Gone are the days when the king team of cricket would bundle the opponents out for under 250 and then agonize them by batting over 2 days to pile up a lead in excess of 400 and then still have almost 2 days left to inflict an innings defeat. In fact now the tables are turned over and that same side finds itself at the receiving end. For almost two decades, team Australia ruled over the Test match world, because of their class apart bowling attack and now that same team’s bowling (It can’t be called much of an attack) has been punished by the England side for a combined score of 5/1068 over 4 days!!!
On the same pitch where Australia was dismissed for 245 on day one, England is tormenting the hosts by piling up runs. Before the rains came to Australia’s rescue, England had stacked up 551 runs for the loss of only four batsmen. After an early loss of Strauss, every wicket has put up a century stand (the fifth wicket has so far put an unbeaten 99 together). Bollinger and Doherty’s economy rates are close to 5 per over and they have combined bowling figures of 1/241, just four runs less than Australia’s team score. This sums of the misery of host’s bowling line-up or for that matter lack thereof.
Cook, the vice captain, surely missed out on another double hundred as he was the first victim of the day three proceedings, however, he definitely did a wonderful job by giving England exactly the start they needed. Collingwod and Bell have given good company to Kevin Pietersen, who seems to have made it a habit to score consistently against the Aussies. KP was woefully out of form with no test century in almost 21 months and 17 tests. Today he was determined and after he completed his ton, he was even more determined to get a big one. By the stumps of day three he was standing tall at 213 not out, ready to inflict more wounds on to the opponents tomorrow.
Contributions from Trott, Collingwood, Bell were also equally important as they each went on to build crucial partnerships. Trott would be ruing not get a ton here, especially after receiving three reprises during his classy 78. None of the Australian bowlers have so far looked threatening and they have used eight of them in the series so far. While watching the England side toy with the Australian bowling, I felt like Warne might jump out of commentator’s box anytime and grab the ball and start rolling his arms over. I reckon, even now, he has a better probability of getting wickets than any of the current bowlers in the Australian side.
The other glaring fact is that Australia has now bowled 295 overs for only 5 wickets at the cost of over 1000 runs, but Captain Ponting never asked Clarke, Katich, or Hussey to even bowl a single over, an opportunity that was definitely missed. Once again raising questions over Ponting’s leadership skills. His field placement throughout the test have become talk of commentators and are at times inexplicable. This test appears to be defining the way this Ashes would be played out and the way it’s currently going Strauss would be a very pleased man. Though the cloud of gloom is getting darker and darker over Captain Ponting’s head each day. Has he finally ran out of luck, we wait to find out.
-Nikhil Sharad Jadhav