Australian angle: Ponting knows McGrath would have got it done
Although they came extremely close on a thrilling last day, the Australians were unable to take the eight wickets needed to secure victory on a soporific Sophia Gardens pitch. A runout was missed, a few appeals rent the air but in the end the home team escaped the noose. Victory does not always go to the deserving. Rather it must be grabbed by the ambitious, seized by the hungry and retained by the desperate.
Australia were not quite good enough. Ricky Ponting and company toiled tirelessly but were unable to shift Paul Collingwood, a batsman of high character relishing the dogfight. And when this stubborn foe was finally removed the tailenders clung to the crease with a tenacity befitting the occasion. Monty Panesar did a fair impersonation of Trevor Bailey as he thwarted the Aussies. Not that he was called upon to face the most dangerous bowlers.
Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne were past masters at winkling out opponents on the fifth day, so much so that captains often did not enforce the follow-on. McGrath had an even better record than his barley-headed comrade in the fourth innings. His ability to hammer away on a length and to exploit low bounce served as a reminder that pace bowlers have roles to play towards the end of long matches. Uneven bounce presents a bigger problem to batsmen than sharp turn. As English cricket cannot remain in a 2005 reverie, though, these visitors cannot hark back to yesterday's champions. Except in helpful conditions, Australia are going to need a lot more time to take wickets.
As much was obvious in Cardiff. At various times the Australians appeared to be on the verge of victory only to encounter more dogged resistance. Kevin Pietersen's early dismissal seemed to indicate a doomed state of mind and to consign the hosts to defeat. Andrew Strauss's departure left England with only one batsman with the focus and skill needed to bat the rest of the day. But England bat a long way down and the pitch was dead.
Towards the end, Ponting did not make the best use of his bowlers, showing undue faith in Mitchell Johnson, too little in Ben Hilfenhaus and inexplicably relying on Marcus North in the last 15 minutes. Overall the bowlers served him well. Hilfenhaus continued to swerve the ball, and was the only paceman on either side to pose a consistent threat. Bafflingly, he was not given the ball in the last hour. Peter Siddle produced his best and fiercest spells of the match on the final afternoon and likewise might have seen more of the ball in the denouement.
But Johnson's loss of form was a serious blow to a limited strike force. Had he been able to produce even remotely his best, the match could not have outlasted tea. After all he is the key man in the modern Australian attack. His arm was low and he did not swing the ball or attack the stumps with sufficient hostility. From over the wicket almost every delivery was directed wide of the sticks. He was a bit more dangerous from around, but not much. Experts watching him for the first time concluded he had been over-hyped, and not without reason. Certainly he was a shadow of the bowler last seen in Cape Town, an operator capable of cracking heads and unleashing late swing.
Nathan Hauritz performed above expectations. No-one, least of all the genial Queenslander, casts him as a destructive Test tweaker. Lacking a deadly delivery, unable to bowl a heavy ball, his strength lay in his control, variation and flight. During the course of a long and frustrating day he hardly bowled a bad ball. But Warne used to rip the tops off bottles. Hauritz politely removes the cap. Although he troubled the left-handers, their orthodox brethren were able to keep him out. He bowled well but could not quite finish the job.
And so the teams go to Lord's all square. History will record Australia's superiority, reporters will remark upon it, but otherwise it matters not a jot.
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Cristiano Ronaldo applauded by Liverpool fans after master-class for Real Madrid, despite Manchester United ties
Angel Di Maria injury latest: Argentina international set to play in Manchester United vs Chelsea match
Real Madrid vs Barcelona: Cristiano Ronaldo says he is playing Barca - not just Lionel Messi - in El Clasico
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
Erik Lamela goal: Best tweets and reaction to Tottenham man's Rabona
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are