or they’d be two up in the Ashes.
Amongst the usual Aussie whinging and cheating, Bazball has been entertaining but found wanting when it really matters, in actually winning the Ashes, as England now have to win all three remaining tests.
There have been a number of moments during the first two tests of the 2023 Ashes when England have been cruising and have then gifted victory to the visitors. You can highlight it all in two words Nathan Lyon.
Having only played one and a half of the two matches, he is still the Aussie’s top wicket taker, with 9. Just two behind Broad, who is the highest wicket taker in the series so far. Yet, how many wickets has he taken and how many have England gifted to him in this series? England gliding along serenely, going at plenty an over – certainly enough to entertain and enough to win – when “let’s do something stupid, I know I’ll dance down to Lyon and get stumped”.
In the second test they were cruising at 180 for 1 when Lyon went off with a calf injury, that will probably see him miss the rest of the series and from there put on just another 145 runs before they were all out, leaving the Aussies a 91 lead, which when you consider they won the test by 43 runs. When Lyon went off the Aussie bowling was going at over 10 an over, they didn’t need to up anything. Pope starting it all when he needlessly lofted the ball to the fielder placed on the boundary exactly for such a stupid shot.
Hell, Lyon came out in their second innings on one leg and stuck around, scoring 4 in a 15 run last wicket stand, meanwhile Pope came in injured scored three in a 4 run partnership.
Stokes will ride it out because of his excellent knock in the second innings but again he got himself out needlessly, when victory was in sight. And is that going to be his contribution to the series? He hadn’t done much with the bat before, hadn’t scored a 50 in something like 15 tests and can’t get through many overs of half pitched rubbish.
Half pitched rubbish. England got away with it in this test but with slow pitches and slow “pace” bowlers it’s pitiful to watch. Not that entertaining really. Can’t remember which batsman or bowler it was but they highlighted an over from either Starc or Cummins to and England player, five balls all landing within an inch of each other, then one pitched up for the wicket. Perfect bowling at pace. Meanwhile England’s opening strike bowler – the greatest fast bowler that’s ever lived © British media – can’t land two balls withing a foot of each other in one over. With his slow half-trackers and his three wickets in four innings. Hell, he had the highest economy rate in the second innings. I mean, what’s the point of Jimmy Anderson if he’s not getting wickets and he’s not bowling for his economy.
Then we have the Aussies whinging and cheating. Hell, they’re still whinging about Bodyline and it was nearly 100 years ago – when if you look at the film most of the time they ducked into the balls that hit them around the head. First up we’ve seen them claim catches in the series that they knew weren’t, then the Starc “catch” at the end of the fourth day of the second test, where he dragged the ball along the floor after landing. McGrath was enraged when Duckett was recalled and given not out, yet if Starc’s arm had been facing up and the ball popped out when it hit the floor, then would he be whinging? Would there be any question? How many have we seen taken then pop out when the player hits the floor? That’s not a catch and neither is controlling the ball with the floor.
Then the Bairstow run out/stumping. Well, if that’s how you want to play then we should have the Aussies patted down before ever restart in play, just checking for sandpaper. Yes Bairstow shouldn’t just assume but he wasn’t going for a run, he wasn’t batting out of his crease, he wasn’t trying to gain an advantage. It’s just a shame that karma didn’t bite the shackle draggers on their arse because it riled Stokes and he nearly pulled it off.
But it all shows that while Bazball has its good points, if you don’t use your brains at some point and play to the situation, you end up failing and looking particularly stupid – especially when that situation is getting you 6-10 runs per over anyway.