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The Ashes 2015 – Day 2 Review – England in the Lead..?

Well of course, literally speaking they are 166 runs ahead so by definition they are ahead, but whilst all the TV pundits (I watched Sky’s and Channel 5’s) confidently chimed that England were in the ascendancy, this scribe advises caution and would remind you that Australia are a mighty fine side and this game has much cricket to come.

So to the day’s play and what another ripper it was.  Moeen Ali set the tone of excitement by playing freely and confidently to single-handedly take England’s score to where we needed it to be.  Like Root yesterday, he had some remarkable luck, especially when on 34 he edged to the “safe” gloves of Haddin only for no one to appeal, bar a half-hearted raise of an arm from the bowler Starc.  Had they reviewed, Hotspot would have sent Ali packing.  Instead he played some sparkling shots and currently, he must be the most talented No.8 batsman in the International circuit.

Indeed, it was a day for the lefties.  Starc grabbed the last wicket and got his five-fer which was well deserved and then when Australia batted, Chris Rogers was the only one to really master the indifferent pitch and at 180-2, Australia had the edge.  Credit then to the England bowlers.  They all stuck at it and there seems no weak link in this attack.  Often criticized Moeen Ali bowled with great variation and was rewarded with two massive wickets and Anderson, Wood and Stokes all got a deserved wicket each. For me though, the pick was Stuart Broad.  His figures look the least impressive (not just because he was the only one not to take a wicket), but he bowled with pace and movement and was really unlucky at times.  He tends to have huge match winning sessions in Ashes’ series and I wouldn’t put it past him winning a game in this Series.  He looks to have the bit between his teeth.

My early reflections…?

Australis’s bowling selection surprises me.  Starc is rightly in there yet only at the expense of the injured Harris.  Hazelwood has done well, but I still think that he is lucky to be in there ahead of Siddle and maybe even Cummins.  That said, they have plenty to choose from and you fancy they won’t be too concerned, albeit I do think the loss of Harris is a massive one.  That poor fella!  It was almost inevitable wasn’t it that his body would give up on him and such a shame as he was such a great bowler.  I read an article about him a few weeks ago and it would seem even when he did play, particularly in recent Ashes’ series, he would play through unbelievable pain, even after the various injections, etc.  Sad indeed.

Australia’s batting line up also surprises me.  Not that I follow them too closely, but I question how Adam Voges has nabbed that No.5 spot.  Sure, he has had a great start to his Test career with a big hundred in the Caribbean, but he really struggled late in the day and worse still, got out at the worst time to a poor shot.  Shane Watson also seems to hold on to a Test spot by reputation only.  For such a “big name” in the game, he averages just 35 in Tests and whilst he is categorized as an allrounder and indeed, his bowling average is lower than his batting (a necessity if you wish the tag), that is lower than he and all his nation would want and has not come into this Series in form.  I think the Marsh-es are unlucky to be on the sidelines.

Mitchell Johnson..?  Well, he had a bad day for sure, but this wicket is not for him and be warned that we need to get him out cheaply tomorrow.  Johnson scoring runs gives him the boost to start bowling with some real steel.  And we don’t want that, do we..!

Finally, Ian Bell’s form is no longer a worry, it is for me, untenable.  Johnny Bairstow’s form is irresistible right now (a double hundred for Yorkshire and that impressive match-winning knock in the deciding One-Dayer against New Zealand) and England cannot afford to be sentimental with Bell.  Drop him out to play some County cricket and get some form back and give Bairstow a shot.

So, who’s going to win this game..?  Well, it is too early to tell, but what I would say is, that by the end of the day tomorrow, England will be either up against it (but not out of it), or firmly in control.  Sitting on the fence..?  Maybe, but I certainly hope it is the latter.

Til then.

Nige.

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