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LAWSON: Tough one Australia, but better required at Lord’s

Geoff Lawson Columnist

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    Trent Bridge in England, where the First Test of the 2013 Ashes series will be played (Image: AP)

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    As I charged up the laptop to compose this column I was torn between two key views of the first Test at Trent Bridge.

    The first is that that Australia had been ripped off by some dreadful umpiring, plus a DRS system that came down in favour of England on nearly every occasion.

    The other was that the 14-run margin was not a true reflection of Australia’s batting deficiencies.

    Both factors are true of course, but the opportunity to have a whinge was front and centre.

    I felt for captain Michael Clarke and his valiant team, who deserved a better suck of the pineapple than what they got. But sport is rarely about justice, it’s about who gets across the line first. There will be no asterisk next to the ‘W’ in the England column.

    This was an amazing, compelling Test match. The quality of the play was not high but the tension raised blood pressures all over the planet to dangerous levels, and in the end I’ll take drama and tension over quality and possible boredom every time.

    The Australians would be sipping their rehydration fluids with twisted faces and heavy hearts after such a close-run result, but they have just a few days to pick themselves up and find a way to be much better at Lord’s on Thursday.

    The colonial underdogs battled and struggled and scrapped and, at times, had England panicking.

    The home side’s confidence and self belief will have suffered from this contest, which may not be good thing for Australia as England steel themselves for four more Tests of dogged resistance.

    Australia’s batting was topsy turvey and not convincing, yet the game still went down to the wire. Ed Cowan must be moved aside for Usman Khawaja. Phil Hughes should be installed at first drop with Khawaja at five, unless the boy genius Ashton Agar finds himself in the top six

    Let’s face it, when the strength of your batting is the 10th wicket partnership, a review of the order is required.

    Chris Rogers looked good. He is a great leaver of the ball and he handled the superb Anderson the best. He is an old-fashioned Test opener.

    Watson looked his usual self in the second dig, including the LBW arriving on cue around the half century mark.

    The captain won’t fail twice in a match again, and Smith and Hughes both made scores.

    The tail-end contributions were touted as important before the Test match and this proved to be the case, and will again. There is much improvement left in the Australians, mostly from the batsmen.

    In the bowling, despite Siddle and Pattinson’s stirling efforts, Mitchell Starc lacked consistency in both control and tactics.

    What is this going around the wicket with the newish ball for goodness sake? When the ball is reversing I can see the reason behind the thinking, but the bowling coach had better get on top of the new ball angles soon, because Ryan Harris and Jackson Bird would both be handy replacements.

    The players of both teams provided the thrilling contest, but the main factor in this match was the sluggish pitch that contained only slightly more moisture than the Kalahari Desert.

    The Australian players reckoned the pitch was ready to start on the previous Sunday. Apparently all the groundsmen for the series have been told to produce such beasts to suit the reverse swing supposedly mastered by Anderson and the spin of Swann (who lacked penetration in conditions that should have suited him).

    Anderson is the master of new and old ball swerve, but the Australians used it quite well too.

    Perhaps coach Darren Lehmann and selectors will consider two spinners at Lord’s given Agar was admirable in his control but, like Swann, lacked penetration. Remember he is selected as a bowler first and foremost despite his batting heroics – and how good that was!

    Generally the rub of the green has a knack of evening out, and if that is to happen at Lord’s, along with a galvanised Australian batting performance, I can look forward to more sleep deprivation with a decidedly happier ending.

    Geoff Lawson
    Geoff Lawson

    Geoff Lawson OAM is a former Australian cricketer and the former coach of the Pakistan cricket team. Nicknamed "Henry" after the Australian poet, Lawson was a fast bowler for New South Wales and Australia.

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    The Crowd Says (68)

    • July 16th 2013 @ 1:49am
      Colin N said | July 16th 2013 @ 1:49am | ! Report

      “The first is that that Australia had been ripped off by some dreadful umpiring, plus a DRS system that came down in favour of England on nearly every occasion.”

      Not really. Agar? Trott?

      In fact, the only decision where it was poorly applied by the third umpire was the Trott case. Saying something like that is just a generalisation without considering the facts.

      There are issues with the system that might need changing but it wasn’t something that benefitted one country or another.

