An Ashes five-fer: Melbourne, Day 5

1) DEAD AS A DODO PITCH CALLED OUT BY AN AUSSIE: Before a ball was even bowled on the final day, former Aussie opener Chris Rogers was questioning the validity of the MCG pitch. Normally,  a hotbed of cracks, shooters and fraught survival, this fifth act felt like anything but in front of a ground barely 10 per cent full. The lifeless 100 minutes before patchy rain brought things to a brief halt almost sapped the will to stay awake. Both captains were equally critical of the drop-in dud.

2) DAVID WARNER CAN’T CONTAIN HULK MOMENT: David Warner showed the required self-restraint to eke out 86 runs in just over five hours. When he saw Joe Root bring himself on for a twirl, it was Walkabout bar all over again as the shirt ripped and the “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” mode was truly engaged. Unfortunately for Warner, his muscular heave looped up in the air to James Vince. Root let out a guttural roar.

3) MOEEN A LONG-HAUL PASSENGER FROM HELL:  Times have changed since Moeen Ali claimed a hat-trick and 25 wickets against South Africa in the summer. That feel-good factor was all very very misleading in terms of how his body language would translate to an Ashes tour.. Moeen has no deep-seated  confidence in his bowling at the best of times, but there’s been an all-out destruction of it on this tour.  When a mainline spinner has no influence on a fourth innings then things have to change.

Michael Vaughan  – Ex-England captain on BBC Test Match Special

“We will never know if a win would have been possible if England had had a high-class spinner,” said former England captain Michael Vaughan.

“If you can’t bowl on the last day when the team is bowling for victory, then you can’t really play.”

4) BROAD AND ANDERSON FIND EXTRA GEAR: On a pudding of a pitch offering no last day freebies for tired bowlers, Broad and Anderson bowled in the mid 80s with some real rhythm and accuracy. Both Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith could have gone in a tense 40 minute session after lunch. Even so, England still can’t get 20 wickets in a match and it is hurting them big time. As soon as Chris Woakes and Tom Curran replaced the senior duo, the levels of intensity went down.

5) STEVE SMITH DOES NOT DO BORED: All of the Australian batsmen who were dismissed fell to their weaknesses. They could not hold the force within that wanted bat on ball. Smith is a man apart. He simply will not take the bait. He can bat all day and enter the next as if there’s another six hours to complete before any relaxation can be considered. It is a rare thing to see someone who can take temptation out of the equation. It was a fourth successive century at the MCG.



By Tim Ellis