Off vs Meadow, 2nd men’s ash sample


Despite the missing wickets with Cummins and Hazlewood, it would be a shock if Australia do not take 10 more in this game

386 test wickets are missing with an average of 23.68 from Australia’s attacks for this test. For the first session on the third day, it was just possible to wonder if it could give England a way back in the match as Joe Root and Dawid Malan remained unbroken.
What happened after that, however, would have allowed Pat Cummins to look back happily in his home in Sydney after the private jet flight he was allowed to make Saturday morning amid the Covid close-contact drama.
The overall numbers for Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser – 1 for 111 out of 30 overs – were a reminder of the absence of Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, but Steven Smith used his resources excellently. The majority of the middle session was a master class in test bowling on what remained largely a good wicket for batting, as Root and Malan had shown. The 30 overs brought 57 for 4, and the number was only so high because Richardson leaked a few in the final few overs.
Most of the overs were provided by Mitchell Starc, Cameron Green and Nathan Lyon, with each one unique. Green got the ball rolling by removing Root for the second time in the series – it will be a practical record to keep going – and Starc produced a stunning 7-2-12-2 spell. All the while Lyon rolled away from Cathedral End for a spell that would eventually read 19-10-30-3 when the second new ball was taken. England decided they did not need a specialist spinner for this test.

“We didn’t bowl quite as much as we wanted in the first session, let it slide a bit and probably searched a bit for wickets,” Starc said. “But the way we all came out, Nath and I probably took it a little ourselves when we were the two experienced in the attack, not to say that the others are not hugely talented and did a good job, but we have played a couple of test matches.

“I thought [Nathan] was fantastic, especially in the second session where he bowled the whole session. For those of us who are quick to bowl in partnership with him, knowing full well that he would do a fantastic job was right the key to how well we went. “

Each of the three performances deserves closer examination. The runs have yet to flow for Green in this series – it’s one of the few small victories for England – but bowling has been what a captain dreams of from a fourth sailor. At Gabba, he removed Root in the crucial period before the second new ball, and here he broke a stubborn partnership that had lifted England’s mood.

There was a resemblance in the firings with Root, who again fiddled outside with a delivery of good length, and this time he sent a catch to the lone drop in front of the goalkeeper. But there had been a build-up this time of the type that an experienced fast would have been happy with: the first ball in the overflow was a brute that climbed to hit Roots’ edge, two balls later he played a loose drive two points and next delivery was the fateful sneak.

“He’s obviously a great talent for a young guy,” Starc said. “We saw last summer how valuable he can be for our attack when you have someone who is almost seven feet tall and can get some pretty decent clicks. He has come to his right again this summer. An all-rounder of that ability. and getting the key wickets, that’s a huge plus for our attack.We’ll see him evolve over the next few years … when he found that rhythm today, he bowled some real high quality stuff and almost sat us down on the way after the first session. “

Starc, with an even more overarching role in the absence of his regular sidekicks, replaced Green after a five-over post-dinner spell and struck in his first over when Malan’s strength became a weakness as he made a cut slip. For his next wicket, Starc worked completely over Jos Buttler with the angle across the right-hander, luring him to fake drives before pulling the edge. Patterns are emerging for England.

“We looked at Gabba with that [the angle] go across him, “said Starc.” For me it was just trying to bowl a good length, not letting him get away and still pepping that line away from him. “

The pressure that Lyon were able to exert throughout the session was an important part of the stranglehold Australia maintained. It took Ben Stokes 24 balls to get out of the mark and he was 3 of 32 before he found the limit. By that time, he had lost Ollie Pope, whose difficulties against offspin continued, though there was some degree of misfortune when Marnus Labuschagne held a solid clip on short legs. Two balls earlier, however, he had been rejected by DRS when the ball came from his forearm to short legs.

Lyon continued to improve on his pink-ball record in the night session as he worked over Chris Woakes and Ollie Robinson with classic offspin. “They left the field open on offside, inside the edge back on the stumps. This is offspin of the highest class,” Ricky Ponting said on Seven.

It was always unlikely that Smith would take the follow-up opportunity, no matter how tempting it might have been in light of England’s fragile top order. These test matches are pretty much all back-to-back so he can rest the bowlers and in return put several miles in England. Meanwhile, Lyon also give him a clear route to victory in the final round.

There are many wickets absent from what would be Australia’s usual test attack, but it would be a huge surprise if they did not find a way to take 10 more in this game.

Andrew McGlashan is the Vice Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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