The Ashes: Western Australians’ do it best
First came renewed confidence within the bowling, now it was the turn of the batsmen, and who better to lead them than the man they know as Mr Cricket. With 517 runs already in this series at an average of 103.4, we are seeing Mike Hussey (116) in the form of his life.
Following up fellow Western Australian Mitchell Johnson’s efforts with the ball, it was another day that belonged to the locals. A combination of exquisite drives and perfectly timed pull shots put England’s bowlers in the doghouse for several hours, but it could have been so much different.
Indifferent form for his state had national selectors’ mulling over his inclusion only a week before the first Test, and it may well have been a Sheffield Shield match against Victoria that swung selection in his favour.
A knock of 118 in the second innings in Melbourne set his team on the way to victory, but the way he went about playing his strokes will have played a major role in faith being restored with him. Also, it was in the same match that Johnson took 5-35 while scoring an unbeaten 121, a feat not too dissimilar to what has taken place here thus far.
Shane Watson (95) is a man who has struggled to convert good starts into triple figure scores, and despite falling short by a mere five runs this time, a century would have been deserved. A series of perfectly timed driven boundaries were the highlight of his three-and-a-half hours at the crease, but he was one of five to fall to a persistent Chris Tremlett (5-87).
The Surrey bowler, spurred on by a strong performance in the first innings, was the pick of the England attack as he took crucial wickets at key times to keep the tourist’s in the hunt. Following on from Michael Clarke’s wicket at the end of the second day, he went on to take Watson, Steve Smith (36), Brad Haddin (7) and finally the seemingly unbeatable Hussey.
Steven Finn (3-97) ably supported Tremlett but the damage had been done as England were set an imposing target of 391 to win the match, whilst retaining the Ashes in the process. But as we pointed out yesterday, this England team has a unique collapsing ability.
It seems like only yesterday that Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott surmounted 517-1, and to transform that into 81-5 identifies that something is going wrong in the England camp. Johnson (2-28) and Ryan Harris (2-22) put the hosts firmly in command during the final two hours of play, and fans and media alike in England will now be questioning the sudden loss of concentration within the side.
Could it be that they felt they had one hand on the Ashes? Who knows, but it is seemingly inevitable that England’s barren Test streak at the Waca is set to go on.
Picture: Getty ImagesTagged in: Cricket, The Ashes
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter