The 1990s-est Ashes, day three: Australia plug away

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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 (66-0) trail Australia (519 all out) by 453 runs.

Mike Atherton and Nick Knight walk out. It’s cloudy, but after yesterday evening’s show of solidity, there’s some cause for optimism.

Morning session

Nick Knight is caught behind off Damien Fleming second ball of the day.

And so it begins.

Graeme Hick arrives at the crease and initially looks okay. He late cuts Paul Reiffel through where third slip could and perhaps should have been. Then he does the same to Fleming.

Maybe he’s going to cut his way to a hundred.

Athers fancies a piece of it and tries the same shot.

He is caught at long off, which, if you think about it, is quite the feat.

Mark Ramprakash comes in. He looks nervous. He steers Fleming straight to short square leg.

Alec Stewart walks in and the score has swiftly gone from 66-0 to 95-3.

A reminder that the next men in are Aftab Habib, Ronnie Irani and Mark Ealham. And then it’s the ACTUAL tail.

The bar is low, but Hick and Stewart play quite nicely up until lunch.

Afternoon session

Other than one over from Steve Waugh, Australia are rotating their four main bowlers.

Hick reaches his fifty. Could this be the breakthrough innings?

Stewart reaches his fifty and Australia are down to one slip.

Waugh gets a few overs before the new ball.

Hick is dropped at slip off Fleming, at which point we notice the umpire’s magnificent hair for the first time.

Fine barnet (which is not a fielding position).

With regards to the drop, to be fair to Mark Waugh, he may have struggled to sight the ball, what with it having become momentarily invisible and all.

The new ball does take a victim, however, with Stewart inside-edging Brendon Julian into his stumps for 61 in the last over before tea.

England still trail by 294 runs.

Evening session

First over after tea, Hick moves across to work Reiffel to leg. It seams in and hits him on the back leg. Plumb.

It was a really good innings, but when people look at the stats in years to come, they’ll have it down as ‘just another fifty’.

After a partnership of 130, England suddenly have two new men at the crease.

And one of them’s Ronnie Irani.

And the other one’s Aftab Habib.

Irani’s beaten first ball. “Poor shot,” says Jonathan Agnew on commentary, imbuing the word “poor” with great depths of meaning – none of it in any way complimentary.

Reiffel beats Habib but both batsmen are hanging in there.

Irani takes a single so insanely casual that even Alan Mullally on the balcony considers it unduly laid-back. He’s lucky to survive the throw.

Michael Bevan comes on for an over of left-arm wrist spin. Irani slogs him for six over square leg.

Bevan looks weirdly like Derek Underwood.

With probably only about four overs to go, England are looking steady again and so obviously Habib decides it’s a good time to miss a googly by about 18 inches. He’s given out LBW for 29.

Mark Ealham hits a lovely straight drive.

Ronnie Irani is hit on the pads, but escapes. Then he steps back from an identical delivery and edges it straight to slip for 44.

It’s hard to criticise him too much. As with his bowling, that’s probably more than England should really have expected from him.

England are seven wickets down. Normally you’d think the 17 runs to avoid the follow-on would be a formality, but when England are seven wickets down, Alan Mullally comes in…

Mark Ealham sees out the day with a couple of nice fours.


England still need seven runs to avoid the follow-on.

Join us tomorrow for day four.


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  1. It’s weird how uncannily accurately this experience is managing to recreate my standard 90s emotional response to England v Australia matches – hopefully clutching at straws. “We could avoid the follow on. That’ll put us in an uncharacteristically strong position!!” Shows how conditioned the experience made me.

  2. So far, this has simulated 90s Ashes cricket with uncanny accuracy. England are in trouble, but it is really, really difficult to put your finger on exactly why. Some players played well, some poorly, but there’s been no dramatic collapse, no massive hole in the batting. 313 for 7 is a reasonable score, so why are we losing?

    English cricket in the 90s was like watching Roger Bannister run a 4 minute mile, in the 90s. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with running a four minute mile. It’s very good. It’s just that in the 90s, it’s not good enough to win you anything. Bannister is still at the peak of his performance, but he’s 15 seconds behind the Algerian. Hick scored 88, but Ian Healy scored 91, and Mark Slater put 151 on top of all that.

    All through this decade England put up performances that were fair-to-middling, and ended up losing by a innings. We, the fans, could have accepted rubbish. People would have got angry, heads might have rolled. But in this death of a thousand cuts, there is no single knifeman to blame. Everyone is doing OK, doing their best, right? And oh look, we’ve just won the last match of the series, so we must be good enough, yes?

    I’ve stopped enjoying this – it is way too real.

    1. ‘I’ve stopped enjoying this, it’s far too real’ could be applied to life in general at the moment.

      1. Don’t know what the weather’s like round your way but there are cacti growing in the North-West at the minute.

      2. Well that raises an important question. Is this test taking place in modern climactic conditions, or the slightly colder 90s? Sheffield was about 0.5c colder in the 90s compared to now. Although there was less rainfall in summer. The met office assures me we had around 230mm or rainfall in an average 90s summer, compared to around 275mm now.

        It could be that modern rainfall has absorbed some of the efficiency drives of wider society and gets more raining done in the same amount of time.

      3. Why is it being played at Lord’s? England never win at Lord’s. Play it at Edgbaston or Headingly or something. Although, when I think about it, in the 90s England lost at these places as well. So it probably wouldn’t make any difference. Sorry about that, carry on.

  3. I am so annoyed with myself that despite lockdown here in Dubai (and literally having to get permission from the police to go to the supermarket) I have not come to the site since the end of the first test in Sri Lanka. (Normally i check several times a day!)

    Thoroughly enjoyed the last few entries and given my 90’s cricketing passion was defending Graeme Hick to the hilt and coming up with any number of reasons why he should, in fact, be in the team and not dropped – i am delighted to see he performed well. This 88 you know, if it was in the golden Hick period of 1992 178 through to getting injured in Australia 94/95, would have pushed his average for the period to early mid forties… Or so my 15 year old mid 90’s self would have told all and sundry if they had listened.

  4. As far as first Ashes Tests of a 90s summer go, this is a bit too much 1993 and not enough 1997 for my liking.

  5. Actually you are quite, quite wrong to state that there is no such fielding position as Fine Barnet.

    When fielding at the Barnet & Southgate College end of The Walker Ground, the position often referred to as Fine Leg elsewhere, is naturally known as Fine Barnet.

    As it happens, Michael Vaughan was fielding there when we had our now famous discussion about Euripides in 2006. Famous, as reported here on King Cricket and subsequently retroblogged here:

    Apologies for missing out the Fine Barnet detail in the original KC piece. I’m under orders to keep ’em brief.

  6. We are about to run into the limit of cricket captain: when following on, it’s really easy to score a big opening partnership and then win.

    Sometimes I declare just inside the follow on to get the chance to win!

    1. Yes!!! England follow on, the guv’nor scores a rapid double hundred at 5 supported by 70 from Ramps (is this the innings that finally establishes him in the oh dear he’s out) and a surprise 55 from Aftab Habib. England lead by 160, the pitch is a dustbowl after all the sunshine, and Tufnell spins them out for 135!!! An amazing win for England, who go on to lose the series 3-1.

    2. But surely the oppo is under no obligation to enforce the follow on…and in the circumstances you describe surely would abstain from doing so…

      …or are you saying that a limitation of the software is that the follow on is always enforced?

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