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How much of this debacle goes down to poor leadership wins the toss then decided to bat on a green top wicket plus leaving out Anderson and playing a spinner like Leach ach well the old twelfth man has stepped in , good old rain 

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The view of today's play from that estimable Aussie, Gideon Haigh; always worth reading.


The Ashes: Pat Cummins capitalises on healthy slice of luck


Gideon Haigh

Wednesday December 08 2021, 9.00am, The Times




Before “super shot, that” and “tew for tew hundred and twenty-tew”, the sayings of Richie Benaud included a famous line about captaincy being 90 per cent luck and 10 per cent skill, but never to try it without the latter.

Viz Pat Cummins, 19 Australian skippers on from His Richieness, at the Gabba yesterday. That he had the 10 per cent sorted all right was confirmed by his first Ashes five-for — a ruthless display, befitting the world’s top ranked bowler. But he was lucky too — in his well-drilled men, in his undercooked opponents and even in the unfavourable fall of the coin.

Cummins said, frankly, that he would have batted. But no batting display could have been so emphatic as the way Australia’s bowlers broke, becalmed then battered the unit of his counterpart Joe Root, leaving them the only people in Queensland sorry that quarantine does not last a full month.


In his wonderful pageant of Australia’s Test captains, On Top Down Under, Ray Robinson described watching Benaud leading Australia in his first Test at the Gabba in 1958, and opportunistically bringing in a short leg after a single delivery: “A field change before a ball touched a bat!”

Yesterday Australia had a wicket before the ball touched a bat, and a captain similarly busy and involved, whether posting a short cover to Jos Buttler, a short mid-wicket to Chris Woakes or a leg gully to Ollie Robinson, replacing Cameron Green after a one-over spell that included his first Test wicket, and most portentously relieving Mitchell Starc after two overs so that he, Cummins, might bowl at Root.

Hoodoos are almost always overestimated: batsmen must get out to someone. But Cummins’s ascendancy over Root is now so marked that he seems able to exercise it without actually bowling to him; no sooner had Cummins delivered a maiden to Haseeb Hameed than England’s captain nicked off to Josh Hazlewood.


So much for the impossible burdens of the bowling captain, how Steve Smith would have to act as an additional hemisphere of Cummins’s brain.

Cummins took five wickets and marshalled the rest of his bowling attack skilfully

There were a few semaphores from Smith at slip yesterday, but there was no mistaking Cummins’s signals, or the exactitude of the bowlers’ lengths, as full as they were short the last time Australia bowled at the Gabba, sparing the bouncer, endangering both edges.

Cummins even had the presence of mind to allow Nathan Lyon a chance at No 11 as the spinner searches for his 400th Test wicket. No junior coach could have fulfilled his brief to encourage participation more closely.


As much as this was a classic Aussie Gabba ambush, England also arguably ambushed themselves, with a little too much thinking and not quite enough cricket.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad did loom this summer as an either/or package; neither was a tad too subtle and a bit too cute.

Root winning the toss on a sultry morning on a matt of grass then seemed to cry out for a re-run of Broad v Warner in 2019, which even Australians, invested in their inalienable right to chant “Broad is a wanker”, would have looked forward to.

Root’s choice, of course, was shadowed by the lore of the coin at the Gabba, specifically the fateful decisions by Len Hutton in 1954 and Nasser Hussain in 2002 to send Australia in.

But from these stories are tactfully excluded such decisions as Graeme Yallop’s to bat in 1978, after which Australia subsided to seven for 53, and Greg Chappell’s and Allan Border’s successful insertions of England in 1982 and 1990.

And for a team like England whose preparation has been so scant, bowling would surely have been the more forgiving choice.


Certainly the precision and decisiveness that comes from recent competitive cricket was altogether lacking from England’s top order.

Burns missed one he should have hit and Malan played one he should have left, leaving Root to face the 21st delivery of the innings and fall to the 35th.

Had England’s innings been on Netflix, you would have been tempted to “skip intro”. After an hour, it’ll be all right on the night had turned into nightmare on Vulture Street.

Stokes stepped into the line of a ball at his armpit, bequeathing the innings to the juniors, Hameed and Ollie Pope, hemmed in on all sides. Pope clattered Lyon’s one drag down into Marnus Labuschagne’s shin pad.


When the sun emerged briefly, the England tail wagged a little — maybe “spasmed” is a more accurate description. But Cummins’s day wound down with another final flourish of luck: battleship-grey clouds united over the Gabba and finally burst, sparing Warner and Marcus Harris an initiation in the gloom.

One wonders whether Cummins will develop the reputation that settled on Benaud, famously summed up by Dusty Rhodes: “Richie, if you stuck your head in a bucket of shit, you’d come up with a mouthful of diamonds.” So far, so good.


Gideon Haigh is a columnist for The Australian

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Poor Burns will live with his first ball dismissal for the rest of his career. He needs to make seven or eight hundred runs in the remaining nine innings to begin to compensate.


Is his forename a handicap? I’ve known a few blokes called Rory, genial coves every one of them but hopeless at actually doing anything.

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1 hour ago, Scott7 said:

Poor Burns will live with his first ball dismissal for the rest of his career. He needs to make seven or eight hundred runs in the remaining nine innings to begin to compensate.


Is his forename a handicap? I’ve known a few blokes called Rory, genial coves every one of them but hopeless at actually doing anything.

well he will be in someone's record books as being the fourth player to lose his wicket first ball of an ashes series and maybe the first to be clean bowled . 

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5 hours ago, Scott7 said:

History repeats itself. Australian pace attack routs feeble English batting. Not a lot you can do about that.

Definately deja vu with that innings. Capitulation with no thought or temprement to construct a long innings. It is going to be a long series for England but probably not a competative one unless they find some pride, they will be 3 down and the last two tests will be friendlies. 

Edited by ChelseaBoy
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Is there hope from the past? Len Hutton’s side lost the first Test of the 53/54 tour in Brisbane by an innings but won the series comfortably 1-3. 

Hutton had untried talent in Tyson and Statham, May and Cowdrey. Unfortunately I don’t see anyone in the current team with any prospect of emulating them.


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Huge interest tonight in whether or not Warner can bring his recent good white ball form to the test format. If he does then England can look forward to a couple of unplanned days off.

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