A true collapse comes after a start. Throwing a load of Lego bricks over the floor is just a mess; putting them together to build some sort of tower before watching it keel over – that’s a collapse.
Like England last week, Australia took the time to set the scene. A 158-run opening partnership is more than just foundations, which was just as well because they then lost 10 wickets for 86.
At least two of the culprits were predictable – Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Marsh.
Khawaja felt that he’d been made a ‘scapegoat’ after being dropped in Sri Lanka following a series of scores that read 26, 18, 11 and nought. He clearly thought he’d bottomed out and was on the way back up. This view has been entirely vindicated as he was dismissed for four on his return to the side.
As for Marsh, we haven’t seen any of today’s play, but over on Cricinfo, Brydon Coverdale said of his dismissal that “the biggest worry was the distance by which he missed the ball.”
Australia love the idea of having a seam-bowling all-rounder and they do tend to give them plenty of rope.
On the plus side…
At least they won’t have to face quite so many bowlers in the second innings. Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the series with a fractured shoulder.
Steyn seems caught in a perpetual recuperation cycle of late and one wonders what we’ll see of him in years to come. Bowlers evolve, but Steyn has always been an adrenal sort of player and if he’s unable to force his body to physical extremes, you can’t help but feel he’ll be blunted.
It says it all that his departure isn’t the body blow for South Africa it might once have been. They’d sooner have him than not, but the relentless rehab means they’re uncertain what they’ll get from him while they have solid replacements in reserve.
From what we saw, Steyn spent much of the first innings trying to bounce the shit out of David Warner and Shaun Marsh, even though the soundtrack of every Waca Test ever has been some sage old Aussie telling everyone how bowlers always get carried away bouncing the shit out of the batsmen when in reality the best approach is to pitch it up.
Back to collapses
Australia against Sri Lanka and England against Bangladesh were spin-induced collapses. With England embarking on a tour of India, many people are predicting a few more.
If you’d like some further reading, this piece on Graeme Swann’s comments about the culture of English cricket and its view of spin bowling is well worth a look. You could also watch the video if you’d for some reason like to encourage the notion that video clips are a better way of presenting information on the web than easy-to-scan text.
We agree with much of what Swann says. If spin is fundamentally something of an afterthought, there’s little point getting angry at the tweakers selected when spin bowling does come to the fore. Nor can you realistically expect a specialist coach to swan in, click his fingers, and teach the bowlers how to reliably and accurately click theirs in little more than a fortnight.
He also expresses our recurring point that English batsmen have a lot of catching up to do and that it is again because of the environment in which they develop.