Ashes 2017 | Talking points from Day 4 of the first Test

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Ashes 2017 | Talking points from Day 4 of the first Test

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Faizan Qadiri

11/26/2017

Despite Joe Root’s fifty, and contributions from Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow, on Day 4, England could only manage a score of 195 in their second innings in Brisbane. In reply, the Australian openers, David Warner (60*) and Cameron Bancroft (51*) have put Australia on the brink of victory.

Brief Scores : Australia 328/10 & 114/0 (David Warner 60*, Cameron Bancroft 51*) need 56 runs to win against England 302/10 & 195/10 (Joe Root 51, Jonny Bairstow 42; Mitchell Starc 3/51, Josh Hazelwood 3/46) with 10 wickets in hand.

Controversies and the Tim Paine show

The Ashes have never been short on controversies, be it decisions from umpires or the general way the players conduct themselves during the series. Remember the 2013 Ashes in England? From Usman Khawaja to Jonathan Trott, both sides suffered the wrath of the umpires and DRS, and it looked like every match would give us a fresh debate. While the ongoing match has been a captivating contest, it had been free of any sort of controversy. Until today!

It all began when Moeen Ali was adjudged stumped by the third umpire when a benefit of doubt to the batsman seemed to be the obvious decision. You know it was a close call, when a former Australian captain, Michael Clarke, can be heard defending an Englishman live on air. But it definitely wasn’t as black and white as most decisions that are reviewed by the third umpire tend to be. But we weren’t done for the day yet as Stuart Broad was then left annoyed when he was dismissed after a DRS review. The third umpire decided that he had hit the ball despite the bat hitting the ground at about the same time and no conclusive evidence backed up the decision. 

Ironically, on both occasions, only one player appealed for a wicket. TIM PAINE! The 32-year-old has received a lot of flak since his selection in the team considering he cannot displace Matthew Wade behind the stumps in the Tasmanian team. The second incident was the impressive one as no one, including the bowler, thought that the ball had caught the willow on its way to Paine. The latter, however, was so adamant that he convinced Smith to opt for a review that bagged them Broad’s wicket. For a man who looked like he would not able to provide the “chit-chat” from behind the stumps like Wade, he has been exceptional, if not better that Wade. After all the abuse that he has received, one, apart from Wade, cannot help but feel happy for Paine.

Cameron Bancroft is one tough cookie

The Ashes have well and truly arrived. After the English refused to get drawn into a war of words on the second day, they were forced to pick up the sledging weapon after Australia took complete control of the game. The visitors decided to target the 25-year-old debutante Cameron Bancroft. However, that proved to be the wrong decision. After a few jibes here and there, Anderson decided to take matters into his own hands. After defending an Anderson ball back him, Bancroft saw Anderson having a shy at the wickets. However, instead of getting out of the way, he decided to stand his ground. The Aussie opener caught the ball flat on his thigh and didn’t even flinch. He didn’t even seem to care about Anderson’s apology and went on to score his maiden Test fifty in the biggest series of them all.

However, for anyone who had watched the full game, it was not unbelievable. During the first innings, Dawid Malan hit a Mitchell Starc short delivery straight at Bancroft, who was fielding at forward short leg. The ball caught him on the helmet, ricocheted off his shoulder and hit the ground. While some players would have taken a minute to regain their composure, Bancroft looked irritated about the half chance that had gone begging. The Aussie opener appears to have ice running through his veins and England would have to do a lot more to intimidate the Western Australian batsman. 

England’s batting are in for a tough summer Down Under

Keeping with tradition, after playing at the Gabba, England, now have to chase the series starting in Adelaide. For the first two days, they looked like they were in complete control of the game, thanks to surprising contributions of Mark Stoneman, James Vince, and Dawid Malan. However, the experienced duo of Alastair Cook and Joe Root struggled to impose themselves on the game. Even after Steve Smith’s brilliant innings had helped Australia drag themselves ahead of England’s total, the visitors would still have believed that they had a chance in the game. 

But all those dreams came crashing down much like Moeen Ali’s hyped up bowling prowess. Cook fell to the short ball again. Root was guilty of shuffling across his crease far too many times. Bairstow looked like he had given up even though they had three wickets still in the bag and a reasonable support cast of Broad, Ball, and Anderson. There is no doubt that this Australian team does not even come close to their predecessors but, crucially, they are still better than England. The second innings shambles only highlighted the importance of Cook, who averages 44.47 in the second innings, and Root, 40.72, in the current setup that is filled with players with little or no experience. If England want to retain the Ashes, they need their main batsmen to dig deep, much like Smith in the first innings, in every game from now on else it’s going to be a very long summer in Australia.

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