The Norse Gods of Cricket: Adelaide, Day 2
Adelaide, Day 2
[Image: cut and clipped from a still frame of Cricket Australia’s video summary of the day’s play.]
Publication date: 2021-12-17
Taking the field with Aus at 2/221 Eng did well in the first session gaining 3 wickets for 80 odd runs. The second session saw Aus hang on and build a little.
Who called all of this? Glenn McGrath was the only commentator to predict the play. Being a bowler, he looks at weather maps. Really? Yeah dude, it matters.
By the end of session 2 Aus is 7/390. But, Aus' lower order "went the tonk":
[Image: that might look like Tetris, but its 51 runs in just over 4 overs by the Aus lower order.]
The declaration at 9/473 gave Aus about an hour to play with Eng's top and possibly middle order. And, did that happen! Burns is removed in the third over. Eng's top order’s response to Aus' lower order hitting was "controlled":
[Image: The Aus lower order speaking to the Eng top order.]
A magical thing happens at the first bowling change as Richardson makes way for Neser.
While Neser is running in to deliver his first ball in his first Test, a huge moment for any bowler, the Eng opener Hameed pulls away from his crease, thus turning that "first ball" into a "dead ball". The next, Neser's "real" first ball in Test Cricket is aimed at the top of off stump (sticking with lessons learned in Grade cricket) and Hameed is forced to play. Hameed's soft hands guide the ball to gully.
Ok. You deny my “first” ball. Then, I give you a "controlled" delivery and you choose the obvious counter, and play it well. Hmmm. I see you, and I raise you.
The next ball, delivered slightly wider of the crease is really a half volley angled in to off and middle stump. Hameed must play; defend or score. But, for such a lovely offering, score is the desire. He is on 6 runs and has faced 20 deliveries, and his job is to "see off the new ball", but "score" is what his mind sees. The ball moves the smallest fraction inwards in the air, but really is so gun-barrel straight. There is only one explanation for the result, that the ball was slower in the air. Hameed wants to turn the ball to the on side, just a bit, through mid-on maybe. But, he is caught between intention and stroke execution and the ball is hit in the air directly to the mid on fielder.
Celebrations erupt, as they should, for the second wicket, but so much more for Neser's first Test wicket. Neser was even embraced by the "water boys", team mates from Queensland.
Moments like this can be missed in the grandeur of an Ashes Test match, and even more in an Ashes Series. But, this was special. By unforeseen, and uncontrollable circumstance Neser had been called up, given his cap, knocked 35 runs, and on his 2nd legal delivery taken his 1st Test Wicket. Magic.
A State of Play
Less than two overs later, play would be abandoned by a little more magic. But, before we get to that, a summary of the State of Play is required:
with 3 days to play. This is the point where yesterday's British optimists or straw-clutchers revert to the pessimists' dugout and start to play the "what went wrong" tune, so long practiced over the last 4 decades.
Preaching to the Choir
With the joy of having watched much cricket and the inconsequential experience of having played but a couple of seasons of 3rd grade cricket, to England I offer these explanations to save you from the oncoming torrent of "what went wrong" analysis:
Winning in Australia is about:
winning the toss and scoring 450 odd in the first innings
understanding climatic conditions, and especially the Kookaburra ball and its differences from the Dukes ball
utilizing skill in the field as a supplement to the lack of pressure that can be applied during the 20 to 55 over mark, and if possible, developing reverse swing for the later phase of the ball
understanding bounce, and its consistency. This applies to both the batters and bowlers. The bounce is generally consistent on Aus pitches, but is more pronounced than Eng pitches. It is the BALL that changes. The Hobart pitch may be an exception, may. Aus pitches are slightly bouncey roads. Get that into your head.
I gift this to you, Eng, as my version of the two pages that Richie Benaud handed to aspiring Leg Spinners.
Returning to the "close of play", as Neser was bowling to Malan an almighty thundercrack and lightning strike played out in the skies and airs. Playing conditions were adhered to by the Umpires, the players left the field, and play was abandoned for the day.
Students of history will be aware that the marauding Vikings had control over all but the last withstanding English/Welsh resistance in 8th and 9th century England. For his resistance is given the only, the single "The Great" moniker to an English ruler: "Alfred The Great". We shall avoid the fact that a great fleet of invading Danes was destroyed in a huge storm off the southern coast of England, but simply acknowledge that Alfred did his thing for the time. The fact that he was a miserly, pious church supplicant is neither here nor there.
But, the Norse spirit is still to be seen in the names of England's cities and ways. The Danish term for "town" is "by" (pronounced boo, but in a short and rising tone) and towns like "Grimsby" (spot the 'by') and many others show this influence, despite the later invasion by the French and royal infiltration via the Germans.
Was it Thor who created the thundercrack? Was it Mjöllnir that smote the skies and in a flash rescued England from impending doom? Or was he just acting as Odin's arbiter to balance an imperfection in the power of the play amongst the gods of As(h)guard?
Odin is fickle. The doom is set. He likes dramatics, and Thor does them so well.
Ashes Daily - Adelaide Day 2, Lemon and Collins, The Final Word, 2021-21-17
Grandstand at Stumps: Adelaide Day 2, Grandstand, ABC, 2021-12-17
Australia take command of second Test, Test Match Special, BBC, 2021-12-17
Note BBC links are time limited, around 30 days. But, after 16 minutes of this rubbish, I am done. Credit to TMS for not doing the “what went wrong” song, but they instead dance around all that did. Interminable fluffery. There is no analysis of what can be improved (until I ejected).
'If we don't believe we're beaten already': Stokes, Stokes interview, Cricket Australia, 2021-12-17
'I never really felt in' despite century: Marnus, Marnus Labuschagne, Cricket Australia, 2021-12-17
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