The Liebke Ratings: Second Ashes Test

Dan Liebke Columnist

By , Dan Liebke is a Roar Expert

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    In the day-night Test, Adelaide briefly teetered towards amazing before settling for adequate as Australia took a 2-0 lead in the Ashes.

    Here are the ratings for the second Ashes Test.

    Sending the opposition in
    Grade: C

    Joe Root won the toss and sent Australia in to bat, thoughtfully giving everybody something to talk about for the entire Test. And perhaps decades more than that, if Nasser Hussain’s similar 2002 decision is any guide.

    England made one change to their team. Jake Ball was judged insufficiently scarlet to serve in the Pink Ball Test and was replaced by Craig Overton, who, despite his name, has not yet bowled an over that’s gone for a hundred runs.

    Sadly for Root, his more experienced bowlers in Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad were the ones who let him down, bowling far too short on the first day. Even the LBW decisions that were given were swiftly overturned on review. Hardly surprising, given that ‘Anderson’ is an anagram of ‘Nae on DRS’.

    Luckily, the conditions were also perfect for a run out from a misfield. And so that’s how Cameron Bancroft was dismissed. Bancroft, whose method of taking quick singles is to lean his superhumanly heavy head forward and allow momentum to do the rest, was sent back by Dave Warner and run out.

    The dismissal wasn’t without controversy, as Moeen Ali’s misfield was clearly an example of the freshly-outlawed fake fielding. Australia should, therefore, have been awarded five penalty runs. Sloppy umpiring.

    Not that it mattered. Because despite a steady flow of wickets, rain and amusingly incompetent England fielding, Australia batted through to the final session of the second day, finally declaring at 8/442. The hero of the innings? Shaun Marsh, who made an unbeaten 126.

    Classic Marsh. Being insufficiently rubbish for me to use some of my drafted and very funny ‘Shaun Marsh is rubbish’ jokes is yet another way in which he’s the most maddening cricketer in Australia.

    Ah well. There’s always next Test.

    Shaun Marsh

    (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

    Pat Cummins
    Grade: A

    The other hero of the Australian innings was, of course, Pat Cummins. Cummins stuck around with Marsh to take the total beyond 400. While early on he had more dots than a Morse code translation of a Tolstoy novel, he later accelerated to make 44.

    Cummins’ heroic efforts have become so reliable that Commissioner Lehmann has now built a special Pat-Signal that he fires up to summon him.

    “Why do wickets fall?”

    “So Pat can learn to pick us back up.”

    Obviously, it wasn’t just the batting. After just one ball from Cummins under lights, the umpires got the batsmen off for their own safety. Good to see this bullying from Australia sorted out. (It may also have been raining.)

    Technically, isn’t it a form of cheating that Cummins no longer gets injured? The ICC need to look into this.

    Caught and bowleds
    Grade: D

    The other thing the ICC need to look into is the spate of caught and bowleds threatening to ruin the game. Australia pulled off three in their first bowling innings.

    The first was a spectacular leap to Nathan Lyon. The second, a sensational juggling effort from Mitchell Starc. The third, a run of the mill take from a top edge as the Australians lost all interest in the mode of dismissal.

    As far as I’m concerned, you shouldn’t be allowed to catch it if you bowl it. Choose your role, for heaven’s sake. Don’t be greedy.

    And besides, if there’s ever a cricketer named ‘And’ who starts taking a lot of catches, that’s going to muddle up the ‘caught and bowled’ stats like nobody’s business.

    Lots of issues for the ICC to look into.

    On the plus side, that first Starc catch saw Jonny Bairstow throw his head back at the dismissal. Which is a form of progress, I suppose.

    England's Jonny Bairstow reacts as he is given out lbw as he attempts a sweep shot on 99 runs during day two of the Fourth Test at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Saturday Aug. 5, 2017.

    (Anthony Devlin/PA via AP)

    Day-night conditions
    Grade: B+

    With England dismissed for 227, Steve Smith refused to enforce the follow-on, forcing his team to bat under lights on the third evening. A dangerous ploy from Smith. As a team, you never want to be batting in the Twilight session, because that’s when everybody in the dressing room is forced to read the books.

    But even that literary threat was insufficient to keep the players out in the middle as Australia fell to a perilous 4/53.

    Still, both Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith were dismissed by LBW decisions that, on review, had not just one, but two, umpire’s calls. My understanding of the new rules surrounding DRS means that they therefore not only didn’t lose their reviews, they also get a bonus one.

    Pretty sure that’s right.

    Reviews
    Grade: D

    But reviews weren’t just going against Australia when they were batting. When England finally came out to bat after Australia had been dismissed for 138 in their second innings, Smith’s reviews as fielding captain dropped to a level of DC Cinematic Universe bad.

    First he failed to review an LBW decision that was cannoning into leg stump. Then he incorrectly reviewed two decisions in three balls to leave the Australians without further DRS recourse.

    England looked to have the advantage with still two reviews up their sleeve. But did they? Or had Smith outwitted them yet again, using his team’s review poverty to subtly influence the umpires into giving the Australians the benefit of the doubt in future decisions?

    In addition, by dragging the Test into the fifth day with England still a chance, he forced fans from the mother country to blearily set their alarms for a godawful hour. And then witness their side plummet from 4/176 overnight to 233 all out.

    Great work from the Australian skipper, who is determined to destroy England on every level.