Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Gabbatoir (again)

As the Aussies complete their seamless transition from poor losers to poor winners, a few thoughts occur following England's thumping at Brisbane.

The first is, inevitably, about Jonathan Trott. There are lots of better men than I to analyse what happened, and I'm not going to touch on his mental health, other than to note that saying he should toughen up is like saying that Pat Cummins should pull himself together (like Bruce Reid, for Twelth Man fans) and get over his stress fractures. More immediately for England there's the question of who should now bat at three. Ian Bell did the job pretty effectively when Trott was last unavailable, but he was so good at 5 in the summer that I'd be surprised if anyone's keen to move him. Which means that it's probably Joe Root who'll get pushed up the order. That'll make three different positions in about 10 tests, which is less than ideal...

The second is about what Brisbane means for the series. Well maybe not much. England haven't won the first test match in an away series against proper opposition since 2004. They haven't won at Brisbane since 1986. Australia's star performer was Mitchell Johnson, who blows very hot and cold. A week after destroying England on a trampoline at Perth in 2010, he was going at four and a half an over in Melbourne. Or alternatively, maybe it means a lot - England were battered on a hard bouncy pitch. That's happened before too. If Perth is as bouncy as last time then Australia should go at least 2 up with 2 to play, and it's a long road back from there.

I think on balance though it's best to be wary of reading too much into Brisbane. England were walloped in Ahmedabad in 2012, walloped by a team that were clearly playing to a plan that worked. They came back from that all right, and there's every chance they'll do it again.

Finally, I guess it's probably worth saying something about sledging. Australia have a recent track record of chirping loudly when they're winning, and going awfully quiet when they're losing. Loud sledging at Perth in 2010 was quickly followed by sheepish silence at Melbourne. A winning opponent not walking is an affront to the spirit of the game, an Aussie captain threatening a losing opposition no. 11 with a broken arm is definitely within the spirit of the game. Let's keep an eye on the rest of the series and see what happens...

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