Last time, JR made some bold predictions for the first Ashes test in Brisbane which, ahem, did not come to pass. Will that slow him down?
Scoring a D minus for my tips means I should be ducking for cover… Bad luck, here I go again!
Why was I so far out?
The Gabba “pudding” was reason no 1, I reckon – and off-spinner Lyon was number 2.
As my curator down here explained: Kevin Mitchell’s normal, early (deep) pitch-watering plan came unstuck when unpredicted cool moist days arrived in Brisbane for the weeks leading up – the pitch never dried out to allow a crust to be formed. Perfect for Lyon.
And suddenly it was the Warne glory-days all over again as Lyon got turn and bounce at good pace unlike any offie before him in Brisbane. Not only did he get the middle order out, he reduced runs to a trickle and what might have been 500 for England ended up as 300. And when at last the pitch dried on days 4&5 it was a batting paradise for Warner and Bancroft.
Then came the Smith show.
My friend Brian Sawyer, who coached him in a NSW schoolboys’ team for a couple of years, told me what incredible self-belief he had then – and he sure has now. I thought Broad in particular and Anderson were superb, but when they couldn’t get Smith, there was no firepower to follow as England had in 2015 with Wood, Finn and Stokes – and Moeen was nowhere near as good a spinner as Lyon.
I’ve long had reservations about Lyon’s ability to get people out. As a young groundsman at Adelaide Oval, his net bowling against an Aussie team had him plucked from obscurity into the Test team inside a year – and you don’t learn confidence when the best players in the world are often belting you all over the park. Now it seems he’s got that confidence – it was pleasure watching him bowl. At times in the past it has been agony as the good players milked him.
So what does England do?
Lyon made mincemeat of their left-handers, Root was trapped lbw by both Cummings and Hazlewood and the tail disintegrated against Starc.
No. 3 paceman Ball will probably be dropped. Not enough pace and poor with the bat. Fellow paceman Overton is of similar pace and can bat but has 3 ducks from 3 outings on tour. The young (replacement for Finn), ex-South African Tom Curran might be a bolter – he bats and bowls quite well. Bairstow should be batting 5 to split the lefties. If it wasn’t a day-night test where batting needs to be bolstered, I’d drop Malan and try Crane as the spinner. It would make the tail longer, but Anderson and Broad badly need a back-up wicket-taker.
And there could be a bit in the pitch. That cool moist tropical air that affected the Gabba has been sucked down to Adelaide and Victoria, and it’s been bucketing down as a once-in-a-generation weather event – and that might just suit the poms
So I’m sticking with my prediction – Anderson and Broad to win it for England!