Ashes Adelaide Test review

A lot of promise for nothing, but there'll still be hope

Published Date: 06 Dec 2017 | Update : 11 Dec 2017

Talk about an anti-climactic climax and this would be it. After day 4 ended, the neutrasl were hopeful, the English faithful saw a ray of light and the Kangaroos had a frown or two. Joe Root was batting as though he was rooted to the crease (I wanted to use this pun for a long time) and ended day 4 on a high with a slim chance to win.  

How did it all get to that point? Okay, so let’s sit on a ride that takes us to the 2nd of December, 2017.

It was a cold and overcast day in Adelaide as the summer was waking the place up after a season of spring like a newly-wed wife wakes up her husband in the morning. The second Test of Ashes was blossoming itself out as the players graced the pitch with shiny white draperies over their bodies.

England won the toss and – blimey! – decided to bowl first. The pitch in Adelaide always assist the batsmen for the first two days, so Root’s decision was based more on the overcast conditions of the sky rather than the smoothness of the track.

Had Root taken this decision a month or two earlier, it might have benefited him – but it is summer time now and Adelaide is one of the hottest places in the country, so the overcast condition turning to warm and sunny weather was only a matter of time.

And the match panned out exactly that way.

In the overcast conditions, England bowlers did get their way, albeit not as regularly as they had hoped for. Had they bowled at fuller lengths, the story could have been completely different. Nevertheless, they English bowlers managed to get rid of the Aussie top order for a decent score.

By the time the Kangaroos made 209 runs, they had already lost half the team. At this point, it could be claimed that the Three Lions were on top, but then day 2 happened and the clear skies benefitted the Aussie lower-order.

Shaun Marsh, batting at number 6, smashed a brilliant century while also forming a radiant partnership with Tim Payne and Pat Cummins to help the team reach a formidable score 442 after the loss of 8 wickets.

And then the Aussie storm came through via the bowlers. At this point, it was all over for England, the series had become 2-0 already… but England weren’t going out without a fight, not with the electric Barmy Army present there.

However, before we dive into all that, let’s talk about the Australian fury – and in particular, about one flying Lyon.

The Australian pace attack cut through the English top order like knife through butter. At times, the fiery pace of the bowlers seemed unplayable with Mitchell Starc as the pick of the pacers with 3 wickets for 49 runs.

He was well complemented by the duo of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, who took two and one wicket, respectively.  

However, the star of the second innings was Nathan Lyon.

The off-spinner created all sorts of problems for the already-troubled batsmen. He took 4 wickets, but that wasn’t the highlight of his performance.

Childhood was a fun time, but I would be lying if I claimed that I remember it distinctively. However, there is one thing that I can never forget: the promo of Superman.

“It’s a bird, it’s a plan, it’s Superman!”

So when Nathan Lyon flew to take a catch off his own bowling, it reminded me of that very promo. Moeen Ali was stuck to the ground, with mouths agape and eyes watching with disbelief: what the heck just happened?

Was this even real life or were we in a simulation where a glitch allowed Nathan Lyon to become a bird – or Superman – in that precise moment?

We can never know, but what we do know if that that catch is perhaps the most memorable moment of the Adelaide Test. Lyon jumped to his left, a good 6-feet of the ground, and caught the ball with his left hand to complete one of the most iconic moment in the history of Ashes.

England fell for 227 and failed to reach the follow-on target. An innings defeat was on the cards, but Steven Smith decided to play it safe and chose not to enforce it.

With the pitch now helping the bowlers a bit more – and England bowlers having learned from their opponents about the fruitfulness of bowling full – James Anderson and co. went in with full aggression and, much to the surprise of many, Australia stuttered and failed to go beyond 138 in their second innings.

James Anderson led the attack with a 5-for and was helped brilliant by Chris Woakes’ 4 for 36 while Overton took the other wicket. The target for England was 354 – and it was nigh-on-impossible to reach that figure while batting in the fourth innings.

The start was good, but Cook fell soon and was followed by Stoneman and now England needed a Superman. James Vince fell a bit after, rendering every hope obsolete. But suddenly, there was Root… and Malan… and a partnership.

The Barmy Army were cheering at full swing, they created an environment that would put even the noise at the Signal Iduna Park to shame. The atmosphere was electrifying… it was… surreal.

There was a chance now, a plague flowering the kaleidoscope... a ray of hope in the bitter darkness.

But, alas… it was just a false dawn. A haze with the scent of petrichor to smokescreen the barren land across.

Malan fell just prior to stumps of day 4. Then Woakes perished on the second ball of the day.

And then Root.

And then Moeen Ali.

And then the rest fell too; crashing the dream that was built on straws. Australia won by 120 runs and Shaun Marsh bagged the man of the match award. They now lead 2-0 and are most likely to win the Ashes in Perth.

But England fans will still hope because hope is a good thing; perhaps the best of things.

Picture Courtesy : Getty Images

South African team on their way to Mohali for the first Test.

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