Then there’s the short term middle order. With Rogers, Watson and Clarke as definites, we needed three names to fill the remaining spots in the first six, and Cowan, Hughes and Smith get the nod. Two lefties and a righty to match the two righties and a lefty, which sort of opens up the right/left combination I mentioned yesterday.
As things have worked out, if Smith and Hughes can go on from here they’ll be cementing their place in the middle order for a while. How long Cowan gets at Three is going to depend on how he goes in the second dig, but if he fails there you’d figure a first ball gozzer here means he’ll have to deliver at Lords to hold Khawaja (and possibly a returning Warner) out for Old Trafford.
At this point crystal ball gazing is a dodgy practice, but you’d have to think that the first session tomorrow will be the key to the rest of the match.
Twenty-one overs into the innings reverse swing should be coming into the equation, so it’s a matter of how Smith, Hughes and Haddin handle it, and how long the tail can wag. Based on revealed form you’d have to be bullish about Siddle, Pattinson and Starc with the bat, with a question mark over Agar at Eleven.
Hughesy’s predictions tend to end up fairly wide of the mark, and a considerable distance from the money, but that’s not going to stop me making them.
Assuming we’re still batting at lunch time that should have us twenty-five to thirty runs behind, and if we’re still there at tea, you’d figure we’d be somewhere between sixty to eighty to the good. Bat on after tea and there’s a fair chance of a lead of a hundred plus, and the bigger the plus the better the chance of a win.
That, of course, is the numerical side of the equation.
From there we’ll need to knock them over for a reasonably low total. Phil Tuffnell was fairly bullish bout the likelihood of the wicket turning square, so you’d figure the more time we can bat, and the bigger the lead, the better the chance of an Australian win.
At the moment, you’d have to say England have their noses in front, but there’s not a great deal in it. I thought we didn’t bowl particularly well in the first session, and didn’t force them to play enough with the new ball. We obviously came back well, but 21 sundries (6 byes, 5 leg byes, 8 wides and 2 no balls, in case you’re interested) in a total of 215 suggest we should have bowled better.
We’d be sitting a bit more comfortably if Rogers was still there, and it’s interesting to speculate what might have happened had umpire Dharmasena given it not out. With the forensics suggesting it might have clipped leg stump, and the Decision Referral System returning an Umpire’s Call, had it been given Not Out and England referred it, things would have been very interesting indeed.
A small matter, perhaps, but games are won and lost on small matters...