I will start this post by apologising to Nathan Hauritz. He bowled well in the First Test, except at the end of Day 5 after Captain Dipshit Ponting bowled him for 100 straight overs. My concern is, considering that was the best I've seen Hauritz bowl in his entire career, can he bowl any better? Maybe that was as good as he's got. Anyway, I've perhaps been a bit harsh on him.
Where was Hilfenhaus at the end of Day 5? We are all wondering Punter. We are also wondering why you didn't bowl your best swing bowler to open Day 2. I reckon if the "Hilf" or the "Haus", whichever you prefer, opened proceedings on Day 2, we clean them up for 30-40 runs less. That would have given us maybe 10+ more overs at Monty and Anderson on Day 5. Does Ricky Ponting ever think ahead? Does he think at all out there, or does he just run off instructional flashcards from the coach? Under any other Australian Captain after Kim Hughes, we win that Test.
The conundrum for Australia in the bowling department is how to incorporate Sarfraz into the series:
Everyone except Punter thinks he should be in the line-up but at the same time you have a good balance with the other three quicks. Hilfenhaus has finally arrived, meaning we have a genuine swing bowler. Siddle can rough up batsmen and when he gets it right, like his ball to knock over Prior in the first innings, he's dangerous. And Johnson continues to take wickets with all of his rubbish balls. It can't be flukey anymore. He just has a knack of bowling a crap ball, but getting someone out. The decision on the bowling line-up is made easier by Ponting's view that Sarfraz is shite.
The other thing that really jumped out at me watching the First Test is that if we bat first, we will win any given Test in this series. We have a far superior batting line-up. The only problem being that one of our illustrious Captain's favourite phrases is "we'll have a bowl". It was the toss for the Second Test in '05 when Ponting called correctly. I got up thinking to myself, "sweet, Aussies batting, Pommies under the pump again, this could be just about series over". I grabbed a beer out of the fridge and then from the kitchen heard the fateful words..."We'll have a bowl". I missed the first few overs cleaning up the beer that I had dropped and smashed in disbelief. By 4am AEST the next day, England were back in the series with 450+ runs on the board for the loss of just a couple of wickets. We lost that Test by two runs but it should never have come down to that last wicket stand. He bowled first without the great Glenn McGrath and comitted the greatest error of judgment in Australian cricket history, at the same time, giving England both momentum, and belief.
England's bowler's were rather shite in the First Test, and it looks like "Mummy's Boy" Harmison will be back for this one. He should have played in Cardiff in my opinion, and it should spice up their bowling attack a bit. The beauty of Harmison is that he is great to watch when he gets it right and also when he gets it wrong. He's a crowd pleaser, that's for sure. Freddy Flintoff has announced his retirement at the end of the Ashes '09 in a lame attempt to fire up the Poms; the fairytale finish he's dreaming of could, and hopefully will, backfire spectacularly with the Poms getting spanked.
Umpires for this one are Umpires Doctrove and Koertzen:
Can Captain Punter bring home the Ashes? I reckon even Kim Hughes could get us over the line with such a talented squad. Or will Punter be overwhelmed by Freddy-mania and ultimately use it as an excuse for another failed Ashes tour? My advice would be...don't come home without victory...