England need the new ball to swing like the Sixties
End of day two: Australia 249 for one in reply to England’s 435 all out.
What a difference a day makes. If Wednesday’s cricket was a breathtaking rollercoaster ride then day 2 was more like a gentle twirl on the teacups followed by a night in reading War and Peace.
All credit to the Australians who were magnificent in making England’s bowling look impotent and the pitch benign.
Praise in particular to centurions Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting who played with poise and vigilance, and refused to be drawn into playing false shots, showing their strength of mind and powers of concentration.
The pair shared an almost chanceless, unbeaten stand of 189 for the second wicket, highlighting to England’s batsmen the value of safeguarding your wicket.
How England must be ruing not going on to make a big score having had so many of their batsmen make good starts. A score of 600 on this pitch looks feasible and would have left Australia with a first innings headache.
Now it is the Australians who are spending time at the crease, demoralising England’s players, who will have ended the day with the wind taken out of their sales having taken just the single wicket of Philip Hughes in the entire day.
England have problems. Captain Andrew Strauss and his bowlers received no assistance from a ball that refused to swing and a pitch that seems only to be offering the spinners occasional slow turn and no variable bounce.
Ricky Ponting will feel like he’s holding all the aces. Two batsmen set, 9 wickets in hand, under 200 runs behind and a batting line-up the length of the river Taff. Australia will be eyeing a first innings lead by tea time on Day 3.
First up tomorrow, England will need to bowl better as a unit and show patience with their lines. Too many deliveries strayed into the batsmen’s hitting zones in a case of trying too hard to take wickets all the time. Think Glenn McGrath.
Swann bowled too fast and Monty didn’t change from bowling over the wicket all day allowing Katich to become far too comfortable facing him.
England must create pressure and siphon off the flow of runs then take the new ball as soon as it’s available and hope that it swings like the Sixties.
PHOTO: Australia’s Ricky Ponting (R) walks off the field with Simon Katich at the close of play after they both scored unbeaten centuries during the first Ashes test at Cardiff, July 9, 2009. REUTERS/Philip Brown