This article titled “Australia thrash England by 275 runs in second Ashes Test to take 2-0 lead – as it happened” was written by Tim de Lisle and Sam Perry, for theguardian.com on Monday 20th December 2021 11.53 UTC
Ali Martin’s final-day report
Between them, England’s batters have had 40 completed innings in this series, and in 35 of those they haven’t reached 40. Joe Root has managed it twice, Dawid Malan twice, and Chris Woakes once, with that sparkling 44. Even Jos Buttler, who was absolutely heroic today, has a top score of only 39. The openers have made 109 for eight times out. At No.5 and 6, Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope, coming in against the old ball, have made 113 for eight. Something has to change. Root is right about the mentality: all they want for Christmas is glue.
That’s it from us. Thanks for your company and your correspondence, and we wish you a very merry Christmas, even if you make it hard for yourself by supporting England.
The last word goes to Bill Hargreaves, a firm friend of the OBO. “Thanks for the great commentary, for today and a great year,” he says. “The pain and humour of hope.” Pain and humour: that’s us in a nutshell.
The player of the match is Marnus Labuschagne, the only batter to make significant runs twice. He’s modest too: “Davey [Warner] was exceptional, he took the attack to the bowlers. I tried to absorb the pressure.”
“We love your idiosyncrasies,” says Adam Gilchrist, possibly not speaking for all of us.
Here’s Steve Smith, tasting victory on his return to the top table. “They showed some really good resistance and fight,” he says, “especially Jos Buttler, who’s usually a dasher, we haven’t really seen that from him before. But we always felt, ‘just a couple of good balls [will do it], we’ll keep going’. The guys played really well. We were able to control the game after the first day – Davey [Warner] and Marnus’s [Labuschagne’s] partnership set it up.” He modestly omits to acknowledge the part played by his own hard-fought 90. “I want to make special mention to Mitchell Starc as well. He led the attack really well.”
On a happier note, Root has some warm words for Jos Buttler. “It was heartbreaking to see him get out like that, because it was a wonderful performance from him. A great example to the rest of the guys – that’s the determination, the desire that you need to win out here. His mentality in particular was outstanding.”
Root blames the bowlers
“The reason it’s disappointing is that we made the same mistakes again,” Root tells Alison Mitchell. “We could have bowled a lot fuller on the first day.” That’s true, but he’s not taking any of the blame himself, for the selection, nor does he mention the fielding, which let the bowlers down badly.
“With the bat as well, we need to make bigger scores.” No shit, Joseph. “You look at the second innings, that’s the attitude, the desire, the way we’re going to have to play for the rest of the series. And we’re more than capable of doing it.”
Joe Root is about to be interviewed. This is the bit of captaincy he usually does best.
“Not bad for England to get within a session of survival,” says Robin Hazlehurst. “Suggests the big tactical error was racing through the overs when bowling. If England’s over rate had been a little slower, they might have taken enough overs out of the game to save it.”
Spare a thought for Jos Buttler, who has spent the last five days on a rollercoaster of ridiculous proportions. He has taken two breathtaking catches, dropped some sitters, made a hapless duck, been missed on a pair, put on the hair shirt and mounted a magnificent resistance for 200 deliveries, only to be defeated by the brush of his heel on the base of the stumps. That’s not a game of cricket: it’s a Netflix comedy-drama, written by Jesse Armstrong.
For the record, England scored 192 in that innings. More to the point, they survived 113.1 overs, and regained about half of their pride.
Australia win! By 275 runs (Anderson c Green b Richardson 2)
Anderson fends to gully and it’s all over. Five wickets for Jhye Richardson, and a 2-0 lead for Australia. The series is alive, technically, but for England, even after this brave resistance, the game is up.
113rd over: England 192-9 (Broad 9, Anderson 2) Broad gets four! Easing Starc through backward point, and reminding us that he was once a batter (opening the innings for his school, Oakham). Smith has posted two slips and a gully, when there should really be two slips and three gullies.
112nd over: England 188-9 (Broad 5, Anderson 2) Broad steps even further to leg and swishes at thin air! What is he doing? Jimmy has a stern word. Broad, sobering up, flicks to leg for two, then fends off a bouncer and so nearly gives a catch to gully. Anderson squirts a thick edge in the same direction, but keeps it on the ground. One of the commentators says it should be Anderson hogging the strike.
111st over: England 183-9 (Broad 2, Anderson 0) Broad lives dangerously against Starc, hanging back on leg stump like the tailender he has sadly become. He takes a single and leaves Anderson with two balls to survive. He does well, getting behind the line, and the commentators mention that he’s just become the first person ever to record 100 not-outs in Tests. His nearest rival is Courtney Walsh, with 61.
110th over: England 182-9 (Broad 1, Anderson 0) That was the first time Buttler had ever been out hit wicket in his first-class career. And now it’s down to the old firm, Broad and Anderson, to get through 23 overs.
Wicket! Buttler HIT WICKET b Richardson 26 (England 182-9)
Noooo! A fabulous rearguard effort ends in farce, as Buttler, playing a routine defensive push, goes so deep in his crease that he treads on the base of off stump. And that is that.
Buttler’s double Dentury!
