Festive dead rubber.
So. Many. Layers.
~~ Ricky Ponting
Yes. That Ricky Ponting. The Ricky Ponting who won the toss and wrongly bowled at Edgbaston in 2005, costing Australia the Ashes for the first time since 1989, and never again winning the toss and bowling. He was completely spooked by his Birmingham blunder. Yet now he implies he would have bowled at Edgbaston last month.
Nottingham is the "lace" capital of England, hence Paper Lace. Not sure if Nottingham is also the "paper" capital. Or if Nottingham is the "paper and lace" capital. Or even if Nottingham is the "paper lace" capital, as opposed to lace made from linen or silk or whatever.
Anyhoo, enough tat - Boom! Tish! - England has all the momentum.
Given Brad Haddin's "unexpected" dropped catch off Joe Root and that "Hadds usually takes more than he drops" and that Josh Hazlewood doesn't think Australia is "used to dropping catches at the moment," how about we keep track of Australia's dropped chances in this Ashes:
14.5 Starc to Root, no run, dropped, and it's all happening here. Very full outside off, and Root jams his bat down on it, and the bat hits the ground and the ball kisses his outside edge. Haddin throws himself to his right and it clangs off his glove.
63.1 Johnson to Cook, no run, short ball, Cook puts it away on the pul- not, he's been dropped by Smith at backward square leg! Think it went straight into his gut and out again, must go down as a bit of a sitter, though Cook struck it firmly. Smith was sprawling on his backside as the ball ran away between his legs.
20.2 Johnson to Bell, 1 run, edged and dropped! But whose catch was it? Nevill half-committed, Voges at first slip reached it with one uncertain hand, and couldn't cling on....
6.6 Starc to Bell, 1 run, edged and dropped by Clarke at slip! Bell was trying to run it off the face, the ball went low to Clarke's right at second slip but it hit the fingers and went straight to earth. Not quite Warne off Pietersen but should have been taken.
19.2 Starc to Cook, FOUR, edged between second and third slip. Back of a length and curling away outside off with extra bounce, Smith dives to his right from third slip, gets a hand to it but can't cling on. It looked like it was Clarke's take at second slip. That will go down as a drop.
71.1 Johnson to Wood, FOUR, edged, but wide of second slip! Over the wicket, full outside off, Wood reaches out for a drive and the thick edge evades a diving Smith. (It was actually dropped.)
Stuart Broad tries to psych out Steve Smith (or psych in himself):
“He’s obviously had a fantastic 18 months since he’s changed his technique a bit. I’ve got a few ideas to run past a few players that seem to think it might be a good option. I won’t share them with you yet. But I think it’s an advantage for us with him coming in at No3 with the Dukes ball in England. I think if he comes in at five like Joe Root does for us there’s not many weaknesses there."
“But with the ball moving around in England we know how hard it is to bat in that top three. I’m certainly not doubting the quality of him as a player, he’s a wonderful player and I enjoy watching him play when I’m not bowling at him."
“But you have to have a very tight technique to bat in the top three against the Dukes ball in England and it’s up to us as an opening attack to get an early wicket and get him in early against the new ball because he’s not had amazing success in England. When he played in the 2013 series he got a hundred at the Oval on a flat wicket. We’ll be looking to try and test his technique with a Dukes ball early.”
There is a bit of a difference between saying you have a plan and actually having a plan. There is more to getting Steve Smith out than merely saying "Dukes, Dukes, Dukes". That said, Test cricket is all about working out a batsman's weaknesses, so it will be fascinating to see whether Smith can prosper at three, against a different ball and in different conditions to those he has recently encountered.
Early in 2005 Canterbury lost its most iconic feature - after 200 years the famous lime tree, situated just inside the boundary, was blown down during winter storms. It was the end of an era, but not of a tradition, as Kent had planned ahead and had been growing a replacement. Just ahead of the 2005 season, the new tree was replanted by Chris Cowdrey. The St Lawrence Ground was built around the tree in 1847 and is quintessentially English with space for spectators to watch from their deckchairs or cars. Kent's long history of producing England wicketkeepers is remembered with the Leslie Ames Stand, prior to 1973 it was known as the Iron Stand. In 1999 St Lawrence - "The Spitfire Ground" to its many friends - was picked to play for England against Kenya in the World Cup, taking 2 wickets, making 15 runs and dropping a catch.