Sport

The Ashes five-for, Trent Bridge: five talking points

By Antoinette Muller 15 July 2013

The first Ashes Test dished up plenty of talking points. Some controversial, the rest curious. ANTOINETTE MULLER picks out five points for discussion after England beat Australia by 14 runs in thrilling fashion at Trent Bridge.

Shane Watson’s bowling and a little bit of his batting

Shane Watson managed to score some runs in the second innings. They weren’t easy, but he looked far more comfortable in his knock of 46 off 74 than his paltry 13. Watson is an ego player: when he’s up on confidence, he’ll do well. His batting might not have given him the biggest ego boost, but his bowling may have. He was incredibly efficient in drying up the runs and, at one stage, his economy of 0.25 was the fourth-most economical figures for a bowler who had bowled 10 overs in a Test innings.

Having Watson bowling again gives Australia a trump card to use when their rookies are misfiring. Alongside Peter Siddle, the bowling partnership of these two could be crucial asset for the tourists at one point or another.

What’s happening to the umpires?

The umpiring during the first Test was, to say the least, an abomination. Not only did Marais Erasmus seemingly not know how to use the review system, the on-field umpires all had a few howlers.

The quality of umpiring has seemingly been on the decline since the introduction of the Decision Review System. It’s almost as if they are slacking, knowing that there is the fall-back of asking for a review. This should not be the case. When the ICC was prompted about the debacle involving Jonathan Trott, they politely declined to comment, saying that “it was an umpiring decision”. Yet the umpires are their employees, and when employees of big corporations stray, those who run the big corporations usually comment on it.

Something needs to be done to get the standard of umpiring back to where it was. Yes, everyone makes mistakes, but that mistakes are still happening with a wealth of technology at the disposal of those who make important decisions is appalling. There are so many ways to get the technology to work in favour of those who play – all it will take is a little bit of logic to implement it.

Welcome back, Brad Haddin

Brad Haddin had a pretty shaky few months before he was dropped from the Australian team in favour of Matthew Wade. Haddin’s experience in the lower order has been vital, though. A flop in the first innings, his knock in the second took Australia to the verge of victory before James Anderson pushed them off the cliff. It was his first score of 50 or more in Test cricket since December 2011, his first in ten innings.

It’s far too early to say whether vintage Haddin has made a comeback, but at least he showed some grit.

Who cares about the Spirit of Cricket anyway?

Stuart Broad was the centre of attention when he blatantly edged a ball through to Michael Clarke and was caught. He did his petulant schoolboy pout and was probably about to trudge off until he realised he was not given out. He stood his ground instead. Broad surely must have known that he was out. Yet he gave the perception that he wasn’t. All rise, Spirit of Cricket debaters.

Whenever a batsman stands his ground, hypocrisy is immediately assumed. “They wouldn’t walk either, so why should he?” or “Well, they did it in the past, so why does this matter?”It’s a naïve approach which misses the point. Whatever somebody did before becomes irrelevant in the present. To compare it to previous situations subdues the impact.

Walking is not the issue here. The issue is, once again, the double standard in implementing the “Spirit of Cricket”. Similarly to Denesh Ramdin being fined and suspended during the Champions Trophy for breaching the Spirit of Cricket, shouldn’t Broad be fined, too? Ramdin never appealed for his dud catch. Neither of the players were completely honest and if people want to employ an abstract notion to govern morals and ethics of a sport, they should define it more clearly. That, or do away with a silly notion which has no place in the modern world, anyway.

Should Agar stay or should he go?

How does one drop a player who scored 98 and saved your side from embarrassment? Ashton Agar, picked for his bowling, but a hero with the bat instead, faces a twitchy few days. He broke the record for the highest score by a number 11 in Test cricket, but his bowling left much to be desired.

As Australia continues its desperate search for an heir to Shane Warne, Agar has become the latest in the revolving squad of potentials. His bowling wasn’t great. Despite taking two wickets, his seam placement was all over the place. That was put down to a cut on his finger, making it hard for him to grip the ball properly. With a crucial Test coming up, and Lord’s likely to offer a bit more for the tweakers, does Agar stay or does he go?

Who’d want to be a selector, eh? DM

Photo: Australia’s captain Michael Clarke leaves the field after being dismissed during the first Ashes cricket test match at Trent Bridge cricket ground in Nottingham, England July 13, 2013. REUTERS/Philip Brown

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