Fumbles cost Australia

There were further signs of Australia’s fragile confidence, and slipping standards, as they failed to cling on to vital catches in today’s rain-affected fourth Test at Trent Bridge. Matthew Hayden, who in the past has always caught well, shelled one (in the covers? Or gully? Can’t remember) as did Mike Kasprowicz; both were relatively simple, as catches go, and both cost their side dearly. Had Australia taken two more wickets, England’s decision to bat first might have looked worse. At 229 for 4, it is England’s dayjust.

Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie miss out on the Fourth Test

I was impressed with Shaun Tait, and surprised at his speed. He doesn’t tear into the crease like a man possessed, ala Brett Lee and Shoaib; his run-up is controlled, almost slowing-up as he reaches his delivery stride, before slinging his arm over ala Thommo. He’ll bowl on quicker pitches – perhaps the one at The Oval if selected – but even though he was sending down 94mph swinging exocets, I felt he could potentially get even quicker. Good signs for Australia – he swings it at pace, and late, too.

But what about these no-balls? If ever anyone needs confirmation that a side is on a downward slide – and I’m not suggesting Australia will lose the Ashes – you only need to examine their fielding, no-balls bowled and catching. All three have been dreadful, all series. Today, Australia sent down 22; 11 by Kasprowicz, and 7 by Lee. Disgraceful – I don’t know how Australia’s fans must feel about this, but I’d be livid with rage. Totally unacceptable, and kept England’s scoring-rate ticking along nicely.

Tomorrow’s papers ought to make interesting reading, for despite Australia’s fumbles England are still four wickets down. Flintoff and Pietersen both need to score freely, and make big scores; this is a 400 pitch, and England are 150 short at the moment.

At the Alpha Blog, an Australian magazine, Dave is confident the Ashes are England’s for the taking. Not sure whether Dave’s an Aussie or a Pom, though (?).

Glenn McGrath, injured again, is convinced someone in England has a voodoo doll. Glenn, the whole country have one mate! We respect your sporting brilliance and your metronomic accuracy, but we much prefer your drinks-carrying abilities…

This blog seems to think there are no women who watch Cricket, which isn’t really very accurate.

Andrew Miller thinks Australia are playing “come and get it” Cricket:

The only reason that Australia are still favourites to retain the Ashes is that England require a knockout to steal them. There is no other explanation for a day which began with a patched-up Australian attack winging down 18 no-balls in the morning session alone, but ended with a scoreline of 229 for 4 and honours more or less even. Ricky Ponting’s frugal six-over spell in the closing overs of the day, every ball a yard outside off stump or more, was an apt metaphor for the remaining exchanges of this series. “The Ashes are over here, boys!” he seemed to be taunting. “Come and get them if you dare.” Michael Vaughan dared, and toppled into the abyss in his over-eagerness.

I did a gallery at Cricinfo, in case those of you didn’t get a chance to see any of it.

Stu is understandably apoplectic about the no-balls

Scott’s optimism is wavering – but on the up-side, he’s a Maiden fan! Always good to hear.