Well it wasn’t a great day for the Aussies yesterday with England declaring just over 550 and the Aussies losing there rock, Justin Langer finishing on 1/28. This has been a fantastic return to form by England but the job is only a quarter done.
England dug deep today, deep into their reserves of determination, but even deeper into the Australians’ psyche. In compiling their magnificent 310-run stand for the fourth wicket, Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen touched statistical heights not seen in English Ashes campaigns since the days of Hobbs and Rhodes, and Hutton and Leyland, but more importantly, they ground two Australian champions into the South Australia dust.
They still need to get a further 19 wickets and in my opinion, they need to get the next 9 before a further 330 odd runs are scored with they want to level the ashes. Australia’s chances of winning are shot (perhaps if they could put on 650 in the next two days, could make a neverous last day if the pitch crumbles, but this is a Million plus to one shot) but they can grab back some of the momentum by batting the English into the ground and make them question if they can in fact bowl us out.
The other big news of the day is that (if you listen to the English press) Warne and McGrath are finished. McGrath for the first time (I believe) had figures of 0-100+ and Warne gave away the most runs in an innings he ever has.
Equally concerning is the tactics that Warne used against Pietersen. Bowling into the rough outside of the leg stumps forcing Pietersen to just use his pads. You can argue (as Aussie Coach, John Buchanan did) that it was an attacking move and on other wickets that provided more turn it might have been (just ask Mike Gatting). But there is no doubt that Pietersen is playing Warne well and that the Aussies decided in this game that the best form of Attack was to defend and force England to make the running and force them to try and win the game. The way the Aussies played they decide that after losing the toss, its better to take a draw then fight and lose.
So day three could be a ripper with Ponting in, Hayden still in and looking for a big score. Mr Cricket, Michael Hussey would love to pad out his average with another big hundred and Gilly would love to get amongst the runs and put that doubt in the mind of the English. At present they would think that they have his measure.
All congratulations has to Go to Paul Collingwood and Pietersen for a fine display of batting.