England v Australia, Fourth Test, Trent Bridge, 25-28 August 2005
England 477 and 129 for 7, Australia 218 and (follow-on) 387
England won by three wickets.
Day One: Tait á Tait
When Tait begins to bowl the batsman trembles at the knees,
The ball comes humming down the pitch just like a hive of bees,
The other day the bails went flying right out to the gate,
The batsman smiled a sickly smile and whispered “Tait á Tait”.
– Jack Lumsdaine, “So This Is Cricket”, 1932
(OK, so he was actually talking about Maurice Tate)
Lillee, Thomson, Tait? It’s a bit damn early for those sort of comparisons I think, but nonetheless Shaun Tait’s first day as Australian cap #392 was a decent enough start. Though, it must be said of a day in which only sixty overs were possible, England is on top at 229 for 4.
I first became aware of Tait when he ripped through Queensland’s top order in a Pura Cup game for South Australia at the Adelaide Oval in February 2003. At the time Paul Rofe was seen as the South Australian pace bowler most likely to be the Next Big Thing for Australian cricket, but while Rofe had McGrathesque accuracy, Tait had pace – and still does.
Tait is certainly a better bowler than his two championship appearances for Dynamo Durham in 2004 indicated (12-0-113-0, w 2, nb 21 against Somerset and 6-0-63-0, nb 5 against Essex). After a no-ballless (torture your spellcheck with that one!) tour game against Worcestershire last week, Tait bowled no-balls 27 to 30 on English soil yesterday. Lee (16-1-75-0, nb 7) and Kasprowicz (18-2-56-0, nb 11) were the real Four n’Twenty Delivery Boys yesterday.
CricInfo has the Arthur Murray Dance Chart of Tait’s bowling on Day One, and it shows how he got his length under control in his second session of the day, claiming the wickets of Trecothick and Bell for his trouble.
The other special mention for the day belongs to Michael Vaughan, who joins Asanka Gurusinha, Jimmy Adams, Moin Khan and Ridley Jacobs in that Pantheon of Legends being the five Test wickets taken by Ricky Ponting. (Here’s those first four.)
A short day Thursday, so the Midwinter-Midwinter points for Day One are: 2 pts – Marcus Trescothick, 1 pt – Michael Vaughan.
Day two: Careful with that axe, Trevor
Come on in, Damien Martyn, your use-by date is up. And you too, Hayden. Don’t you look away either, Kasprowicz.
It was just one awful day for Australia. Infredible. Ingeraintable even. Australia may yet get away with saving the Ashes, but we can already declare England the moral winners.
I’m going to leave the reportage to the only person who could possibly spot Shaun Tait’s legacy, not with Lillee and Thomson, but with the immortal Pat Crawford. Here’s Gideon Haigh’s Ashes Diary on CricInfo, and his reports in the Guardian for Days One and Two.
Midwinter-Midwinters for Day Two: 3 pts – Andrew Flintoff; 2 pts – Geraint Jones; 1 pt – Matthew Hoggard.
Day three: Spot the Pratt competition
The pratt has been removed from this picture. Put an “X” where you think he should be.
Midwinter-Midwinter votes for Saturday: 3 pts – Simon Jones; 2 pts – Justin Langer; 1 pt – Andrew Strauss.
Day four: Test cricket is for The Birds
…this series is sort of like a month-long pass to an Alfred Hitchcock film festival…
– Prem Panicker, Sightscreen, 28.8.05
So, in a series that began with Dial M for Murder and continued with Spellbound, Notorious and Vertigo, England leads Australia two Tests to one. Psycho opens at The Oval on September 8.
Just a few observations after yet another awesome Test match:
- Australia’s batting top order has been saved on so many occasions by one AC Gilchrist blasting a quick ton or so at number seven. Gilchrist’s scores in this series so far: 26, 10, 49*, 1, 30, 4, 27, 11. That’s 158 runs at 22.57.
- If there’s ever a classic case of a captain being as good as the team he leads, take another look at those images of Ricky Ponting holding the 2003 World Cup. There’s one member of the current Australian eleven who has a natural gift for leadership on the field of play and also has a one-day tournament win as captain to show for it. Unfortunately, he has also been a suspended drug cheat, a Pitch and Weather Informant, and has repeatedly demonstrated the value of the mobile phone as a sex aid. At least he has never been bashed up at the Bourbon and Beefsteak.
- We can take either one of two diametrically opposed lessons away from this marvellous Test series, either (a) we can point out that you can’t win from following-on in Twenty20 cricket; or (b) we can praise the richness and diversity of a sport that is capable of giving so much pleasure in all its different forms.
The Midwinter-Midwinters for Day Four: 3 pts – Shane Warne; 2 pts – Brett Lee; 1 pt – Steve Harmison.