I’ve been banging on for a while about the need for Australia’s batsmen to work on their bowling a bit, and Michael Clarke’s decision to hand the ball to Steve Smith at the start of the 76th over might just suggest there’s something in that suggestion.
Clarke’s not afraid to try things, and is equally disinclined to persevere with something that’s not working, which would tend to explain the decision to hand the ball to Watson for the fifth over, a decision that was rewarded with the wicket of Cook, who, interestingly, walked where certain other individuals may have been tempted to linger and discuss a referral.
That suggests a reasonably hard-nosed attitude and a fair aptitude for assessing the chance of success.
I’d been inclined to favour Bird over Harris as the replacement for Starc, but the man they call Rhino definitely delivered. Two early wickets (Root and Pietersen) and the one that broke a 99-run partnership is a fair return for twenty economical overs. The question, of course, is how long you can keep him going, and the question of who to bowl if he breaks down comes into the equation as well.
That, of course, is one of the reasons for the everybody should be able to roll their arm over and send down something reasonable proposition.
With half the side used yesterday it’s also interesting that Pattinson’s eighteen overs were the least impressive contribution with the ball, though one notes the peculiar conditions that apply when you’re bowling at Lords.
For the uninitiated there’s an eight foot drop in height from one square boundary to the other, so the ground has the sort of built in slope that would long since have disappeared in a renovation/reconstruction project anywhere other than the fabled home of cricket.
Pattinson was wayward early, which accounted for Watson’s introduction to the crease. His twelve overs were about where you’d want them on a day when the workload was shared fairly evenly among the main quicks. I’ve always held that one of the benefits of Bowling Watto’s presence in the side is the fact that he saved the other blokes from overwork without any significant drop in aggression, pace or intensity.
Siddle and Harris did the workhorse bit fairly well, but it wasn’t a day when the attack really hit the heights after that impressive score line of 3 for 28 at the end of the sixth over.
From that point Trott and Bell fought back well (as you’d expect). Bell, in particular, has a fair degree of gritty stickability and scores at a reasonable rate as well. Trott’s in much the same mould, so while you’d like to get them cheaply you’ve got to expect fairly stiff resistance so it’s a case of keep it tight and wait for the opportunity, which arrived with a catch in the deep to dispose of Trott.
At that point, 4-127 in the thirty-fourth over, having gone to lunch at 3-80 off twenty-six, things looked to be swinging back Australia’s way, but a 144-run partnership between Bell and Bairstow had England looking good in the run down to the new ball, which is where Smith came into the action.