Poms liv­ing on the sledge but can they walk the talk?

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - ROBERT CRADDOCK

IS THERE any­thing more com­pelling than an Ashes se­ries be­tween two teams strug­gling to stand the sight of each other?

Ashes se­ries in Aus­tralia of­ten fea­ture what you might call “the Syd­ney syn­drome’’, where the teams reach the fifth and fi­nal Test full of ag­gra­va­tion be­cause of a string of per­sonal feuds ac­cu­mu­lated in the pre­vi­ous four Tests.

This time the teams have reached the Syd­ney syn­drome long be­fore they have reached Syd­ney. In fact, af­ter just six days of com­bat.

Head­butt al­le­ga­tions. Sledg­ing. Mock­ery. Men­tal wars. It’s on. And it’s likely to be on all sum­mer.

Steve Smith was wel­comed to the crease by a ver­bal bar­rage which now seems part of Eng­land’s Plan A to un­set­tle him.

Stu­art Broad stood in his path as he was cross­ing for a run and tor­mented him with ver­bal fire as well, prompt­ing Smith to ac­cen­tu­ate his quirky move­ments with ex­trav­a­gant flour­ishes like a bat­ting break dancer.

Eng­land cer­tainly stirred him up but the ag­gra­va­tion seemed to put an elec­tric edge on his re­flexes.

Ear­lier, David Warner copped it fol­low­ing his brain ex­plo­sion which led to Cameron Bancroft’s run-out.

The ques­tion for Eng­land is whether the sledg­ing ca­per is re­ally their game. And how long can they sus­tain it?

Aus­tralia may well win the sledg­ing war – they nor­mally do in Aus­tralia – but the greater test of Eng­land’s met­tle is whether they can be so bold over­seas where they have won just eight of their past 30 Tests.

Eng­land cap­tain Joe Root, un­der heavy fire for bowl­ing first, is an in­ter­est­ing study.

Field plac­ings branded neg­a­tive, an off-spin­ner with a crook fin­ger, a banned player prov­ing a daily dis­trac­tion, a head­butt con­tro­versy, sledg­ing wars, and yes­ter­day the big­gest gam­ble of his young cap­taincy ca­reer when he bowled first.

Ade­laide has been a bat­first venue since Adam bowled off his long run in the Gar­den of Eden. When you play four quicks and an in­jured spin­ner you may un­der­stand him want­ing to snatch an edge in the first in­nings.

But Root did not sound like a cav­a­lier rat­tling his sabre at the toss when he ex­plained that it might give Eng­land the chance at us­ing two new balls in bowler-friendly con­di­tions.

If you bowl first and you are still bowl­ing by the sec­ond ball, the move has failed.

Bowl­ing first sen­tenced Eng­land to the long road home.

It also put pres­sure on their bowlers, who ini­tially had their radars scram­bled by the weight of in­creased ex­pec­ta­tion.

Pic­ture: GETTY IM­AGES

Eng­land pace­man Craig Over­ton watches Steve Smith as he runs be­tween the wick­ets. Over­ton later dis­missed the Aus­tralian cap­tain

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.