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HomeSports'Bowl-off' looms between new quicks for Boxing Day spot

‘Bowl-off’ looms between new quicks for Boxing Day spot


After day three, I wrote about how Jhye Richardson needed to make a few minor tweaks to his bowling to regain some rhythm.

In the second innings, it just looked like he was back to charging in.

He can still lean back a little bit before he takes off, and if that’s too much, his momentum’s going backward – but it looked so much better.

The ball to get Haseeb Hameed was a ripper; he bowled a whole over into that ‘hallway of hesitation’. The last one wasn’t dissimilar, but just bounced another 15 centimetres. That was an absolute cracker.

Jhye Richardson celebrates.

Jhye Richardson celebrates the wicket of Haseeb Hameed. (Photo by Mark Brake – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

I was really impressed with all our bowlers. It was a real team effort: even without our two best fast bowlers in Cummins and Hazlewood, there was still unrelenting ruthlessness from the whole attack.

Michael Neser did his job; he bowled well and he got Dawid Malan, who looked like he was going to bat time again. The beauty of Neser and Richardson is they bowled full once again, and they were rewarded. Then Mitchell Starc ended up bowling full to get Joe Root at the end too; what a star he is in these conditions.

If Josh Hazlewood’s not fit for the Boxing Day Test, there’s only going to be one spot left between Neser and Richardson, so it could be a bit of a bowl-off!

Cameron Green didn’t get a wicket, but he was probably as impressive as any of them. In some ways, he even looked a class above Richardson and Neser, who both bowled well and are predominantly bowlers.

It seems to be taking Nathan Lyon a long time to get one wicket these days, but when he gets one he gets them in a bundle, so things could happen quickly for him on day five.

I think I wanted him to get six wickets in the second innings – he’s going to have to be good, there’s only six wickets left!

Even if he doesn’t get the wickets, though, England are just going to go nowhere against him. Ollie Pope’s got no idea against Nathan, so he’s going to be a very vital player on day five, and he could still take the most wickets in this innings.

England’s inability to be able to get on top of him is unfortunately going to hit them again, so I reckon Australia will wrap up a 2-0 win by as early as halfway through the day.

From an Australian perspective, that was a pretty dominant display – but they wanted that fourth wicket. They needed to go in tomorrow and not have Root and Ben Stokes to deal with, so Starc’s dismissal of Root was very significant.

If Root and Stokes were not out, there still wouldn’t have been massive concerns; but you know the quality of those two players, their toughness and their resilience.

Stokes has played match-winning innings before, but this could have been a game-saving innings. It’s going to be a lot harder now for Stokes without Root.

Well done to the captain, too. He obviously got hit in the warm-up, he went to hospital; and then to get hit again must have been unbelievably painful.

He even bowled a couple of overs – that wouldn’t have been easy!

Watching him run between the wickets, you could see he was in a fair bit of pain, so the team knows their skipper was digging deep.

Joe Root gets hit on the box.

Joe Root gets hit on the box by Mitchell Starc. (Getty Images)

I wasn’t expecting too many theatrics early on Sunday. I just thought Australia would bat steadily, then accelerate and look to declare either at the short break or an hour beforehand to give Nathan Lyon some early overs.

But England bowled pretty well, particularly Stuart Broad- he could have been on a hat-trick! A great ball to dismiss Harris, an unbelievable catch from Jos Buttler; then you had Smith dropped the next ball by Buttler. Then, had the umpire given out that LBW next ball, it would have stayed out.

The problem is they have the odd bowling partnership, but when there’s a change in the bowling, it breaks apart. With the Aussies tonight, there were changes in bowling, but the pressure didn’t change. There was so much pressure.

They’ve just got to get their team balance right too – for Mark Wood not to play here was insane!

He only bowled 25 overs at the Gabba, and they’ve rested him for a Test where they’re probably going to end 2-0 down.

If he’d done the intimidatory work, the enforcer work, that Stokes did here, Stokes could have pitched up and swung the ball around, like the spell he did to Green.

I reckon their selection, again, has hurt them; and should they have played the off-spinner, Dom Bess? We’re seeing how much spin Root’s getting, Nathan Lyon’s even spinning it more; against our left-handers, the ball spinning away could have been handy. I don’t think they’ve picked the right team.

While Broad, James Anderson and Ollie Robinson made things quite competitive, Travis Head’s innings was really bright in response, because we weren’t scoring.

Again he showed that he’s a really free-scoring player at number five. The other positive was Cameron Green getting some valuable runs for his confidence.

What an amazing Test match Jos Buttler has had. He took three of the best catches he’s ever taken – he seems very good when he just has to dive to his full length.

He’s a good catcher of the ball, but as soon as he’s not at full extension, I think the weight displacement with his footwork isn’t up there with the great wicketkeepers.

He gets in an off-balance position, and a couple of those drops were crucial.

He’s a leader within the team, and he seems a good fella. But the wicketkeeper is the drummer in the band; for me, they’re the ones that have got to give the energy throughout the whole game. They’ve got to glove well, they’ve got to help set the fields, they’ve got to encourage.

With Alex Carey, the ball just seems like it’s at home in his gloves, it settles in there nicely. We don’t hear a lot of sledging from Alex Carey, but we hear a lot of encouragement and just a strong presence there. You notice when a wicketkeeper is giving you real energy the way that Carey did.

It was really tough work for Buttler, but he’s got a big job with the bat now. He made a 17-ball duck in the first innings; they need him to come out and play a bit like he did in the first innings at the Gabba.

The day-night Test has been sensational again. Hopefully on Monday, Lyon will continue his great record here in Adelaide, and he’ll be singing the song before it gets dark!



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