Ashes 2013/14: Key Points from Day 2 of 3rd Test the WACA, Perth
England 180-4 (Cook 72, Harris 1-26) trail Australia 385 all out (Smith 111, Broad 3-100) by 205 runs with 6 wickets in hand.
Two wickets just before tea changed the complexion of a day that England were dominating, and the visitors close in a situation of great difficulty, with much hope resting on the two batsmen at the crease to haul England towards Australia's total.
Click Begin Slideshow to discover the key points from Day 2 at the WACA.
The Switch Is Flicked
It started off, as these things often do, as something fairly innocuous. With England 85-0, Michael Carberry dragged a wide ball on to his stumps,before a controversial decision saw Joe Root on his way, too.
Quite suddenly, as if a switch had been flicked, the whole complexion of the day shifted. With the innings having started with ease and a handful of luck, the pressure of the occasion suddenly felt immense.
In a pulsating evening session, England lost both Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook after an hour and a half of bitter struggle before Ian Bell and Ben Stokes battled painstakingly to the close. The final session stats of 89-2 in 34 overs don't tell the whole story of a session of pressure and stagnation that swung the match disproportionately back in Australia’s favour.
Closing on 180-4, England trail by 205 runs and, considering the form of their lower order of late, face an enormous struggle to fight back in this Test. The pitch also appears to be deteriorating and batting will only get harder from here onwards, which reaffirms the importance of England’s final six wickets in this innings.
The Growing Shadow
While England’s batting failures of Brisbane and Adelaide were swift, sharp and dramatic, here the existence of their predicament was a creeping menace, a growing shadow.
Although the feeling of the occasion was transmogrified suddenly, England’s actual demise was more spread out. The four wickets fell in bursts of twos that were separated not only by tea, but by an hour and a half of cricket in which the run rate ground virtually to a halt.
The inevitability of Pietersen’s decline in particular grew parallel with the length of his innings.
The performances of the rest of Australia’s bowling attack in Brisbane and Adelaide have rather been overlooked in light of Mitchell Johnson’s performances.
But here, with Johnson not wreaking the havoc he had in the previous two Tests, the accuracy, diligence and frugality of Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon has come to the fore.
While Johnson has remained menacing, it has been the pressure built by the consistently probing spells of Australia’s other three bowlers that has overwhelmed England. The wickets of Cook and certainly Pietersen were as much through consistently pressurising bowling than faults of the batsmen.
Debating Review Systems
DRS has thankfully remained out of the headlines for much of the series but not today.
The decision of the third umpire not to overturn Maray Erasmus's decision to give Joe Root out caught behind generated much bemusement after both HotSpot and Real Time Snicko suggested that Root had not hit the ball.
At least that's what we thought until Dan Brettig of ESPNcricinfo revealed that the umpires, players and media had been briefed to expect the noise of a nick after the ball has passed the bat and, indeed, there was a faint noise and thus on a purely protocol level the third umpire's decision made sense.
But what the situation has done is throw the legitimacy of Real Time Snicko into question.
Issues with technology such as this one today will continue to occur as the equipment and processes continue to be modified and improved, and understanding of the system grows. It will take time for the whole thing to work smoothly if, indeed, it ever does.
But cricket ain't going back. Technology is here, now and forever more.
If it wasn't for the worries for the batsmen, England bowling Australia out for 385, having lost the toss, would surely have rewarded slightly more praise.
And so, too, would it have been had the tale of the innings been reversed. As it was, Australia's first five wickets cost 143 while the final five cost 242—a situation that perpetuated criticism of England's tactics while clouding views of their overall effort which, in fact, taken as a standalone score and forgoing the means, was a good one.
It’s not the bowlers' fault that the batsmen aren’t scoring as many runs as they used to.