There was one great Aussie paceman in Adelaide yesterday but, sadly for home fans, Jason Gillespie's glory days are some way behind him. Gillespie, in town for the unveiling of a statue of himself beside the nets at Adelaide Oval, was impressed by England's batting but pointed out that the Australian selectors had erred by dropping Mitchell Johnson, the home side's only real strike bowler.
"I probably wouldn't have dropped him in the first place. He does take time to get into a cricket summer," he said. "He is a wonderful player with a wonderful record and has had to carry the attack for the past few years. It was probably a bit harsh to leave him out. You don't lose your skill overnight and it will only be a matter of time before he is back in the Australian side."
The Aussie bowlers' lack of consistency and patience has let them down at Adelaide Oval, Gillespie said. "You've just got to have a very clear and simple plan and execute it," he said.
"At Adelaide Oval, as a general rule, you bowl a fourth-stump line for the most part. Then on days three and four you straighten up your lines, you split your field a little and you look to hit the stumps."
Gillespie was rather more pleased with his bronze likeness. "Yeah, it's a nice touch. To be right bang in the middle of the nets, I think, is wonderful," he said. "To be honoured in this way... I was gobsmacked. It's captured everything, even down to the brand of boot I wore."
This has been perhaps the most statistical Ashes of all-time, and very few of them make good reading for the hosts. For example, how about this beauty: after the third day of the Adelaide Test, four English batsmen are averaging over 100 for the series – and two of them are averaging over 200. That's Kevin Pietersen (256), Alastair Cook (225), Jonathan Trott (121) and Ian Bell (117). For the 'Saggy' Greens, Mike Hussey is averaging 144 – and Xavier Doherty 134. That's his bowling average, though.
Beware revenge of the redbacks
Those England fans soaking up the sun on the hill at Adelaide are feeling pretty pleased about themselves but they'd be well advised not to get too comfortable. The famous old scoreboard that stands behind that grassy knoll looks harmless but, according to locals in the know, it's home to some pretty deadly spiders. Well, at least not all Aussies have lost their bite.
England's secret weapon: a trumpet
And I thought we were supposed to be the whingers, part 346. Aussie fans are reportedly upset that while the Barmy Army trumpeter Billy Cooper has been given carte blanche to play the Neighbours theme tune at all five of this winter's Test matches, no home blower is being allowed to do likewise at the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. "The Barmy Army will be handed an unfair advantage," squealed the Melbourne Herald Sun. Here's an idea for any locals hoping to strike up a tune at the MCG: how about learning one in the first place? And Aussie, Aussie, Aussie (Oy Oy Oy) doesn't count.
Outsiders? More like no-hopers
When England played here in the 1998-99 series, one waggish local produced a banner claiming, quite correctly as it turned out, that "England don't have a prayer in the City of Churches" – Adelaide being as well known for its places of worship as for its wine and high boredom levels. This time, though, it's the Aussies who are looking for a miracle, and those who know about this sort of thing – bookies – don't give them much of a chance. Local turf accountants TAB Sportsbet now have the hosts out at 67-1. "That's basically unheard of," said TAB spokesman Glenn Munsie.