What was supposed to be an enthralling contest between two arch-rivals in test cricket has failed to live up to its expectations. The already muddled England’s tour Down Under is only getting worse with each passing test match. Even if Australia decides to bench some of its senior players, they still might steamroll England considering how down and out England look at the moment. Covid-19 concerns in the English support is just another testament of the same.
A nation that gave birth to test cricket and boasts of being the “Home of Cricket “had a horrendous 2021 when it comes to Test Cricket. After starting the year by beating Sri Lanka away from home, the English hardly had another moment to be proud of in 2021. A stat showing England’s third-highest run-scorer has been “extras” sums up England’s story in 2021.
Even a reshuffling of their middle-order by bringing in Bairstow in the middle and Zak Crawley at the top couldn’t save them from a humiliating defeat in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne. It further endorses that Test Cricket in England has been on a downhill. Despite trying multiple openers at the top, they still haven’t found a suitable replacement to the legacy that Sir Alastair Cook left behind. There is no shame in admitting that beating Australia in their den is a daunting task. However, the fact that England never looked like troubling Australia since the day they set foot Down Under is disappointing.
Talking about Australia, even a double blow in the form of Hazlewood and Cummins missing the Pink Ball Test couldn’t stop them from hammering an already depleted side. If that wasn’t enough, Australia decided to hand over the Baggy Green to a 32-year-old Scott Boland, considering that he was well versed with the conditions at Melbourne, having played there all his life for Victoria domestically. Not so surprisingly, it paid off too.
If there is any ground in Australia wherein the spin bowlers might play a role, it is the Sydney Cricket Ground. When we compare the ground size of SCG to the other grounds in Australia, it’s a much smaller venue. It’s the only ground in Australia wherein the pitch might start to crack up on Day 4 or Day 5. Hence 4th innings is always a challenge here.
Travis Head has tested positive for Covid-19, which means he will not be available for selection for the New Year’s Test. After having had a brilliant domestic season, Usman Khawaja could be the likely replacement.
Josh Hazlewood didn’t bowl much in the nets, which is an indication that Scott Boland might continue after a dream start to his test career with figures of 6/7 in the 2nd innings at Melbourne.
Haseeb Hameed has had a horrendous tour Down Under so far. It’ll be interesting to see if England give him another go or bring in Dan Lawrence instead of the underperforming opener.
Being blanked 5-0 is not what a team of the calibre of England would ideally want. Sydney could be the last bet to release themselves from the shambles they are in at the moment. Otherwise, a 5-0 thrashing at Hobart seems on the cards.