Australia looking more and more like England
IT IS a bit strange watching a tour match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It is, as someone here said, like watching a county cricket match at Wembley.
The vast stands of this magnificent arena stood mainly empty as England went through their paces against the DEC Bushrangers – or as we used to know them Victoria – in what can definitely be described as a low-key affair ahead of the third Test.
It is not low key, of course, for the three England fast bowlers who are desperate to replace Stuart Broad at Perth and Chris Tremlett, Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad have all been busy here trying to break through on a desperately slow and flat Melbourne wicket.
This has been described as a shoot-out between the three but, as Andy Flower said here the other day, England have a clear idea of who they want to play at the WACA.
And it is unlikely that those plans will be affected by what happens here in this three-day match.
It was also interesting, in that same press conference, when Flower said that Steven Finn would probably not take the new ball in the Perth Test, meaning that whoever is the chosen one will step up alongside Jimmy Anderson with Finn as first change in the reworked England attack.
The fact that Bresnan was first change at the MCG, then, might suggest that he is at the bottom of the queue but perhaps I am just searching too hard for clues.
I would be very surprised if it is not Tremlett who plays at Perth. Flower is expecting a fast, bouncy track at the WACA, albeit not one to rival the glory days of Perth, and it is Tremlett who was selected for this tour because of his abil- ity to take advantage of just such a pitch. If he does not play at Perth then really he is not going to play anywhere.
Still, England’s one selection dilemma has nothing on the Aussies. They really do seem to be going round in circles as their selection for the third Test would suggest.
Having seen one left-arm spinner with a modest record in Xavier Doherty flop in the first two Tests they have now gone for a replacement leftarmer who has played just five first-class matches.
Michael Beer, said to be a fierce sledger, was a prolific wicket-taker in grade cricket in Melbourne but did not play a single game for Victoria and moved across to Western Australia this year. Since then he has prospered and did well against England in the opening match of this tour, taking five wickets, but it seems astonishing that he should be picked now.
He only made his first-class debut, at 26, two months ago and can hardly be said to have been picked for his local knowledge because he has only played three first-class games at the WACA.
What on earth has Nathan Hauritz done to upset Ricky Ponting?
Within minutes of the Australian selectors finally revealing their hand yesterday, Phil Hughes, who will play in place of Simon Katich, continued his dismal run in domestic cricket here for New South Wales by making a duck.
Really, you just couldn’t make it up from an Australian point of view at the moment.
There is one match that the Aussies might have a good chance of winning.
It will come in Perth on Monday when the English press take on our Australian counterparts in the “Clash for the Ash”. It promises to be an epic battle!
The again it might not be. I’m currently sweating on my selection at the moment and I must confess that the signs from our chairman of selectors Andrew Miller of cricinfo are not promising for me.
The question is, approaching my 45th birthday and a pound or two overweight, whether I can realistically squeeze out the young bloods emerging in the press box these days.
And is there place for a specialist wicketkeeper like me in these modern days? I fear my batting might let me down. All I can do is put my hand up and see whether the selectors opt for continuity or start again with a policy based on youth. I will let you know what happens.
Back back to the real battle for cricketing supremacy, and a chance perhaps for us all to catch our breath and reflect on the extraordinary events of this series so far.
England actually may have plenty of time to reflect on what they have done so far because it will not stop raining here in Melbourne and there is a strong chance of the tour match being affected by the weather.
You see, such has been the role reversal in this Ashes series that even the Australian weather has become more like England’s while the England cricket team have been much, much more like the Australian teams we have known in the past. Strange times indeed. – Daily Mail
URN: Battle for the Ashes