109th over: England 182-8 (Buttler 26, Broad 1) Starc is back, so I think Broad is facing his first ball from a seamer. He goes back and glides it past gully. Will it go for four? The Aussies want it to, the Englishmen don’t – and it doesn’t, so Broad is off the mark and Buttler can take the rest of the over. He fends at a short one and comes close to giving a catch to short leg. The next ball is the 200th of Buttler’s innings – a double Dentury, as it’s known, in honour of Joe Denly, who actually liked to play this way. Buttler marks the occasion by twiddling his hat, and manages to drop it. Then he inside-edges, but safely, for a single. Off his 201 balls, he has hit two fours.
The Aussies are in a huddle. Steve Smith addresses them from under a baggy green cap so old that the brim is off-white. What’s he saying? “Once more unto Broad’s pad, dear friends.”
“This Australian team ain’t that great,” says Rajesh Balasubramanian. “England have contrived to make them appear phenomenal. They have two decent Test bats and two decent bowlers – neither of whom is playing this match. In fact, if you wanted to pick a bowling line-up from among current leading players to bat against on a last-day pitch, you would probably pick Starc and Lyon. India went after Starc in Brisbane and you would rather face Lyon than Warne or Murali or Ashwin or Herath at their peak. Of course now that I have written this, probably Lyon and Starc will clean up the last two wickets.”
“Do we have to keep hoping?” asks Chris Purcell. “Can’t they give us a heads up when the wickets are going to go, so we can get on with polishing the tinsel and organising our biscuit barrels?”
England make it to tea
108th over: England 180-8 (Buttler 25, Broad 0) Smith turns to his eighth bowler, Travis Head. I’m not sure what he bowls – occasional no-breaks? – but Buttler sees him off and England have made it to the most English of intervals. Jos Buttler, the fastest scorer in the west, has 25 off 196 balls. Give that man a cup of Assam.
107th over: England 180-8 (Buttler 25, Broad 0) Broad has now got through 16 balls. And there are 27 overs to go.
Broad given LBW – not out!
Lyon thinks he’s got his man with the arm ball, but Broad reviews and he’s reprieved by the inside edge!
106th over: England 180-8 (Buttler 25, Broad 0) Green is still asking the right questions. And Buttler is still saying “No comment”. He gets a couple of inside edges. Warne comes out with an interesting nugget from the golf course, of all places. “Jos Buttler’s got the yips with his chipping,” he reveals, “o he chips one-handed.”
“As a desperate man,” says Phil Withall, “hanging on to fragile straws, I still retain a slim glimmer of hope that England can pull this off. If/when this happens, I’m sure we can expect a lot of newspaper headlines to the effect of ‘The Buttler did it’. Just putting this out there for copyright purposes.”
105th over: England 180-8 (Buttler 25, Broad 0) After that hat-trick of near-misses, Broad is now playing with some purpose, either blocking solidly or leaving decisively. He gets through Lyon’s over as the commentators try to work out what happened to the next meal break. They suspect that Australia have taken a half-hour extension.
104th over: England 180-8 (Buttler 25, Broad 0) Buttler, facing the third ball of this over from Green, plays a nice on-drive but turns down an easy run. He may have got that wrong, as he can’t find a single and has to leave Broad to face the music from Lyon.
103rd over: England 180-8 (Buttler 25, Broad 0) So here’s Stuart Broad, with just the 31 overs to survive. He starts as if he doesn’t plan to see out even one of them – an edge just past gully, a play-and-a-miss to a ball that shaves the bails, and then a pad-up that brings an LBW appeal. Australia review, to no avail, as this ball too was going over the stumps. Lyon’s bounce, his biggest asset, worked against him there.
Wicket! Robinson c Smith b Lyon 8 (England 178-8)
Smith brings in a sixth close catcher and gets his reward! Lyon goes round the wicket, angles one across Robinson, takes the edge and gives Smith a low catch at slip. Robinson needed to go forward, but was perhaps cowed by the extra vulture breathing down his neck.
101st over: England 178-7 (Buttler 25, Robinson 8) Green beats Buttler outside off, with the ball that bothers even Joe Root, then goes the other way, squares him up and draws a leading edge – and then beats him again. That’s the best over since Woakes was out.
“Always good to hear from Kim Thonger,” says Brian Withington. “Regarding the infinite monkey theorem (usually applied to the complete works of Shakespeare rather than Wisden), I have idly wondered previously about the way that might go. So they’ve eventually made it all the way through every play flawlessly, every word of every comedy and tragedy, and have ploughed on through the first 17 sonnets, when with bated breath we reach the line: ‘Shall I compare thee to a zxqkygz fqx?’. Just imagine the disappointment of the poor invigilator as he wearily reaches for another ream of Basildon Bond.”
100th over: England 177-7 (Buttler 25, Robinson 8) Robinson continues to live dangerously, prodding, gloving, somehow surviving. Another maiden, and Robinson has survived 37 balls. He’s got character as well as tremendous skill – the one glint of gold in a river of misery for England.
England’s 100 up (overs)
100th over: England 177-7 (Buttler 25, Robinson 8) Starc comes off and here, at last, is Cameron Green, to bowl over no. 100. He’s had a rest that has lasted a full 65 overs and had Shane Warne tearing his widely advertised hair out. Green is on the money, testing Buttler outside off, displaying the pace and bounce of a fast bowler, but not the demeanour. He could be a book by Julia Donaldson: The Shyest Giant in Town.
99th over: England 177-7 (Buttler 25, Robinson 8) Robinson, facing Lyon, again comes close to perishing at short leg. Smith responds by bringing in a fifth close catcher; Shane Warne, in the commentary box, would like a sixth. He’s right: it’s not as if the runs matter. Robinson manages a better shot, working with the turn to take two behind square, and even goes for a mow, which he doesn’t get hold of at all.
98th over: England 175-7 (Buttler 25, Robinson 6) Starc to Buttler, yet again. A maiden, yet again. Just another 36 overs to get through. It’s wildly improbable, but they’ve shown some grit, and Buttler has done enough to save his skin.
“Last rites,” says Colum Fordham, picking up on my remark at 7:45. “Very decent of Sam to leave you to accompany England on what almost certainly but not definitely will prove to be their last stand in this Test match. But can England somehow muster the grit that India showed in the second Test last year against the Aussies, which proved to be a turning point in their series? Buttler has everything to play for, and make up for, and Robinson’s no mug with the bat. Yours in hope.”
97th over: England 175-7 (Buttler 25, Robinson 6) Steve Smith waves his arms. “C’mon Gazza!” go the vultures round the bat. “Very good Gazza! But again the upshot is only a single, as Buttler pushes smoothly into the covers. He’s got 25! He really should be raising his bat to acknowledge the acclaim for his quarter-century. Robinson pushes forward too, perilously close to forward short leg, but he gets away with it.
96th over: England 174-7 (Buttler 24, Robinson 6) Starc tries going round the wicket to Buttler, which has a dramatic consequence: a run! The first for 22 balls. Buttler uses the angle to nudge behind square and steal the strike.
“Good morning Tim,” says Kim Thonger, sounding chipper. I wonder if he has a theory… “I have adapted the infinite monkey theorem, which states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will type any given text, such as the complete set of Wisden.” Ha. “Developing this, here is the infinite burns theorem. It states that Rory Burns, facing balls at random on a good wicket for an infinite amount of time will EVENTUALLY score the daddy hundred of which Chris Silverwood thinks him capable. Statistics cannot yet be deployed to predict stylishness or panache. Gut feeling is a monkey typing would be more elegant.”
95th over: England 173-7 (Buttler 23, Robinson 6) Steve Smith turns back to Nathan Lyon, who can surely finish this off. But not just yet, as Robinson prods his way through another maiden.
Buttler reaches 150 (balls)
94th over: England 173-7 (Buttler 23, Robinson 6) Starc goes up for LBW against Buttler, to be met with an instant shake of the head from the ump. It pitched outside leg, it was going over off, but apart from that it was a great shout. Starc has a leg slip and a short leg, and he flings two balls in their direction, but Buttler leaves them. He’s got more leaves in him than a copy of Wisden, and he has now survived 150 balls. It’s his third-longest Test innings – longer than all 18 of his fifties, with only the two hundreds taking longer. As Ralf Rangnick would say, Chapeau!
93rd over: England 173-7 (Buttler 23, Robinson 6) Robinson hits a four! With a classy clip off his legs. He can bat, though he has only shown it once on the big stage, when he made 42 on Test debut against New Zealand, six long months ago. He can also be a right old rabbit, and nearly proves it now by inside-edging and nutmegging himself.
92nd over: England 169-7 (Buttler 23, Robinson 2) Richardson gives way to Starc, who’s been the main man in this match with six wickets – including Buttler for nought in the first innings. But he can’t dislodge him this time, giving him too many easy leaves. What he does manage is a maiden, so Neser will have a whole over at Robinson.
Robinson dropped! By Neser
91st over: England 168-7 (Buttler 23, Robinson 1) Neser continues and thinks he’s got Buttler LBW, but the umpire reckons it’s going down and he’s right. They take a leg bye, so Buttler is happy to leave Robinson to face four balls. He pushes one of them straight back to Neser – who gets down to it but can’t hold on. Australia really must try and field better. Robinson celebrates with a prod into the on side, which gets him off a pair.
Hello everyone and thanks Sam. So good of you to stretch the game out for long enough to allow an Englishman to read the last rites.
89th over: England 166-7 (Buttler 23, Robinson 0)
Robinson is hurried as Richardson flies in. Two slips and a short leg wait. Richardson is zeroing in on off bail, Robinson is squared up, two feet pointing down the wicket, and jamming his bat down. He wants to get out of this over. He then cops a short one but it sails over his back – Carey gathers at his shins again. Last ball, defended soundly.
That’s me! Thanks for your company. Tim de Lisle will take over now. How far can he take it! Enjoy.
88th over: England 166-7 (Buttler 23, Robinson 0)
It’s Neser now, and Buttler still looks in control. Does he try and farm the strike now? He has left and defended to this point. He tries to turn the last into the leg side but it quickens and squirts to the off. Robinson on strike now.
87th over: England 166-7 (Buttler 23, Robinson 0)
Richardson continues, Woakes leaves a full one, before he sways from a short one less convincingly. Later on, Woakes creams Richardson through the covers for four. It was overpitched, and hit beautifully. But as you’ve seen, Richardson bowls Woakes with a searing bail trimmer. Huge moment for Australia, and they celebrate accordingly.
WICKET! Woakes b Richardson 44 (England 166-7)
Bowled him! An absolute ripping delivery from Richardson, nipping back off the seam, cutting Woakes in half, sheer speed and seam in one fell swoop. Strong innings from Woakes, Australia needed that.
86th over: England 162-6 (Buttler 23, Woakes 40)
Now Neser comes in to the attack. Starc has been seen off. That’s a win for England. Where is Cameron Green? Scorecards of famous draws now adorn our screens. Faf on debut is the one we’re looking at here. Neser is as accurate as Buttler’s bat face is full. One seams back fractionally, but Buttler has it well covered. Neser is all hands on head, “some mayo” in the reaction, as cricketers are wont to say. It’s a maiden.
85th over: England 160-6 (Buttler 21, Woakes 40)
Woakes is jumpy as he plays Richardson. It’s about the only signal this new ball is causing discomfort. Can Richardson get one to move away? The next comes back and Woakes is equal to it. I can see the Fox Sports commentary box on TV, muted. Faces are a little more serious than a few minutes ago when I was told Brett Lee said, of England, “they need something because they’re getting absolutely pumped.” Richardson tries a bouncer, it’s ducked. The wise approach is to presume one wicket will trigger the rest, but these two are looking very solid.
85th over: England 160-6 (Buttler 21, Woakes 40)
Lots of angle, lots of leaving. The new ball offers Starc a few modes of dismissal, perhaps it nullifies his classic approach to Jos. He eventually gets one to come back a little but Buttler is prepared – correctly – to leave on length. Starc then heads to the pads, no love. Starc is sweating and breathing heavily, Buttler unflustered.
84th over: England 160-6 (Buttler 21, Woakes 40)
Richardson squares Woakes up but he steers it to third for two. The same happens again halfway through the over. Richardson looks most likely to find an edge swinging the ball away, or jagging one back. But both Woakes and Buttler are finding success defending from the crease. The partnership is 55 now. Richardson then beats Woakes, who is hanging his bat out at one on fourth stump. And again. Good over from Richardson, it’s been a while since Australia looked threatening.
Mike Atherton, on SEN Radio, has just been asked if he’s “willing to dream?” “Why not?” he replies, with half a laugh.
83rd over: England 156-6 (Buttler 21, Woakes 36)
Starc tries short of a length, angling across. Then full of a length, angling across. The next is on the money, and Woakes defends. Starc is up around 140-145kph, but it’s dying off the pitch. He aims for the pegs but it’s too straight, Woakes engineers a leg bye. Harris, under the lid, has to get it.
Noting that Woakes and Buttler have brought up their fifty partnership
82nd over: England 155-6 (Buttler 21, Woakes 36)
Richardson strikes Buttler on the pad first ball and goes up! Half celebrappeal from Richardson but it’s given not out, and not reviewed. It’s missing leg and height was a problem, too, going over leg bail. The next is a full outswinger that draws Buttler and it beats him. The next few die off the wicket, Carey is back collecting these around the shins. Buttler is a little away from his body in defence, but I think the pitch is becoming increasingly docile here.
81st over: England 155-6 (Buttler 21, Woakes 36)
New ball, as expected, taken. You know the drill: Starc, over the wicket, three slips, gully, inswing (usually). If Australia is going to be dangerous, it will be now. Starc has been resting, and the first ball reflects it – a loosener outside off. Starc grins. The next angles across and Buttler defends in straight lines, back down the wicket, head down. The next slams into Buttler, just into the upper-inner thigh. He was squared up. The next is left and we see a bit of off stump as it moves back a little. Buttler is defending well from the crease and that’s how it finishes – the final one turned around the corner for one. Looks like Richardson from the other end. No Cam Green so far…
80th over: England 154-6 (Buttler 20, Woakes 36)
So it’s Lyon from the Riverbank End, last one before the new ball. Everything is patted and dead-batted, no problem. Maiden. Can Jos and Woakes get through the new ball? Hmm..
79th over: England 154-6 (Buttler 20, Woakes 36)
Smith starts well! They’re drifting, straightening, some with loop, too. He has completely lost his front arm, to be fair. Buttler then picks the wrong’un. It’s the Smudger of legspinning-old. “Don’t forget the flipper Smudge!” comes the cry. It’s a maiden. He’s a good cricketer. Lyon gets one more before the new ball.
78th over: England 154-6 (Buttler 20, Woakes 36)
Marnus retains the ball! Smith backing his spinners – Marnus no doubt grateful. He can’t do anything with it. Smith is on at the other end! Anything you can do…
John on Woakes: “Hi Sam. Whether Woakes stays in the side or not (71st over) depends entirely on this batting performance. It’s the only thing he’s got going for him, really, considering his bowling has made insufficient impact so far. Saqib Mahmood instead of Olllie Pope and perhaps Bairstow instead of Buttler are the likeliest changes. It’s a pity about Buttler, but probably shows that you can’t play all forms of the game, all the time, without suffering for it. Mind you, Bairstow plays a lot too, so Foakes for the longer term, I’d guess. John Starbuck”
I agree, and unless he somehow saves the match I think his batting contribution is surplus to requirements.
77th over: England 154-6 (Buttler 20, Woakes 36)
Shadows just starting to lengthen here in Adelaide, though still a while before we enter meaningful twilight. Buttler is back and across and turning Lyon away, before pushing him into an open cover for two. One then grips sharply into Buttler’s pads but he’s outside the line. Few gremlins in the pitch, hard to see one shooting there, so a good tactic for Buttler. Comfortable again – Australia hanging out for the new ball.
