The Ashes: Hot Trott leads charge as Punter fumes
Aleem Dar will most certainly not be amongst Ricky Ponting’s favourite umpires at present with the Pakistani twice getting under the Aussie skipper’s skin. A reprieve for Kevin Pietersen (51) when he appeared to feather a catch to Brad Haddin came in the afternoon session, while Matt Prior (75 not out) was called back by Dar early in his innings after nicking behind off Mitchell Johnson, the verdict, a no-ball.
A rant toward Dar and then fellow umpire Tony Hill went on for well over a minute after an unsuccessful review against Pietersen caused the 36-year-old to blow a fuse. The South African-born Englishman only added two runs to his score after this break in play, but the sheer manner in which Ponting went about this tantrum even caused his own fans to turn on him.
He has since deservedly lost 40% of his match fee, but the frustration was not to end there for the captain. A close run-out call saw the excellent Jonathan Trott (141 not out) survive by a single frame in replays, while Prior remained at the crease with five runs to his name, despite edging behind, after Johnson quite literally over-stepped the mark.
It seems that the cricket gods’ simply do not want Australia to even come close to forming a competitive match, as every decision seems to going in the direction of England. The verdicts were nothing to rant over as Ponting did in such a petulant manner; yes they were frustrating, but that is the way the game ebbs and flows.
Despite the loss of two early wickets, the tourist’s composed themselves to make the bowling attack look ordinary. Peter Siddle bowled with fire and passion at his home ground to remove Andrew Strauss (69), Alastair Cook (82) and Pietersen as the MCG began the day half-full.
You would have to say that the Aussies matched England ball-for-ball in the morning session with the opening pair back in the hutch within the first hour. Trott and Pietersen then fended out the remainder of the session where the ball was nipping around to the delight of an ever-increasing Australian crowd contingent.
Strauss’s dismissal in particular brought about a sense of deja-vu after an almost identical dismissal to that of Australian opener Shane Watson the day before. A good-length delivery found the ‘hard spot’ on the pitch that rose on the captain before taking the shoulder of the bat over to gully.
This patch on the track caught several England players unaware as Trott and Ian Bell (1) experienced it’s wrath, the latter attempting an outrageous pull that he almost took above his head. It proved to be a rare downfall for the Warwickshire batsman as the Australian’s began to lurch back into the match.
But aside from a minor blip where Paul Collingwood (8) and Bell came and went as fast as a John Dillinger bank job, the rest of the day belonged to Strauss’s men. Trott played a masterful innings that contained every value a Test cricketer needs; patience, precision and determination.
Victorian Siddle was the standout bowler as the rest lacked depth and penetration. Johnson went for 4.12 an over, Ryan Harris struggled to find consistency while Ben Hilfenhaus continued to show that wickets are not his forte; the seamer has only taken two in the series thus far.
The catching from the Baggy Green did serve as a highlight for the home crowd as superb takes from Mike Hussey and Siddle took the gloss off what would have been a perfect day for England. Mr Cricket’s stunning one-hander over his head dismissed Strauss while the burly Siddle sprinted in from fine-leg to take a low catch and send the in-form Bell back to the pavilion.
It will be difficult to imagine that Punter’s men can recover from this dire situation, but miracles have happened before. Five times in Test history a team has been dismissed for under 100 in their first innings and gone on to win, alas four of these took place in the 19th century and the latest was in 1907.
It may not be set in stone, but if England threw this away now it would be the mother of all collapses. But then again this is the Ashes.Tagged in: Cricket, The Ashes
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