Thursday, November 30, 2006

Rising from the Ashes: England find their fight

I did my best not to mention the calamity that was the First Test of the Ashes. As anyone with eyes could have seen Australia (if you only have ears you could have heard, or fingers brail...) totally outplayed England and England's bowling and first innings batting were, well in the spirit of national unity I'll just say not out of the top drawer.
And things looked set to get no better as an unchanged England team were put on the rack before showing the right attitude and some little skill and desire to put England in control (just. Well kind of anyway.) of the Second Test. England will rarely experience many such morning sessions as today as the combined efforts of Strauss, Cook, Bell and Collingwood scored a meagre 58 at a shade over 2 an over. With Strauss and Cook back in the pavilion the only two boundaries had been hit by the Essex opener.
The rest of the day was assuredly better with England losing only one further wicket (bell horribly mistiming a hook) and ended on 266-3 with Collingwood looking set for his first Ashes century (after looking set for this accolade in the previous Test before losing his composure - and bails - and getting stumped by yards of bowling Warney) and KP making an imperious 60*.
Encouraging that England went the whole day without McGrath or Warne getting a wicket. In conclusion, so far so good. Hopefully, England can post a total of just over 400 and then bowl well. You gotta reckon Monty is very unlucky not to be in this team. However, if Vaughan gets match fit (I think the Academy have another match this week) he could come in at 3 with Bell or Collingwood in at 4 with the other dropping down to 6 maintain KP at 5. This would allow Freddie to come in at 7 and Jones, hopefully by then replaced by Chris Read, at 8 with the bowlers, form permitting, being Harmison, Hoggard and Monty. That'd give England a pace attack spearheaded by Harmi, Hoggy and Freddie supplemented by Bell and Collingwood and a spin attack of Monty backed up by KP and Michael Vaughan. Big if obviously on Vaughan getting fit, but this line up would hint at the best balance available.

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