76th over: England 152-6 (Buttler 18, Woakes 36)
Marnus spins the first one past Woakes, past Carey, and straight to Smith at first slip. The crowd senses something – either that or they’re bored. Woakes won’t get bored of the next one: a “full bunger”, swiped through cow for four. There’s another full toss, and Woakes clips him wide of mid on for another boundary. Marnus shakes his head. The last is a bit more respectable. Will Marnus get another?
75th over: England 144-6 (Buttler 18, Woakes 28)
It’s Lyon, and he’s causing havoc early. Second ball, Buttler aims to sweep but it loops off his arm to leg slip. Blocker Wilson says not out. “I heard two noises,” comes through the stump mic, but they opt against the review. Buttler then drives through the vacant mid-off region for a couple. Labuschagne at the other end!
Players back on, we’re underway in a matter of seconds…
More selection dilemma gear…
This, from Guy:
“Morning Sam. This all feels depressingly familiar. Selection wise it’s all about how much the team could improve if changes are made. I’m a Surrey fan and I absolutely love Pope but he seems all are sea here. However I think that that changing after 2 Tests of 5 seems way too 90s. Pope needs an honest chat but if you drop him it’s also Buttler, Hameed and Burns at risk, on runs. Personally I think we should stick at the moment, because Burns finally stuck around, Hameed has oddly looked pretty calm even though he’s been out and he got a pretty impossible ball this innings. Buttler, if he sticks around probably plays himself back in, and while Bairstow is better with the gloves they’ve sunk so much faith in Buttler I’m not sure they’ll change yet.. it’s his last series isn’t it. I’m not that confident Bairstow will be much better but feels like rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. Everyone needs to get better. Lawrence and Bairstow and Crawley may get games this series but you can hardly drop both openers either. In short: Jesus Christ.”
I think it can be simultaneously true to say that Australia were always a big chance of simply outclassing England across the park, in these conditions, but that this England team also has some improvement in them. I would pick Leach more often, stick with Pope, and back them. I agree about Hameed, too.
Should Woakes open?
This, from Geoff: “Hi Sam. Whatever happens today, at what point is it reasonable to change things up a little and consider Woakes as an opening bat in the Manoj Prabakhar role for the next test? He clearly has the technique for it and while Silverwood and Root obviously rate him, having him at number eight does seem to limit the team that can be picked which everyone seems to agree needs to have Wood and a spinner for the next Test.”
If Woakes survives Starc and co in a couple of overs time, let’s look at this properly.
Some “trousers” stuff from Eamonn, here:
“Can anyone listening to ABC confirm that I wasn’t hallucinating about an hour ago when Kim Hughes told an anecdote about training without a jock strap and struggling to keep his Mitchell Johnson in his trousers? And is anyone like me surprised that where the words ‘commentator’ and ‘can’t keep it in his trousers’ are concerned, the words ‘Shane Warne’ are also not featured?
Anyway i don’t think your correspondent of the 59th over needs to worry about the poshness of the batting lineup while it still features Rory Burns, who is such public-school-landed-gentry that he makes up for two or three commoners”
Was anyone else listening?
Are you listening KP?
DINNER: England 142-6 (Buttler 16, Woakes 28)
It looked like more of the same as both teams commenced the session, with Starc and Lyon dominating proceedings from the off. Starc removed Pope, Lyon removed Stokes, and the end felt around the corner.
Instead, Buttler and Woakes have managed to dig in, combining attack and defence in strong balance, and assisted by Alex Carey and David Warner’s mix-up, which saw a very catchable delivery split them down the middle early in Buttler’s innings.
As the session wore on both bats played Lyon and whomever was rotating through with increased confidence, building the partnership to 37 – but more importantly, 106 balls. Australia will not be concerned, but England can take comfort from the fact the pitch does seem very slow and benign at this point.
That said, if I read this right, a new ball is due in 6 overs, which will bring a bit more action, in conjunction with some dimmer light. Woakes and Buttler look as assured as any of their team-mates, but at this juncture, Australia will still fancy their chances. Woakes and Buttler will have to at least bat this entire session to permit the English to dream.
Catch you the other side of the break.
74th over: England 142-6 (Buttler 16, Woakes 28)
It is Marnus, and he’s ripping it hard before commencing his run-up. The crowd claps as he approaches. The first is well defended, the second is a full toss, the third a half-volley, and the fourth turned into the onside for two. He is stump-to-stump for the remainder, but can’t penetrate. That’s dinner.
73rd over: England 140-6 (Buttler 16, Woakes 26)
Buttler is back and across and hits Buttler on the pads but it’s high, and turned down. No DRS. Then next sees Buttler sweep from outside off, he misses – also a shout! – but DRS refused. The third is also missed by Buttler trying to work him to square leg – all safe. Buttler then smokes the fourth via sweep straight to square leg. No run. The fifth is off the bad straight to short leg. Comical appeal. No bat. A few shouts, but nothing forthcoming. Nearly dinner, Marnus’s will be the last (if it is indeed him)…
72nd over: England 140-6 (Buttler 16, Woakes 26)
8 minutes until the dinner break – the big one – and it’s Marnus Labuschagne! (And not Cameron Green). Where is Green? Labuschagne starts short but it’s defended. Later on he’s fuller, it’s gripping hard, and an edge falls short of Warner. The bowling looks good. Harris then comes under the helmet. Woakes pushes the last one away safely. Maiden.
