The Third Test was won by England in just two days and two sessions in a comprehensive thrashing, proving yet again that cricket between teams with criminally fragile batting line-ups is the best cricket of all.
Here are the ratings for the Third Test.
Sir Isaac Newton
If there’s one thing this Ashes series has proven, it’s that Sir Isaac Newton, father of classical physics, inventor of rainbows and discoverer of momentum was a shameless charlatan.
Going into the Second Test, England had all the alleged momentum from their Cardiff victory and were promptly thrashed by 400 runs and 10 wickets. Australia then took the purported momentum from that victory and were crushed by eight wickets inside three days in this Third Test.
Momentum is clearly not a thing. Mass times velocity? Could be anything. Or, if momentum is a thing, it’s a deeply poisonous thing. Which means that England have stupidly gained so much momentum in this Third Test, that they’ll definitely lose the next one by three innings and 9000 runs
This could well end up being the closest series of thrashings in Ashes history. The Thrashes, if you will.
Still, what an astonishing Test we’d have if we could somehow conspire for both teams to have lost the previous one.
Get to work on that, ICC!
First Day Delays
The highlight of the first day was not Jimmy Anderson’s six wicket haul or the resurgence of Steven Finn.
Nor was it Chris Rogers’ desperate attempt to salvage his friendship with David Warner by giving the go-ahead for a Watsonesque review. (Side note: almost all of the batting reviews in this Test were used by openers. Is it time for openers to be given a separate set of reviews to waste?)
No, the highlight of Day One was the multiple delays to the game.
Firstly, there was the sight screen sheet, which, despite the best efforts of ground staff, was not adequately hiding crowd movement.
At least, I assume that’s what Rogers kept complaining about. Perhaps he thought it was a g-g-g-g-ghost! (It wasn’t a ghost, of course, but Old Man Haddin might have got away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling batsmen.)
And, of course, there were a number of rain delays on the first day as well, which showed poor focus from England. You either take loads of cheap wickets or you make it rain. You don’t do both. Sloppy stuff.
All the delays meant that England only needed three bowlers to dismiss Australia for 136. Bad news for Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali, who must have headed for the change of innings desperately low on morale.
The impact on Stokes’ morale could be seen the next morning when he was immediately bounced out by Mitchell Johnson.
It’s a well known paleontological fact that Johnson can’t see the batsmen if they don’t move. But neither Jonny Bairstow nor Stokes could heed this warning and both succumbed to a brutal over of short-pitched bowling.
When Joe Root felt sorry for Mitchell Starc’s wayward spell of bowling and stretched out to edge a loose delivery to Adam Voges, Moeen came out to bat. He, too, was down on confidence, missing delivery after delivery bowled by Nathan Lyon. Exquisitely missing them, sure. That’s his way. But missing them, nevertheless.
But during the lunch break, Moeen apparently had corrective laser eye surgery as he and Stuart Broad returned to put an end to the belated attempt at a fightback by the Australian bowlers, carrying England to 281 and a 145 run first innings lead.
A second collapse by the Australian top order briefly raised the possibility of a two day Test. But Peter Nevill, incredibly proud of his record of never having lost a Test match to this point, held the innings together in a desperate bid to give his bowlers something to defend on a wearing, uh, third day pitch.
At one point, early on the third day, he appeared to have perhaps edged a ball to Jos Buttler, but was given not out. Mostly, I think, because Aleem Dar wanted to teach England a lesson about wasting reviews on stupid appeals.
Then, shortly after, he nicked it again to Buttler. And not only didn’t walk but also reviewed the decision. Brilliant stuff from Nevill, who with this one bold ploy is obviously already Australia’s greatest ever wicketkeeper.
Calls for changes to the side
Look, we’ve already established that it was silly for everybody to get so carried away after the First Test and declare England to be certain 5-0 winners of the series.
And it was equally foolish to overreact after the Second Test and adjust our series predictions to 4-1 Australia.
But now, though, after this Test, we can all be one hundred per cent certain that the series will definitely be 4-1 England.
Given that, Australia need to make changes. Warner and Rogers can stay, having top scored for Australia in the two innings of this Test. And, while Steve Smith only averages 20.25 in odd-numbered Tests this series, the next Test is an even numbered one, where he averages 136.5.
But Australia need a new 4, 5 and 6 for the next Test. This includes a new captain. Michael Clarke was well off the pace here, not only batting poorly, but dropping a crucial catch on the final day when defending a small target. And you know what they say: “Dropped regulation slip catches make defeat even more certain in already lost Test matches.”
Weighing all that up, the new 4, 5 and 6 for the Fourth Test should clearly be Glenn Maxwell, somebody else and Glenn Maxwell with a moustache (c). That’s just common sense.
Still, regardless of what changes are made, I’m very much looking forward to the first day of the Fourth Test where we’ll find out who’ll win that one.