Sorry for getting in early lads and I know there will be much to expand on but having the day off - had to put something up.
First, captaincy. Not the best from either I feel. It's easy to put men round the bat when you're going for wickets on the last day but takes courage when it's the first innings. Once Aus had passed England's score Strauss looked like he was waiting for the declaration. I hope we won't see such negative field placings too much in the series. Relatively speaking Ponting did ok: pick the pertinent word here. Sure Swann and co. batted well to get Eng past 400 but they can only hit the ball where bowlers allow them to: and they'll hit where the gaps are. The key is pressure - unlike the last day, lower order batsmen will not remain caged for too long in the first innings. But when you give deep square leg, deep point, fine leg etc to a number 8 or 9 what message are you sending?
Great batting from Aus: most disciplined I've probably ever seen. That attitude gives the lower order the licence to bat like Haddin did and let's hope we see more of that. North played only two silly shots in his innings and I've never seen Ponting leave so many deliveries outside off. Clarke: I love you. This bloke has learned so much about his own game. Eng just didn't have the penetration and the wizards of spin must have missed a few lessons at Hogwartz. Lesson One: no full tossers. Lesson Two: no long hops. Lesson Three: bowl to your field. Micheal Holding should be England's bowling coach: I've loved listening to him.
KP looks like he's got NFI at times. Aus were good with bowling full and straight which makes him look vulnerable. Cook seems to have validated my old cynicism (and made me look stupid for claiming he's improved), Strauss doesn't learn - half getting out of the way of a short ball AND leaving your hands up! Bopara will get better but, like KP, he'll probably frustrate the hell out of you in between scores. Collingwood is officially the most boring batsman in the world but also the most determined. Prior should pull his head in now after the Hauritz dismissal and Flintoff, well, I love the guy and he tried bloody hard in the last dig - soft dismissal considering.
Should we have won? Obviously yes. 8 wickets on the last day of the test match........
Therefore credit to England for holding out, poor sportsmanship but honestly we had plenty of time. I think Clark should be there but who goes out? Ponting will want runs from number 6 and I wouldn't drop Hauritz now. He did what he had to (and what Clarke and North weren't too effective in) - get wickets. The main issue I have is the fact Katich didn't bowl. Wrist spin that goes both ways! Tailenders can plan their strategy when they know the ball will only go two ways: straight or off to leg. Throw a googly in that and close-in fielders have an even bigger role. If Cardiff is the biggest spinning wicket we'll see then Ponting knows he can't rely on his part-timers to get wickets: just getting through overs.
Well done Siddle and Hilfenhaus: all up great Ashes debuts. Johnson's slower ball was the best weapon he had and we'll see more heat from him: he looked a little slow and the deck wouldn't have helped that at all.
What changes will we see for Lords? Tough one this: I don't think Aus will tinker and this would be ok in my opinion. Three fast bowlers didn't look enough at times but the strategy was always going to have Hauritz bowling 30 overs. Bit tricky I reckon. If Watson is fit I'd perhaps drop Hussey (any excuse though) and overs from Watson are a bonus. The problem is Watson is likely to tear a hamstring going for a single, or putting his pants on, or in the warm-up. I thought Harmison should have played (sounds like he's taken wickets again in County) and likely one of the 'spinners' will go out. This would be Monty as Swann can certainly bat: not sure if he can bowl though. Harmison and Flintoff - oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh. Now that's better.