|Posted on 7 August, 2019 at 19:50|
With the 2019 ICC World Cup out of the way, it is time to sit back and enjoy the truest form of cricket.
A game of intrigue that encapsulates 5 fluctuating days, whether it be a wearing pitch or the physical demands on its participants; we watch on with anticipation and uncertainty as events unfold under overcast skies; or perhaps with expectations bought about by the magnificence of another English summer afternoon that invariably inspires so many a heroic performances. It makes no matter, we absorb and appreciate the mastery of bat over ball or visa versa. This is England v Australia and it is “Ashes Cricket" as it has been, since the very first ball at Melbourne, 15th of March 1877.
Yes! England and Australia have introduced Test Match Cricket to the world; a game that brings people together no matter Race, Politics or Religion and tomorrow the first of another 5 Test series gets underway at Edgbaston.
Over the past months whilst I have been wondering who the Australian selectors might choose to defend that little urn; I was reminded of the former Australian and Lancashire League Professional (Haslingden Cricket Club), Mick Malone; Or if you prefer, “Solo” as his mates call him. Solo played only one Test for Australia against England which was the drawn 5th Oval Test of 1977. Mick bowled a marathon 47 overs in Englands first innings (20 of them maidens) to deserve every one of his 5 wickets (5/63 in fact).
I reference him because he had a talent synonymous to all great cricket teams and in particular to the style of game in England facilitated by the Dukes cricket ball.
Mick was a tall man who bowled with tantalising control with movement and always down that corridor of uncertainty as Damian Fleming would say; drawing batsmen forward to deliveries that might or might not move through the air or off the seam. He had perfected the discipline and with his height, he often found extra bounce. The principle was that if he hit the wicket hard and often enough in the right areas the unsuspecting bounce or movement would bring him reward.
This is a theory that has worked so well for the best in the game, but remarkably, it is a tactic that has been missing from the Australian bowling attack for a few years now. It was definately missing last Ashes series in England; Watson and Marsh cerainly had the ability but seemed to lack the fitness or desire.
So like many Victorians, I was praying the selectors would consider James Pattinson. An intimidating on field personality, with a huge heart and pace. He’s also a proven Duke ball specialist with the skills to take it away late. He worries all batsmen and if he can remain fit for the duration; I feel Australia will be very competitive.
I must admit that prior to learning of his selection and as a Global Warming sceptic, I was about to hang my hat on this theory as the only hope the Aussies had of success. The pace attack of Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins would surely need cloudless blue skies and extreme temperatures throughout the entire series for us to have had any chance of holding onto the Urn.
With Patto’s selection I have found some hope but now find myself holding my breath as to the type of tactical instructions given to the bowling group and of course to the question surrounding the Australian batting; will it be able to combat the moving ball especially now that England have Jofra Archer to compliment any combination England might put forward.
I have no doubt his stump to stump lines and subtle use of the crease will create angles to test the best of the Australian batting.
Oh how I wish I could be there in England right now!