Daniel Norcross

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  • Watson Powers Number One Aussies To Victory

    It had been coming all summer but when it came it was
    truly spectacular. He had hinted at an innings of substance throughout the
    Ashes, but with a top score of 95 and a lowest of 13, Shane Watson would
    probably consider his test series a failure.

     

    But released from the suffocating grip of Anderson, the
    red ball and a terminally disillusioned public, he produced the innings of his
    life to hunt down and surpass in spectacular fashion England's more than
    respectable 294. His unbeaten 161 was undoubtedly the difference between the
    two teams for whom both sets of seamers struggled all day.

     

    England began their innings at a frenetic pace. Davies
    should have been run out without facing but for Smith's cack handed flick at
    the stumps, and went on to survive three more chances including being caught
    off a no ball from Lee.

     

    Strauss, as has been the case all tour, looked in great
    nick and when they'd reached 90 from 12 overs with David Hussey introduced
    during the bowling power play,

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  • 10 Things I Learnt From England’s Greatest Drubbing Of Australia

    So
    there we have it. After seven weeks during which my emotions have swung from
    the disappointment of the first day of the series, beginning with Strauss'
    dismissal in the first over at Brisbane, to resignation after Hussey and
    Haddin's epic 307 run partnership, to amazement at England's recovery and then
    through almost every conceivable shade of joy at Adelaide, the MCG and Sydney
    as well as humble despair at Perth, I am now simply exhausted.

     

    God
    knows how Anderson, Cook, Strauss and co. must be feeling, but I reckon, what
    with being ultra fit athletes performing during daylight hours, they'll
    probably be in better shape than me and the rest of the broken but ecstatic
    Sofa commentary team.

     

    It
    is perhaps too soon to reflect on the series as a whole but I'm going to give
    it a whirl anyway, so apologies if today's witterings turn out to be as
    cock-eyed and ludicrous as just about every article written by my more
    illustrious colleagues prior to the 1st test in Brisbane. For you
    may

    Read More »from 10 Things I Learnt From England’s Greatest Drubbing Of Australia
  • Masochistic Aussies Prolong Their Own Torment, Just

    The promised rain didn't come. Bradman didn’t rise like
    Lazarus from the dead to save Australia. There was no miracle.

     

    Instead the now familiar pattern of unprecedented one
    sidedness prevailed.

     

    The game was in truth already up at the start of day three,
    but England showed no mercy. Bresnan and Prior resumed on 488-7 and after 45
    minutes of relative circumspection they cut loose. As if the hosts hadn’t
    suffered enough abject humiliation, they were made to endure an extended
    morning session in which they conceded 148 runs whilst picking up the wickets
    of Bresnan for 35 and Prior for a fluent, rapid and magnificent 118 from 130
    balls.

     

    There was a while when it seemed Johnson would get his name
    on the honours board which would surely have been among the bigger travesties
    perpetrated in cricket history. In the end he had to settle for figures of
    4-168, and that flattered him.

     

    Centuries have been hard to come by for Australia's batsmen,
    but perhaps they should take tips from the

    Read More »from Masochistic Aussies Prolong Their Own Torment, Just
  • Oh well, I thought we had a close game on our hands and for
    the umpteenth time in this series I was entirely wrong.

     

    Yes, with a bit of rain forecast and perhaps with some
    miraculously recovered Aussie grit the hosts might just sneak out of the match
    with a draw, but day three at Sydney was the day that irrevocably confirmed the
    giant chasm that exists between the two teams.

     

    England began precariously placed on 167-3, 113 runs behind
    Australia's first innings total with a nightwatchman at the crease and the
    hopelessly out of form Collingwood due in next. If Australia could grab a
    couple of quick wickets they could even hope for a slender 1st
    innings lead.

     

    That we even entertained such thoughts owed more to 20 years
    of Australian dominance and English ineptitude than to the evidence before our
    eyes.

     

    For indeed Siddle did dispose of the hapless Anderson and
    Collingwood played the last test innings of his life intent on raising
    Aussie hopes of a fightback. But when he departed,

    Read More »from England stand on the brink of history; Australia on the precipice of abject failure
  • Perth style collapse averted but tight finish for once in prospect

    Wow. At last these two sides are playing out a tight match.

    After two days we don't really know who's ahead and a good finish is in

    prospect.

     

    You might expect that to be the norm given the on paper

    abilities of the two sets of players, but over the last three Ashes series one

    team has tended to trounce the other in alternate displays of ruthless

    domination.

     

    The day began with the suspicion that the Aussies had

    underperformed on day one. All their batsmen had got themselves out to poor

    shots and the England bowlers had simply to place the ball on a length to choke

    the scoring rate.

     

    The pattern continued through the morning session. Haddin's

    atrocious flat footed dabble at a rank, wide half tracker from Anderson provided

    an early breakthrough and the spectre of the 307 run Hussey-Haddin partnership

    at Brisbane was banished.

     

    Hussey was predictably earnest but even more becalmed than

    usual. In combination with Smith he added 28 runs in the last 17 overs before

    the new ball was due.

