Freddie Wilde and Ben Jones analyse day four at the Waca.
Although England will have been relieved to finally dismiss Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith they will have noted the seam movement of 1.84° and 1.89° for the two dismissals with alarm. On day three only five deliveries from England’s pace bowlers – 1.32%, deviated by more than 1.80°. On day four three of the first 31 balls of the day did and and eight in the morning session did – clear signs of uneven and unpredictable bounce that would make England’s batting all the more difficult.
STONEMAN’S HEAVY FEET
Mark Stoneman’s dismissal in the second over of England’s innings was the consequence of a probing delivery from Josh Hazlewood but more significantly some really poor footwork. Stoneman made four small movements on his crease without committing onto the front foot before poking at the ball well away from his body. Stoneman has faced more bouncers – 92 – than any batsmen other in this series and his hesitant footwork, weight back rather than forward, was the tell-tale sign of a player expecting a bouncer. So far Stoneman has been courageous against the short ball itself but his dismissal is illustrative of its pervasive psychology.
For a brief period, while James Vince and Joe Root were purring along at 4.76 runs per over, batting looked easy for England. Yet their period of fluency was cut short when Root wafted at Nathan Lyon’s first delivery, a wide non-spinning ball which posed no threat, and edged it behind. It was the widest ball that Lyon had bowled all match, and arguably far too wide to be driving at early on when trying to save a Test. By contrast, when facing England’s off-spinner Moeen Ali, Steve Smith drove at no deliveries as wide as Lyon’s, and thus didn’t play and miss once when he did play the shot, scoring at 6.60 runs per over. Root’s dismissal was another illustration of the gulf between the captains once again, and of Root’s struggles in this series. He has now been dismissed playing a defensive shot three times, an attacking shot four times and twice trying to rotate the strike. He’s getting out in different ways to different kinds of deliveries and his average of 29.33 after three Tests is a concern.
VINCE GOING AT THE BALL
Vince yet again batted beautifully, timing the ball well and picking gaps expertly – hitting 11 fours from the 12 shots he middled. He was also tighter outside off stump – only edging two deliveries and missing one against pace.
However, although Vince was eventually dismissed by a near-unplayable delivery his innings was yet again marked by familiar risk. The graphic on the right shows how Vince hit boundaries from within the heart of his weak-zone. Perhaps helped by there being little swing on offer, he got away with this risk. However, contact point data for those boundary shots played off the front foot shows that Vince was making contact with the ball relatively early which is more likely to involve him playing away from his body, not under his head or eyes and hence sacrificing control of the shot.
|Match||Average Boundary Contact (m from stumps)||Boundaries|
|1st Innings v Aus, Brisbane||1.68||7|
|2nd Innings v Pak, Manchester||1.68||3|
|2nd Innings v Aus, Adelaide||1.80||1|
|2nd Innings v Pak, Manchester||1.80||1|
|1st Innings v Aus, Perth||1.91||3|
|2nd Innings v Aus, Perth||2.05||5|
|1st Innings v SL, Lord’s||2.06||1|
|1st Innings v Pak, Edgbaston||2.08||4|
|2nd Innings v Pak, Edgbaston||2.08||1|
|1st Innings v SL, Chester-le-Street||2.12||2|
|1st Innings v SL, Leeds||2.43||2|
Interestingly the earliest average front foot boundary contact point of Vince’s career was in the first innings in Brisbane – where he made his highest Test score. There his average boundary contact point was a significant 37cm later than it was in his innings today. By playing later Vince mitigates the obvious risks involved of driving in his weak zone outside off stump.