71st over: England 140-6 (Buttler 16, Woakes 26)
Lyon still around the wicket to Buttler. He’s playing from the crease, “oh my word!” says Steve Smith as Buttler digs another out. He defends the rest.
Following Australia’s retained squad, there’s some conversation about what England might do. How we feeling out there? Ready to swap Bairstow in? Should England be looking at Saqib Mahmood? Does Woakes stay?
70th over: England 140-6 (Buttler 16, Woakes 26)
Richardson is again in on the angle, Woakes happy to play back and behind square. He ends up dabbing one through there for four. Richardson seems to have shortened his length in response to the wicket and Woakes’ comfort on the front foot this innings. It may be time for Cam Green, and his height. Partnership is 35 from 81 balls.
69th over: England 136-6 (Buttler 16, Woakes 22)
Lyon remains around the wicket to Woakes; he too doesn’t seem to be finding the purchase of 90 minutes ago. So he goes back over the wicket. “5 per cent, Marnus, 5 per cent, Marnus,” we hear through the stump mic. Marnus then bellows something. Lyon goes around the wicket to Buttler, he’s on the front foot…defending.
68th over: England 135-6 (Buttler 16, Woakes 21)
A tame edge from a soft-handed Buttler doesn’t carry to Smith at slip, with Richardson bowling wide of the crease. It’s otherwise fairly comfortable for England, the wicket seems to have become quite slow. Richardson tumbles upon delivering his last – other than that everything else looked the same. Bowl, defend.
67th over: England 135-6 (Buttler 16, Woakes 21)
It’s Lyon, and Woakes moves into the twenties with a smothered drive square of the wicket for four. He’s batting well. In response, Gareth Lyon comes around the wicket, and the angle looks good for Lyon. Gaz tosses one up and Woakes is back, defending, watching. One then pops up off the thigh pad and Marnus stretches back to take it – there is momentary excitement, but there was no bat or glove.
66th over: England 131-6 (Buttler 16, Woakes 17)
Richardson is angling in to Buttler – Buttler goes back and defends, he then leaves, he then comes forward to defend, and the remainder is the same in a different order. Richardson manages another no-ball there, too. England have something small building here. The pitch isn’t offering too much for the quicks.
65th over: England 130-6 (Buttler 16, Woakes 17)
Lyon to Woakes, four around the bat. Woakes is watchful, then skips down the wicket and whips Lyon uppishly past mid wicket for two. That’s enough for him; he defends the remainder.
64th over: England 128-6 (Buttler 16, Woakes 15)
Richardson is on for Neser, eliciting more bounce than his team mate straight away. He bangs the next in ever shorter, and Buttler produces a beautiful back foot flourish for four. It’s a no-ball too. The pitch looks a bit more docile now – very little for the quicks in terms of bounce. Carey is taking most of them just above his knees. Buttler then runs one past gully for two, all feeling a little more comfortable for England.
63rd over: England 121-6 (Buttler 10, Woakes 15)
Buttler sweeps early and crisply for one, before Green cut it off to save the boundary, sliding and throwing in one motion. Woakes is then dancing down the wicket, misses, and Harris under the lid on the offside nearly scoops it back for a runout as Woakes attempts to make his ground. If Harris hits, Woakes is out. But he didn’t, and Woakes survives.
62nd over: England 120-6 (Buttler 9, Woakes 15)
Neser is retained, and Woakes finds the boundary again, this time a little less controlled – a loose drive off the outside half of his bat, skewing away past gully. There’s one slip, a gully, shortish backward point, two catching short covers, essentially an umbrella field on the offside. Woakes is fine, he drives past mid-off for two more. Two drop back behind square but it’s a double bluff – I don’t think Neser was getting it up to Woakes’ chest, let alone above the shoulders.
61st over: England 114-6 (Buttler 9, Woakes 9)
Buttler seems to play Lyon with a different defensive shot every ball. There’s the prod, the leave, the back foot bunt, the jammed yorker. He’s surrounded by four, he turns it with the spin comfortably to short leg. He’s faced 54 balls.
60th over: England 114-6 (Buttler 9, Woakes 9)
Woakes is confident here, he drives Neser through cover point on consecutive deliveries, the first for two, the second for four. I then get a droll text saying “Woakes strokes a four so Mark Waugh starts talking about his lack of wickets”. To underscore it all, Woakes drives again for two. Neser looks a little benign here, ball barely getting up. Carey taking them at his knees. A change is coming.
59th over: England 106-6 (Buttler 9, Woakes 1)
Apart from silly mid-off, Lyon is bowling to Woakes with no mid-off. Conditions are fantastic for him. Nevertheless Woakes wrist flicks one to that vacant region. After that, lots of lunging, lots of crease use, all in defence. “We need to be clinical”, said Lyon to spidercam at the break. Sure.
Julian King is in: “Morning Pezzylad. It seems England’s travails have coincided with attempts to make the game more egalitarian. The bowlers still have that comforting air of the working class, but maybe our batsmen just aren’t posh enough? Perhaps we just need to start selecting direct from the annual Eton v Harrow match, or find a minor Indian prince? Is the natural confidence of the ruling class what’s lacking? Keep up the good work. Jules”
Being from Australia, it’s not for me to say!
58th over: England 105-6 (Buttler 9, Woakes 0)
Neser to Buttler, two slips, funky short mid-on, all defended.
57th over: England 105-6 (Buttler 9, Woakes 0)
Lyon gets the big dog. Stokes came with a plan and he executed with typical conviction, but the risk one might get past him came to fruition. Lyon almost jags Woakes caught behind, but RTS showed no noise.
REVIEW: Woakes caught behind
Original call not out, Lyon didn’t like it, Smith alpha’s him – BANG, he’s going upstairs. There’s nothing on the bat, not out.
WICKET! Stokes LBW Lyon 12 (England 105-6)
Stokes had been crabbing so far across the crease, and finally Lyon gets one to beat him on the inside. It looked a bit high, but he was so far back that the ball didn’t have far to travel. Lyon knew it was hitting leg. Great review. England in bits.
REVIEW: Stokes LBW to Lyon, originally given not out
Stokes so far across, given not out, height will be the issue…
56th over: England 105-5 (Stokes 12, Buttler 9)
So that’s Starc done, and Michae Neser enters the attack. Lots of chat about who gets that third bowling spot if Hazlewood isn’t fit for Boxing Day. What does everyone think? I tend to think Richardson brings a bit more weaponry, but Neser seems to have the hot hand, and he won’t let you down on a (usually) flat Melbourne surface. He beats Buttler’s edge second ball, arms pumping and hair flying on delivery. He then gets the edge but it’s low and drops short of Smith, who’s standing at 1-and-a-half slip.
55th over: England 105-5 (Stokes 12, Buttler 9)
Early single behind square causes fractional hesitation but Stokes and Buttler scamper through. It brings Stokes on strike, and he flat-bat brooms Lyon in front of mid wicket for four. It plugs a little, but there’s no one out there and it trickles to the boundary. Stokes then finds a single to deep point, Buttler then pushes forward of point for one, all very fluent and free! Stokes has four men around the bat now. Perhaps it’s safer to swing.
54th over: England 98-5 (Stokes 7, Buttler 7)
Starc gets another, Smith is backing him and Starc must feel fit! The first is a no-ball, which doesn’t really help Buttler – there’s six more. Commentary team wondering whether Carey’s missed catch might be a sliding doors moment in his career. It’s defence, defence, defence here. Rare for Buttler. How long can they maintain the vigil? Starc then targets his ribs and Buttler tucks it tightly past short leg, and gets one.
On nurries ethics, Rowan writes: “I feel that we can consider the permissibility of laughing of someone being Out BBW (as my dad calls it) by paraphrasing Oscar Wilde – One hit to the nurries is a tragedy, two… Comedy.”
53rd over: England 96-5 (Stokes 7, Buttler 6)
“Bowled Gareth/Gaz/Nathan”, we hear through the stump mic. Stokes is back and comfortable enough. He opens the face on one and it takes the outside half of the bat, half-edged, half steered one bounce to Smith at first slip. It was an edge, but Stokes sort of rode it. He survives again.
On England selections v systems, Nick offers:
“Hi Sam. Perhaps England’s chances would be increased by picking either the side mistakenly selected for the the last test or the one they’re ingeniously planning for next one. Or perhaps a combination of the two.”
I like it!
52nd over: England 96-5 (Stokes 7, Buttler 6)
Starc again – I wonder if this will be his last this spell. Can Buttler see him off? So far, so safe (this over). He’s beaten later on in the over. An edge feels a little inevitable, but Starc will soon tire. Two yorkers to finish! Each well played. The yorker might signal the end of Starc, for now.
This from David Griffiths:
“Hi Sam! Who was doing Root’s throw downs for his first hit? I’m guessing Leach, who is furious he didn’t get selected ahead of other ersatz spinners on a spinning track…so he let fly with one.More amusingly, I started watching a replay of yesterday’s play on YouTube before realising it was from the last Ashes test in Adelaide in 2017. Took me quite a bit of time to work it out.Bowie’s ‘Always crashing in the same car’ is surely the perfect theme song for this tour? LOL. Cheers, Davorder”
Wasn’t it the spin coach who nailed Root? Same idea, I guess!
51st over: England 96-5 (Stokes 7, Buttler 6)
Stokes gets two from Lyon’s first ball, working him to leg. It’s then back and across defence for the remainder. Lyon is varying his pace and trajectory, but Stokes is unmoved. There’s a half shout for LBW from the last ball, but they don’t contemplate a review.
50th over: England 94-5 (Stokes 5, Buttler 6)
Starc continues to Buttler, and so does the plan. Following the bisection there is talk about the positioning and stagger of the cordon. This is where ex-legends make the big bucks. Starc then gets another edge, is squared up, but it bounces a fair way short of Warner at slip. He’s then too straight, and Buttler gets himself off strike with a flick to fine leg. They take out second slip to Stokes and move him to leg slip. It’s straight, and Stokes works him for one.
I suspect you know what I think about that …
49th over: England 92-5 (Stokes 4, Buttler 5)
Stokes pushes Lyon to the on-side on ball one, bringing Buttler in strike. Buttler sweeps and it pops up, but evades Marnus under the lid. Replays show it was off his arm. He connects beautifully with the next, for one. Stokes is back on strike and there’s a big shout for LBW, or is it an outside edge? It’s neither. No review. Chances everywhere here.
