The Ashes Turn To Dust: Can Michael Clarke Find The Joy of 60?
Australia out for 60. Broad 8-15. Dust & Ashes. An Aussie, Dennis Freedman tells Clarke to look at the bright side.
Stuart Broad stands with a red rock in his hand.
His bowling partner, the alleged skilful one, is missing. He is injured. But Stuart Broad doesn’t care. Stuart Broad never cares what other people think.
Ready to face him is another variant of rock. The rock of Gibraltar. Chris Rogers has never made a Test duck. Chris Rogers just makes 50’s. You can count on Chris Rogers.
A Grand Final is about to begin.
The underdog leads 2-1. The heathen brutes from Australia have no choice. They must win this game.
A Test match can last for over 2,700 deliveries.
This one was over in 6.
In the coming days, scribes will scrounge over this beautiful train wreck and pepper us with all kinds of exotic stats.
Broad equalled the fastest 5-fer ever taken.
Australia lost its first 5 wickets in only 25 balls.
That the 111 balls it took to dismiss Australia was a ridiculously short amount of time.
That extras were the top scorers.
But remarkably, these will still manage to paper over some of the larger cracks. They will also distract from the real narrative.
Alastair Cook has only made one half century in his 7 Ashes innings this series.
He was already under pressure. Yet due to his counterpart’s bigger fall, Cook has evaded scrutiny.
A winning team can carry an out-of-form captain. A winning England Ashes team gets awarded MBEs.
Adam Lyth is soon to become an MBE.
Australia has a batting problem. It’s not one that a doctor can easily fix. There is no pill or illegal steroid injection that will help.
Some quipped that at 2/10 after the first over, England were into the tail.
Enter Shaun Marsh.
He replaced his younger brother Mitch. An all rounder wasn’t needed. A batsman was.
Four balls later and Shaun is welcomed back in the pavilion by his team mates.
His score is zero.
He has played 27 Test Innings. He has made 7 ducks. Shaun Marsh contributes nothing literally every fourth innings. But boy, does he look good doing it.
The pitch has some patches of green grass on it. In modern Test cricket, this is a rarer sight than the white rhinoceros.
Both captains wanted to bowl first. Cook wins and chooses to do just that. Clarke wastes Australia’s first review on the toss.
Sorry mate. You have to bat.
The crowd will see him out in the middle after 8 balls of the match. He is batting at number 5.
It means little. Australia is bowled out prior to lunch. They don’t even last 20 overs.
If this was a T20 match, that would be a sin. In a Test match, it is a circus act.
The pitch is a fire breathing, lava spitting dragon. But only while Australia bat. When England appear, it is a gentle soothing hug from your grandmother. The dragon has magically disappeared.
It’s as if the pitch is actually not a contributing factor. Perhaps it isn’t.
On the first day of a Test match, Joe Root faced more balls than the whole Australian side.
Jonny Bairstow nearly did the same.
Australia’s Ashes campaign has been sentenced to death.
But they will not die martyrs for they have shown no fight. There is no cause. They are not gladiators.
They have rolled onto their backs like a puppy, waiting for the English to tickle their belly.
Even with all the academies, coaches, extra funding, video analysis and training, 60 can still happen.
It is beautiful. It is joyful. It is wonderful.
(Dennis Freedman is a cricket writer, host of Australia’s biggest cricket podcast “Can’t Bowl Can’t Throw”. He was once invited into Shikhar Dhawan’s house. He forgot to bring the barfi.)
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