Balance has returned to my world, thanks to the Aussies’ thumping First Test win against England on the weekend.
After our dismal first innings batting performance, improved only by Brad Haddin’s and Mitch Johnson’s partnership, I thought ‘Here we go again’. And while we still have questions to answer in the top order, what really impressed me was the fact that our bowlers stood up to be counted. They worked as a team throughout the test match, and though Mitch Johnson failed to find his mojo early, he certainly had it in spades by our second innings in the field.
In all honesty, Mitch Johnson wouldn’t have been in my team. In the past, though he can be a firebrand (as he was in this match), he’s been too inconsistent. When you put him up against Siddle and Harris, who can both consistently hit a five-cent coin on pin-head, Johnson can be wayward and unpredictable. And though he started off in a familiar fashion – spraying balls wide and down leg-side and misusing bouncers – he didn’t take long to come into his own in this match.
His bowling style was suited to the Gabba pitch, and I’m glad we have some menace back in our bowling stocks.
Michael Clarke captained extremely well in this match. I particularly liked how he would chop and change bowlers whenever he thought it necessary instead of leaving any of them on for too long to try to play themselves in. He also played a fantastic knock in the second innings along side Dave Warner to break the hearts of the English bowlers.
What’s great to see is that a team previously (seemingly) acting like individuals is starting to play as one unit. Everyone’s bound to have a bad game at some stage, and in the past, that meant the rest of the team could crumble around them. Now, however, our batsmen stride to the crease with confidence, looking to score runs, and our bowlers work in tandem, harassing England’s batsmen with Clarke setting aggressive fields, looking for wickets.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the game progresses in Adelaide, as it’s historically been a wicket for batsmen. Our bowlers will have to be tighter in order to not let England get away too early, particularly if they bat first. I’ll also be interested to see if the selectors stick with the same team all round. Barring injuries, the only change I could see would be to rest Ryan Harris so we have him fit for Perth. As to who would replace him, I’d love to see James Pattinson back, but any one of Mitch Starc, Jackson Bird or Pat Cummings would be a fine replacement for Harris.
As for our batting, I don’t think there’s any need to make any changes. We need to allow the boys some confidence in their positions. We’ve seen how the axe hanging over his head affected Phil Hughes – before he was dropped the last time, he always seemed to play like a man in his last match. That’s not how you want players preparing mentally.
As for the latest sledging controversy, I think Clarke’s been hard done-by with his 20% match fee fine. I don’t condone what he said, but as with everything, it’s one line taken out of context of what appeared to be a very heated exchange. And don’t for a minute think Jimmy Anderson hadn’t given as much as he got.
The thing that disappoints me though is our media throwing these things out of proportion, and not backing our own team. England are in our back yard now, playing in our conditions. You don’t go to someone else’s house disrespecting their stuff and expect to get away with it. I have no doubt our boys would have copped a lot of lip from a chirpy and over-confident England team when they were on top in the previous series.
The should expect nothing less from us when they come to our house.