Ashes debacle now ‘beyond a joke’

 

England enjoyed a fruitful second day of the first Ashes Test in Birmingham while Australia has lots of hard work ahead to stay in the contest.

In reply to the Aussies' first innings 284, the hosts moved to 4/267 at stumps.

Here are all the talking points from the day's play.

'THIS IS NOW BEYOND A JOKE'

The umpiring was slammed on day one as players were given out when they weren't and not out when they were.

The trend continued on day two as the officials had more troubles telling right from wrong.

First, Nathan Lyon was denied a wicket when Joel Wilson kept his finger down for an LBW shout against Rory Burns. Bowling from around the wicket, Lyon struck Burns on the pad in line with the stumps and Hawkeye showed the ball would have continued on to hit the pegs.

However, while Wilson misjudged his call, he can't take all the blame because Australia could have reviewed the decision, but opted not to.

The mistakes kept coming as Joe Root was forced to use two challenges to stay at the crease. The England captain was given out when everyone thought he'd outside edged James Pattinson behind to Tim Paine, but the ball actually hit the stumps rather than his bat, which is the noise the Aussies and umpire heard.

That was a terribly difficult distinction to make but the next one was easier. Root was given out LBW then reviewed immediately as replays showed he got an inside edge before the ball hit his pad.

Former Victorian wicketkeeper Darren Berry lashed out on Twitter about the standard of officiating.

"This is now beyond a joke every decision being questioned and for good reason," Berry wrote in a tweet that was later deleted. "I've never seen anything like this in my lifetime.

"Seriously the ability to make a substitution … in game must be introduced.

"It's soul destroying for the umpires."

Responding to a tweet that asked whether there has ever been a cricket match umpired this badly, Berry said: "Not in my memory."

Others were also unimpressed on day two, including former Western Australia star Theo Doropoulos, who said the umpires were having an "absolute stinker".

 

 


'RIDICULOUS': AUSSIES ROBBED OF KEY WICKET

Pattinson thought he had his man but he was denied.
Pattinson thought he had his man but he was denied.

Joe Root was facing James Pattinson late in the opening session and all the Aussies thought they had the key wicket when the No. 3 looked to feather an outside edge through to his opposite number Tim Paine.

The visitors appealed and Pattinson was certain he'd got an edge. So too was umpire Joel Wilson, who raised his finger.

But Root was adamant he didn't get a touch on the Dukes ball as it sizzled through to Paine, and signalled immediately to challenge the decision, not even waiting to discuss the matter with Rory Burns up the other end.

His confidence was justified because replays and Snicko showed the ball missed Root's edge by the slimmest margin - but the Aussies had very good reason for believing they'd picked up their second scalp of the morning.

The noise they heard was actually the ball brushing the off bail. The six-stitcher grazed the woodwork but wasn't forceful enough to knock it off.

The bail lifted ever so slightly out of its groove as it threatened to be dislodged but luck favoured the home team and Root survived to fight another day.

In commentary for Sky Sports, former England captain David Gower said: "That's extraordinary."

Pattinson had every right to feel aggrieved considering he's lightning quick when on song. His delivery to Root was clocked at a tick over 138km/h and he was visibly upset at being robbed of a second wicket.

He swore loudly and was in utter disbelief as he questioned whether the bails were too heavy, doing his best impersonation of a bodybuilder by repeating bicep curls with one of them in front of the umpire.

Official sponsor of the Ashes, Specsavers, had some fun with the dramatic incident in a clever post on its official Twitter account as others weighed in.

 

 


BALL BEHAVING BADLY

James Pattinson got the replacement ball to sing.
James Pattinson got the replacement ball to sing.

The ball started doing funny things in the final session but don't worry, no sandpaper was harmed in the process.

The umpires decided the ball the Aussies had been bowling with was banged out of shape and so asked for a replacement. At the time, England was cruising, courtesy of Joe Denly and Rory Burns, who had guided the hosts to 2/170 at tea.

But once the different ball was brought into the contest everything changed. Both men had looked comfortable but that was no longer the case when James Pattinson got the new pill in his hand.

The new Dukes swung considerably more than the old one and it was going both ways too. A Pattinson outswinger beat Denly's outside edge then an inswinger thudded into his pads and he was LBW for 18.

Burns looked untroubled after passing 50 but even as a set batsman he struggled when asked to face a new six-stitcher. After making his way into the 90s, he was beaten four times in one over by Pat Cummins, but fortunately for him still managed to keep his wicket intact.

Jos Buttler wasn't so lucky, edging Cummins to Cameron Bancroft at third slip for five.

RORY BURNS GOES BIG

Well played, son.
Well played, son.

England's biggest weakness going into the series was its top order but Rory Burns gave fans optimism the long-term search for Alastair Cook's replacement may be over.

Playing in his eighth Test, Burns scored his maiden Test century and batted all day to provide the stubborn resistance the home team needed, going to stumps unbeaten on 125.

The left-hander may look awkward at the crease but he was incredibly effective as he displayed a dogged determination not to give his wicket away. It definitely won't rank as one of Burns' best innings in terms of fluency and strokeplay, but even when he wasn't at his best he was able to defy the Aussie bowlers.

He outside edged plenty of deliveries in the first half of the day and many of his runs were streaky but he grew in confidence and gradually worked balls to the leg side with more authority.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan said in commentary for the BBC Burns had improved his judgment in what to leave outside off stump, and praised him for playing with his hands closer to his body rather than wafting at anything loose outside off stump.

It was a discipline that served Burns well as he played the best knock of his young career.

Headlines