Tuesday, 30 November 2010

risk aversion and the end game. or, we don't need to win

in the wrap up of the first test, heaps of comment will be made about selection, selectors, the pitch and tactics... all valid.

i want to look at something else to be taken from the result- intent.

while i totally concede a captains goal must be to win the series, I'm putting it out that Strauss pea-hearted a chance (admittedly slim on the flattest of flat-tracks) to play for a result, only because England currently hold the Ashes.

Sure it is a captains prerogative to play as he sees fit, and as stated, i know a result was unlikely due to the track, but for mine Strauss turned yesterdays middle session into psychological warfare and an exercise in fatiguing Australia's bowlers before the quick turn-around to Adelaide.

If that is the case, i'm of the belief that Strauss may have done Australia a favour. Clearly Johnson is the weakest link in the bowling line-up, and now the selectors have virtually no option but take him out of the mix... something that may not have happened for Adelaide.

So, for that i thank you AA#2, but for your inability to declare a session earlier and put the onus and challenge back on the Aussie batsman, i award you the "Pisum Sativa Cardio" medal for the first test... if you continue to play out the series for draws just retain the Ashes, a bigger prize awaits!

stoph verismo
down the wicket


  1. Yeah I was getting pretty peeved at England for taking a net session in the middle. In our game on Sat we were asked to bat from the start of the day, 90 odd runs behind and we ended up batting the whole day. One of the more senior players was quite surprised when I mentioned I was thinking of what we'd need to be able to declare and go for a 2nd innings win. I explained that if there was ever a sniff of victory I would always go for the win. Every single time.
    Sir Waugh or Taylor would have asked his batsmen to go beserk and give himself time to grab 10 wickets. Strauss had no intention of getting 10 wickets - as evidenced by being happy to call the game 1 hour early. In the end Aus were 1/100 and did so with ease. If you only need to draw a series wouldn't going one-nil into the 2nd give you a better chance of doing so at the very least? Strauss is a defensive captain while to a degree so is Ponting. With generally good batting pitches across the country this will be an interesting battle within the war I reckon. Strauss is a better captain in my view and while England can be confident in their 11 (with players spare that have performed on tour) Aus is anything but.
    If Strauss had said to Aus 'I don't think you're good enough to last 3 hours on a 5th day pitch', thrown everything at the Aus batsmen and given a juicy little target he would have gained a far more psychological advantage than what he wound up getting.

  2. Exactly Lefty. Waugh would have aimed for setting 300 off 50 and let them have a crack at it. As it was we were never gonna have a go so the declaration was redundant. He probably stood more to gain by making 1/600 odd and keeping us in the field for an extra session. I'm sure Cook is pretty peeved at not getting a go at 300. I would be.

  3. more importantly Scrunters! are #1 in our league and 105 overall!

  4. Thanks "Anon" for your update.

    I forgot to change out Morgan and Johnson failed me miserably. Then I forgot to pick a captain. I'd love to say it would have been Cook but I didn't pick him either.

  5. Perhaps the difference between Strauss and Waugh/Taylor is that he knew he didn't have the bowlers to blast Australia out in two sessions and his first priority was to avoid doing what Flintoff did 4 years ago - set overly attacking fields, chase wins where no win exist and go down in a screaming heap. Ponting showed what might have been possible with the fastest scoring rate of the Test on the last afternoon. A target of 300 off 50 is fine when you have McGrath to bottle up one end and Warne to attack AND bottle at the other and where the pitch is responsive. This was only a fourth day pitch at worst and his most potent weapon, Swann, is still comming to terms with the length and pace to bowl in Australia. Had the roles been reverse, Ponting would have done much the same. If Waugh had England's armaments, he would have too. Taylor alone may have gambled.
    In the end, they were batting on a surface like the ashphalt road outside my front door. We make the mistake of under estimating how brilliant Warne was, how lucky we were to have McGrath as the perfect foil, how rare it is that bowlers form such winning combinations and how unlikely it is anyone else can bowl in Warne's footsteps.

