An Ashes five-fer: Sydney, Day 5


1) JOE’S SICKIE THROWS UP A CHALLENGE: Just hours before play resumed, the news filtered through that Joe Root was stuck in a Sydney hospital suffering from dehydration after a bout of gastroenteritis. Root was on the field for all but six overs in the scorching 50 degree Sunday roasting the day before. Like the “tough bugger” that Brett Lee referred to,he rose from his sick bed and arrived at the ground just as play commenced, ready and waiting to resume his innings. The members gave him an ovation for coming out. The skipper would have preferred receiving it for a century.

2) MOEEN AND BAIRSTOW RESUME THE FIGHT: If you were to pick two batsmen to see out a long session,  the attack-minded Moeen and Bairstow might not be top of the list. In the first hour, the two of them two did a half-decent job of pretending it was a knockabout in a dead county game. Eventually, Moeen missed a straight ball from Nathan Lyon. If that sounds familiar, please go and see the reference: “Vince, James nicks off”, Appendix 1. Please also see: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

3) IT’S OH SO QUIET:  There was something reassuringly sedate and old-fashioned about the atmosphere in the morning session while everyone awaited the inevitable result. The two teams seemed in good spirits. Moeen was even seen to smile for the first time in seven weeks.  Despite his own ill-health, Root showed real concern after clattering a pull shot into Cameron “heavy head” Bancroft’s helmet at sort leg. Both teams were trying like hell but there was a recognition that this was it. It would soon be all over and beers would be shared. The calm before the post lunch storm didn’t last long….

4) CUMMINS RUNS RIOT FOR DOMINO EFFECT:  After Root didn’t return after the sight and smell of the luncheon menu, Pat Cummins decided to steamroller through the rest of the card. Bairstow, who had played so calmly for two hours, decided to play across a straight one and Cummins then turned into a short-pitched destroyer, as he knocked over Mason Crane and Stuart Broad with vicious rising deliveries. James Anderson batted as bravely as he bowled in the heat of yesterday’s battle but the inevitable soon followed.

5) A STAGED TROPHY CELEBRATION:  Perhaps this is something that doesn’t work too well when the game has been up since the 18th of December. The trophy presentation was hardly the most spontaneous  celebration you have ever seen. Joe Root was asleep. He didn’t miss much. Apart from a garish four-fingered  (4-0, geddit?)Addams family style Australian hand. It was almost on a par with the Australian PM  reminding Joe that he would find extra space in his luggage now that England must return home without the urn. You can’t beat a bit of Aussie subtlety.

By Tim Ellis