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2009 Ashes - First Test at Cardiff

Category: Cricket. Published: 21 Jul 2009 (first published 16 Jul 2009)

Australia and England play out an exciting draw in the first Test of the 2009 Ashes series at Cardiff.

Once again, Australia missed out on winning a Test due to the incompetence of the captain. Ponting complained about England's time-wasting tactics but these had no influence on the result of the game, which should have ended well before this occurred. Ponting could have finished the game with a bit more thought about his bowling changes.

With around 25 overs remaining, the new ball was taken by Hilfenhaus and Johnson, with England 7 down -- plenty of time to finish the game. Hilfenhaus challenged the batsmen with every ball he bowled but as soon as he took a wicket he was immediately replaced. Why?

Johnson struggled to get the ball on the pitch, let alone anywhere near the stumps. Several wides were called by the umpire and more could have been. At a time when it was vital to make the batsmen play at every ball, if the batsmen stood back and didn't play at a single ball they would not have been in danger. Yet he continued to bowl over after over even though he at no stage looked like taking a wicket. It made absolutely no sense to me. As soon as he was replaced by Siddle a wicket -- that of top-scorer Collingwood -- fell almost immediately.

There should have been much more variety towards the end of the innings, with more bowling changes and shorter spells. Hauritz bowled well, but by the end he was exhausted and unable to finish the job.

The only thing more annoying than Ponting's captaincy was the commentators' repeated references to Shane Warne. "Australia's not as good without Warne", "This game would have been over a long time ago if Warne was playing", "Ponting must be wishing he had Warne in the team", etc, etc. Very annoying. Can somebody tell them that Warne's not playing anymore?

England's batting was poor in both innings. In the first most of their batsmen made starts but failed to capitalise.

Collingwood is perhaps the only player in the England team (perhaps with apologies to Flintoff and Prior) who deserves to be kept in the team on this performance. Lacks the talent of other players in the team and has never convinced me of his ability at this level but at least he puts up a fight.

Pietersen is by far the most talented in the team, perhaps even in the world, but he was dismissed from a ridiculous shot in the first innings -- and then blamed his dismissal on bad luck -- and showed poor judgement in leaving a ball that took out his off stump in the second. If he wasn't averaging 50 in Test cricket he should be dropped.

Bopara came into the match with a big reputation but has learnt that playing the West Indies is a bit different from playing Australia. He struggled against Siddle in the first before Johnson got him with a wide ball that shouldn't have been played at (as he gets most of his wickets). He was unlucky to be given out in the second but should be more concerned about a terrible shot than a doubtful decision.

Cook was out to a good catch in the first innings and a bad shot in the second while Strauss was out to two bad shots after being set in each innings.

Flintoff and Prior put on a good partnership in the first innings, both looking very good but again failed to go on with it -- Flintoff out to a bad shot, Prior to a good ball from Siddle. Flintoff also played a responsible innings in the second as he tried to hang around but then played a loose shot to a wide ball from Johnson (of course).

Australia's bowling was good in patches but inconsistent through the match. Hilfenhaus -- surprisingly selected instead of Clark -- was by far the best; he swung the ball consistently and troubled all batsmen. Siddle bowled better than his figures suggested, looking threatening at times -- he hit Bopara in the throat with a good ball in the first innings, then hit Swann several times in the second, with Swann showing an inability, or unwillingness, to watch the ball. Siddle seems to bowl better when he's fired up -- he looks nasty after, for example, a batsman gets a lucky edge for four. The commentators even compared him with Merv Hughes.

Johnson bowled rubbish, with most of his deliveries wide of the stumps, but still took 5 wickets for the match. It always amazes me that some bowlers just seem to have the knack of taking wickets even though they seem to be bowling rubbish. He bowled one good over for the match, where he should have had Strauss LBW in the first innings, but finally had him caught. He got Bopara with a slow ball that the commentators described as brilliant, but any reasonable batsman would not have played at it, then got Broad with a bad shot. In the second innings he got Cook LBW playing across the line and Flintoff with another wide ball that should have been left alone. He has a lot of potential and can bowl much better than he did in this match.

Hauritz actually bowled quite well, taking 6 wickets for the match. Yes, surprised me too! He bowled a generally good line and length, got a bit of turn and bounce and kept the pressure on all the batsmen. I don't think he's ever going to run through a team, but in the right conditions he may actually take a few wickets.

Ponting's captaincy was better than it has been, but struggled when under pressure late on the last day.

Australia batted very well -- obviously! Hughes looked good when Broad and Anderson bowled short and wide but struggled when Flintoff bowled straight. Katich, Ponting, North and Haddin all made hundreds and Clarke wasn't far off. Hussey has been struggling for a while, unfortunately perhaps his time is up.

England's bowling was very poor and captaincy from Strauss was uninspiring. Flintoff was the only bowler to look threatening, and then only briefly. He bowled a very good spell in which he took the wicket of Hughes. Anderson has impressed me in the past, but didn't look likely to in this match. Apparently has bowled well in the recent past and rated highly as a swing bowler, but he only swung the ball in one short spell and didn't look likely to take a wicket. Nothing Broad did impressed with either bat or ball.

England's spinners were supposed to be the key to the match but neither bowled any near as well as Hauritz. Swann came into the match with a big reputation as a spin bowler but if he's the best that England have then I'd get a game for them! I was impressed with Panesar last time they came to Australia but he struggled in this game. The only good thing to be said for either of them is that Swann batted well in the first innings and Panesar held on at the end of the second.

Very disappointing to see the bowlers "congratulate" each other as they brought up their individual centuries (of runs from their bowling).

As for the two keepers, Prior looked good and Haddin kept adequately.

Scoreboard from cricinfo here.

First in series 2009 Ashes - Second Test at Lord's >>

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