Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Fourth Test: Analysis

by Tim MacBain

Wow. Wasn’t expecting that.

What a Test! It had everything, controversy, sublime batting, insane bowling, and probably one of the most wonderful moments for one man, so richly deserved. How can the Oval live up to this?

I’ll start with him. Chris Rogers. The poor bloke had about five years between his debut in 2008 and next Test, the first of this series. Eternally behind Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden until their retirements, and overlooked in preference to the likes of Shane Watson and Philip Hughes until this series, many thought he would become just another One Test Wonder. Therefore, the century he scored here, his maiden Test century for his country, was fantastic, and wonderful to see. Hats off to him, for having the tenacity to stay within reach of the national team and averaging 43 against a pretty powerful English bowling line up. He and David Warner may well form a well-rounded and interesting opening partnership.

Staying along the vein of batting, we come to Ian Bell. May the cricket gods be praised for his form and panache, his effortless ability this series to really step up to the mark when the top order failed (again). His century was majestic and very timely. At the other end of the spectrum, what is Jonny Bairstow still doing in the team? He’s averaged 29 this series, with only one fifty, when his country has direly needed him. His repeated failures are disappointing, and he should, quite frankly, be dropped. Joe Root isn’t doing too well up the order either; I suggest dropping Bairstow, moving Root down to 6, and playing Compton. It just isn’t fair to ask Root to open when he wants to but evidently isn’t ready.

Bowling-wise, Australia have a lot to be proud of. Harris is a brilliant bowler, who would have kept Mitchell Johnson or Ben Hilfenhaus out of the last Ashes series had he not been so injured. His ball to remove Root in the second innings was stunning. Nathan Lyon is no Graeme Swann, but has showed resilience to compete towards the top of the international game. England have a few question marks. James Anderson has been invisible this Test and the last, Bresnan (in my opinion), despite contributing well with the bat and that piece of genius to dismiss Warner, shouldn’t have been preferred to Onions, with Durham being the latter’s home strip. Swann played well, but was a little overshadowed…

…By Stuart Broad. What a performance. 11 wickets in the match, all conceded for 121 runs. The highlights night were enormous fun to watch. He really can be a game changer, and boy did he change this game.

Bring on the Oval! Can’t wait to see how the Australians will respond…

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