Ashes Diary: We're in good nick, provided we get the referrals right
Thursday 02 December 2010
At the first Test in Brisbane, Andrew Strauss, Stuart Broad and I were changing next to each other. We looked at each other at one stage and suddenly realised we had faced five balls between us. There was nothing for it but to laugh.
It was either change benches or do something about it. The skipper decided to go out and do something about it. His innings formed the first part of England's recovery.
People will try to undermine it by saying it was a flat wicket, but any time you're going out to bat with a deficit, let alone a big deficit of 220 runs, there is a huge amount of scoreboard pressure and, whatever the wicket or the bowling are doing that can be one of the biggest elements in getting bowled out. The way those three guys, Strauss, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott, handled that pressure, controlled it and then controlled the game is something to be very proud of. On any wicket 517 for 1 was a phenomenal effort.
But it's still 0-0 and, ultimately, we had to fight back from an extremely bad position and we didn't win the Test match. We're certainly not walking round complacently thinking we played great cricket, patting ourselves on the back. But there were good things and the spells from Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad on the third morning were exemplary.
It's a time when being a keeper is the best place in the world because you're watching a team-mate execute his skills and you also know what he's trying to do and you can see it happening. Then, on the other hand, he's having no luck at all.
And so to Adelaide. I wasn't here four years ago for the great turnaround on the last day when what looked a nailed-on draw turned into an Australia victory. Not many of us were. Of course, it was a great victory for Australia. They showed how great it was by playing the highlights in a loop tape when we here two weeks ago for a state match. We must have seen it at least a dozen times in the dressing room.
But what the first Test showed is that this series will be a dogfight, a slugfest with ups and downs, highs and lows. I suppose we had better try to make better use of the umpire decision review system. It didn't exactly work in our favour and both our permitted reviews went with the umpire's original decision – Shane Watson was given not out lbw and Michael Clarke was give not out caught behind.
I was involved in the referrals as wicketkeeper and, like the umpires, you're going to get one look at it and Watson's lbw from behind the stumps looked dead. As it happens it was hitting the stumps, just not sufficiently. So we weren't wrong, just not right enough. There's no doubt in my mind that there was an inside edge when we asked for a review of Clarke. But Hot Spot showed nothing. Then you get Mike Hussey in front, you have used your reviews and he is given not out.
Now, that's frustrating. You can't look at the review system as a way of getting wickets you haven't earned or sneakily getting someone out. It's just to negate any glaringly obvious errors which happen in the game.
My stay at the crease did not need a review. I was the middle bit of Peter Siddle's hat-trick. The strange thing is, I feel in very good nick and there were no nerves or anything like that. For a batsman the first 10 or 20 balls are pretty crucial and if a bowler gets it absolutely right it can be tricky. I was looking to hit it up the ground because I thought it was the right length. But it kept coming on me. About half way through I thought, "Oh dear, I'm in trouble here." Then it cleaned me out. I still feel in good nick.
Matt Prior supports NatWest CricketForce, the largest volunteering initiative in UK sport, and registrations are now open for 2011. For more info, visit: www.natwest.com/cricket and sign up to this month's bulletin
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