Sunday, July 12, 2009

Only Just! Cardiff Test - Day 5

The first Ashes Test Match at the home of Glamorgan County Cricket Club proved to be a great triumph as England escaped by the skin of their teeth on the final day. In the final analysis that rain saved England in the end, as about 57 overs of play was lost in the Test. But England batted for 105 to save the game - a truly superb effort.

All of Australia's bowlers did quite well, and given how well Nathan Hauritz did, it is hard to argue that they missed a fifth bowler. Might Warne have made a difference? I suspect that the mere presence of Warne as 12th man would have ensured an Australian victory. There may be some grumbling about Ricky Ponting's tactics. The last three English wickets played out nearly 40 overs - a testimony to the quality of the Cardiff wicket. But then again, the same Ricky Ponting played a masterstroke by bowling Michael Clarke late on the 5th evening at Sydney against India, and got three wickets in an over! There may even be some grumbling about the fact that Ponting delayed his declaration on Day 4 as long as he did - 635 might have been enough, some will say.

It sets up a thrilling Ashes series for sure. The 2005 series had a couple of games which went down to the wire - England won the first of these by two runs at Birmingham, and the Australian last pair held out for a draw at Old Trafford. Now Cardiff has produced another thriller.

Paul Collingwood cemented his reputation as a stodgy, phlegmatic English batsman in the tradition of Trevor Bailey and Cyril Washbrook (who once shared a famous rear guard action on a final day of an Ashes Test) with his heroic stonewalling. He batted for 83 overs for his 74 (faced the equivalent of 41 of those off his own bat), and like Ricky Ponting in Manchester four years ago, his dismissal about a dozen overs before close of play did not hurt the batting side.

There was much cheering for Andrew Strauss at the presentation. I don't think England are going to get anywhere in these Ashes if they keep having to applaud Monty and Jimmy's batting again. It was Monty and Jimmy's bowling which was the problem.

It ended with England 13 runs ahead, with their last wicket standing. It was inconclusive. But only just!

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