Cricket / Third Test: Caddick and the art of batting

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The Independent Online
ONE of the traditional differences between England and Australia has been the ability of their respective lower-order batsmen. Australia's numbers nine, 10 and 11 have usually had a tiresome habit of knowing more about the art of batting than they should.

Followers of Ashes' series will have their own examples to cite. Mine goes back to that thrilling fourth Test match at Old Trafford in 1961. In Australia's second innings Graham McKenzie joined Alan Davidson at 334 for 9 and they put on a decisive 98 for the last wicket.

It has been excellent to see, therefore, the way in which Andy Caddick has sold his wicket in this series. He may not have made that many runs but he has been at the crease for more than a full day's play in these first three Test matches.

He has given the Australian bowlers a problem where they least expected to find it and in cricket there is nothing more frustrating than that. The pity is that his bowling colleagues are not as well equipped as he to offer such meaningful resistance.

In these times when wicketkeepers have to be all-rounders and any player is the more attractive to selectors if he does a bit of this as well as a bit of that, it begs the question as to why specialist bowlers who are in the specialist rabbit class as batsmen should not do a little better in this aspect.

Merv Hughes and Craig McDermott bat quite decently and Shane Warne scored an invaluable 35 not out in Australia's first innings at Trent Bridge. Why cannot Mark Ilott and Peter Such, not to mention Phil Tufnell and Devon Malcolm, spend a little time learning rather more about the fundamentals of batting? To play with a straight bat is far from impossible and, as Caddick showed, of inestimable value.