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The Warner whisperer, the clam catcher, and other observations from the SCG Test

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Roar Guru
10th January, 2022
46

The Sydney Test is in the record books and it was a real stop-start affair, which was frustrating for everyone.

In between rain delays there was some excellent cricket played on a pitch that presented plenty of early challenges for batsmen, but ultimately ended up as a thrilling draw. Here’s a few thoughts from the game.

Stuart Broad is the Warner whisperer
When an opening batsman has played over 160 Test innings and averaged over 48, the chances are high they’re going to get out fairly often to the best bowler from the opposition.

Thus it’s no surprise Dave Warner has been dismissed by Stuart Broad 13 times in Tests.

Stuart Broad celebrates taking a wicket

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

I’ve heard the expression ‘Broad owns Warner’ a lot in recent times. I’m not a fan.

Rather, Broad has somehow hypnotised Warner, so he plays differently to him than he does to other bowlers.

Case in point, Warner’s dismissal in the first innings. Broad bowls a length delivery outside off stump and a mesmerised Warner is drawn into playing at a ball he could have comfortably left.

Result: a straightforward catch to second slip.

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Zak Crawley is the clam catcher
The catch from Warner taken by Zak Crawley was a great example for younger players about how not to catch a cricket ball.

One of the first things I was taught as a youngster was never to catch like a clam, yet that’s exactly how Crawley completed that catch. Sure, they can stick, but they can also bounce out or break fingers.

Maybe being underdone is not a bad thing
A prominent excuse for England’s failings in this series is they were underdone, having had a three-month break between their last Test at home and their first Test in Brisbane.

Usman Khawaja had every right to claim the same thing. He last played a first-class innings in early December, a good four weeks before his knock in this Test.

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

He looked better than anyone in this match, which begs the question: were England underdone or were they simply not good enough?

Which Ben Stokes innings did you enjoy?
Robin Smith, a terrific English batsman in the 1990s, tells the story about an innings he played against the great West Indian fast attack.

After getting a real going over by Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Ian Bishop, Smith made 50 and Viv Richards offered his congratulations on a good innings.

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Smith replied “which innings did you like?” He was referring to the fact that the Windies should have had him out five times, but dropped catches cost them.

In similar vein, which Ben Stokes effort did you enjoy? The one before a stubborn bail refused to drop, the middle one before Pat Cummins dropped a return catch or the final one before the GOAT got his man?

Jack Leach is not that bad
I’ve become a member of the Jack Leach fan club. He bowls the same sort of stuff I used to, only way better than me, but it’s his determination and drive to play as well as he can which impresses me.

I realise he’s not a great bowler, but I wonder how well he’s being used? I also want to know who’s decided what line he should be bowling?

Jack Leach

(Photo credit ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

For the majority of his spells in the first innings, he rarely got away from a middle- or leg-stump line, with a stacked leg-side field.

The two times I saw him bowl on or outside the off stump, he induced a catch that should have been taken and beat the bat.

In the second innings, he bowled a much more attacking line to the batsmen and the result was four wickets.

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I feel for Alex Carey
Here’s a player finally given his chance to show what he can do at Test level, yet for the second time this series, he’s been given the order to hit out or get out.

To his great credit, he showed he’s a team player and wasn’t concerned about his average, by trying to play shots form ball one in the second innings.

I’m sure selectors won’t be concerned, but this selflessness is something we fans and the selectors need to remember if questions about his batting come up later in his career.

Alex Carey.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Can cricket commentators please stop whinging?
No one who likes cricket likes rain delays. So why whinge about it?

The first couple of days were tough, with rain showers coming and going quickly, making it really tough for the umpires to know whether play should continue or not.

They also don’t write the rules both sides are using in this series, which are international rules. That means they have to take breaks as the rules dictate. Sure, it might suck, but they’re the rules.

Michael Vaughan, Shane Warne and other ex-Test players have the ability to influence the rule makers and suggest changes.

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It would be a better use of their energy to do that, rather than spending so much time complaining.

What happened to the snarling Australians?
The Aussies have been positively angelic throughout this Test series, with rarely a bad word spoken.

This is in contrast to the team’s behaviour over the past few decades and is in direct contrast to some of the incidents that occurred in other Tests just recently.

Pat Cummins looks on.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Neil Wagner had a bit to say over in New Zealand during their loss to Bangladesh, while Jasprit Bumrah and Marco Jansen had a pretty spiteful clash in India’s second Test loss to the Proteas.

What about the bounce from an SCG pitch?
I had the pleasure of watching Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson bowling at the SCG in the 1974-75 series.

At that time, they were two of the fastest guys on the planet, yet neither managed to get a delivery to disappear over the keeper’s head.

Fast forward to 2022 and that happened more than once from deliveries that didn’t seem all that short and were certainly nowhere near as quick as ‘Thommo’.

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What’s with the boundaries at the SCG?
This ground has always been one of the smallest in Australia, even back in the day when there were no ropes.

In this Test, it resembled a T20 venue, with the ropes well in from the fence.

Perhaps that was due to the rain making the outfield slower, but it seemed from the on-high TV pictures as though it was a very small playing area, with not a lot of chances to run three.

Who will play in the England XI at Hobart?
By my count England have at least three walking wounded – Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow – while their faster bowlers look completely spent.

I had high hopes for Haseeb Hameed at the start of the series, but his technique is not suited to Australian conditions.

Zak Crawley looked way more composed in his second innings so he plays, as does Joe Root.

Dawid Malan is a lock at three, but after that, it’s going to be something of a guessing game.

Joe Root and Dawid Malan.

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

We might have seen Jimmy Anderson play his last Test in Australia
Anderson looked gassed by the time Australia declared, and fair enough.

He really gave it everything, both with his bowling and in the field, to the point where I can’t see him playing in Hobart.

I wasn’t an admirer, but his efforts to try and lift his team have forced me into a rethink.

He’s bowled some outstanding spells throughout the series, but has equally worked hard doing the one-per-centers.

There was an attempted catch from the last Test that I’ll remember for a long time, not because he held it, but because he – a fast bowler – attempted it.

He dived a long way to his right and nearly came up with a screamer. He backed that up soon after with a 60-metre run and dive to save a boundary – all from a guy who’s 39.

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Is Cameron Green a tad too honest?
Green bowled an outstanding yorker to dismiss a well-set Zak Crawley.

But when interviewed about it, he told the whole world it wasn’t intentional, but came out wrong. It is hard not to like the smiling face and the youthful honesty.

Now if Warne or Glenn McGrath had bowled that, I wonder what they’d have said?

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