Bancroft dumped for Harris? Tick. Siddle out? Tick. Starc in? Well, we don’t need Starc. Pattinson is just as good. Okay. Even still, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, as Meatloaf once said, and surely Australia had enough of the right changes that they’d win, right? Right?
It was nerve-wracking watching the first day. Everyone fell cheaply bar Warner and Labuschagne, and, somehow, the form of Labuschagne seemed to rub off on Warner. It’s funny how a good batting partner can help you. 61 looked really good for Warner. He was batting with freedom. We thought Australia might get 300 or 350 or so, maybe even 400.
179 you say? Oops. Marcus Harris looked really good, incidentally, but he only got 8. Jofra Archer looked terrible until he got rid of Harris. In the end, only Broad and Archer looked even slightly good, but that was enough to get Australia all out for 179.
When England came out, Australia bowled up a storm, with 3 good bowlers, which was 1 better than England’s 2. Cummins, Hazlewood and Pattinson were all bowling well. Starc probably would have bowled better, but Pattinson was still doing well. 1 for 10 was a nice start and hopefully the deficit wouldn’t be too big. 2 for 20. 3 for 20. Wait, what? We might actually have a lead? And then, suddenly, they were all out, without even getting started, for just 67. Australia’s tiny 179 suddenly transformed into a massive 179, Warner’s 61 suddenly looked monumental, Labuschagne’s 74 was better than the whole of the English team.
Australia were busy patting themselves on the back but they still had work to do. Once again, Labuschagne went big, and enough others went with him to set up a big target. Not just big in the context of England’s tiny first innings score of 67, but it would be the 10th biggest score to chase in test match history.
Australia were still patting themselves on the back when they came out to bowl, and the English openers Rory Burns and JJ Roy went with them, but then it stopped. Joe Denly and Joe Root refused to give up. Once Denly was finally out, Ben Stokes refused to give up. He didn’t score very quickly, but he was just there for ages. Root was out dubiously and then there was a mini-collapse, as Bairstow and Buttler joined him, but Ben Stokes didn’t. Woakes went but Ben Stokes didn’t. Jofra Archer offered token resistance but Ben Stokes didn’t get out. Then Broad was out cheaply and suddenly there were 70-odd runs to get with just 1 wicket in hand. The good news is that number 11 Jack Leach scored 92 to win a man of the match award, against Ireland, for his batting. The bad news is that it would be the 2nd highest 10th wicket stand to win of all time if they were to get there.
Then 6s and 4s flew everywhere, just out of the reach of fielders, and it looked like it was slipping away. Australia had 1 review left and used it in hope against Ben Stokes, but it was a long way from being out.
Then, with 2 runs to go, Jack Leach backed up too far and should have been run out, only Nathan Lyon fumbled it and it was safe.
The very next ball, Ben Stokes was out plumb, only the stupid umpire didn’t give it. He should have, but he refused, almost laughing that Australia had wasted their last review. If Australia had had their review left, they would have won.
Remember Egbaston 2005? If DRS had been in place then, Australia would have won the test, and the Ashes, and all of that boasting from Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff wouldn’t have happened. We just repeated the same mistake, in effect, by wasting the DRS. And fumbling the runout.
Jack Leach had a whole over to survive, from Pat Cummins, so it wasn’t over yet. But then he hit a single to tie the scores, and then Stokes hit the winning runs and England won!
It was a match where I wish I was supporting England. It’s hard to hate Ben Stokes. Nathan Lyon, oh dear. Twice in two balls he had the chance to win the match. Bad fielding then bad umpiring combined with bad waste of a referral.
Australia should have won but they didn’t. Why do Australia always seem to lose the close ones?
Five Things We Learned:
(1) Ben Stokes is a superstar
While I disagreed with him getting the man of the match award in the 2nd test, he absolutely deserved it in this test. He bowled well too, but these were the hardest of hard runs, the opposite to his 2nd test runs. This was like his performance in the World Cup final. It’s the kind of thing that legends are made of. Has he been knighted yet? He was meant to be after the World Cup. This should serve to change their minds.
(2) DRS makes umpiring worse
Umpires are becoming lazier now, and we are seeing more errors and worse errors than ever before, now that they know that they can be referred. That LBW decision was plumb. It was as out as they come. And it wasn’t given. We can’t blame the individual umpire – they are all this bad now. It’s high time we get rid of umpire’s call and perhaps review every decision, and not leave it in the hands of the players. For a close match to be decided by bad umpiring is terrible. It reminds me of 2005 in Edgbaston. How can bad umpiring cost us two such close matches?
(3) Jofra Archer is so uplifting
Another opposition player I find it hard to hate is Jofra Archer. He’s just so likeable! Whether his bowling is so bad it reminds me of my own (and I also used to take a lot of wickets off bad balls too) or he is looking for all the world like a proper batsman or just being great generally, he is just great to watch. Two tests into his career he looks like a fixture in all formats for years to come. Maybe even England’s future captain.
(4) 179 is a big score and 67 is okay too
If someone told you that Australia would have a 112 run first-innings lead after scoring just 179 they’d think you were crazy. If they told you that England would score just 67 and win the match, they’d ask you what was going on, and yet it happened. I’m sure that there are some statistics somewhere to say how unlikely it is, but this was the 10th highest chase of all time and the 2nd highest 10th wicket partnership to win a test match ever. I’m sure that there are other records too.
(5) I hate losing but I don’t mind losing like that
As a spectacle, this was incredible. The whole test match will undoubtedly be watched and rewatched for years to come. It reminds me of when Australia scored 434 but then lost to South Africa’s 438. Or even the World Cup final. What’s happening to cricket? Boring? Hardly. Keep this sort of thing up and we might be surpassing soccer as the world’s most popular sport, and be in the Olympics. Non-cricket fans don’t know what they are missing out on. This match should convert you.