The 1990s-est Ashes, day four: Australia refuse to be rushed

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Last week we picked our 1990s-est England team and our 1990s-est Australia team. This week we’re pitting them against each other in a one-off exhibition Test match with the aid of Cricket Captain 2018’s ‘All-Time Greats’ mode. (This follows Sim Series: Sri Lanka v England last month.)

England (313-7) trail Australia (519 all out) by 206 runs.

Here’s what happened on day three.

Mark Ealham and Alan Mullally walk out to bat. It’s sunny, but the pitch is turning and uneven. England still need a handful of runs to avoid the follow-on.

Morning session

A four, a single and a four and the follow-on’s been saved in the first over of the day. That was weirdly anticlimactic.

Mullally is then caught by Mark Taylor at slip off Colin Miller for seven off seven balls.

Devon Malcolm walks in at ten.

Ealham, quite understandably playing a few shots, walks across a Fleming delivery and is LBW.

Phil Tufnell walks in.

Tuffers and Malcolm. Ferrets at both ends.

Tuffers is LBW for two.

With 4-98, Damien Fleming was the pick of the bowlers.

Change of innings

England trail by 181.

It’s not even 11.30am, so even if they keep the run rate down, they’re probably going to have to bat for around four sessions if they’re to save this game.

And even if they skittle Australia for 100, chasing 280 would be a tough ask on a deteriorating pitch. It’s hard to see them escaping here.

Mullally and Malcolm open the bowling. After 10 overs, the former has conceded six runs and the latter 24.

Visibly irritated by the left-armer’s wide line, Mark Taylor hoicks to leg and is caught at mid-on.

Mullally finishes his eight-over spell with 1-7.

Tufnell replaces him. Ealham is on at the other end, bowling pretty much exactly how you’d imagine, which is to say entirely unremarkably.

Afternoon session

Those two continue after the break and Australia go precisely nowhere.

Ealham finishes a spell of 0-17 off 11 and is replaced by Graeme Hick. He too bowls tidily.

For a long while, things are very sedentary, but gradually, the fours start to come.

At tea, Australia lead by 309.

Bloody Slater.

Evening session

As Australia finally start making attempts to lift the run-rate, Greg Blewett edges Mullally to slip for 61.

Yes, England still have a slip in.

Mullally massively over-celebrates, doing this leaning back, alternating punch thing, like he’s limboing under a boxer’s speed bag.

Seriously, Al – are you taking the piss?

Mark Taylor declares 378 ahead with Michael Slater 98 not out.

Change of innings

Australia’s slow pace means Mike Atherton and Nick Knight only have 20 minutes to survive before the close of play.

It is however worth pointing out that even Mark Waugh was struggling to time the ball. Make no mistake, England have a steep, high thing to climb.

With men clustered around the bat, Athers whips his second ball off his toes for four. He punches a couple of boundaries off the back foot through the covers for good measure.

Stumps

England need another 360 to win. So basically they need to bat out the final day.

Join us tomorrow for day five.

17 comments

  1. Did Slater refuse to talk to the simulated press after his captain denied him a century, and the associated privilege of having his name on the Virtual Honours Board?

  2. This is on, people. This is on. 360 to win in a day is well within this team’s grasp. I mean, I accept that it wasn’t within their grasp in the first innings, but Australia’s performance shows that the pitch has flattened into a lifeless flump. So it should be straightforward from here.

  3. If nothing else, this has reminded me how much I hated Michael Slater. Unfairly forgotten behind the awfulness of Hayden.

  4. Without wishing to peek too far behind the curtain, how coincidental was the Atherton & Hick at Sydney style declaration?

  5. Very much enjoying this. Hope it gets adopted worldwide in lieu of real cricket.

    Ps How do we rate Atherton as a Test batsman? In my hazy memory, it seems for every battling hundred there were five or six limp nicks to the keeper off Ambrose or McGrath.

    Was he a world class player, or simply the ever-present rock around which the chaos of the ‘90s swirled?

    1. He was extremely good early on, but mostly he was a top batsman trapped in the body of a man suffering acute back problems.

    2. He was from Lancashire, so he was automatically a hero. A Lancashire lad captaining England – heady days. And as KC says, he was one of the world’s best batsmen.

      For a bit.

      To be honest, his career as both a batsman and a captain was just a never-ending series of disappointments. Maybe this was his back, but it seems to me that the weight of mediocrity got to him. By the end, he had both physical and metaphorical problems with his backbone.

      In his autobiography, he says at one point that the only way he could continue as England captain was to not care too much about results. As a person, I understand this entirely. As an international sportsman, it is a disgrace. At a time when English cricket needed a massive kick up the backside, he provided a soothing bath. He was the least suited person for the job he held till Abu Hamza found work as a masseur.

      So despite his obvious natural ability, and his obvious natural northernness, he would be slightly behind Nick Knight in my selection for a greatest ever England team.

    3. He was bloody great. A total rock in the wall of mud that was the England batting line up of the 90s. He got blamed a lot for the team’s failures because he was just about the only player consistently in the team…if Hick or Ramps or Crawley made a couple of low scores they got dropped…if Atherton made less than 50 he got blamed for the team losing…but was skipper again for the next match. He was world class and massively underappreciated. Still is.

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