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September 01, 2005



When the commentators discussed whether England should enforce the follow on, why did no-one say "G Jones is a ropey keeper when he's fresh; it's madness to ask him to keep through two innings in a row?"
P.S. I notice that you haven't mentioned that some of the bowling has been excellent.

Chris Brooke

OK, but if the Australians had batted as well as they can, then it wouldn't have been nearly such a competitive series: they would have run up scores of 400, 500, 600 in every first innings -- as they tended to do in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2001 -- in order to put the game beyond England's reach.

It's true that some of the Australian batsmen seem to be out of form, but it's also the case that the English bowlers are, on the whole, bowling at them with a great deal of intelligence -- which is one of the things which is making for good cricket this summer.

The 1981 series is generally reckoned a pretty good one: look at the batting stats across those six Tests.


They aren't good at all, except for Border and maybe one or two others.

Andy Cooke

On your first point, I think that you're not giving enough credit to the bowlers.

Australia have had McGrath for two of the four tests, Brett Lee throughout (and in my mind, he has really come of age as a Test cricketer - when truly tested like never before, he has shone) and the incomparable Shane Warne.

England has had its strongest bowling attack in a generation - Harmison, Flintoff and Simon Jones are express deliverers (and appear highly intelligent in the use of their skills into the bargain), Matthew Hoggard is stubborn and skilled at swinging the ball, and Ashley Giles only suffers by being compared to the master spinner himself on the other team.

Batsmen cannot truly get in against these attacks - the constant changing of the attack and intelligent probing by very skilled bowlers means that it is impossible to settle down. You can either hit out (scoring some runs) and get out, or dig in (scoring fewer runs overall but staying longer) - and get out.

As for the catching - yes, it's been dire overall, but that could well be the pressure that both sides are under as they know that this is a finely balanced game played with all of the dampeners out.

And the wicket-keeping - we always knew that Jonesy wasn't there as the best wicket-keeper, but he has improved noticeably. Gilchrist has, however, joined Jones in the same league of wicket-keeping ability, which surprised me. He's been keeping wicket like Jones and batting like Read (which could be unfair on Chris Read, actually - his first class average this season is pretty good).

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