By John Miller
Saturday the 25th of November, 2017
Three days into the Ashes at the Gabba and a tense moment off the pitch, when Warnie and Gilly told tales out of school about fellow Australian great JL, who apparently once led the whole Australian team in singing the team song in the English dressing rooms when nobody was there.
Everybody quickly agreed that was terrible, but oh for an opening partnership like JL and a Haydos, instead of these nervous fellows who walk out and back into the shed so fast that you don’t even have time to go make a coffee, or refresh the screen a few times at work. Never mind, at least we’ve got Steve Smith to save us.
Gilly may deserve a punch in the arm from JL, but oh the memory of him and Roy Simmonds sending an attack repeatedly over the boundary.
And remember when Warnie used to have his bunnies? Now it is Aussie batsmen who can’t handle the spin. Khawaja was quickly back in the change rooms. Warnie needs to take this lad into the nets. It’s all becoming a bit of a joke.
Say what you like about Alfie Langer though, he was deadly focussed on the pitch, and he knew when to leave a ball alone. Except for after the cheating Poms had rubbed breath mints all over it to make it reverse, but that is another story.
This team may lack openers, but it does have a Kat-Man figure, a guy with infinite patience that can bat like an actual cricketer and not some show-pony. Unfortunately that guy is also our Captain, and Steve Smith has to seemingly carry the whole team on his back playing multiple roles. But he’s well up to it.
The kind of centuries that Punter and the middle order could put together in the era of domination and punishment came with relative ease, but Steve Smith does it on hard mode.
The Aussie captain got his 21st Test century in the second session of day three. Well done that man.
Smith and Shaun Marsh were reliable to steady the ship for Australia, after yet another early batting collapse. Smith was at the crease 415 minutes to get his hundred, which included only nine fours.
As his average climbs above 70, the stats freaks and bugmen are already comparing him to the Don. Calm down lads.
His latest hundred is the slowest in terms of balls faced (261) by an Aussie batsman in Tests since Katich (262) versus the Kiwis. Smith is both classy batsman and the man to grind down an overconfident foe. That’s a very good Test batsman for you.
When Hazelwood was bowled Ali it was Australia 298-9, and now it’s Australia all out for 328, with Lyon caught Cook and bowled Root for 9.
Postman Pat Cummins partnered his skipper well before chasing a wide delivery from Woakes and edging to Cook at slip. Cummins played superbly to make 42 from 120 balls, including a well appreciated six off Moeen Ali. Australia loves a quick who can throw the bat the around, and Pat was sizzling.
The English attack started out with the bit between their teeth, but by the end looked fairly pedestrian as they stopped bending their backs and dropped to medium pace at best.
Jimmy Anderson exited the attack after just three overs with the new ball before lunch, before returning to the attack midway through the session.
Mitchell Starc lit up for one six, and then departed, Broad drawing a leading edge from Starc and getting his man caught and bowled.
Tim Paine lasted just four deliveries after England took the new ball, and feathered it straight into the right glove of Bairstow off Jimmy Anderson. A good take, and a neat piece of bowling, but a horror scenario for Paine, who has now heaped the pressure on himself.
Smith spent Saturday morning enduring one of his slowest innings on home soil, eight runs from the first 40 deliveries, as Root used his field well to choke off the easy runs.
After a solid half century Shaun Marsh was fooled by a slow ball from Stuart Broad, and departed for 51. His eighth Test 50 was the crucial steadying partnership with skipper Steve Smith that kept Australia alive, as Australia went on the build a gap over England’s first innings total of 302.
Khawaja came to the crease after Cameron Bancroft made an early departure, and England skipper Joe Root immediately deployed Moeen Ali into the attack against the man who struggles with spin.
Australia all out for 328 has overtaken the Poms on Day Three, in an exciting and hard-fought Test Match. I hope you’re all watching this.
Full disclosure: John Miller’s IRL name is Frank Faulkner. I’m an Aussie and when I’m not obsessing about Conservative politics or defending Trump I also enjoy various sports and Christian activities.