Blog by: Sougat
The final Test of the Investec Ashes 2013 ended after a frenetic day’s play and a dampener of a call from the umpires to take the players off the field after light faded.
It resulted in England securing a draw, and won the Ashes 3-0, thus retaining the urn. Though the Test dragged on during the 3rd day and saw a washout on Day 4, the final day turned the game on its head with some attacking batting and captaincy.
There were some Heroes of the Day who shone. Here are the Flops of the Day:
Brad Haddin (3 catches; 0 runs off 1 ball; 1 catch in second innings)
Brad Haddin may have set a new world record for most dismissals by a wicket-keeper in a Test series, but veteran keeper has flopped miserably with the bat in this series – a valiant 71 in the first Test notwithstanding.
After taking three catches in England’s first innings, Haddin was promoted up the order to make some quick runs and possibly set a big target for the opposition to chase.
But he played a rank poor stroke to a length ball outside off, and only managed to get a bottom edge which was smartly taken by his English counterpart, Matt Prior. He would have done well to play each ball on its merit and keep the scoreboard moving.
He went past former Australian wicket-keeper Rodney Marsh’s record in the second innings by pouching a catch off Joe Root, but did nothing further of note. Perhaps it is time that he calls it a day from the game – with younger glove-men waiting in the wings.
Steven Smith (0/16 in 8 overs; 7 runs off 12 balls)
His maiden Test century may have brought smiles to the Australian dressing room, but Smith really didn’t do justice to his potential in the second innings.
When the need of the hour was setting a tough-to-attain target, the T20 specialist flattered to deceive, despite being moved up the order ahead of skipper Clarke. He tried to loft Stuart Broad over long-on, but mistimed it badly, and Swann had no trouble in completing an easy catch.
Hopefully the young all-rounder will learn the art of being patient while looking to score as many runs as possible, just like he did in the first innings. Not impressed one bit with his second-innings performance!
Bad light, poor umpiring
The saga of horrendous umpiring culminated in one of the most bizarre decisions ever taken in the series. With four overs to go and England short by 21 runs, the umpires consulted their light meters and deemed it too dark for play to continue.
They took the players off the field – but not before Clarke’s animated discussion with Aleem Dar; the Pakistan umpire pushed him away after their chat almost threatened to spiral into an altercation.
Quite understandably, Clarke had all right to ask for an early end to the game under the laws, but a better call by the officials, making an exception to the queer rules of the game, would have benefited the game overall.
As England settled for a draw, they would have been disappointed not to get a 4-0 scoreline. Let’s just hope the umpiring howlers are put behind in the return series.
Unruly crowd behaviour
Emotions run high in any Ashes series – not unlike any India-Pakistan game. But the reaction of the crowd at the Oval during the heated exchanges between Clarke and the umpires, as well as during the post-match presentation, was nothing short of unruly.
The Australian captain initially enlivened the proceedings with his declaration, and it looked to be a justified decision with Joe Root’s early dismissal. However, Pietersen’s assault put paid to his original plan, so he shifted to defensive field placings, causing outrage among the spectators. He did not want to gift the hosts a win.
The simmering outrage assumed near-volcanic proportions when Mitchell Starc ran up to the crease and did not bowl, Clarke kept asking the umpires to check their light meters while also wasting time by talking to his bowlers, and the more inebriated lot let the boos flow, so to speak.
Starc ran out Bell, but when the umpires finally called off play, the hooting and jeering began in right earnest. Both the match officials and the Aussie skipper were roundly booed during the post-match presentation, although some of it was ill-directed, especially after England had crawled to 247 at an agonizingly slow pace on the third day.
The Australian crowd will, no doubt, give it back to the England team when they travel for the return leg in November.