December 30, 2011 by dixwah
Australia (333 & 240) defeated India (282 & 169) by 122 runs
Weeks ago we were wondering where our pace bowlers were going to come from. Harris and Cummins had gone down, Johnson was out of favour, Bollinger wasn’t considered fit enough and Starc was Johnson in disguise.
Following the first Test dismantling of India at the MCG, it seems we at least have found solace for the short-term.
James Pattinson again showed on day four that he’s the real deal. 20 wickets at 15 from your first three Tests says as much, and there’s that intimidation with his size and body language that marks him as a strike bowler – at 21, a leader of the attack for the next decade.
While Cummins, Hazelwood, Starc and Faulkner look set to join Pattinson as the basis of pace trio in the medium term, the performances of Siddle and Hilfenhaus in the first Test win should also be celebrated.
Hilfenhaus is a Test bowler without question. Knee injuries left him without the zing and swing that saw him dominate Shield and his early international career.
The problems seem to have been sorted, and 7/114 is an extraordinary return for someone in the wilderness only a couple of weeks ago. Hilfenhaus also provides the stock bowling option in direct contrast to Pattinson and Siddle/Cummins. He can build pressure while bowling 20-25 overs a day, allowing the firebrands to charge in with short bursts at the other end.
Peter Siddle also deserves credit. I’d sworn off him as a bowler who penetrates, but without luck, is likely to end up with 1/80 off 22 at the end of the innings.
As Brad Hogg was stuck with ‘gee he’s a busy cricketer that Brad Hogg’, Siddle was always the ‘he’s just someone who’ll charge in all day’ guy, who is now showing signs he can contribute more in the baggy green.
Pattinson’s arrival seems to have revived his Victorian teammate, his pace is up and he’s back taking big wickets (his six wickets in the match included Tendulkar x2, Gambhir and Laxman).
While I don’t think the batting is out of the woods, and I have a longer memory than most – two weeks ago we lost to New Zealand (New Zealand!), this was a very good Test win.
The tide seems to have turned, a couple of half-tons from Australia’s old brigade (though 33 innings since Ponting’s last hundred and counting) and failures from India’s big boys (Laxman one hundred from last 33 innings; Tendulkar 16 innings since a ton, Sehwag 21, Gambhir 31) and little boys (Kohli was outclassed here) means the media and public pressure is now squarely on India’s batsmen.
The ideological drama can’t be that much unlike the one currently facing the Australian selectors. Dravid is the leading runscorer in Test cricket this calendar year, but is it glimpses of Laxman, Tendulkar and even Gambhir’s past glory days that is keeping them in the side?
Worse still, is this glorious wait for the Little Master’s hundredth international hundred stifling India’s progression, or inflating his importance to the team? 293 days between hundreds now, if it had been this long between each ton his career would be nearing 80 years (not too far away to be honest).
Sydney’s a happy hunting ground for Tendulkar and Laxman particularly. James Pattinson and co will be waiting.