Win the toss and bat. And bat some more. Bat as though your life depends on it. And for fuck’s sake, don’t declare.
So the wicket looks a bit green, more grass coverage than something you’d normally expect to be the colour of a Rich Tea biscuit. Might offer a bit for the seamers, you might think.
Never mind that. You win the toss, you bat.
With England’s doughty draw at Brisbane, fears of a repeat of the 5-0 drubbing that England suffered in the Series That Never Happened (amnesia pills, one per day) were laid to rest.
They can now do the same in Adelaide, exorcising the ghosts of a match they should have won but pissed up the wall instead, collapsing like a row of cheap tents in their second innings to a swan-song performance by SK Warne, aided and abetted by McGrath, Lee and Stuart Clark.
All this after 551-6 declared. In all the annals of cricket history it truly was one of the great “what the fuck happened there?” Test matches.
As expected, Australia have dropped Mitchell Johnson. Cricket Australia have long persevered with Johnson, because he as likely to be as devastating in bursts as he is dross for the rest of the time. With him, there is no in-between, which is what makes him dangerous.
England fans might bemoan the omission of a bowler who went wicketless in Brisbane (the first time in his 39 Test career in which he failed to take a wicket in both innings) but his record at Adelaide is not terrible, including a 5 wicket haul against the West Indies last year.
Ricky Ponting has indicated he is unhappy about Johnson’s dropping, which suggests that new selector Greg Chappell may have decided that the Johnson Experiment is better continued in the slightly less seething cauldron of Shield cricket, where he will be expected to prove he can fight his way back into the Test team.
Fake-follicled, hard-charging stalwart Doug Bollinger is likely to replace Johnson. Ryan Harris could come in for Ben Hilfenhaus, dependent on the latter’s hamstring niggle.
Harris – fast, skiddy, built like a brick shithouse – could find success with his low-slung deliveries on a pitch that will punish anyone who bangs it in short.
It is for this reason that England may consider playing Ajmal Shahzad, though that would admittedly be unfair on Steven Finn, who bagged 6 wickets at Brisbane. England management may feel, however, that over-bowling him after a tough Day 3 at the Gabba is a risk they are not willing to take, and they may decide to rest him.
England’s three Brisbane centurions will be expected to continue where they left off, and Kevin Pietersen will be expected to make the most of the batsman-friendly conditions.
As Andrew Strauss has reminded us, the series still stands at 0-0.
And it all starts again at Adelaide.