1990s Ashes Rematch: Australia fight hard against unpredictable England attack on day 4

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Last month we pitted a 90s England XI against a 90s Australia XI using International Cricket Captain’s ‘All Time Greats’ mode and the Aussies won. This is the rematch Down Under.

Australia (151-2) trail England (575-5 dec) by 424 runs.

Here’s what happened on day three.

Greg Blewett and Mark Waugh walk out to bat.

The sun is out and the ball is 43 overs old, but the pitch is turning and there’s a bit of erratic bounce too.

Morning session

Angus Fraser lumbers in to start the day’s play. He has just one slip in, but then he is using an old Kookaburra, so fair enough really.

At the other end, Gough goes full and straight.

Nothing much happens for Gough, but Fraser beats the outside edge a couple of times.

Ian Salisbury – against all odds England’s best bowler so far – replaces Gough.

After a hefty, tight, nine-over spell, Fraser is replaced by Chris Lewis. Lewis was expensive yesterday. Mike Atherton responds by setting him a rather more forgiving field.

Blewett hits him for four all the same, but then in the next over Salisbury bowls Waugh between his legs.

Waugh was trying to drive into the offside, yet even at the top of his backlift, the ball was leg side of it. That is not the way to hit a cricket ball.

Another Waugh walks out.

At the other end Lewis’s over results in a chance and then a four before a combination of the two in the form of a thick edged four. With runs on the board, the chances outweigh the runs, so England might as well stick with him for a bit longer.

A couple of overs before lunch, Blewett is caught behind for 81 off…

… who else but Ian Salisbury – unquestionably the greatest leg-spinner playing in this match for England (with the possible exceptions of Michael Atherton and Robin Smith).

Lunch.

Afternoon session

With seven overs to go until the new ball, Graeme Hick replaces Lewis. You have to wonder whether England will take the new nut though. Salisbury’s proving their solitary threatening prong so far.

Indeed they don’t take it and Atherton brings himself on for a why-the-hell-not over at new batsman Michael Bevan. Decent LBW shout too. Maybe he should bowl a couple more.

England have leg-spin at both ends.

We repeat: England have leg-spin at both ends.

Bevan nails Athers to the cover boundary, but then the England captain turns one past Steve Waugh’s outside edge. There’s every chance that Test bowling average could drop below 151.00 here.

Conversely, the batsmen seem to be getting the measure of Salisbury. Athers decides enough is enough and takes the new ball.

Bevan drives Gough confidently, but Fraser has a decent LBW shout against Waugh turned down. He grumbles about it with the kind of elite grumpiness that is afforded to only the very few.

Bevan keeps driving fours, so Gough decides to renounce that half of the pitch. Bevan drives him for four off the back foot instead.

The new ball has not been kind to England. The session finishes with Lewis Mullallying it through two feet outside off stump. That was a bad session for England.

Evening session

Salisbury’s back on after the break but he no longer looks as threatening.

Lewis persists with his wide line and eventually Bevan edges one, but it’s shelled at slip by whoever was at slip. Hick probably.

England are short on ideas, so Gough comes back on to bowl a few yorkers. Bevan hits him for four and then six and then almost gets run out ambling to the other end to reach his hundred. Clown. Good knock though.

Next over Gough has two really, really good LBW shouts against Bevan, the second of which was definitely, definitely out and basically means the whole of the rest of this game is a farce because that was the turning point and England would have won had the umpire made the obviously correct decision instead of the obviously wrong one.

In his next over Gough clean bowls Bevan. (We honestly did a real, actual out-loud swear at the batsman when this happened.)

“Beaten by pace” says the ball-by-ball description of what happened. “I don’t think he even saw that one,” says Jonathan Agnew on commentary.

In your face, Bevo.

Gough beats Healy next ball, the absolute champion, but fails to find the edge.

With Waugh on 96, Athers keeps Gough on for just one more over even though he’s incredibly red-faced. Waugh uncharacteristically hooks him for a wild six to reach three figures before being beaten all ends up (whatever ‘all ends up’ means) by the next delivery. He survives though and that’s Gough done for the day.

The day ends with more run-scoring.

Stumps

It is a stupid pitch and a stupid sport and this is obviously going to be a draw now unless England can manage to make a king-size balls of things somehow and honestly, we wouldn’t put it past them.

Sorry, it’s been a tough day.

England lead by 129.

Join us tomorrow for day five.

11 comments

  1. As sad as it is I think these are my favourite posts of yours…

    You realise if this is a draw we are going to need a series Yer Maj?

      1. A lot of people do seem to be enjoying them, but we’re pretty sure some others are turned off. It feels like something we could easily do too much of so we’re not going to start knocking them out weekly. (Plus they take a while.)

      2. This has Hick playing, so it’s better than proper cricket.

        Ian Bell will have to be involved in some future games, though.

  2. The most 90s thing about this match so far is that England are in a strong position, weakened immeasurably by the slowness of their scoring. Australia are going at a sedate 3.3 runs per over. England scored at 2.5. Had England scored at Australia’s rate, they’d have reached their total 50 overs earlier. They’d have been able to have a crack at the Aussies late on Day 2, and would have had the advantage of a new ball in morning conditions on Day 3, still a bit of dew on the pitch (do they have dew in Australia?).

    If only they’d have cracked on a bit, they might have been able to work a result. As it is, only the Aussies can win from here. But this being the 90s, the crucial thing is that we find someone to blame. And in this case it’s two people, and it’s obvious – Michael Atherton (RR 1.64, SR 27.3) and Graham Thorpe (RR 1.67, SR 27.8). The two of them were seen on the day before the test having a net session with Chris Tavare, and later that evening having a team-building session with Geoff Boycott.

    1. Equally, “if only they’d have cracked on a bit,” they’d probably have been 270 all out and only the Aussies would have been likely to win from there.

      Whichever way you slice the 90s England cake, it’s less-than-delicious.

  3. I want a series! This is the only thing keeping me sane. Which may be a contradiction in terms.

  4. The advert that appeared for me below this update says ‘can you feel the tension rising?’

    Google AdSense has quite the dry wit.

    1. I might wish to buy coffee, I might wish to remove earwax.

      No advertiser thinks I might have money to invest any more. No advertiser thinks I might want to date some hot totty. No advertiser even thinks I might want to procure an AI system.

      Coffee and earwax. That’s as good as it gets for the foreseeable future.

      A draw at the end of such a long, gruelling tour should surely comprise some sort of a positive. England must steel themselves to the task of not collapsing in a heap in the 20 or so overs they’ll probably need to bat tomorrow.

      1. It’s true. You have to remember these people have been stuck in Australia since the 1990s. Long, long tour.

  5. I am very much enjoying these matches.
    Keep them coming King Cricket.
    I love the so called ‘boringness’ of Test cricket that is actually exhilarating.

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