In less than six months the Australian batting line up has crumbled for a total less than 100 in a test match on day one. First at Headingly the Pakistan seam bowlers rocked them out for 88 in July this year and today the England seamers managed to bundle them for 98 at Melbourne. Now to me that looks like a struggling top order. But if you ask Mr. Ian Chappell, he might say “they are just out of luck and not out of form”. And brother Greg might be sharpening his knife, this time to chop-n-change the batting line up, don’t worry about the absence of bench strength, Mr. Greg will find a surprise batsman for you with a first class experience of 5 or 6 games.
Time and again, I have said on my blog that Shane Watson is a natural #6. He may have done the job on some occasions at #1 slot but is not a natural opener and when you have him paired with someone struggling for his place in the side, to open a decider test match, you get 2/37. The most important thing in the test match is to see of the first hour on day one and then go on to dominate. That’s what Langer-Hayden did. Yes they played attacking cricket, but they were natural opener, so was Michael Slater. This Australian stubbornness of having an attacking batsman for opener is now biting them in the back. In 7 innings the Australian openers have only produce 2 fifty plus stands compared to their counterparts who have produced 2 century stands and a fifty stand in 6 innings.
The rest of the top order has been also fragile as barring Watson-Hussey the other four batters have produced a combined 423 in 6 completed innings that is less than 71 runs in each innings from four of your top order batsmen combined. Ponting who scored two centuries in the last edition is yet to get an aggregate score of hundred after 7 innings. I hate to wake you up Mr. Ian Chappell, but even a fourth grader can tell you that it is indeed a batsman who is woefully out of form. The selectors keep searching everywhere to find a suitable #6, but don’t want to look at their #1 batsman who is a natural #6. I haven’t seen things gone so wrong for Australian Cricket for almost 25 years.
The Australians may have their own problems, but quite frankly they have been lamented by one man in the England seam attack – James Anderson. He has so far accounted for 16 of the 61 Australian wickets on this tour. Last time he rocked the host’s top order, they were bowled out for 245 and lost by an innings, today they are bundled for 98 and England is already 0/135. It was Australia who went into the test with the momentum of the victory from Perth. The whole Australian media and their experts made a quick 180 turn and started touting about the team that was being given a stick in the first two tests. The media called the visitors “Paranoid Poms” , well within three hours the hosts were reduced to become Krashedout Kangaroos.
The test match is far from over and teams have made come-backs from even worse situations, however, with Ashes at stake and the England team dominating further and further as every moment goes on this test, things are looking gloomy for the hosts. England has already surpassed the Aussie total without any damage and openers look in no mood to get out. The only way for Australia to come back is to get a fiery spell of seam bowling tomorrow morning and try to restrict England under 250. Then go out and bat out of their skins to make 400, something that they have done only once in the Ashes so far. The odds are very unfavorable for the hosts. Remember, I had put my bet on England winning 2-1, may be at Melbourne, I think I’ll stick with that. Australia will need to make a run for it here itself, because if they lose here, I don’t reckon them winning at Sydney.
-Nikhil Sharad Jadhav