48th over: England 90-5 (Stokes 3, Buttler 4)
Starc to Buttler: it’s the same plan from the first innings. Fourth stump, fifth stump – pushing across. The first one beats him. There otherwise doesn’t seem to be much swing for Starc. We wait. Buttler pulls out of one delivery as Starc enters his gather. The next, Buttler edges and it bisects Carey and Warner in between first and second slip! Catching height, both could have pouched it. It runs for four. I think it was Carey’s, the first blot in his copybook! Big opportunity missed.
Meanwhile, Robert writes in: “Dear Sam. Late night greetings and welcome to the OBO (here in Paris, we call it the Aubéau). Loved your podcast with Ricky Ponting, an absolute knockout. I hadn’t realised that he was now a winemaker. I always knew he was up to something during the seeming half hour of spare time he had during that pull shot of his. I used to think he made himself a cup of tea but now I know he was working on his vignerongame. England to win. Woakes is gonna get a double ton and then Malan’s gonna get 8 fer eff all (I’ve been working on my wine game too).”
Cheers, Robert! Very optimistic.
47th over: England 86-5 (Stokes 3, Buttler 0)
Lyon to Stokes, around the wicket. He’s happy here, just waiting for it. It’s comfortable enough!
46th over: England 86-5 (Stokes 3, Buttler 0)
Starc is around the wicket to Pope, angling in, fifth stump, and Pope is leaving. He changes the angle, and as you saw, nabbed his man immediately. Looking at replays, Pope didn’t need to play at that. He flings his head back in dismay – his place is in jeopardy now. Starc continues the plan to Buttler – as he did last time – and Buttler defends.
WICKET! Pope c Smith b Starc 4 (England 86-5)
Starc changed his angle from around to over, and immediately finds Pope’s edge. He’s caught on the crease to a decent length ball, and the angle takes the edge and carries easily to Smith at second slip. He fished at it … all a little too easy.
45th over: England 86-4 (Stokes 3, Pope 4)
It’s Lyon from the other end, unsurprisingly. The first one grips encouragingly. Stokes is in ultra-defence mode, with all those exaggerated movements. He is extremely deep in his crease. Lyon tries an arm-ball, it beats him, there’s a half-shout. Too high. Incredible how deep Stokes is. He does this surrounded by four men: two slips, silly mid off, and a bat-pad.
44th over: England 86-4 (Stokes 3, Pope 4)
Starc resumes with four balls left. The Barmy Army defiantly sing Jerusalem. Pope defends in the main. He then clips him beautifully through mid wicket for four. It’s a big day for Pope. Mike Atherton on SEN is currently talking about him, saying he looks “frenetic at times” when commencing his innings.
Players are heading onto the ground.
We’ll be away shortly. Before we do, I’d love your views. How much of England’s current malaise owes to specific selection/tactical mismanagement versus a broader systemic failure? Is there a team/setup within this squad that could change the fortunes of this series, or is the issue deeper?
Ben asks: “Can we laugh at someone getting hit in the nurries?”
“Hi Sam, I think that after yesterday’s play society at large is facing an enormous ethical dilemma. Can we laugh at someone getting hit in the nurries?The TV commentary was all sanctimonious (and completely unbelievable) “I hope he’s ok” and “you don’t want to see that” while in other quarters there was a deal of wry humour. Starc seemed to stifle a smile, Stokes didn’t bother.But a bloke’s writhing on the ground with an injury that can presumably have long-term consequences. Can we laugh because he’s a Pom? If a female cricket had the misfortune to suffer something similar can we laugh? Do female cricketers laugh? Can’t imagine it.Anyhoo, food for thought. Perhaps more Grade Cricketer territory so happy to get a response there, perhaps on TGC Fridays.
Hope you get a long stint on the OBO, would be fun to see this draw out over a few hours. Cheers”
Thanks Ben. Ethics around the hitting of “nurries” is a rich and dynamic area. Personally, I didn’t laugh when Root was hit for a second time until it was clear he was (relatively) okay. After that, fill your boots.
“All power to you writing this blog today, Pez,” says JG. “You can’t polish a turd…but you can dip it in glitter!”
We’re firmly in the gallows, aren’t we?
Need a refresh on yesterday? Here’s Jonathan Liew on “a sometimes comical” day four in Adelaide (for England).
Bit going on in the press box yesterday
Here’s Geoff Lemon explaining what went down, and what it might mean for the rest of the series.
Adelaide’s weather is fine, fine, fine
I’m trying to conjure reasons for England to be hopeful. Weather isn’t one. It’s fine and sunny for the entire afternoon, and clear into the evening.
Hello all and salutations. If you’re still up in England to savour the final throes of this Test, I don’t know what to say. Are you OK? Why?
No, all power to you. Wouldn’t it be incredible if by some unbelievable twist England left Adelaide only 1-0 down?
But, that is very unlikely to happen. Instead, we gather today to witness the administering of last rites and all that. Australia needs six wickets, England need to score either infinite runs or bat infinite time. Or at least that’s how it feels. Judging from Nathan Lyon’s turn last night, life is going to be very difficult indeed for the men who come in after Joe Root.
At the same time, things are starting to feel a little dicey on the Covid front. I’m told a large swathe of print journos and broadcasters have escaped Adelaide for Melbourne. Though the press may enjoy thinking itself critical to the delivery of the game – the point is more important as it underscores growing fear the virus may be about to compromise all.
Anyway, I’m here to parse mainly the former, but as it develops, possibly the latter, too. Is there any hope on either front? Let me know. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @sjjperry. First ball is in 40 mins or so. Stokes and Pope … is there any light here?
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