The Test at the Emirates ICG Durham, or Chester-le-Street in pounds, shillings and pence was a splendid advert for Test match cricket. A beautiful venue with the St George flag fluttering from Lumley Castle in the background, the boys, girls and Honey Monsters of the North East provided a great audience.The Aussies surprisingly brought in Jackson Bird, which brought puns a plenty on Twitter such as 'Bird to Root', although with the recent form of Ian Bell making him a legend across the whole country and not just Shakespeare's county, my co-pilot Liam questioned if we will ever get 'Bird to Root from the Bell End' at Edgbaston?
England batted first and everyone got in and then got out. It was that type of a match. Cook and Trott ground it out, Pietersen obviously angered by Aussie pre-match claims that he has cheated with his circumnavigation of the Hotspot rules, flashed a quick twenty and everyone else chipped in. Lyon bowled beautifully, and with Bird and Swann both playing there were zoological tweets all over the shop. Talking of Hotspot, DRS and umpiring in general, I think it needs a look at. Tony Hill had a shocker with some decisions, Erasmus hasn't been great, and I can't believe after Billy Bowden and Asad Rauf were removed from the panel earlier in the year, that there are only four candidates to do three umpiring roles all series?
238 was slightly under par, on a Durham wicket which batsmen never felt comfortably in on. The average first innings score here in the LVCC has been 250.
|Chester le Street...a stunning venue|
When the Aussies batted, Rogers showed his experience of English conditions with a fine hundred. The veteran of the Aussie side gives them solidity at the top of the order, and Watto chipped in with a sixty odd too. This Australia side whilst lacking talent in certain areas, have pushed England and massive credit must go to Darren Lehmann. Saying that they were more of a laugh under Mickey Arthur, and gave us plenty of ammunition to take the piss about on these pages!
England kept them in check and the Aussies were 32 ahead after the first knock, Broad with a welcome Michelle. In reply, a magnificent hundred from Ian Bell underpinned the England response. On these slow pitches this summer he has been fantastic, cutting late, knowing when to drop his hands, allied to some splendid cover drives.
When he was out for 113, to a ball that shot quicker than any of the meteors seen later that evening in Perseid's Shower, Bresnan and Swann took up the mantle and gave the Aussie attack some long handle. Harris bowled his not inconsiderable arse off for seven wickets. His fitness is key to the battle this winter Down Under, and his team must be praying he stays fit. He is not far behind Anderson and Steyn as the best bowlers in the world. England set the Aussies 299.
The last day was Test cricket at its best, although not sure if the pissed up Honey Monster got to see it, after he was ejected from the terrace at one point? An intriguing battle, fortunes swaying one way and then the other. A bit like the Honey Monster really after his twelfth pint.
|Tut, tut...naughty boy!|
Derek Pringle on Twitter likened it to the Headingley pitch of 2001, where it needed a batsman to get in and anchor the innings, just like Mark Butcher did it that knock. I thought the pitch was about as firm as Daniella Westbrook's septum and so did England. The Aussies started well, Warner still being regaled to the Rocky music by the Barmy Army trumpeteer, was looking good and at 147-1, to use layman's terms, they were pissing it. England were looking about as imaginative as their national football team, and Cook's captaincy was as conservative as a dinner party containing Norman Tebbit and John Selwyn Gummer.
Enter Stuart Broad and enter reverse swing. He bowled one of the spells like at the Oval in 2009 or versus New Zealand at Lord's earlier this year, regularly touching 91mph. He is unplayable at times and the ball that got Michael Clarke was an absolute peach. Clarke has to feel slightly aggrieved to get two balls in this series such as this one and Anderson's at Trent Bridge.
There were however, some shots that can only be described as they say up in the North East, as shite. An amoeba should have the brain cells to work out that planting your foot in front of the stumps and working it to leg will end in trouble, but Shane Watson can't seem to fathom it out. It is the modern day equivalent of the "Happy Hooker" Andrew Hilditch sticking it down deep square leg's throat. Khawaja played a shot that would have prior Aussie number threes such as Bradman turning in his grave!
When Broad snaffled Siddle, England had won by 74 runs and the Nottinghamshire bowler had bagged 6-50, giving him match figures of 11-121, nicking the Man of the Match award from Ian Bell. |He hasn't received a MOM award yet despite his third ton in this series. England went 3-0 up.
|Bell...three tons but no MOM award|
England are not a good side though. Root would be averaging 11 in this series if he was caught by Haddin at Lord's on 8. Cook, Trott and most definitely Prior look out of nick, whilst Bairstow is on thin ice with regards to his place. The thought of Root going back to the middle order and an opener such as Sam Robson, Nick Compton or Varun Chopra coming in have all been discussed by the Twitterati, as well as Geoffrey Boycott on Test Match Special. The four bowlers policy can also look seriously jaded at times, but then someone always seems to pull something special out of the bag. If we don't though, we look an average outfit.
The Aussies also have problems, and some of their batsmen need replacing. Watson, Khawaja, Smith and Haddin should all be looking over their shoulder. The series Down Under should be closer then.
Firstly, there is the finale in South London. 4-0 to England or will the Aussies salvage some pride?