Groundhog day for Australia’s batsmen

Date: July 21, 2013 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

Australia showed that the Trent Bridge Test was not an aberration.

It got very close to victory at Nottingham but did soon the back of a very ordinary performance from the specialist batsmen.

They were equally woeful in their first innings at Lord’s.

The second day started poorly for the tourists with the England tail smashing the ball around to add 72 runs for the last three wickets in a mere 55 minutes before being bowled out for 361.

The bright spot was a haul of 5-72 from Ryan Harris on his recall after an injury blighted few years.

As the Australian openers left the field and prepared to front up to the England attack they would have done so safe in the knowledge that the pitch held no gremlins as the home side’s tail had clearly displayed.

Chris Rogers and Shane Watson started like an old-fashioned, patient opening pair before Watson started to become expansive through the off-side.

And then, with 42 on the board and three balls from lunch, Watson was struck dead in front by Tim Bresnan.

England was rampant and convincing with its appeal.

Watson, as he does so often, referred it to the third umpire.

The forensic evidence fully supported England’s vociferous shout.

Watson trudged off with 30 alongside his name with Australia 1-42.

In a few hours, that individual score by Watson would represent the best in the innings as the tourists were routed for a near unfathomable 128, and a deficit of 233 runs.

The middle session produced a mere 54 runs as six wickets fell on a relatively benign and batsman friendly pitch.

By tea, Australia had imploded to be 7-93.

The blogosphere went into meltdown over the way two of the Australians were dismissed.

Rogers was hit around waist height by a Graeme Swann full toss and was adjudged leg before as he attempted to pull it to the onside.

He chose not to refer, perhaps scarred by Watson’s self-indulgent decision and the knowledge that he held the last ace.

Replays showed that had he pulled the trigger he would have been reprieved.

Phil Hughes played an overly expansive drive to a length ball well wide of off-stump.

He was adjudged caught behind but wanted a second opinion.

Hot Spot did not indicate an edge but there was a clear sound at the point when the ball passed the outside edge.

That noise was enough for third umpire Tony Hill not to overrule so it was back to the original on-field decision and Hughes was gone for one.

In my mind, the third umpire made the correct call by leaving it with the man in the middle – Kumar Dharmasena – as he could not, with the clear sound on the replay, definitively say that the original call was wrong.

In many people’s eyes the focus with respect to those two dismissals was the process of adjudication that confirmed them and so started a steady stream of tweets.

That merely served as a distraction which deflected the true crux of the matter – both men played exceptionally poor shots and as such left themselves wide open to the outcome they received.

They were not alone with Usman Khawaja, ill at ease throughout his brief duel with Swann, lost patience and attempted to loft him down the ground only to hit it high and direct to Kevin Pietersen at mid-off to be on his way for 14.

To add the final insult, first Test hero Ashton Agar was wastefully run out for two.

Few of Australia’s wickets were as a result of good bowling.

For the third successive innings in this series the specialist batsmen have provided little.

At Trent Bridge Australia was 6-113 in its first innings en route to 280 and found themselves 6-164 in the second innings before falling 15 runs short of victory.

On day two at Lord’s it was a case of déjà vu, 6-91 ahead of a total of 128.

Alastair Cook chose not to enforce the follow-on and Australia showed resolve in the field heading to stumps on the second day, but again, the impetus was being provided by the bowlers, with Peter Siddle to the fore with all three wickets as England went in at 3-31.

It holds a 264-run advantage with seven wickets in hand.

Even if Australia could knock over England for around 150, a chase of 380-odd seems well beyond its reach.

With a near certain loss staring it in the face, Australia is on the precipice of six consecutive Test losses.

If its batsmen continue to underperform that number could well stretch into double figures.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 20 July 2013