Considering their cataclysmic first three days, England can be content with reaching 293-5 on the fourth day. It is, rather prematurely, being lauded as the start of England’s attempts to retain the Ashes. England’s endeavours were certainly an improvement. But they didn’t bat in the manner that saves Test matches.
Three of England’s wickets were lost to reckless shots, the sort that would attract light criticism even in limited overs games. Andrew Strauss was caught pulling for the second time in the game; Paul Collingwood, after a fine innings, was stumped; and, most inexcusably of all, skipper Andrew Flintoff played a suicidal shot, caught trying to hit Shane Warne out of the state. It was more reminiscent of his pre-2003 batting, characterised by a lack of coherent thinking.
Though defiant, England’s batting was more Edgbaston 05 than Johannesburg 95. Rattling along at 3.66 an over, England were responsible for a day of exhilarating cricket. Yet their emphasis seemed to be on taking the game to Australia, rather than saving the game themselves.
It is an indication of modern Test cricket that the art of saving games has been lost. Batting time has been replaced by belting.
England have long since been a victim of ‘100 and out’ syndrome; indeed, Collingwood would never have attempted such a reckless shot had his score been anything other than 96. We only need to look at the Australians – Ricky Ponting was devastated to have missed out on a double ton, having made exactly 100 more than the Durham man.
Collingwood’s feisty knock deserves enormous credit, and has surprised many, myself included. But he must realise that, the moment he put century before the match, he ended England’s hopes of salvation. His partnership with Kevin Pietersen constituted the most uplifting facet of England’s performance.
At 244-3, Australia were searching for their next wicket, and there was a very real chance England would save the game. Alas, England gifted it to them.
Tagged with: Paul Collingwood, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff, Andrew Strauss, reckless