  6. I understand your logic Lango but it is tempered somewhat by the fact England's bowlers were not bowling to Hayden, Langer, Martyn and Co. Our middle order is shakey at best and as we saw in the first innings we lose wickets in groups regardless of pitch conditions. Watson was dropped, Ponting had a few early worries too. Chasing 300 with a few more overs might have brought about a few looser shots from the top order and 1/100 after 20 odd can quickly become 5/150 off 35. All of a sudden a loss becomes a possibility and the pressure increases. Could Haddin be relied upon for his first innings heroics. Johnson was a forlorn figure and those after don't exaclty have the batting record for a rearguard action.
    What Strauss knew was Australia were a bad umpiring decision away from being bowled out for under 200 in the first innings and Clarke was not right. Armed with that he still chose the soft option. As I have said, if his intention was a draw England stood much more to gain by making Australia bowl out the day looking a scoreboard at 1/600 odd. Soft again.
    So now we head to Adelaide with a fifty under Pontings belt and precious time out in the middle, Watson too.
    Not only was Strauss not thinking of winning the test, he wasn't thinking of how to win the series.

  7. Soft England, and your South African captain you are soft too.
    The Pom's batted for an extra day and only made 200 more runs on a road...Both teams took the same amount of wickets.
    Straussberg had the chance to take into the second test some momentum but both showed he doesn't trust his attack as well, strangely, put the Aussies in to have a net??????????
    Bring on Adelaide, lets hope Les' protege has a good debut!

  8. At our club we're fortunate to have one of the lads' father coach us who played for SA many years ago as a fast bowler (funny as the guy is 5 1/2 feet tall!) and when some of us were talking about Strauss' declaration he said 'did you see how easily Ponting and Watson made 100? That pitch was playing like a freeway'. No doubt Strauss knew this and I guess midway through day 4 he would have had to make up his mind what he needed to do to win. Starting over 200 behind the first and only thing you're worrying about is getting in front and then building a lead so perhaps this process dragged on to a point where he thought 'it's not worth it now'. Perhaps Eng could have started day 5 with more intent and set 275 with 4 hours to bowl Aus out but then he knows that Watson can go nuts, Hussey is obviously in great nick, Haddin is too, Johnson on his day can belt the ball and that's before you take in Ponting and who knows how many pain-killers Clarke has at his disposal? Add the pitch playing flatter than a budget pancake I can't blame him anymore for turning the test into a net. His plan is obvious for Adelaide and Sydney; bat first, make a pile and then spin Aus out on day 5. There's your two wins and try to draw the other two. The WACA is the unknown quantity but the MCG has the worst pitch in the country so if you'd concede any tests it would be one or both of these two. With England's bounce they're more likely to get something out of the soft drop in. Heh presto you retain the Ashes and no doubt Eng couldn't care less if it was through a drawn series. Let's hope the cricket isn't dull because of this. Let's also hope I'm miles off the mark.

  9. all these points re true, the arsenal the others captains had was clearly advantageous, and it was true that Aus did make a big chunk of runs relatively easily; my point is, had Strauss declared earlier, the mindset of the Aussies would have been differet and a few more "loose" shots to push for runs would have seen more wickets fall... game on!


  10. I still maintain if Strauss was going for a draw the best option would have been to make our bowlers toil for the rest of the day. A bastard of a thing to do but it would be effective. As it was Ponting and Watson got priceless time in the middle as preparation for Adelaide and the English bowlers got pounded around for an hour or so.

  11. One of the commentators said the only thing that would have made the England batting perfect is if KP had got a solid hit too. Really Cook and Trott would had to have retired to give the others a go and Ponting would have just bowled part-timers rather than get his main bowlers stuffed. This would have made the match a farce with both captains treating it like a tour match noone wants to play. I don't think there was priceless time in the middle as it didn't last long and the pitch wasn't testing. The more I think about how the test panned out the less I think can be taken from it. Both teams took 11 wickets for the match. Both teams had blokes making huge scores. Both teams look unlikely to take 20 wickets. But is this because of the attacks or the GABBA pitch?
    You can say that 'had this chance been taken' or 'had this been given' then such and such would have only made whatever. You can always say this for every single match. That's cricket. Someone else may or may not have stood up.
    One thing we do know is that Adelaide will be a road; one with more pace and bounce but a road nonetheless. The only hope is that with showers and possible thunderstorms forecast for today and tomorrow this will liven the pitch up. Otherwise I expect a 650 plays 650 draw with no 06/07 miracles (read here 'Warne').
    As is often the case, I hope I'm wrong.