The Roar
The Roar



FLEM'S VERDICT: This Test is alive after Poms finally get bowling line-up right

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5th January, 2022

This Test match is alive, which is a massive plus for England and not something you could say too often about the previous three games.

Honours were even after the roughly half a day’s play we got to start things off at the SCG in the fourth Test but that is a win in itself for the tourists.

They’ve got a real opportunity to bowl Australia out under par with the home side on 3-126 and Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja both new at the crease.

The positive for England is there is hope as opposed to despair, which has been the common theme in this Ashes series.

For Australia, the longer Smith and Khawaja can bat is massive. For Usman, it’s a huge opportunity – if he can score big in this Test he cements himself as the next man in for our batting stocks and his career will continue at international level.

Smith will be keen to convert his chance too. He’s got just the one hundred since the 2019 Ashes and has made a couple of decent scores in this series without going big so he should be really hungry too.

There is a chance England could knock Australia over for an under-par score.

If they lose a couple early, you’ve got Cameron Green and Alex Carey who are starting off their Test careers plus the tail-enders.

It’s only taken them until the fourth Test but England have finally picked their best bowling line-up. I wouldn’t have minded this combination of Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Mark Wood with Ollie Robinson instead of Jack Leach at the Gabba to start the series.


That’s the easiest thing they could have got right, their bowling line-up. I don’t know what more they could have done with the batting because a lot of them are unproven at Test level.

They didn’t start well in this Test with their bowling – they wasted the new ball a bit in the first half hour. Australia wouldn’t have been disappointed if they’d lost the toss and were bowling in those conditions.

England didn’t make the Aussie batters play at enough deliveries. That’s the one thing you don’t want to do when you’re opening the batting and I think the English attack played into our hands a little bit.

There was swing but for Anderson it looked like it was going straight from his hand and wide, and Broad looked rusty due to the bizarre selections.

In his second spell when he got the wicket he looked good. Then they made a good ball change and got the wickets of Harris and Marnus Labuschagne.

The other key point I noticed on day one was that Marcus Harris looked a lot more assured at the crease. The time spent in the middle making his 76 at the MCG in the last Test has done him the world of good.


I know he only made 38 but there was one shot which he hit through point off Ben Stokes while rising up onto his toes which was the sign of a top-class batter. A couple of years ago he wouldn’t classically cut the ball, he’d collapse the back leg and uppercut the ball so that when he hit it in the middle it looked spectacular over gully but a lot of the time he was nicking behind playing that shot.

This time he hit down on the ball and crunched it to the boundary. If you’re going to be an international opener as a leftie, that’s got to be a safe shot, it can’t be catchable.

I was a bit surprised when he got out but it was a good ball by Anderson, he got close to the stumps and it seamed away nicely.

And I just wanted to also give a massive shout-out to Bangladeshi paceman Ebadot Hossain for his man of the match performance in their historic win over the Black Caps in New Zealand.

Here was a man who was averaging 81 with the ball from his first 10 Test matches but got 6-46 in the second innings to lead the Tigers to victory. It shows there’s hope for everyone.

He’d only scored four runs in 15 innings – he didn’t add to that but he got nought not out so there’s still room for improvement there.


He gets my encouragement award for the day, the big fella.

Beating the Test world champions by eight wickets was an extraordinary achievement.

Bangladesh did really well to win away from home without relying on playing three or four spinners and it’s great for world cricket.

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