The Over: The Ashes – Third Test

Here’s our entirely original thoughts on the eventual puddle at Old Trafford

1. Nearly everyone is saying fairly nice things about Michael Clarke’s captaincy, at least to some extent, but we can’t quite fathom his tactics in this one. Put quite simply, he had to win this game or The Ashes were gone. He knew that the weather forecast for the last two days were iffy at best and yet he batted on for 36 overs. If he’d been really bold, he would have forfeited his second innings and set England an enticing 160 to win. Now that’s a bit outlandish, we admit, but he could easily have knocked off 50 in no more than 10 overs and made it 210. That’s a serious score to chase in a fourth innings, regardless of the weather, and based on the evidence of Monday, it would have been a real struggle for England. We’ll say again, Australia HAD to win, even at the risk of losing. They didn’t even give themselves half a chance.

2. Don’t blame DRS – blame the continued terrible umpiring and captains frittering their reviews away. Yes, it’s not perfect, but it will be better than nothing for a long time to come. Except HotSpot, there’s clearly something wrong with that. It is consistently being fooled by outside edges, and for all that the inventor says, we reckon batsmen may have found a substance that can fool it (vaseline or whatever).* All we’ll say is there doesn’t seem to be a problem with inside edges showing up (as it’s usually in the batsmen’s interest to have got one of them)…

* Update 7/8/13 – we told you so… http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/cricket/international/theashes/10226690/Ashes-2013-batsmen-may-be-applying-silicone-tape-to-bats-to-deceive-Hot-Spot-claim-Australian-reports.html

3. What is it about dark-haired, left-arm fast bowlers called Mitchell who have the targeting systems of a Soviet-era missile? He bowls to the left etc…

4. What enlightened times we live in. Had this been the early-mid 90’s, the England selection meeting after this Test would have gone as follows: Cook – dropped (not enough runs), Root – dropped (no runs), Trott – dropped (no runs), Pietersen – safe (scored century), Bell (too old), Bairstow – dropped (not good enough), Prior – dropped (loss of form), Bresnan – safe (bowled with passion), Broad – dropped (no wickets), Swann – dropped (too old, time for promising younger spinner), Anderson – dropped (not enough wickets).

So, that fourth Test team in full: Marcus Trescothick (c) (previous captaincy experience), Adam Lees (flash-in-the-pan youngster), Kevin Pietersen (best player at 3), Robert Key (Test double century!), Nick Compton (hopelessly out of position), James Foster (keeper who can keep… but bats at 6), Stokes (talented but with character issues), Rashid (leg-spinner! Quick, get him in!) Onions (local hero), Bresnan (strike bowler), Kerrigan (making the best of the Durham conditions by playing two spinners).

5. The rain dance was in furious, up-tempo mode yesterday. At about 12.45pm we were getting seriously worried that England would do a Sri Lanka at Cardiff in 2011 and slip on the obvious banana skin. What is the world coming to when you can’t even rely on it to rain in Manchester when you need it to…?

6. We retained The Ashes. That is all.

Over.

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