2nd Test, Ashes 2013
Result: England thrashes Australia by 346 runs in 4 days, leading 2-0 in the series.
Stat of the year: Australia’s 10th wicket partnership average is 46 in 2013- higher than any other wicket partnership for them through the year.
Australia had trashed expectations of a 5-0 whitewash in the first test after fighting right till the end- almost handing their rivals a famous defeat. Predictions were tempered and 3-1 became more of a possibility with this young spunky Australian team.
At Lords though, only 3 days later, the 5-0 whispers became loud shouts all over again. Ian Botham, who had predicted such ignominy for Australia, must have been grinning from ear to ear – with the Australian batting collapsing in a worse manner than DRS/Hot-spot/umpires.
While there were many positives to take from the first test, Clarke’s boys proved that they were still boys at Lords- with their tailenders (last 4 batsmen) averaging more than their top order (first 4) in the Ashes. After 5 enthralling days of cricket at Nottingham, a 6th competitive day followed on the first day at Lords- where English batsmen, bar Bell, struggled on a flat Lords wicket to finish at 289-7. Australia, in fact, were on top, thanks to parttimer Smith’s 3 wickets. It was all going according to plan…
Until they batted.
A good test was ruined with a batting display so abject that Bangladesh must have been wondering why they weren’t touring England instead.
Swann came into his own with a 9 wicket performance that put to rest doubts about his off form in Nottingham. He bamboozled the hapless Aussies in the first innings and added the finishing touches by trapping Australia’s best batsman Pattinson (no joke) in front of the wicket in the last over of the 4th day to secure victory. Bresnan proved to be a handy replacement for Finn, with 4 important wickets and an excellent night watchman act in the second innings. Anderson was his usual probing brilliant self, and Broad played more of a role with the bat, as was needed after their two top batsmen (Cook and KP) failed in both innings. Bell remains their best batsman in the series with another century, and young Joe Root came to the fore with a fabulous 180 that sealed Australian hopes.
Cook, inspite of his astute captaincy, has looked edgy with the bat. Ditto with KP and his two single-digit scores. These are batsmen that can win matches on their own, as they did in India so often, and it is commendable that the team played around them to secure a smashing victory without their contributions. This can only mean good news for the team on the whole. Once they start performing, Australia could very well lose 10-0 through the season.
Nothing, really. Except their lower order batting. Their bowlers seem to be bowling as well as batting with equal intensity, averaging higher than their own batsmen. Their tail didn’t wag in the first innings and they collapsed, as would have been the case in Nottingham if not for Agar. Harris’s bowling was a definite plus, as well as warhorse Siddle, with all the others losing form in the second innings.
Where does one begin? Hughes remains a liability against Swann and is a sitting duck. Watson can’t get past 30 no matter how good he looks, and Anderson seems to have him sussed out with his recent LBW dismissals. Rogers doesn’t look of international level, and Clarke needs to take responsibility for his failures to convert his starts. Everyone else failed with the bat including Smith and Haddin. They need to find a way to survive more than a day of test cricket without a collapse- and the return of Michael Hussey to the middle order isn’t such a bad idea after all. Ponting, who is in the same country after playing his final first class game (and scoring 169), could also be wondering if he was really in poor form after all.
Australia have a 3-day practice game against Sussex (who will fancy their chances already) before the 3rd test in Manchester. They have a lot to work on. Clarke will be desperate for his batsmen to show some resolve and technique. At this moment, 3-0 looks on the cards. After losing 6 tests in a row, things really can’t get any worse for this Australian test team.