“Test cricket is still the best thing human beings have come up with”
07 Dec 2017
4 Minutes Read
England have their work cut out to retain the Ashes having gone 2-0 down after two Tests and predictably their defeat in Adelaide has drawn plenty of criticism - but, happy to report, perhaps the most pertinent comment offered during the match was a positive one. As England's fightback (ultimately thwarted but stirring nonetheless) continued, journalist and writer Darren Richman tweeted: "Test cricket is still the best thing human beings have come up with."
"Test cricket is still the best thing human beings have come up with."
That the comment has so far been retweeted over 700 times and liked almost 2,000 times shows Richman is far from alone in his view. And although the first two Tests both evolved into defeats by solid margins for England, they also reminded us what a wonderful, unique spectacle Test cricket is.
Let's give credit to Australia for knuckling down with the bat in the first innings at Adelaide and using the time which this great format permits you to build a victory platform. Yes, they were blown away by the excellence of James Anderson and Chris Woakes in the second innings but that platform was in place because, first time round, seven of the top nine batted for at least 110 minutes.
That resolve was decisive. What England would have given for such stickability. Just three of their batsmen in the match - Alastair Cook in the first innings, Joe Root and Dawid Malan in the second - defied that long.
Root's historic decision to bowl first in a day/night Test drew plenty of comment, with the more excitable pundits suggesting he will have to "wear that decision all through his career." Actually, Root's decision was brave - and sound enough. He backed his bowlers to inflict immediate damage with the new ball. That they didn't was hardly the captain's fault - it was they, not Root, who had the off-day.
Post-match, Root was as upbeat as a skipper of a team 2-0 down after two Tests can be. "The way we went about the second innings proved to everyone we are still massively in this series," he said. "If we can perform to our ability for longer periods of time we will win games."
"The way we went about the second innings proved to everyone we are still massively in this series."
He is right. There isn't much between these two teams, as Steve Smith tacitly acknowledge with his revelation that he did not sleep too well before the final day. He was clearly far from confident that England's dangerous lower middle-order would not deliver the required runs.
That they did not, of course, leaves Root and his team heading for next week's third Test at Perth in a pickle. What they do not have is the luxury of time to have a think and play themselves into form. An unfortunate legacy of the condensed series favoured these days is that a tide of momentum for one team is much harder to halt.
Remember India in England in 2013? The tourists arrived on the back of a crazy schedule and, though packed with great batsmen, played four Tests in a month and lost them by 196 runs, 319 runs, an innings and 242 runs and an innings and eight runs.
Perhaps cricket's governing bodies need to consider whether cramming in Tests, while obviously lucrative, actually diminishes an institution which remains, as Mr Richman and many others testify, the greatest thing that human beings have come up with.
INTERNATIONAL CRICKET AT EDGBASTON
England will be back at Edgbaston next summer to take on Australia in an IT20 on Wednesday 27 June and India in the first Test Match of the Series from Wednesday 1 August 2018.
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