Bowlers win you matches, but batsmen lose them. Is there really much point weighing up day one of the third Test when England’s batsmen might render all that preceded it almost entirely irrelevant?
May as well go through the motions, just in case.
A growing theme of this series is ‘five down’. Australia have frequently been five down for not a lot, but Brad Haddin keeps forming one half of a big stand. England have frequently been five down for not a lot and have then been obliterated by Mitchell Johnson. If anything, that’s where fortunes have diverged – and they have diverged massively.
Clearly, Brad Haddin has played well. He’s an odd sort of a batsmen, in that he often plays the kinds of shots that a five-year-old might play, particularly early in his innings. The great thing about him though, is that he’s utterly, utterly shameless. When he does something monumentally stupid and gets away with it, he’s not in the least bit weighed down by embarrassment. A few overs later, you realise that was the last of the idiocy and now he’s up and running.
Tremlett, Stokes, Bresnan…
But how much have Haddin’s large returns been down to him and how much have they been down to England’s weak third seamer? Obviously, a batsman has to face more than one bowler over the course of an innings, but it seems that while Australia have enough bowling to keep attacking England when they’re five down, the tourists run out of steam at around this point when they’re in the field.
It’s not that they’ve bowled badly. It’s just that the third seamer – whoever it’s been – has been kind of insipid. As we said the other day, James Anderson effectively becomes a support bowler when there’s no swing, so it’s doubly important that there’s some sort of threat from elsewhere.
Once again, we find ourself looking at a bowling attack which seems a little fast-medium. Height, pace, swing, demented mind games – it just lacks pep.