      To some extent I have sympathy with the Broad non-dismissal but on the other hand, Clarke’s choices of when to review were poor. I also thought his decision to review his own dismissal was poor and, in fact, bordering on selfish.

      Also, I’m not sure England were entirely convinced with the final wicket, but because they kept their two intact, it allowed them to take a chance on sending it to the third umpire.

      • July 16th 2013 @ 6:07am
        Paul said | July 16th 2013 @ 6:07am | ! Report

        Colin, you are absolutely right. Add Watson’s waste of a DRS in the 2nd innings and Australia have no one to blame but themselves.

        The lower order stood up (at times) and should be congratulated for that. Smith and Hughes batted will when the pitch was at it’s best – not forgetting Agar, but let’s remember that he is a bowler – and Chris Rogers looked good without really threatening to take the game away from England.

        I don’t know that Hughes is a number 3 – I think another match at 5 to let him get his confidence up some more and then stick him up there. Cowan will play the 2nd test, like it or not, but UK better get his kit clean cos I think he will be needing it sooner rather than later.

        If we drop Starc, which bowler out of Harris or Bird do we choose? Harris is just another Siddle, but Bird is a little quicker and more in the mould of Glen McGrath when it comes to accuracy and consistancy.

        • July 16th 2013 @ 8:09am
          eryan89 said | July 16th 2013 @ 8:09am | ! Report

          bird is quicker?? dunno what games youve been watching jo, ryan harris is far quicker

          • July 16th 2013 @ 8:42am
            Stanley Hankins said | July 16th 2013 @ 8:42am | ! Report

            Guys i am not on the Khawaja bandwagon but surely the kid deserves a crack at 3 or 5 now depending on what’s best for the team. Cowan failed, he had enough chances, Khawaja has made runs for the Bulls, top scored in his last warm up game, we need to give this kid a crack and see if he is good enough. For the bowling. i would get Bird in without a question.

            • July 16th 2013 @ 9:09am
              Amith Ashok said | July 16th 2013 @ 9:09am | ! Report

              Good article by Lawson and i agree with the changes he has suggested. Bring Khawaja in for Cowan, that’s a must and if Hughes has to go to 3 then Khawaja comes in at 5 as Smith at 6 can handle spin better. My preference would be for Khawaja to come in at 3 as he handles swing bowling well. For the bowling Starc to be replaced by Harris, Harris is a match winner and the more he bowls the better he gets so get Rhino in now.

            • July 16th 2013 @ 10:57am
              Disco said | July 16th 2013 @ 10:57am | ! Report

              Yes, well, we heard throughout the Indian debacle that Khawaja “would play in England”. Fat chance.

              • July 16th 2013 @ 11:09am
                Vivek said | July 16th 2013 @ 11:09am | ! Report

                Amith i am excited at the prospect of Khawaja potentially playing, its been 7 months in waiting now. What a big test match to come in if he is selected.

        • July 16th 2013 @ 8:54am
          Jo M said | July 16th 2013 @ 8:54am | ! Report

          Starc would only have gone around the wicket early because he was told to, wouldn’t have been through his choice. My son played in a grade game with him and when he went to bowl around the wicket, Starc told him it was too early. In saying that, both Pattinson and Starc sprayed them everywhere to start with and Siddle to a lesser extent. Bird or Harris, not sure which one you would pick, both bring something different.

      • July 16th 2013 @ 10:54am
        Disco said | July 16th 2013 @ 10:54am | ! Report


        Sour grapes from Henry on this occasion.

      • July 16th 2013 @ 1:31pm
        jameswm said | July 16th 2013 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

        Colin, Trott was out.

        • July 16th 2013 @ 8:46pm
          Colin N said | July 16th 2013 @ 8:46pm | ! Report

          He shouldn’t have been given out because the evidence wasn’t available to the third umpire, therefore it should have gone with the on-field umpire’s decision which was not out.

          Pretty basic stuff that James, keep up.

      • July 16th 2013 @ 4:08pm
        James said | July 16th 2013 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

        it came down in favour of the truth every time. and except for broad not being given out which meant 28 runs more to englands total, what were the horrible decisions that cost australia? haddin, clarke both got edges and agar got the benefit of the doubt on that stumping though that truly was a 50 50 and could have gone the other way. trott and root were both not out so i suppose they were bad decisions by the umpire but hardly horrible and i can remember who was out on review for australia when it looked like it wasnt in line bu turned out it was but that again was, to the naked eye not out, so hardly a horrible decision either.

