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Surely Australia’s batsmen must have some doubts in their minds? They didn’t get undone by brute force, but intelligent controlled swing and nip off the seam. To be fair, the first session and a half on the first day of any good test wicket should be tough on the batsmen. The top order should have to grit it out, riding some luck through to tea before the wicket turns into a run scoring machine for the following few days, finally finishing up with something for the spinners, or variable bounce for the quicks.
The fact is the Aussies came up against good bowling where everything fell in their favour. Every hour and half the rain would come, just enough to keep the pitch moist, for long enough that all three strike bowlers were rested and ready for another assault in bowling perfect conditions. Obviously they still should have done better, but it was the perfect storm for a batting collapse.
It’s hard to believe at the moment in the Australian dressing room, when Rogers, Warner and Smith are out, that anyone is actually confident of Clarke, Voges or Marsh are going to steady the ship. I feel like currently the thoughts would be more like, ‘I wonder if someone can pull it out of the hat for us today, and give our tail something to start with for once. ‘
When the Aussies are two or three down, it could be a matter of minutes before it could be four or five down. I feel it as a supporter, its obvious England feel it, the media are feasting on it, surely in the change rooms it’s an underlying topic.
Even when we have won in the past while, it’s been smith in the middle order that has done the job, it was rarely Clarke, and it was never Watson, and it hasn’t been Haddin since the last Ashes.
I can’t imagine anyone really putting pressure on Mitch Marsh for his performance. He is a young all-rounder, who was given a proper lesson by an experience campaigner who saw him coming a mile away. Marsh will learn a lot from this encounter, store it, think about it and improve on it.
Voges on the other hand is 35. He is in this team because of his form in the Sheffield Shield and his extensive experience in English conditions. We were hoping to have a second Chris Rogers in the middle order. A guy who knows his game and the conditions backwards. Unfortunately, he has struggled. He was selected for very specific skills and we needed them in Edgbaston, but they didn’t shine. Voges will work hard on his game, but at 35, even with all his experience I felt he just looked out of his depth. We all know he has the skill to come out and score a hundred in the next test, but I’m not sure we have the space to give him that chance.
There has been some discussion about changes to the batting order. Assuming that Shaun Marsh comes in to replace Voges, I was always of the thinking that S Marsh should bat at four and Clarke move to five. Ricky Ponting has come out and told Clarke that such a move would be seen as weakness by the English. I’m not too worried about perceptions of weakness, more about winning the game. I totally disagree with Punter, get Clarke down where he has plundered runs in the past. While it’s not the silver bullet to his batting woes, maybe just the mental lift, knowing that he has dominated at five, could be the change he needs.
The other change discussed was Peter Nevill moving up the order to six and pushing M Marsh down to seven. Personally I think this is a brilliant call. Nevill has a good technique, better than Marsh, and has the ability to stem the flow of wickets.
All of a sudden our batting order doesn’t look as frail to me. Top three are solid, no questions, then S Marsh, Clarke, Nevill, M Marsh, Johnson and co to follow. Its brings Clarke’s test match awareness between S Marsh and Nevill and with pressured lifted off M Marsh, maybe he play an aggressive cameo leaving Nevill to use the tail as support for his patient innings.
The reality is we have no idea which version of which team will turn up, so until the end of the second innings, let’s just keep speculating.