The final test in the Ashes series in England came to an exciting climax, thanks to Australian captain Michael Clarke’s sporting declaration. Clarke declared Australia’s second innings at 111 for 6 wickets leaving England 227 to win. They ended up 21 runs short when the umpires ordered the players off the pitch with four overs remaining due to bad light.
Having lost a days play due to the weather Clarke’s gesture was both bold and the right one in the interests of the game as a whole and he should be commended for it.
England had batted incredibly slowly, but somewhat understandably, as they could not afford to lose wickets as they tried to chase down Australia’s 492 for 9 in the first innings. Australia were not surprisingly frustrated at the slow scoring, 240 runs in 116 overs, as they were desperately seeking their first win of the series, and also trying to avoid their first ever 4-0 series loss. As frustrated as they may have been the outburst from test debutant James Faulkner was surprising.
The 23 years old who made a brisk 23 off 21 balls in the first innings did little on debut to warrant airing his views so publicly. After criticising England’s approach, Faulkner was quoted as saying “Any time they get threatened they go into their shell and play defensive cricket. When they come to Australia it will be played on our terms. They will be in for a hell of a challenge.”
One of Australia’s problems in this series has been their inability to be defensive. Batsmen have failed to build an innings, and tough it out when the bowlers have been on top. As boring as it may have been England played smart test match cricket. As England batting coach Graham Gooch stated “You can’t play the ideal game every day. We are the ones with three test wins they are the ones with nil test wins.” He added though “We know to beat Australia in their own back yard we are going to have to be a lot better both with the bat and the ball.” So too will Australia have to be.
One thing is for sure after his comments it will be interesting to see if Faulkner can walk the walk. He has placed a target on his own head and no doubt better be sure that he entertains in every innings he plays or his ill-advised words could come back to haunt him. Rest assured England players and fans will be quick to remind him.