The finished article

God knows Jimmy Anderson has known pain at Adelaide.

Four years ago, he was pasted all round the ground.

Since then he earned the reputation of someone who either bowled like Jesus or who sent down the rankest kind of ungodly, wayward filth imaginable. For the England fan, trying to predict which Jimmy would turn up on any given day proved a short-cut to distraction.

The talk before this series was that he would be cannon fodder on decks conducive to batting.

Today, he not only earned himself some karmic compensation for Brisbane, but he also proved that the callow youth, the unfinished, undisciplined article – whose only wicket here in ‘06 was Glenn McGrath’s and who took only five wickets in the entire series at 82.60 – has been banished forever.

It was a fair assumption to make (and one based on bitter experience) that the team batting first would put big runs on the board. No one could possibly have imagined that by the end of the first day, Australia would be blown away for 245, with Anderson the man who not only lit the fuse in his explosive first two overs, but who would lead the other England bowlers in a merry war dance around the burning wreckage.

It was a team effort, this; Broad, Swann and Finn chipping in and backed up by superb ground fielding, and Jonathan Trott setting the tone early on with his dead-eyed throwing down of the stumps to run out Simon Katich off only the fourth ball of the day.

But it was Anderson who was the day’s undisputed star. David Saker, England’s bowling coach, has impressed upon his charges the importance of line and length when conditions are unhelpful. Aim for the stumps. Bowl full. Execute the basics. Give the bastards nothing. Anderson showed today that in this he has been a willing and attentive pupil.

Katich dispatched back to the pavilion, Ricky Ponting came to the crease on the back of a fluent 51 in the 4th innings at Brisbane. He lasted only one ball, playing forward to a beauty of an outswinging delivery that found the edge and ended up in the hands of a jubilant Graeme Swann at second slip.

Michael Clarke was Anderson’s second victim, gone for only 2 to a ball that straightened and came back in. Struggling with woeful form and a back injury, he averages 17.81 in 17 innings at number four, and he must surely now come under extreme scrutiny. Hilditch and co. could do worse than picking someone like David Hussey as a replacement while Clarke takes time out of the international game to get himself right.

Australia failed today because they came up against a bowler who is not only nigh-on unplayable when the ball is swinging, but who is now pretty damned good at the basic stuff as well. The batting was a tale of individual failures, and starts squandered and thrown away. Only Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin succeeded in keeping the wreckage afloat long enough to avoid complete capitulation.

England’s batsmen must now repay the efforts of their bowlers and set the kind of total they must have dreaded from their opponents when Andrew Strauss lost the toss.

Day 2 will be the big push. It will be the day that could determine this series. This will remain a good batting wicket, but they will be facing a fired up Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris, who, though bowling with a chronic knee injury, sent the last ball of the day down at 94mph.

If this series has so far taught us anything, it is that deviations from the expected order of things can and will occur. England have the upper hand, but only graft and application will put this game beyond Australia’s reach.

One Response to “The finished article”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Craig Lewis, Money Mo Licker and Masuud Qazi, legsidefilth. legsidefilth said: BlogSideFilth: The finished article #cricket #Ashes #Eng #Aus […]

Leave a Reply