Monday, December 16, 2013

Scribblings from the WACA

Firstly, I'm back in Singapore today so this article will reference mainly events on the first two days. These however set the tone for what was to come regardless.

Now as I mentioned, I live in Singapore, this brings me to my first point, the heat.... Everyday here is 25-35C with about four thousand percent humidity, it's hot, but not like at the WACA.

Now ok, I'm from Aberdeen in the North East of Scotland and most of us don't run too well in the sun but that Western Australian Summer sun is like nothing else.

Even at nine in the morning you can feel the sun attempting to set fire to your skin. Playing any kind of sport in that and for six hours must be brutal, and more so for those less acclimatised, i.e. the Brits.

I was wearing factor 40 but I actually needed some kind of wetsuit and it's no coincidence that England got steadily worse as both days progressed. They were quite literally cooked.

Having watched the game solidly for two days, a couple of things occurred to me. The first is that man for man there's not a lot in it for me if everyone is playing to form.

Cook and Carberry stacks up against Rodgers and Warner. Root probably a bit behind Watson I guess, KP at his best can match Clarke, Bell a better batsman possibly than Smith. Bailey and Stokes I don't really think is a big deal. Many would argue Prior is better than Haddin and that Swann is better than Lyon. Then a three of Bresnan, Broad and Anderson should be a match for Siddle, Johnson and Harris.

However, Australia are playing a brand of cricket with an intensity and drive that England simply can't or don't want to try to match.

I watched six sessions and to be honest on that basis I had it even. I gave both (this is Fri and Sat) morning sessions to England, after lunch I had it even-ish and then Australia took the final session. But the way that Australia won the final sessions simply took the game away from England.

Much with England seems to revolve around Cook. He scored huge runs down here last time around and England thumped Australia. The one test he failed to get big runs last time - the WACA - they lost.

For a while on Saturday, England dared to dream. They'd bowled out the tail without two much further damage and whilst Cook was surviving on a combination of luck and wits and Carberry never quite convinces, it was a solid start. And then the house of cards came.

It's easy to be too critical of batsmen getting out and Root can feel very aggrieved even though it was the correct decision within the (flawed) world of DRS. I can never have too much sympathy however for a batsman shouldering arms to a straight one (used to drive me potty when Alec Stewart did it) Michael Carberry. Cook got out slashing hard at a ball with some extra bounce and then we come to KP.

What shall we do with Kevin Pietersen? The great enigma maybe not just of England but of the modern game. The problem he now has is that he has stopped converting his starts into big scores meaning his failures such as on Saturday are magnified even more greatly.

He should be in his absolute prime but the problem with a pure hitter such as Gilchrist, KP or a Sehwag say is that once the eye and the reflexes go even a fraction, the downhill trajectory can be quite severe.

It's far too early to say that KP is already in decline but the guy out there scrabbling around at the WACA on Saturday was not the KP I know.

Given that Matt Prior has abandoned his post and Swann and co have turned in to a group of number elevens, that left Ian Bell as England's last real hope, alas not to be.

I was criticised last week for being overly negative about England's prospects but the simple fact is that as I write this on day 4, they are being annihilated again. The sad thing is I don't think they're being outclassed, they're being out fought and that's the point that I was making last week as being the most galling for the fans.

Coming down here without your injured captain in 2006, having also lost Trescothick and Simon Jones and playing one the great test teams of all time, 5-0 was still embarrassing but had some mitigating circumstances. This hammering is however is more about desire and heart.

On a brighter note, I mentioned about catching up with my mate Paul and having a good day out and a great steak with great red in the evening and I'm pleased to say we showed plenty of heart and came up with the goods for the duration both days.

England will go to the MCG battered and bruised, shorn of the Ashes and wanting to be anywhere but Melbourne on Christmas Day. There is still a lot of touring to do and I don't see a single sign anywhere that they can salvage anything from this series - No Nonsense.