Scoring at four an over in Tests

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Failing to spread the field

Once upon a time, Australian batsmen averaging in the forties would be in danger of being given the boot if they couldn’t score at four an over.

Just saying.

In truth, Australia were wise not to let their bats stray too far from the stumps for most of yesterday’s play, but it has given rise to an odd situation. It seemed like England were failing to make the most of decent bowling conditions and yet Australia’s wicketkeeper’s already in to bat and his team’s only scored 134.

Flaying at wide balls when the ball’s moving is just stupid, but killing time until you edge one defensively ain’t much better. Are these Aussie batsmen doing what they think is best or are they just keen to be seen to be doing what other people might think is right?

Australian batsmen used to make sure they had a say in what fields were set to them. These guys simply accept their lot and try and make the best of it.

If you took their bats away from them and handed them mushy peas instead, they’d probably have a little meeting about it, concluding that at least with mushy peas the edges probably won’t carry.


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  1. Spot on Dan. Natural test batsmen segue efforlessly between watchful defence and scoring. Take Trescothick’s first innings at Edgbaston in 2005. He watched, left, belted one through the covers, left again, belted another, left, left, and so on. At no point did he ever get reckless.

    Contrast with Hughes, who is as much a natural test opener as Brian Blessed is a natural metzo soprano. He was either going to score nothing OR get out, there was no middle ground. He scored one run in twenty balls, then hit three boundaries in four balls, switched to full on attack mode, and got out.

    Contrast again with Khawaja, who looks like he has it in him to play tests naturally.

  2. The Aussie team would have looked tougher with Khawaja at six instead of Smith during the earlier Tests.

    Ricky Ponting had to play 40-odd Tests before he was installed as the regular number three, incidentally.

  3. They still seem handicapped by this idea that Sheffield Shield players are pret-a-porter for test cricket. It was always bollocks. Even when it seemed as if it might be true, the reality was that new players came into the team surrounded by superstars and under no pressure whatsoever. Now it just looks stupid.

    The reports this morning used words like “brilliant debut” for Khawaja. 37 is a mediocre debut at best. In modern Australian cricket though, 37 is the undreamt of heights of excellence.

  4. Australian selection policy explained:

    Whenever you’re called on to make up your mind,
    and you’re hampered by not having any,
    the best way to solve the dilemma, you’ll find,
    is simply by spinning a penny.
    No — not so that chance shall decide the affair
    while you’re passively standing there moping;
    but the moment the penny is up in the air,
    you suddenly know what you’re hoping.

    – Piet Hein.

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