Ashes 2013-14: Bowlers go short to let Aussies off the hook again

Australia 326-6

The Waca

Australia’s batting remains brittle. It is susceptible to bouts of stupidity, carelessness and technical failure and at least three of the upper order are probably in the selectors’ firing line.

If and when it improves, England will be in real trouble. At 143 for 5 on the opening day of the third Test yesterday, Australia were up the creek for the third time in the series, and the Ashes, if not on their way home again at that precise point, had been halted in transit on their inexorable journey the other way.

For the third time in the series the creek gave way to a much more comfortable environment. For the third time in the series, England’s bowlers could not finish off the job. Australia recovered again, this time to 326 for 6.

The Ashes Podcast: Stephen Brenkley and Tom Collomosse review day one of the Third Test in Perth. Listen below...

There were good reasons for this. It was oppressively hot, draining strength and energy by the perspiration load; the pitch was fast but true; England’s bowlers went for far too much short stuff, carried away by the pace and bounce; Brad Haddin arrived ready to play to the hilt again; Steve Smith turned up for the first time; Mitchell Johnson – well you can guess; and Australia got lucky.

Haddin made a substantial contribution yet again, his 55 following 94 in Brisbane and 118 in Adelaide. In those terms it was a relative failure but as part of a sixth-wicket partnership of 124 with Smith, who made his team’s fifth century of the series, it came at exactly the right time for Australia and the wrong time for England.

In its typically stubborn, hate-all-Poms-to-the-day-I-die kind of way, Haddin’s presence in the series has been as influential if not as spectacular as Johnson’s. He helped to salvage them from the perils of 132 for 6 at Brisbane, took them into sunlit uplands of 570 from the uncertainties of 257 for 5 at Adelaide and was not about to be denied yesterday.

Actually, he was about to be denied but Haddin, as he acknowledged only last week, is travelling around Australia at present with Lady Luck on one arm and Madam Fortune on the other. Before he settled to his task yesterday he top-edged a hook, gloved marginally short of the slip cordon, twice saw balls roll dangerously near the stumps after hitting his body and managed narrowly to clear mid-off.

England bowler Tim Bresnan struggled on his return to the side in the Third Ashes Test England bowler Tim Bresnan struggled on his return to the side in the Third Ashes Test

He let these narrow escapes affect his intentions not a jot and clubbed in his usual fashion, driving on the off, slogging to the leg side. England must have felt that life was not fair and that, although they have not played well, the gods are conspiring against them.

Smith needed some runs. He made 138 not out at The Oval in the last Test of the home summer but has been badly out of nick recently. A fidget at the crease, he touches the peak of his helmet and the tops of his pads as if he was tapping out a secret code.

He played seamlessly yesterday. His drives were crisp, his footwork dainty. Smith is one of those batsmen who manages to look so disorganised – maybe it’s the tapping – that he could not possibly be a Test player. But Australia like him and are being proved correct in their assessment of him.

By the end of the day, England wilted. Johnson came in when a Haddin miscued pull at last fell to hand. His much-publicised moustache – the local paper has printed a cutout version for fans to stick on – is giving him an increasingly sinister look like, say, Lee Van Cleef’s Angel Eyes in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The good news is that Clint Eastwood eventually finished off Van Cleef in the movie.

England might try to claim that they were unfortunate that top edges evaded fielders or that, as in Michael Carberry’s case, he was too dozy in the sun to run in from the boundary quickly enough. But they failed to bring batsmen forward when they might have been persuaded to edge to the slip cordon. That is how wickets tend to fall here at the Waca.

Early in the sweltering day they mixed up their lengths more judiciously as Australia came hard at them. The tourists were given what might have been interpreted as lift-off in the series when Jimmy Anderson effected a stunning run-out in the match’s second over. Chris Rogers, one of those playing for his place, dashed for a quick single but Anderson calmly moved to his left from mid-on, switched the ball to his right hand and dead-eye-dicked at the stumps.

England celebrate the wicket of Haddin but not before he had made 55 England celebrate the wicket of Haddin but not before he had made 55

It all went well for the tourists after that. Shane Watson, under growing pressure, edged a full-length ball that lifted to slip (that should have told Stuart Broad, the bowler, something). When Graeme Swann took two wickets –Michael Clarke driving to mid-on and the ever-belligerent and dangerous David Warner cutting to point – England must have felt that this was a definite shift. Off-spinners do not take wickets on the first day at Perth.

Broad then bounced out George Bailey, the third of the top six in selection trouble. Bailey left the first two bouncers and then made a hopeless hash of hooking the third down Kevin Pietersen’s throat.

And so England thought this was the way to go. They were patently wrong but they failed to address it. Australia buzzed along and the last session and a half belonged to them.

Anderson was more intelligent than some of his colleagues but he was wicketless again. Anderson’s form is beginning to be a concern. Since his outstanding performance in the first Ashes Test last summer when he took 10 wickets he has taken 17 more at an average above 40 and at a wicket every 100 balls. That sort of form does not bring home the Ashes.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam