Sunday 19 July 2009

England and Australia close in on history

Day 4 - Close

Momentum is a precarious category in sport. A seamless explanation for a run of play, it suddenly loses all relevance when that run of play changes.

England began the day with the momentum propelling their historic mission. Flintoff, in what may yet be his last Test for England, finally located the length that eluded his entire career. He pitched the ball up sufficiently to find, rather than pass, the edges of Katich and Hughes.

As Swann found a verve that Panesar couldn't last year to reduce Australia to 128 - 5, the 'momentum' was firmly with England. And then nothing. Michael Clarke's silky footwork and breezy confidence found a willing partner in Brad Haddin as Australia fought back. Gently and with growing certainty they dominated England. It was a measure of how flat England had become that Andrew Strauss felt compelled to call an emergency huddle before the second new ball.

England, haunted by Chennai, looked increasingly panicked as the second new ball failed to deliver the wicket. Such was their control, Clarke and Haddin would have been tempted to stay out there when shadows stopped play for the day.

With rested bowlers and 200 runs still in the bank, their lead is surely 'too big to fail', but we've thought that before. Modern pitches and Australia's unwavering belief make anything possible. England, though, will take heart that with just one wicket, the 'momentum' will suddenly be theirs again.


Valerio said...

Momentum is a fascinating concept in sport, isn't it? You have explained it very well.
I have often believed commentators on sports try to fit whatever match it is into a pre-conceived idea of what should be happening and why it should be happening, often neglecting to discuss what is actually happening. Or conversely, find reasons for what is happening that make the event seem inevitable, only as you say to have those reasons voided as soon as the event takes another turn. We do it in life as well. Talk about things and look at things as inevitabilities and provide explanations as to why rather than just try and change them for the better. If Clarke had of been dismissed first ball whcih he almost was, the England momentum theory would have continued nicely.
I have no idea who is going to win the match. But I do know that soon we will see scores of 600 and 700 to win a Test match in the 4th innings if the current trends continue. Pitches that remain flat for 5 days, probably 10 if the match continued, ice-rinks for outfields, sides that stack the batting orders and neglect the bowling, wicket-keepers picked for their batting are all inflating scores by 20% from what we have seen over the last 30 years. It is a terrible shame if you ask me. It is like watching a never-ending 20/20 match.

Ashesinsomniac said...

Valerio, thanks very much for your kind words.

It was a pulsating mornings play, and so enjoyable to see a rare spell of hostile fast bowling. You are absolutely right about the state of test pitches, they are making express pace bowling extinct.

This pitch though, I felt offered something for everyone, it just needed excellent bowling.

The obvious question is do England have the momentum going into Edgbaston(!)?