Friday, 24 December 2010

Even Pitch

Game on!

One of the main attributes of Australian sport in general is their never say die attitude, an attitude we do not have here.  That's not to say that Australia are going to now run away with this series, but they have put themselves back into the game.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Australia had to win in Perth, and given the unique set-up at the WACA, this was their best opportunity.  They took it.  The WACA pitch is currently still the quickest bounciest pitch on the Test circuit, Australia had the players capable of utilising it and of playing it.  The person who benefited the most was Mitchell Johnson (above).  Johnson made his debut against Sri Lanka 3 years ago, but to date his performance in South Africa – where he took 16 wickets and emerged with the Man of the Series gong, but apart from a spell against England at the Headingly test has not really reached that standard again.  Until Perth when he took 6/38 and 3/44 (to go with his first innings 62 with the bat).

Australia might have won convincingly in Perth, however the problems besetting the team are still there in victory.  The win was held together by Johnson’s 62, had he gone early Australia would not have made 200, and in the second innings by Mike Hussey’s 116.  Hussey now leads the series averages with an aggregate of 517 runs at an average of 103.40, with Shane Watson & Brad Haddin the only other Australians to have made over 200 runs during this series so far.  At least the bowlers now have a bit of form and wickets behind them.

Having lead, England are now facing questions about their team, with calls being made to push Bell up the order to bat at No# 5, and for an extra bowler to be included.  I think the only change that should be made is that Bell is switched with Collingwood, with Collingwood coming in at 6.  I am also surprised that Collingwood has not had more of a bowl as well, considering how much work that Finn/Anderson/Swan and Broad/Tremlett have done.

While Perth has always produced hard, fast and bouncy wickets, the pitch at Melbourne (right) is expected to be a slow one.  Being a drop in pitch it may well suit the seam bowlers, and be a little bowler friendly.  Unlike Perth, England have a good record at Melbourne, winning memorable tests at the MCG in 1982, 1986 and 1998.  If last year is anything to go by Australia racked up 454 on first use of the pitch.
For England, a win will see them retain the Ashes, Australia need to win to take the series to the last test.  The question will be who’s nerves will hold out?

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