Freddie Wilde and Ben Jones analyse day five at the Waca.
TOUGH TASK, TOUGH CONDITIONS
Mitchell Starc’s stunning delivery to dismiss James Vince on day four was the clearest indication that the notorious Waca cracks were causing the batsmen great difficulty. In the first two innings of the match the average deviation found by pace bowlers was 0.46°. At the end of day four that had increased to 0.76° for England’s third innings and in the first 15 overs of day five the average deviation increased to 0.90° with Josh Hazlewood getting one delivery to Moeen Ali to hit a crack and deviate an astonishing 6.41°. Such extravagant movement only served to make England’s epic task even more difficult.
MOEEN’S LYON ISSUES
The dismissal of Moeen Ali by Nathan Lyon was one that encapsulated Australia’s dominance over England. Lyon had dismissed Moeen in four of his five innings so far in the series and on day five he did so again, making it five out of six and reducing Moeen’s series average against him to 13.60. Despite Lyon’s superiority in the first two Tests Moeen has found no way to counter his opposing spinner. Here Moeen planted his front foot and played for spin that never came. The ball went on with the arm, deviating just 0.45° off the pitch sliding on with the angle to beat Moeen’s inside edge and strike him on his front pad.
MALAN ENGLAND’S POSITIVE
Four years ago, England lost the Ashes in Perth and clung onto the positive of Ben Stokes’ first Test century. Here, with the urn once more heading back down under, England fans looked instead to Dawid Malan for their silver lining. His 194 runs across the Test were the most ever by an Englishman in a Perth Test, and he played with the kind of dogged resilience that will always attract admirers. Only Root played less than Malan’s 7% false shots in the match, and Malan did so batting on this difficult Day 5 pitch resplendent with cracks and damp patches.
He managed this by adjusting one of his strengths, the cover drive. In his Test career, he’s scored 20% of his runs through cover, but in this match he’s raised and lowered that when necessary. With the pitch playing very hard and true in the first innings, he took shelter from the bouncer barrage by punishing the full ball, scoring 28% of his runs through cover. However, with the game on the line and the pitch opening up, he reduced the number of drives and only scored 13% of his runs in that area. Versatile technique and attitude make Malan a Test a very good Test option once England leave Australia.
AUSTRALIA COMPLETELY DOMINANT
For all that there have been some wonderfully competitive passages in this series, Steve Smith’s attack absolutely battered England here. Australia have bowled faster than England – 141.44kph v 135.37kph, found more swing than England – 0.64° v 0.54°, found more spin than England – 4.56° v 3.18°, have middled more balls than England – 228 v 211. They are the better team and fully deserve to have regained the urn.