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.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Ricky Gervais performs stand-up
people
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering