The Ashes: third test

by Chris Bertram on July 31, 2009

Someone wanted me to start this thread before the game started. Well I’m a bit late for that, but most of the first day was obliterated by rain. The Aussies are now 126 for 1 after 30 overs …. so unless England’s attack can get it together fast, Australia will be in control.



Liam 07.31.09 at 10:03 am

good start. If only it was Ponting.


Liam 07.31.09 at 10:07 am

Seems like we’ve sorted the bowling out. Any predictions? I’m going with 2-0 England win.


AlanM 07.31.09 at 10:45 am



Liam 07.31.09 at 10:57 am

What’s the best way to follow the test match if you only have FM radio?


AlanM 07.31.09 at 11:08 am

I don`t think there is any FM coverage.

Can`t you listen online?


Liam 07.31.09 at 11:38 am

Yeh I am at the moment but tomorrow I am on a train for a while and only have FM on my phone, which is annoying. Will have to make do with the hourly updates on radio 4.


AlanM 07.31.09 at 11:53 am

Commiserations…don`t know what kind of phone you have, but it appears cricinfo offers ball-by-ball by mobile.


AlanM 07.31.09 at 11:55 am

Apologies…just for iphone.


Liam 07.31.09 at 11:57 am


Is it a good bowling pitch or are our bowlers just bowling very well?


Sy 07.31.09 at 12:02 pm

It’s swinging beautifully. And there’s a straight one for our 7th wicket of the morning. Unfuckingbelievable.


AlanM 07.31.09 at 12:04 pm

Well, sessions don`t come much better than that…


Sy 07.31.09 at 12:07 pm

Not only is this batting very un-Australian, but collapsing from 130-1 to 203-8 in one session is positively English. We should get a win and royalties.


ejh 07.31.09 at 12:31 pm

I repeat my triumph from the final sesssion of the last Test – no computer access all morning and Australian wickets tumble.


AlanM 07.31.09 at 1:18 pm

…And it’s a Michelle for Jimmy Anderson.


Paul 07.31.09 at 4:21 pm

Is there a sticky wicket ? You gotta love Cricket…


Tim Wilkinson 08.01.09 at 10:12 am

Someone wanted me to start this thread before the game started Twas I, and thanks.

(Obviously) agree – what a session! Though Boycott’s dictum applies re judging an innings before the reply. Broad hasn’t been looking to clever though has he. And approximatly bugger-all chance of a result by the looks of the weather.

Re: radio coverage, not likely to be much, if any, play today in any case. And you’ve probably left by now. But if you have MW you can get Radio 5 which might have more, and more detail, in the way of updates – though it’s pretty dissonant the rest of the time. Other than that it’s TMS less shipping forecast on R4 LW or uninterrupted on R5SX digital, though you probably know that, and I assume they aren’t options. They’d both also probably have reception problems on a train. At least with analogue LW the reception isn’t all-or-nothing, though great dedication is required to put up with screaming interference, esp via headphones. Oh, and I’ve just noticed it’s a phone not a radio so almost certainly no MW. ‘Ignore me’, to quote from the last (overblown) couple of series of Ideal.


Tim Wilkinson 08.02.09 at 10:58 am

Play is due to start at shortly, at 1200 BST.

Will England take advantage of what we may guess will be similar conditions to day 1 and go all out for the win? Surely they must – losing seems near-impossible from here*. Bat aggressively all day, rack up a 1st-inns lead of 300 or so and, weather permitting, bowl them out tomorrow on a firmer surface.

Alternatively, abject collapse (remembering Boycott’s dictum) and the chance of an Aussie win**. But the draw must be favourite from this position, I grudgingly concede.

*Better pour a libation to offset this bit of hubris.
**On second thoughts, that statement should suffice to avoid nemesis without wasting perfectly good wine.


ejh 08.02.09 at 11:03 am

Bat aggressively all day, rack up a 1st-inns lead of 300 or so

Well, maybe. However, currently they’re nearly 150 behind with two wickets already down and Chipmunk very lucky still to be at the crease. Possible trying to get closer to the Australian total might be a priority? Bear in mind that Australia, overnight before the second morning, had more runs than England have now, for one fewer wicket down – and still needed the last two wickets to add around 60.


Tim Wilkinson 08.02.09 at 11:39 am

Yes optimistic. And Strauss has just got himself out! Though I’d back England tailenders against the Aussies’ (and as bowlers, too.)


Sy 08.02.09 at 12:08 pm

I can see Aus coming away with a first innings lead here (Colly just out before lunch), but they’d have to be incredibly brave to declare short of 250 up somewhere round tomorrow lunch. The only realistic chance of a positive result was England scoring quickly today and bowling them out tomorrow. That’s gone, so a draw it is.


Tim Wilkinson 08.02.09 at 12:45 pm

I think an Aus lead is still pretty unlikely – say Swann and Anderson get 20 between them, Broad another 20, that’s 60 to get between three recognised batsmen. Of course, anything can happen.

Anyway, agreed, little chance of a result from here since neither team has to try for the win.


mart 08.02.09 at 2:17 pm

wouldn’t rule out a result just yet. Could be a big Flintoff innings we’re looking at here…
Boycott’s voice is really starting to grate I need more coffee.


Sy 08.02.09 at 2:25 pm

I was just about to say maybe I’d been too hasty and if these two could bat for another 90 mins… Shame. Still, England’s tailenders have improved a lot, so Freddy can stick around for a big score.


mart 08.02.09 at 6:37 pm

Hmm…pretty balanced now for the last day, slight advantage for England though. Looking forward to it!


Neil 08.03.09 at 3:03 am

Ponting was wrongly given not out LBW. It didn’t cost England anything: he was bowled without adding further runs. Is this the first time in the series that a wrong decision has favored Australia?


derrida derider 08.03.09 at 4:31 am

Neil, with the ball swinging so much you’ve got to expect dodgy LBW decisions (in favour of both batsmen and bowlers), though I concede we (the Aussies) have copped more than our share of them in this Test. But if our team was good enough it wouldn’t matter, and anyway the luck evens out over time..


Neil 08.03.09 at 4:39 am

The luck evens out with time. This is a common claim: any evidence at all? Let’s count the wrong decisions and see. There are reasons to think it is false: for instance, having a good decision turned down might lead to an erosion of confidence in the bowler and the opposite effect on the batsman.

As for the claim if we were good enough, it wouldn’t matter, that is only partially true: if (eg) a bowler is really good, then having a legitimate decision turned down might not matter, because there’d be another one along in a minute. But not otherwise. If the first claim – that luck evens out – is true, then this second claim is irrelevant. If it is false, then the second claim amounts to the claim that match turning luck can’t occur, which is clearly false (think of the batsman reprieved early in their innings who goes on to score a century).


Neil 08.03.09 at 4:53 am

Normblog seems to get it right (as it is quite capable of doing, so long as the topic isn’t politics):


Liam 08.03.09 at 9:29 am

Luck evens out over time is certainly a load of rubbish. It just the best attitude to have towards umpiring decisions. Like Williams’ example of government house utilitarianism. Imagine how Mitchell Johnson has been feeling after that plum lbw on Bell the other day in the context of the ashes so far. Far better for him (and his team) to think that it evens out over time (even though false).

It would be very queer indeed if all bad umpiring decisions evened out exactly in terms of some index determined by the number of bad decisions multiplied by the specific importance of that decision. Also, what do we take as time? This test? The ashes series 2009? All ashes series? Either the claim is wrong or its unintelligible.

Thats what I think, for what its worth.


Tim Wilkinson 08.03.09 at 9:53 am

Boycott’s voice is really starting to grate I need more coffee.

Lack of punctuation conveyed the edgy desperation of your stream of consciousness well. More coffee doesn’t sound like it would have been a good remedy to me though.

I imagine a high-contrast noirish film – rather implausibly, I think it’s Dutch or possibly Belgian. Your surroundings (perhaps a harshly-lit sorting office, one flourotube flickering irregularly) start to distort and spin as Boyc’s voice becomes louder and intolerably louder, repeating “that’s roobeesh, is that,” in increasingly demented tones…more Boycotts are overlaid: “my moom could ‘it that wi’ a steeck o’ rooobarb”… Head pounding, you stare expressionless into the coffee cup, viscous fluid gleaming thick and dark as blood (it’s black and white innit, like the Odyssey). It seems that any drug must be better than none, but you know that more coffee will in reality only draw you further into the terrible cycle of neurosis, cacophony, coffee…but the voices…”Oh, my deah eold thing”…”ooncoovered peeetches”…”quaight splyendid blue cranes, maaaaaaaaaahvellous…” “stick o rooobarb”…”deah eold thing”..”rooobaarb”..”eold thing…thing…thing…thing”. The coffee cup is empty now. The flickering light goes out. Then starts up again, faster. Tinnitus kicks in. “Roooooobaaaaarb”.

Ahem. On the principle that punctilousness in acknowledging failed predictions is a precondition for taking credit when they come off: a lead of 300 was indeed optimistic, or perhaps reality turned out to be improbably unfavourable. Colly’s dismissal perhaps, Flintoff’s too; Colly at the other end might have helped to calm Prior down (P should probably get some ‘ungrateful’ critcism really, a la KP). Can’t really argue that Strauss’s or Bell’s loss was unrepresentative of the proponderance of possible worlds though. There are limits to the face-saving unfalsifibility – and concomitant unvindicability – of predictions framed as probabilities.

OTOH, while ‘little chance of a result’ no longer seems true, perhaps it was at the time of writing. I’m sure the progressive resolution of probability waveforms and the wildly fluctuating outlooks has some bearing on the EMH, but not quite sure how.

Anyway, outlook: the ball should be both dry and swinging this morning. Early wickets are needed or things could get very awkward, with run-chase turning to collapse and desperate rearguard. BTW did anyone else find themselves disproportionately disappointed by Anderson’s lack of application? At least he maintained his duckless status though. I sppose he wanted to get bowling once he was safely off the mark.

Neil: this is certainly an interesting topic but must wait, save to mention that whingeing is supposed to be a Pom specality. I have done enough in the way of displacement activity for it to be time to get to the pub for an exercise in drinking lemonade as slowly as possible, while resisting the temptation to start on the beer. Can’t quite beleve that an Aussie has a TV monopoly on English test cricket, and sells it only packaged with a year’s worth of expensive dross.


Liam 08.03.09 at 1:25 pm

Anyone else got any examples of simple cricket logic?

Boycott’s example was “bowl your best bowler” being the one who has either “taken the most wickets” or “looks like taking the most wickets” as the reason for not using Anderson after lunch being “too daft for words”.

I think as an undergraduate I read Wilfrid Hodges’ Simple Cricket Logic. It opens with the phrase “Cricket is about consistency, but not all types of consistency.”


mart 08.03.09 at 5:27 pm

Tim, I’m going to give up the coffee for whatever it is you were smoking when you posted that. I feel that the Noir scenario would be further enhanced by the addition of Blowers to the dialouge, and should feature several pigeons attacking one’s face in the aforementioned trippy sorting office.

Test finished as draw, well played from North and Clarke. I think that overall – when playing to our strengths – both teams are pretty much equal: the Aussies have a slightly better batting line-up and we have a slightly better bowling attack. The question is what, if any, changes will be made for the last two tests?


ejh 08.03.09 at 5:52 pm

both teams are pretty much equal

As opposed to only one of them being pretty much equal?


mart 08.03.09 at 5:54 pm

Oh be pedantic then. You are not aware of all sports commentry traditions, clearly.


Neil 08.04.09 at 2:01 am

both teams are pretty much equal

Pedantry aside, pretty much equal under English conditions . The Aussies haven’t mastered reverse swing. On the harder pitches of the Southern hemisphere, I think the Aussies have the edge (by a small margin).


Tim Wilkinson 08.04.09 at 3:55 pm

Disappointing (from an England POV). From the start of day 5 the bowling looked flat and unthreatening – and I got the impression that the fielding was a bit slack, with a few missed chances IIRC, some looking lazy. Why didn’t they bowl Anderson first up, and more subsequently? And Swann was below par. Watching it on TV without sound was quite unsatifactory – perhaps even not unambiguously better than listening to TMS. Could have done both, but batteries were flat – and TMS (digital) is about a second ahead of Sky (analogue I think even further ahead) – which makes for a very odd experience.

mart: Suspect Flintoff won’t be dropped as long as he can still stand unaided. Though four days’ break isn’t much when he looking so crook. Broad is a candidate, but they like his runs and he did just enough I suppose. I think he was selected for Tests too early, really. Bopara hasn’t looked convincing, but they will stick with him no doubt. Bell still doesn’t look secure at the crease, but no question of him being dropped. I suspect no change. If anything, changes will be in the bowling I reckon and if so, given the above, I suspect that Onions might – unjustly – be sacrificed on a last-in-first-out basis. (And there was actually supposed to be some Blowers at the end of that self-indulgent little vignette/doodle – which was fuelled only by coffee, tobacco and feverish anticipation btw.)

Neil – reverse swing isn’t – or hasn’t been – that much of an issue, is/has it? Conventional swing (its production anyway) is a difference between the teams though, and between the conditions in the two countries, as you suggest. If the ball had been swinging on the final day, things would have been very different. But I agree that in Aus, Aus are likely to be superior. I haven’t expunged 2006-7 from memory – in fact I have a DVD of Adelaide. That was of course a different Aus (and Eng) team, but the difference from 2005 was stark and has to be down at least in part to the reversal of home advantage.

Effects of umpiring: ‘umpiring mistakes even out’ is I agree unwarranted over any particular time period. I think it’s a kind of loose way of saying ‘mistakes are just another form of luck which affects everyone without any bias’. If you take some Humean or frequentist view of probability, and add ‘in the long run’, the two are not far apart. ‘The luck evens out over time’ which was what derrida derider said, could arguably on some views be taken as necessarily true (given enough time) – i.e. if it didn’t even out over (enough!) time, it wouldn’t count as luck. Not too sure about that – foundations of probability is to say the least a tricky business.

Re: if you played better it wouldn’t be an issue, one might perfectly well argue that most bad dismissals are borderline and could be avoided by playing better. In such cases, the batsman doesn’t have much complaint. What they did was just the kind of thing that gets you dismissed, even though the catch wasn’t actually taken, the ball just missed the edge (or just grazed it, for lbw) , etc. Umpiring howlers or cases in which no error was actually made (you played inside the line on purpose, calculated the catch wouldn’t carry etc.) are harder to take. There is a whole theory wating to be developed of the effects of inaccurate umpiring decisions on the course of a match. Messrs. Duckworth and Lewis might have some ideas.


mart 08.04.09 at 5:26 pm

Tim- yes, sorry dear old thing, I do indeed see you put some Blowers in there. Having just listened to the R4 news, I feel that to complete the holy trinity of irritating radio voices, Robert Peston should be added…

As to the umpiring unfairness, I wouldn’t dismiss the “luck evens out” line so easily. I think it’s probably most applicable over the course of an induvidual’s career rather than to a team over the course of a match, though. Assuming one plays a large number of Test matches, say 50+, I would guess that the number of good and bad decisions you get is probably even on both sides similar. Within a match I don’t think this holds so much, as it seems that quite often Umpires have bad days/matches and make many poor decisions, and some of those decisions are made worse due to inconsistency (see the third umpire referrals in the Lords’ Test).


michael e sullivan 08.04.09 at 8:58 pm

I would dismiss “luck evens out”

It doesn’t. Expected luck is even. Bad or good luck that already happened is already set, and what is yet to come is still expected to be even. So if you’ve started your career with good luck, you are morely likely to end it with total on average good luck, than if you started with back luck.

Indeed, over the course of a single match, the chances are unlikely indeed that umpiring decisions will “even out” for any reasonable definition of “even out”.

Over a course of a career, yes, the likelihood is that you will get about as many good breaks as bad, give or take a few breaks, which is unlikely to make a big difference in average statistics over a long career.

But it doesn’t even out, you just get this long future string of around average, against which that initial bump starts to seem small (on average).

But this all assumes completely unbiased (though not necessarily competent) umpiring (or at least, that bias-for situations are balanced by bias-against).


Neil 08.05.09 at 2:20 am

Tim, if you’re going to get technical… luck is a function of divergences between the actual world and nearby possible worlds. It might be the case that necessarily, over a long enough stretch of time, luck evens out or isn’t luck, but nothing follows about the significance of that luck to agents. Suppose that a chance and very unlikely event occurred near the big bang, such that the universe was fine-tuned for life. It was lucky because, inter alia, in nearby universes, the event didn’t occur. That was lucky for us. Now, think about all the non-actual beings in all those other universes and comfort them with the thought that luck evens out.

Of course, in those worlds you might argue, England had a lucky escape wrt the Ashes…

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