Brum Days 2, 3, 4 Mid Term Report

Submitted by Rick Eyre on August 3 2009, 6:19 pm

Think of Saturday's day of inaction at Edgbaston not so much as a washout as a pause for half-time at the two-and-a-half Test point of the 2009 Ashes. It hasn't been a series of great science, but it's not dull. And we still don't really know how it's going to finish up.

These definitely are not two of the great Ashes teams, certainly neither is a patch on the 2005 lineups. Only Flintoff and Pietersen could be considered historically great England players. KP had an erratic start to the series before succumbing to injury. FF is still rocking on what ostensibly is his valedictory Test tour, but word is that he could fall to pieces at any minute. England will miss him. On the Douglas Jardine captaincy scale out of 10, Strauss would barely muster a 1.

Ricky Ponting continues to be an enigma as Australian captain. Two World Cups, and an 06-07 Ashes whitewash to his name, yet he is widely acknowledged as the worst Australian captain since Kim Hughes. Is this his final tour of England? It is easy to imagine that he will be back in 2013 at the age of 38, but I really do hope that he won't be captain by then - or anytime after this September.

Another Australian whose use-by date has come is chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch, who has presided over some ghastly decisions, including the lack of a third opener on the current tour. The hasty chopping and changing of spinners in the past twelve months is likely to stand as Hilditch's worst legacy. (Have we forgotten Beau Casson, Cameron White, Bryce McGain and Jason Krejza already?)

Shane Watson seems to be kaput as a bowler, but can we take him seriously as a specialist opening batsman, ahead of Phil Hughes? I'll repeat what I said on Friday - regardless of how many runs Watson has scored, I am not convinced that Hughes couldn't have done better. We'll see what transpires in T4 if Mr Cricket fails today.

Perhaps the most pleasing observation of the Third Test to date has been the wicketkeeping of Graham Manou. Heaven forbid, a wicketkeeper chosen, not as a big-hitting batsman who can play backstop, but as a genuine custodian who can bat a bit. What does this do to the balance of the Australian team if Haddin is indeed out for the remainder of the series? At least we can't use the mantra "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", especially if Australia is two-down by Monday night...

Midwinter-Midwinter points for Day Two (Friday): Jimmy Anderson 3, Graham Onions 2, Andrew Strauss 1. Day Three (Saturday): No play. Day Four (Sunday): Andrew Flintoff 3, Ben Hilfenhaus 2, Stuart Broad 1. Collingwood still in front with 8, four players (Clarke, Hilfenhaus, Anderson, Flintoff) on 6.