    • July 16th 2013 @ 5:22am
      Bradm said | July 16th 2013 @ 5:22am | ! Report

      Cowan will play the 2nd test whether or not we like it or not so better prepare yourself for the disappointment Geoff!

      • July 16th 2013 @ 8:44am
        Stanley Hankins said | July 16th 2013 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        Lets hope you are wrong Bradm, Cowan has had his chances and its time to give Khawaja the same opportunities in the side.

        • July 16th 2013 @ 11:09am
          Vivek said | July 16th 2013 @ 11:09am | ! Report

          +2 Stanley

        • July 16th 2013 @ 2:17pm
          Australian Rules said | July 16th 2013 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

          Stanley, the problem is that Khawaja failed to impress during the tour matches. He has not *earned* his spot (he has a First Class average of 42, which dips to under 30 in Tests). That said, I agree Cowan deserves to lose his place.

          Ultimately, I think Cowan will get one more shot at Lords.

      • July 16th 2013 @ 12:03pm
        Sean said | July 16th 2013 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

        There is no way Cowan will play

      • July 16th 2013 @ 12:57pm
        Pete B said | July 16th 2013 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

        Cowan was as sick as dog most of the test and playing in a position he was unfamiliar with. All in all, a poisoned chalice. I think dropping him is a bit too reactive and he deserves a visit to last chance long room.

        The two spinners idea seems to be gaining momentum. Does that mean Wonder Boy plays at 7?

        • July 16th 2013 @ 1:08pm
          Christo the Daddyo said | July 16th 2013 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

          Cowan was “playing in a position he was unfamiliar with”? In the first innings he came in at 1-19 in the 3rd over.

          Let’s face reality – Cowan has had a good long run in the team, and he hasn’t been up to scratch. Seeing as Watson and Rogers seem reasonably entrenched as openers for the moment, it would make sense to replace Cowan with Khawaja and give him the same commitment as was extended to Cowan.

          Straight swap, don’t muck about with the batting order.

          It would be a courageous move to pick two spinners. Let’s face it, it ain’t gonna be Warney and McGilla at the SCG!

          • July 16th 2013 @ 6:53pm
            Pete B said | July 16th 2013 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

            Fair enough if he does get dropped. Even coming at the second ball is not the same psychologically as opening.

            Number 3 is such a hard position. It may prove the end of Cowan. To throw Khawaja in there is going to be equally tough on him. Can’t we just put Kat there!

    • July 16th 2013 @ 6:22am
      ChrisT said | July 16th 2013 @ 6:22am | ! Report

      “The first is that that Australia had been ripped off by some dreadful umpiring, plus a DRS system that came down in favour of England on nearly every occasion.”

      Now that’s just plainly a cheap shot & inflamatory Geoff, designed to get responses – and here you go.

      “Both factors are true of course ( they are of course not ), but the opportunity to have a whinge was front and centre ( and here’s the truth if it ).”

    • July 16th 2013 @ 7:52am
      A Mans Not A Camel said | July 16th 2013 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      Geoff, not sure on the DRS – bas usage by Clarke failed Australia there, not the DRS itself – other than Haddin. Haddin was out, real time definately. But the umpire didn’t call it. The DRS review, even Holding said it looked like the hotspot was there before the ball passed the bat, and it disappeared before the bat went forward 2 inches, and the sound inconclusive as to whether bat on call (although likely). Bad call by the field umpire, no conclusive evidence to overturn it however.

      On Haddin – he is also a failure of the first test. Yes, his batting was great in the second dig. But, he’s there as a keeper – how fewer runs would we be chasing had he not let as many byes through, missed a few chances, etc? We need a specialist keeper, like Hartley, in the side. I know it wont happen in England, but whilst we no longer are world beaters with the bat (as in Gilchrist’s day) we can no longer afford batsmen who are Ok with the gloves as keepers. If Wade/Haddin bat well enough – put them in as batters, not keepers. We need to take each and every chance currently, and without a specialist keeper, we are not.

      All talk is Cowan staying on – I hope not. He’s failed. His stats are pathetic, he’s got one hundred in what, 38 innings? He’s had seven 50’s I think from memory, so poor conversaion rate when he does get a start. Time to move on.

