Knight In Shining Armour
This is the second time in her career that Heather Knight has saved a Test for England, albeit in quite different circumstances. In 2013 at Wormsley, England were staring down the barrel of the follow-on at 113-6, after Australia had posted 330 in the 1st innings; this time the circumstances were perhaps a little less dramatic, but no less perilous – with the Ashes at stake, Knight had to dig in, and her and Georgia Elwiss did what they had to do. It was a “proper cricket” innings from Knight, demanding all her mental and physical steel – the only disappointment being that she didn’t get the chance to put the seal on it by going on to 100. (We’d have liked to see her bat on at the end; but apparently we were alone in that regard!)
The Winner On Points
You’d have to say in one way that this was a clear “points victory” for Australia, having forced England into batting for the draw; but this is also a bit odd, because two of the four days clearly went to England – Day 2, when they had Australia 5-down and still 100 behind; and today, when the Aussies huffed and puffed but couldn’t get anywhere near blowing England’s house down. In fact, ultimately it would perhaps have been Australia who were slightly disappointed – they definitely felt they had the glimmer of victory in their sights with both the openers gone and England still a long way from safety – but in the end they didn’t have the bowling to force the win.
Was the pitch to blame for a “boring” end to the game? We don’t think so – it was the same pitch that gave us Ellyse Perry’s double-hundred yesterday, and we don’t remember hearing too many complaints about it then!! Obviously both sides played quite low-risk cricket, with the 10-over run rate averaging around 2.5, and only once climbing above 4 – but if you want to blame anything for that, blame the points system which, even at 4 points for a win, with only a single Test massively punishes defeat. Anyways… it was only boring if you didn’t really care about the outcome – speak for yourselves, we were glued to it!
Another Win For Robinson
Although England were once again outplayed by Australia… or outplayed by Ellyse Perry, at least… there was a difference from Canterbury in 2015 – England didn’t look like amateurs, out of their depth at this level. And lest we forget, this isn’t because they have played a pile of Tests in the meantime – having in fact played no Tests in the intervening two years. It is because they were well-prepared this time, by a coach with 20 years of experience playing and coaching tough, declaration cricket in the (Men’s) County Championship. And you have to chalk this up as another win for Mark Robinson, who has taken basically the same team, with 70% of the same players, and turned them up a notch – they aren’t up at 11 yet, but they are no longer at 2 or 3!
perhaps an argument, if we carry on having single tests, for the win to be worth more points and the draw less, say 1 each for draw and 6 for win..?
Much of the media are stating that England need to win all 3 T20s to regain the Ashes. Strictly speaking that is not true. A washout would be brilliant for England because that would mean they only have to win 2 out of 2 instead of 3 out of 3. Desperate England supporter or what !
Since the new Ashes points scoring system covering all formats England regained the Ashes at The Ageas Bowl in 2013 with a stunning 5 wicket victory even though at one stage they were 9-3 and also won the final T20 game at Chester Le Street as well.England also retained the Ashes the following year at The Bellerive Oval in Hobart in 2014 with a brilliant 9 wicket wicket victory.In 2015 England were in the same situation as now and needed to win all 3 T20 games.They won the T20 games at Chelmsford and Cardiff,,but chasing down just over 100 at The County Ground,Hove the early batting collapse meant they
fell short of victory and Australia just won the Ashes.So it is indeed possible for England to win the T20 Series in Australia and the England Team were winning Ashes Series prior to Robinson taking over.
A 3-0 T20 series win will be tough to achieve, especially as margins are so much smaller in the shorter form of the game. However, the Test was still encouraging on several fronts. England are still not the finished article, but I bet the 2015 England team would have lost more than two wickets when facing 105 overs of Aussie bowling, no matter how docile the pitch was. At that time the Aussies just had an aura of invincibility, but now, while they may look marginally the better team, it’s probably nothing that can’t be explained away by having home advantage.
Well played England to secure the draw, it’s a good result for us and we had to knuckle down and show plenty of determination. England have now failed to bowl Australia out in all of the last 3 test innings though. When the batsmen are not as pressured for runs, out bowlers don’t look nearly as dangerous. But given the pitch and given Perry’s great mastery, a draw was as much as could be expected. Another gutsy and gritty performance in the end, I think, Knight and Elwiss tend to bat well together and can stick around for a long time. An England team of a couple of years ago may not have fared as well.
I’d like to think to think that England have a great chance of at least winning the iT20 series 2-1 and so finishing on equal terms, but it will be very difficult considering we’ve not played an iT20 for over a year. Still, even one more win will represent a very competitive performance overall, and anything more than that is a huge bonus.
England might not have played T20; but the players have played a LOT of it, right? Could be some very good matches!
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I bloody well enjoyed that last day. Proper Test cricket with both sides forced to fight hard for any advantage. For England day 4 could hardly have gone any better – reward for holding it together in stark contrast to Canterbury two years ago.
It’s easy to say with hindsight that this was always going to end in a draw, but that was by no means the case. TB and LW laid the groundwork late on day 3, but it could all have gone wrong when both were out early-ish on day 4 (and both were “got out” rather than giving their wickets away). Had either of Knight or Elwiss got out before tea, or shortly after, we were into Sciver (not in the best form this tour), Taylor (who is not at her happiest when unable to play freely) and Wilson (Test debut, poor shot first time round, under pressure) before Brunt and “the tail”. Another quick wicket and the nerves would really have been jangling.
In that context, top marks to HK and GE. Knight in particular played the situation brilliantly. Never tied down, her shot selection was immaculate, noticeably cutting out sweeps unless the ball was well outside leg stump with no chance of an LBW. Elwiss too showed great application. Hopefully she can carry the confidence from this into her next Test innings… in 2 years time… if selected.
Would a fifth day have produced a result? I can’t see that either team would have done too much differently had they known it was a five-day game at the start. England led by 38 at the close (say 70-80 had they played until the “real” close. Unless bowled out they would have had to bat until at least half way through day 5 to ensure no chance of losing, and that would never have left time to bowl out Australia. There was no sign of the pitch suddenly becoming a minefield. I think we would still have had a draw or conceivably an Aussie win.
With hindsight, were England too negative on day 1? TB and LW put on 25 in 18 overs for the first wicket. Slow going, but I think they’d set their stall out not to lose early wickets and spark a collapse. You can’t win a match in the first session, but you can sure as hell lose one!
TB and HK then added 104 in 35 overs. As near as makes no difference to 3 an over, and starting to accelerate nicely before both went fairly quickly. Knight had 62 off 111 balls and was playing well. Another hour of those two and we would have been well set with Australia running out of ideas. The fact is that wickets change games and that’s what happened here. After that, England could never get a partnership going.
Australia suffered similarly from a loss of wickets hindering progress, but it happened earlier in their innings and Perry, Healy and McGrath were able to turn it round. They only sneaked above 2 rpo in the 79th over of their innings!
The pitch has been discussed enough elsewhere, so what else might come up in a review of events? Although a fan of the format in principle there is something about the Test match that isn’t quite working. Unless one team really gets on top it becomes too much like cat and mouse with neither side willing to really go hard with the bat for fear of it back-firing.
It’s been played at the start in the past, but that encouraged both teams to play to avoid defeat and an immediate 0-6 deficit. Even with only 4 points for the win that would still be the case.
Play it after the T20s? Even if it’s 6-6 and “all to play for” you’re still in the situation where one team KNOWS a draw will see them win/retain the Ashes.
One point each for a draw, instead of two each? Doesn’t change anything as far as I can see.
I’m not sure of the answer(s), although a more responsive pitch is definitely part of it. if not the only thing to consider!