Australia v England – Third Test Ratings, Part One

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at 2017.12.16
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With Australia 2-0 up in the Ashes, England invited Australia over to the WACA for a drink.

Here are the ratings for the first two days of the Third Ashes Test.

Mitch Marsh
Grade: B-

Australia may have been ahead in the Ashes, but they were miles behind in terms of comedy. The selectors therefore decided their best chance of making the series more even on both fronts was to select Mitch Marsh to loom ominously behind Pete Handscomb.

Apparently since Glenn Maxwell had been on standby for approximately nine injured batsmen before the First Test, his Sheffield Shield performances of 278 and 96 had been deemed insufficient for him to remain the next batsman in line for a Test spot. And fair enough, too. You’ve got to convert those starts, Glenn.

Perhaps more worryingly, according to the Fibonacci sequence, there will be five Marshes in Australia’s squad by the fifth Ashes Test.

Thank goodness we don’t have six-Test series any more.

Pouring Drinks on James Anderson
Grade: B+

Not to be outdone by the Australian selectors, England responded immediately on the comedy front, by suspending Ben Duckett for pouring a beer over Jimmy Anderson’s head.

Here’s a new England Ashes Tour Drinking Game for you all to play over this Christmas period.

Take a drink when:

  • an England player takes a drink

It’s hardcore, sure. But at least it’s easy to remember.

Still, credit where it’s due for England. It’s an outstanding effort to come to Australia and make the locals look like introverted teetotallers.

Reviewing Reviews
Grade: A+

Luckily, by the time the Third Test rolled around, as many as six or seven England cricketers had passed a sobriety test. This included many of the top order, enabling Joe Root to bat first. As foretold, Marsh replaced Handscomb for Australia, although Steve Smith perhaps missed a trick by not also calling up Michael Beer as twelfth man and having him ruffle Anderson’s hair every drinks break.

Australia struck early when Mitchell Starc dismissed Alastair Cook for just seven. The official scorers entered the wicket in their books as ‘LBW, plumb as a batsman who didn’t even check with his partner’, in accordance with new ICC Playing Regulations.

DRS continued to make itself felt throughout the England innings. In a moment of great controversy, Mark Stoneman was given not out by umpire Marais Erasmus before an Australian review saw the decision rapidly overturned.

Indeed, so rapid was the overturning and based on such scant evidence that Root urged Stoneman to stay on the field so he could review the review! Brilliant tactics from the England captain. Although one that sadly met with no success.

Still, full credit to third umpire Aleem Dar, who had all the technology available to him but insisted on applying it based entirely on gut feel and somehow backwards stumbled into what most people eventually agreed was the correct decision.

Aleem Dar intuits that Stoneman is out in the Third Ashes Test 2017-18

Aleem Dar intuits that Stoneman is out in the Third Ashes Test 2017-18

More impressively, Root telling Stoneman to stay on the ground highlighted yet again how international millionaire cricketers can’t be bothered keeping up with the Laws and playing conditions of the sport that funds those same millions.

Because just a few months ago, the ICC changed the rules so that players can be recalled at any time before the next batsman’s innings starts. No more of this ‘don’t cross the boundary line’ nonsense. If a mistake’s made, you can just fix it.

And yes, this rule change actually happened, unlike the joke one I made up a few paragraphs back.

Still, we can’t expect international professionals to know that. What are they? Nerds?

Pete Handscomb
Grade: A-

From 4/131 after that Stoneman dismissal, England recovered magnificently. In the previous Tests, Jonny Bairstow had been left stranded with the tail and unable to build a proper innings. So for this Test, England had moved him up to six, pushing Moeen Ali down to seven.

The tactic worked perfectly. In Dawid Malan, Bairstow found easily the best tail-ender he’d played with all series. The pair each scored centuries, putting on 237 for the fifth wicket.

Their partnership was only broken when Handscomb, substitute fielding, took an outstanding diving catch to dismiss Malan and trigger a collapse of 6/35 that saw England all out for 403.

Great play from Handscomb, whose fielding had turned the match on its head. Surely he’s the front-runner for Man of the Match even at this early stage.

Steve Smith
Grade: D+

In reply, Australia ended the second day on 3/203. Smith was, I dunno, about a million not out. Or well on his way at least.

On a flat batting pitch such as this WACA one, there really seem very few ways to dismiss the Australian captain. Perhaps Mitch Marsh will run him out on a no ball or something. Otherwise, his batting has an almost Bradmanesque inevitability about it.

But it’s not just Smith’s batting that channels the 1930s era of cricket. There’s something about his captaincy too. Because yet again, in the field, he burnt both reviews on ludicrous challenges.

Smith’s determination to play without reviews demonstrates a respect for the game’s history. In many ways, it’s shameful that Root doesn’t follow his lead. Indeed, the England skipper, unrepentant in his wicked ways, used his abhorrent reviewing tactics to dismiss local hero Cameron Bancroft. Disgusting.

“There are two teams out there. One is playing no-review cricket. The other is not.”

(Originally published at

Australia v England - Second Test Ratings
Australia v England - Third Test Ratings, Part Two

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