Ashes 2021/2022, MCG, Day 3: A Team, A Man and an Historic Moment
A Team, A Man and an Historic Moment
[Image: Sorry for the poor quality. To the right is Nathan Lyon having asked for the ball from the umpires handing it to Scott Boland. This moment says a lot about the team, and Lyon.]
Publication date: 2021-12-28
There really is only one story to capture the 82 minutes of play on day 3 at the 'G, but with a secondary note. Yes, Australia have retained the urn. Done and dusted, as they say.
But, for the stats people, lets sum up the series to date with some numbers.
Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics
11 days and 82 minutes: the time it took Aus to retain the trophy
The under-pressure Harris outscored all of England’s second innings
1st: Aus by 9 wickets
2nd: Aus by 275 runs
3rd: Aus by an innings (after having only scored 267)
Innings totals: In three tests there are a potential of 12 innings, but Aus needed only two partnerships in Brisbane to win, and only batted one innings in Melbourne. So, there are really only 10 “full” innings. Of the top 6 innings totals, 4 are by Aus, and 2 of them are declared.
Leading runs: Root tops the list with 253 from 6 innings, just below him are Head and Warner (248, and 240, respectively) from 4 innings.
Leading wickets: Starc, Lyon and Cummins (even though Cummins missed a match)
Extras is the 3rd leading run scorer for England in the last 12 months: 1700 Root, Burns 500, Extras 400.
Cricinfo has a page with other statistics.
Getting bowled out for 68 never looks good.
While many an analyst will rightly criticize the EWCB for their dreadful preparation of their team, it can be instructive to look at the Australian camp.
Leading up to the Ashes series the coach, Langer, was under pressure, but his team stood behind him. Then, against all expectations Aus won the World T-20 Championship for the first time, and that result was based on team belief. Its quite an endearing Australian trait; they love declaring "damn them all" to the nay sayers and shining in defiance. The squad at the championship grabbed that feeling with both hands.
Then, just to shake things up, the Test captain resigns due to off field events, and a new Captain, Cummins, accepts the role. His first task is what every Australian red ball cricket lover would see as the most important of all; winning or retaining the Ashes. At the 'Gabba Cummins leads from the front with 5 wickets for 38 runs for Eng's first innings. The batsman (Warner, Labuschagne, Head) make the runs, 425. The match is won for the loss of only 1 second innings wicket.
Cummins is CoVID sidelined for Adelaide and Smith stands in as captain for the day/night fixture. Hazelwood is also unavailable due to injury. With two key bowlers removed the match runs to the final session, but Aus win by 275 runs.
One of the replacement bowlers for Adelaide, Richardson, takes 5 wickets for 42 runs to help secure the match. That is not enough to earn him a place on the field for Melbourne. The Australian selectors instead choose a local man, a specialist at the MCG. It would prove to be one of the most inspirational selections of all time.
Behind all of this tumult there is a belief, a camaraderie, a will within the Australian camp. Their new captain in emblematic of that belief, by choosing to bowl first the first time he has won a toss. (Hey, statisticians, when was the last time that a national captain, when winning their first toss chooses to bowl and wins by an innings? Perhaps that one slipped you by.)
The Man and the Day
The story of the day begins in the penultimate over of the day before. Cummins gives the debutant Boland his first over of the innings. It goes like this, with the England openner Hameed on strike:
. outside off, left alone
. close to off, left alone
W takes the outside edge (Haseeb Hameed c †Carey b Boland 7); nightwatchman Leach comes to the crease
. full and outside off, Leach plays and nearly plays on
W Leach leaves to see the top off his off stump smashed (Jack Leach b Boland 0); Stokes comes to the crease
1 Stokes strokes a length ball on off to long leg
. . W . W 1
Of course, the crowd went completely nuts. Lyon advises Boland to pause and soak it in as he heads down to the boundary to field for the final over. Needless to say, much noise was made.
Day 3 begins with Eng at 4/31 still needing another 51 runs to force Aus to bat again. Most expected Eng to make something of it, survive to lunch and ask something of Aus with the bat. It was not to be.
Cummins and Starc open the day, bowling full, risking straight drives and looking for the edge. Root and Stokes oblige by playing some textbook straight drives, and hopes rise among commentary teams for some determined resistance from the Eng middle order. All too soon Starc delivers a "peach" pitching on off, jagging back off the seam passing between bat and pad and smashing the top of middle stump. A collective "Oh, no" passes through commentators minds.
What follows is the stuff of legend. Returning with figures of 2 wickets for 1 run, Cummins hands Boland the ball. Over to you, Scotty.
In short form, it goes like this:
1 . 3 . W .
. . . W . .
W . W 2 . .
He takes 4 wickets for 6 runs in 3 overs to demolish the Eng lower middle and lower order. His figures for the innings? 6 wickets, 1 maiden, 7 runs, on debut.
150 years ago
The player of the match award at the 'G was recently renamed the Mullagh Medal to honor the all rounder who traveled to England with the all indigenous team, the first Australian cricket team to ever tour, in 1868, preceding the Ashes.
Scott Boland debuted as only the second man with indigenous heritage to represent his country, and proudly took that award. (There have also been two brilliant women with indigenous heritage to represent Australia).
One could say it was "special" or "fitting" but nothing describes it better than the roar of a half capacity crowd which was described by local commentators as equaling that of an AFL final when the stadium is at full 90+ 000 capacity.
That award, and those figures, to achieve this result so emphatically are now stamped into the history of the great stadium of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and the history of this longest of cricket tournaments, The Ashes. Mullagh would have been proud.
This moment is a small part of Australia's recognition of the abuse (genocide) delivered to its indigenous peoples by the settler colonial English invaders, and far more importantly the wonderful role that indigenous peoples can and should play in Australia’s future. Lest we forget, it was less than 60 years ago that Australia's indigenous population were even allowed to vote.
Well played, Boland.
Boland rips through England with 6-7 in sensational spell, Cricket Australia, 2021-12-28
Thanks to the National Museum of Australia for their resource links which provide historical background.
From Little Things Big Things Grow | Paul Kelly & Kev Carmody, ReconciliationAus, 2016-08-10
[Song: If you want to know how much this performance means to one of the song writers (Kelly) watch Missy Higgins take the last verse (8:00 in), and keep your eyes on camera changes to Kelly himself. When his left leg gets moving, you’ll see it.]
From Little Things Big Things Grow, Paul Kelly from his 1991 album Commedy, uploaded to youtube by The Orchard Enterprises under the Paul Kelly youtube channel, uploaded 2019-11-14
Kelly does not wait for things to grow … 25 years later he’s still singin’.
A.B. Original & Paul Kelly 'Dumb Things' for Like A Version, triple j, 2016-11-24
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