Freddie Wilde and Ben Jones analyse day three at The Adelaide Oval.
LOOSE SHOTS COSTS ENGLAND
England’s day started terribly, with three of their top four getting themselves out playing loose shots. One noticeable improvement from James Vince in Brisbane was that he did not appear to try to hit the ball too hard through the covers, meaning that 35% of his shots through that area have been threes. However, his dismissal was a notable exception to this pattern, as he nicked off trying to force Hazlewood off the back foot. The delivery was 1.4m shorter than the previous ball, and was not there to be hit, the extra bounce disturbed Vince’s timing, playing it later than any other delivery from Hazlewood.
After twice trapping Joe Root lbw with full, in-swinging deliveries in Brisbane, Australia clearly targeted more of the same in Adelaide. 20% of deliveries to him were hitting the stumps, compared to a match aggregate of 5%. Although these didn’t dismiss him, it brought about a loose shot when a wider ball did come. The pressure of Australia’s tight line told as played a hard and panicked drive, not getting fully forward and edging to the slips. It is illustrative of the challenges of Test batting that a flaw in one area of Root’s game left him susceptible to an error in another.
The third in a trio of loose shots from England came from Cook. Whilst his shot wasn’t attacking, he played an angled bat with a defensive prod, to the second widest ball he faced from Nathan Lyon. It’s part of a worrying trend for Cook. In 2017, he’s been dismissed every 49 defensive strokes – that’s his worst record for any calendar year.
LYON SCHOOLS MOEEN
While it seems that Moeen Ali is struggling with injuries, fitness isn’t the only difference between him and Nathan Lyon. On day two Lyon illustrated an intelligence that sets him apart. Bowling to his opposite number Moeen, Lyon left the mid wicket region vacant, enticing a shot against the spin into that area. When he bowled a delivery on off stump Moeen tried to hit the gap but the ball turned 6.90° – the third biggest spinning delivery of the match – to take a leading edge that was superbly caught by Lyon.
Chris Woakes and Craig Overton’s battling partnership offered England some respite from the top order collapse. Their 99-ball rearguard was defined by impressive control for lower-order batsmen. Just 12% false shots was the result of some precise shot selection, which saw 51% of deliveries left alone or defended. What is impressive is that despite this caution, Woakes and Overton still managed to score at 4 RPO while at the crease together, moving England closer to the potentially significant follow-on target.
England’s late-order rally was to be admired, but it was initiated by a change in tactics from Australia’s quick bowlers. To England’s top seven on Day three, Australia bowled 37% of their deliveries on a full length, and only 31% short. This was successful, bringing them six wickets at an average of 18.50, but the tactics changed once Woakes and Overton came to the crease. To those two, plus Broad, Australia bowled just 12% full deliveries, and bowled 71% short. Overton in particular looked very comfortable against this angle of attack, and Australia lost the initiative.
THE WITCHING HOUR
The principal reason that England were able to take four Australian wickets in a pulsating night session was lateral movement. In the 26 overs of Australia’s second innings England’s pace bowlers found an average of 1.15° of swing and 1.15° of deviation off the pitch – both figures are significantly more than either team managed in the first 26 overs of the first innings.
All four of Australia’s wickets fell to deliveries which deviated by more than 1.15° and two to deliveries which swung by more than 1.15° as well. The lateral movement twice took the outside edge and twice beat the inside edge to bring two catches and two lbws.
|First 26 Overs||Average Swing||Average Deviation|
|Australia 1st Innings||0.47°||0.81°|
|England 1st Innings||0.55°||0.54°|
|Australia 2nd Innings||1.15°||1.15°|
Although movement was critical to England’s success the length they bowled was also vitally important. With the new ball in the first innings England bowled too short which allowed Australia’s openers to play largely off the back foot and gave them more time to adjust to the lateral movement.
After 18 overs of Australia’s second innings England had increased their average pitching length from 6.99 metres from the stumps in the first innings to 6.77 metres in the second innings, but having taken just one wicket it seemed as if they had not bowled quite full enough. They had however, drawn 22 false shots in those 18 overs and given that a wicket typically falls every 14 false shots this suggested England had been slightly unlucky – which they had been. However, 60% of those false shots were plays and misses when typically that number is about 50% – had England bowled fractionally fuller it is likely that those misses could also have been edges.
Indeed, in the last eight overs of the day when the threat of England’s persistent lateral movement was finally rewarded with three wickets their average pitching length was 6.45 metres from the stumps – 32cm fuller than in the first 18 overs. In those final six overs the percentage of balls played off the front foot by Australia increased from 45% to 56%.