      • July 16th 2013 @ 8:04am
        MadMonk said | July 16th 2013 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        Cuts both ways Prior conceded 10 byes on the last morning so maybe its not an easy track to keep on.

        • July 16th 2013 @ 10:51am
          MervUK said | July 16th 2013 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          Good point, prior is usually immense behind the stumps, I think the pitch prob played a part

          • July 16th 2013 @ 11:12am
            A Mans Not A Camel said | July 16th 2013 @ 11:12am | ! Report

            MervUK and MadMonk, the difference is that England has a good enough team around their keeper that an average performance ‘doesn’t matter’ quite so much. Australia doesn’t have the luxury, with a consistantly failing batting lineup, Australia need to win tests in the field. Yes, the pitch may have played a part in it, but I still think the chances put down at the very least may have been picked up by a better keeper, and probably a few of the byes. When you cannot make big totals with the bat, you can only win matches in the field, catches win matches as they say.

            I doubt the keeper will change for AU at least in the England stretch, but I would not be surprised if a specialist keeper is in for the AU tests. Especially since lehmann has seen Hartley’s work first hand, the man is fantastic with the gloves. Although not a fantastic batsman, he’s dogged, he’ll fight for his wicket to remain in tact, and off his bat he helped save a few matches for QLD state, and also match winning runs for Brisbane Heat in the BBL in one game. Ian Healy style specialist keeper, instead of a Gilchrist style batsman keeper like Wade/Haddin are.

            • July 16th 2013 @ 12:09pm
              Mervuk said | July 16th 2013 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

              We think haddins pretty good to be honest,I can’t say I’ve seen him keep much beyond the ashes series, but he’s always been exceptional with the bat against us. I’m sure England would be delighted if he was dropped, the England team rate Watson and Siddle really highly too, and surprisingly smith too, although he as a long way to go…

              • July 16th 2013 @ 12:15pm
                A Mans Not A Camel said | July 16th 2013 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

                exceptional with that bat – he’s always been good with the bat 🙂 My concern is with the gloves, which is the main reason he’s in the team. Both he and Wade have had a lot of issues with the goves, but been scoring runs so in favour. Personally, I believe score runs – come in as a batsman instead, and, for both Haddin and Wade, there would be arguments that they could just do that. Get a real wicket keeper in to ensure chances are not missed behind the stumps. It would also give more confidence to the bowlers too, knowing they have the best gloves in the country to bowl to.

      • July 16th 2013 @ 2:04pm
        Nudge said | July 16th 2013 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

        There is no doubt haddin will be there for the next 9 tests and wouldn’t surprise if he is there longer. A big reason he is there is that he is not intimidated. He brings confidence to the group and he will never take a backward step. He is also in the top 6 batsmen in Australia. Yes he did miss a catch he probably should have taken, it can happen and I’m backing him in to take everything within reason for the rest of the tour. And it’s been mentioned also that he lets through way too many byes, well if you check the stats and I think I’m right in saying this that haddin let through 8 byes for the match and prior 12 and we bowled around 30-35 more overs than England. And Hartley come off it I’m not sure we have ever had a keeper bat at 11

        • July 16th 2013 @ 3:53pm
          Disco said | July 16th 2013 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

          Haddin’s propensity to throw his wicket away makes him a liability when you consider his keeping isn’t exactly polished. Intimidated of otherwise, his record is not that flash.

          • July 16th 2013 @ 4:04pm
            Nudge said | July 16th 2013 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

            His records good mate you step away from the tv for priors 2 dismissles. If you did I can assure you they were disgusting

    • July 16th 2013 @ 8:12am
      Tasman said | July 16th 2013 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      I find it really irritating that we can’t escape the DRS talk. There was no issue with DRS when the indians were here, in fact they were time and time critcises by everyone here in Aus because of their refusal to use it. Couple of bad calls and horrible use of the system and all of a sudden everyone was a stern non-believer. The bottom line is, had we used it right we would’nt have any issues with the system.

    • July 16th 2013 @ 9:10am
      Nick Inatey said | July 16th 2013 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Geoff, what about the idea of drafting in Simon Katich into the squad? The man is in super touch, knows English conditions better than all but Rogers, and puts a high price on his wicket?

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