    Read More »from Perth style collapse averted but tight finish for once in prospect
  • Unlucky Clarke Wins The Toss At Sydney

    It had to happen at some point in this series. Someone was going to win the toss, bat, and not collapse. Like old style test cricket.

     

    At the previous four venues the side batting first had endured a string of collapses. Strauss went to the third ball of the series. Australia were 2-3 at Adelaide, 69-5 at Perth and 98 all out by tea at the MCG.

     

    But at Sydney, on a green tinged pitch under overcast skies, Clarke won a toss he was desperate to lose and confidently announced that Australia would bat.

     

    What followed was a morning session of delicious intensity. Tremlett especially and Anderson intermittently beat the prodding bats of Watson and Hughes. Edges didn't carry. Watson left expertly on length and Hughes drove with panache if at all times looking too much like Clayton Lambert to be believable as a test match opener.

     

    Strauss even gave Swann an extended spell before lunch in his desperation to take a wicket in what felt like favourable bowling conditions.

     

    So attritional was

    Read More »from Unlucky Clarke Wins The Toss At Sydney
  • Australian Incompetence Shouldn’t Overshadow England’s Monumental Triumph

     

    And so it came to pass that with 20 sessions of the series remaining, England retained the Ashes.

     

    The final morning was something of an anticlimax. With Ryan Harris unable to bat, England required only three wickets for victory. Aussie dreamers may have fantasized about a Mitchell Johnson ton and an 8 hour epic from the gritty Brad Haddin (whose features seem to have been carved from Ayer’s Rock itself).

     

    But it was not to be. Within five minutes Mitchell contrived to inside edge a Tremlett delivery onto his pad and off stump. The champagne was readied. The glasses chilled.

     

    Siddle and Haddin batted for another hour and compiled an entertainingly futile 86 runs from 16 overs which merely served to prolong the England fans' revelry.

     

    Prior and then Collingwood "dropped the Ashes" but, as Andy Zaltzman said on commentary, "I'm pretty sure they'll be picking them up again in a minute".

     

    The largely English crowd at the MCG sang, gloated, and gloried in the delicious improbability

    Read More »from Australian Incompetence Shouldn’t Overshadow England’s Monumental Triumph
  • England’s depth too much for humiliated Ponting

    I have risen from my Yuletide deathbed just in time to watch the perhaps even more remarkable resurrection of English cricket.

     

    I say remarkable, yet England had been on top for so much of the previous three Tests (yes, even Day 1 in Perth) that it would be reasonable to greet their brutal trouncing of Australia at the MCG with little more than a shrug of the shoulders and a sotto voce "well I never."

     

    But that would be to ignore the true significance of the team's all round performance.

     

    At the start of the series England's bowling line up was fixed in stone. The three support seamers and spinner were only going to play in the event of injury, we thought.

     

    At Perth Tremlett was rightly called up and performed excellently, but it was Perth and Tremlett is a man mountain.

     

    At the "G", however, it has been both Tremlett and Bresnan who have driven England to the brink of retaining the Ashes with a match to spare. That is not to downplay Anderson's first innings efforts but he was

    Read More »from England’s depth too much for humiliated Ponting
  • At Least The End Came Quickly

     

    I suppose the best thing that can be said for England's performance on the last day of the third Test match was that it was mercifully brief.

     

    Six of the Test Match Sofa commentary team were absent, snowbound in various locations across London and South East England.

     

    Hendo, Sophia, Harwood and I settled down to the inevitable humiliation rather as a transgressing schoolboy waits outside a headmaster's room for his punishment, and we didn't have long to tarry.

     

    Anderson defied all expectations by playing a straight batted drive off the back foot for three glorious runs that hinted at some impossible glory, but was immediately done for pace by a low bouncing straight ball from Ryan Harris.

     

    Hendo still clung to the hope of a 300-run partnership between the delicious Bell and the stiff Prior, but the rest of us knew the game was up.

     

    However, there was still just enough time, 49 minutes in fact, for a few expletive-laden rants at dreadful technique. Bell somehow managed to learn

    Read More »from At Least The End Came Quickly
  • The Ashes Will Go Down To the Wire

    At last I think I've worked out what's going on.

     

    Truly to get to the bottom of this extraordinary series the watcher must forget whatever has gone immediately before. He must ignore the transient witterings of the pundits who proclaim this player finished and that team supreme on the basis of a batting collapse, a dead pitch, or a bunch of lunatics for selectors.

     

    He must remember what he thought he knew before the series began, because anyone who manages to wake up from a five week coma tomorrow afternoon armed only with the knowledge that the teams stand at 1-1 following two one sided victories will be not in the least surprised.

     

    Australia began the day 200 runs to the good with 7 wickets in hand. The received wisdom among all the so called experts was that England needed early wickets or they could kiss goodbye to chasing a total under 500. However, anything less than 500 would be a breeze. After all, look at South Africa in 2008 on this very surface.

     

    The pitch had eased, the

    Read More »from The Ashes Will Go Down To the Wire

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