Among many other things, today was a day of lessons. Certainly, it was a day in which Australia played well but not well enough and of the lessons taught, one key lesson must be learned if Australia are to escape what appears inevitable defeat. It's an old fashioned value that three year old have little of but mothers emplore them to apply.
Patience. As they say, it's not rocket science but for two sessions, Australia was shown how to bat on this lively Sydney wicket. For under such circumstances, one has to play the real Test cricket of our forefathers and its therefore even more astounding that a young group of players raised on the money grabbing fifty over game and the filthy indecency of Twenty20, could show Australia's corn fed, high intensity, high calibre, academy bred elite how its meant to be when the pitch is willing and the conditions against the men who stand in pairs.
But they did and the did for two long sessions - long enough to gain control. By tea, Pakistan's position at 2-190 was several suburbs, let alone streets ahead of Australia's over and time eqivalent all out for 127 yesterday. In fact, so disciplined did they scrap with the Aussies, that it took until two hours into the day for a brain explosion to be apparent, when Farhat danced Watson, missed in an ugly swing and then wandered back at his own pace and was almost stumped by a throw from Haddin.
There after, it was back to the grind.
How Australia would have valued losing 0-71 yesterday in their first session. The second was more expansive, both openers leaving with the addition of 106 runs. Australia won the last session by taking seven wickets but the last four hardly counted as Pakistan's batsmen had been given the instruction to crash or crash through. So whilst they lost wickets, they also piled on the advantage in adding 141 after tea, swinging like a middle class couple in the sixties.
The day started badly for Australia with North playing dropsey at first slip to Farhat. The opener continued to play and miss but so did all in the top six with the exception of Yousuf, who just looked the classy batsman he is. Salman Butt top scored and if Pakistan win this, I hope someone is smart enough to figure his name in the MOM calculations. His 22 runs in the first session made Tavare look like a swashbuckler but like real estate, position or occupation was everything. His application of the backcut is such a rarity in the modern game that watching him execute it was a real treat.
When they missed, it was mostly to the luckless Peter Siddle who finished low on the wicket count and must surely wait for another day when the cricket gods will watch him bowl badly but give him a bagful. Siddle finished the day with more misses than an aging Sheik but kept on coming and apart from one wayward over just before tea, he was clearly Australia's best. The worst was Hauritz, who bowled darts at up to 95km/h, on a poor line and a poor length and at a time when Ponting and I were in strange agreement about the need for him to bowl.
He let us both down.
Bollinger was honest and quick and intimidatory. I still don't get the Johnson rush and thought he was disappointing. For mine, Bolly and Mitch should be buying Siddle the drinks tonight. Yousuf was distressed when he ran the ball off the face of the bat to Haddin. Yousuf was in complete control with his 46 off only 56 balls. I threw my head back too. Umar was in a terrible hurry and did little wrong in his rapid 49 and was out lbw on referral. He managed to turn Hauritz into Australia's latest four wheel drive - going 4x4 with the first four balls he faced! Australia fielded well.
Apart from Haddin's five catches, Watson held two beauties - one invoking the ghost of John Dyson but looking into the sun and another skier that would have been coming down between solar flares. He just keeps doing good things. Elementary, I suppose.
It dawned on me near the end - Ponting and Hughes only need a thousand runs to have a 1000 runs in a calendar year. Things to look forward to but not for my eyes. Sated, for now, my thoughts are turning to 12 months hence and England and I wonder ... will I get a ticket?