? Is there a record for this kind of thing?”
I think they go on forever don’t they? I don’t know what the record is but here is a selection of unusual hat-tricks.
It looks damp at Hobart. And grey. And lush. The groundsmen have pulled on the covers, but they’re hanging around for further instruction. The radar is apparently showing only spots of rain. Any Tasmanian locals out there to give us a proper forecast?
Rain stops play
59.3 overs: Australia 241-6 (Carey 10, Starc 0) With great aplomb, Carey squats and square drives another short one from Wood to the boundary. The umpires consult about the rain, dismiss it, let another two balls be bowled, then slowly take the players off.
“As it looks like the England XI will be beaten by the Australian lower order,” ponders Kim Thonger, “their top 4 not really contributing, could we adopt this as a permanent new format for Ashes tests? Seven Australians against eleven Englishmen. It evens it up a bit. There’s an obvious sponsor for The 7/11 Ashes in the wings.”
59th over: Australia 237-6 (Carey 6, Starc 0) Up on the Aussie balcony, we see David Warner holding the pinky-orange ball, and dropping advice in Pat Cummins’ ear. Just one from Broad’s over as a little drizzle starts to fall.
58th over: Australia 236-6 (Carey 5, Starc 0) A succession of bouncers from Wood discombobulates Green, who falls for the age-old trap. Smashing innings though, boom-bastic elegance, what a talent he is. Now, can England whittle out the tail quickly?
WICKET! Green c Crawley b Wood 74 (Australia 236-6)
Green slam-hooks a bouncer, but can only top-edge and Crawley is waiting at deep square leg. His third catch of the day.
57th over: Australia 235-5 (Carey 4, Green 74) Miserly from Broad until Green makes that jollygreengiant stride and cover drives with impossible elegance for a man mountain.
“Greetings from the Bunker.” Lovely to hear from you Charles Sheldrick.
“ My passion for cricket was ignited by the 1981 Ashes, I was 10, so I should be used to this by now.
Why does it still get to me after 40 years, the hope, the brief flash, like a glimpse of the sunrise through the fog, when England compete.
Then the gloom descends again and reality reasserts itself.
Do I need to get out more, or is that the problem?”
Charles, you just did need some sunshine. We all do.
56th over: Australia 230-5 (Carey 3, Green 70) All elegance, Green leans and sends a short one from Wood through backward point for four. In pounds Wood and sends down a succession of more short balls that Green ignores. England need a run-out or something here. A Billings stumping perhaps.
55th over: Australia 226-5 (Carey 3, Green 66) Broad sprints in with full-hearted fury Carey picks up a couple, but watches the rest fly safely by into Billings’ gloves.
54th over: Australia 224-5 (Carey 1, Green 66) A couple of dots, then a juicy one on leg stump which Green sends through midwicket for four with a jaunty air. A second follows , a back foot square drive: delicious.
53rd over: Australia 216-5 (Carey 1, Green 58) Ollie Robinson does not seem to have taken the field. Meanwhile James Anderson, resting, watches from the sidelines. The sky is now inky black and the fielders shadows are charcoal. Broad is bowling and Billings collects the ball as they run a single, a bundle of energy, collar up, sleeves buttoned down.
He’s not had a good day today but, to be fair, he’s been pretty good for the rest of the series – fast and full-throated, if unlucky. It always helps to be lucky.
I’ve just watched the highlights of the morning session and the elation from England to have Australia on the ropes at 12-3….can they pull something from the hat in this final session? The lights are on, the dark is rising.
Good morning Guy Hornsby!
52nd over: Australia 215-5 (Carey 1, Green 57) Root signs off the session – his tenth over – and they trundle off for the break. That’s 130 runs in the session, a mature fifty for Green and a glorious hundred for Travis Head before his moment of madness. Time for England to regroup – all is not lost – but Australia counter-punched with dental precision. Time for a quick coffee, but I’ll leave you to ponder this thought from Gary Naylor.
Fifty for Green!
50th over: Australia 212-5 (Carey 1, Green 54) A single through the covers off Root brings Green his fifty – how he’s grown in confidence this series – and the last ball is drilled through the covers, a darling of a shot.
49th over: Australia 204-5 (Carey 0, Green 47) On the balcony the Australians are waiting, and the crowd clap Woakes’s approach to the crease. England polish their boots and scrub their pads, but there it is, a scamper for two through the off-side off just 112 balls. Head gets a big bear hug from Green, pulls off his helmet – his hair heavy with sweat – and grins to a standing ovation from the Hobart crowd. What a rescue act from 12-3. But what is this, he’s just plonked his wicket away with a splodge to mid-on. From elation to desolation in one false shot.
WICKET! Head c Robinson b Woakes 101 (Australia 204-5)
From nowhere, Head chips Woakes to Robinson the ball after reaching a glorious, gluttonous, humdinger of a century.
48th over: Australia 201-4 (Green 46, Head 99) I’m not entirely sure whether Robinson is physically unfit to bowl or Root just doesn’t trust him to bowl. Anyway, Root continues, and they pick a few, but Head finishes the over on 99 – tantalisingly close to his second hundred of the series.
47th over: Australia 197-4 (Green 44, Head 97) Woakes gets the nod and celebrates his recall with a juicy one, verging on half-volley, which Head flicks off the pads and away for four. And merrily we roll along.
46th over: Australia 192-4 (Green 44, Head 92) Three squeezed off Root, but narry a boundary.
“The last time I saw a wicket this green,” writes Jonathan Taylor, “was on the Hill at Kirriemuir – the only ground where you can watch the fall of the wicket from JM Barrie’s Camera Obscura…….. Much like this one the only difference between the wicket & the outfield was it had a set of stumps at either end.”
45th over: Australia 189-4 (Green 43, Head 90) Broad again, Root doesn’t’ have much choice tbh. The floodlights are on, and on the lush green bank the crowd lounge about. It’s a jumper evening. Just a single comes off it, as England get a breather. Are we close to the witching hour when the lights take over?The commentators seemed to think its approach was why Australia were going at such a clatter.
43rd over: Australia 188-4 (Green 43, Head 89) Broad again. Head slaps him through the covers like a bawdy swipe on a night out – and Broad is frustrated by the fielder who doesn’t move, shrugging passive aggressively. He shows the umpire the ball, bits seems to be coming off it – imagine peeling nail varnish – but any request is turned down. Head is now the leading runscorer of this series, leaping Labuschagne.
“Good morning Tanya,” Hello Tone White! “from cold, severe, S of France, glad to hear Doh-gi has gathered the blankets to get comfortable, it may turn out to be a long hard day in the field after the initial Australian fake collapse.An exhausted English team sent in to chase 472 tomorrow night?”
It’s definitely possible.