Don Topley column: Aussies are devoid of a few players this series, but England have bounced back
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Don Topley takes a look at those missing Aussies not here at the moment and why Essex keep losing quarter-finals!
England’s recent embarrassing defeat to Scotland has already been cast into the annals of history, with Eoin Morgan’s white ball national side beating a decent Australia team twice since then.
That solitary Scotland match was a genuine preparation game for the current Australia Series as Morgan and his team-mates hadn’t played any England white ball cricket since their success in New Zealand many, many months ago.
It is true that the Aussies are devoid of a few fine cricketers who aren’t here, Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft are currently serving bans for their ball tampering incident during the 3rd Cape Town Test v South Africa.
I watched that ball-tampering event live on Sky and was appalled.
I even mentioned it to my family “Hang on what’s going on there!”. It was so obvious.
The subsequent press interviews compounded the guilt. The in-depth investigation revealed even more issues.
Many, including former players and now journalists, thought the ban was extremely harsh, but I totally disagreed.
I am not trying to be ‘holier than thou’ but every cricketer, including myself, and every fielding side in the professional game tries to manipulate the ball, but fairly or naturally.
Tricks like picking the seam and the quarter seam, and bouncing the ball from the boundary to scuff up the ball can help, but taking an implement out on to the playing field?
Remember back in summer 1992 when Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis were great exponents of the reverse swing and England weren’t?
The umpires replaced the old ball during a Lord’s game, with the confiscated ball allegedly going missing.
With abrasive and bland wickets the world has woken up to the new phenomenon of reverse swing.
Only this week, Sri Lanka went on a two-hour strike in St Lucia as international umpires replaced the ball during their Test in the West Indies.
England in recent times have learnt the art of reverse swing and caught up with many sub-continent sides in this modern art.
But what the Aussies did in Cape Town in late March was to bring an item (sandpaper) on to the field to aid the disintegration of the ball, to try and get the ball to reverse earlier, as their bowling attack looked impotent and they desperately need to change the game or lose.
With as many as 30 odd cameras at the Test Ground these days, they were extremely naive and got caught.
The attempted cover ups were terrible and begged even more questions.
Unbelievably, Essex have now lost eight successive quarter-finals after their defeat against Yorkshire in the Royal London Cup last week.
Everyone was hugely disappointed, but Essex got the rough end of their own wicket at Chelmsford.
When a game is televised you must have a wicket in line with the camera gantry at each end.
Essex chose to have the same wicket as the previous week when they defeated Kent to get through, so the wicket was resurrected and watered.
It was expected to play pretty well as normal but sadly, after losing an important toss, Essex had to bat last on a difficult and inconsistent pitch.
Yorkshire posted an average 260 but on BBC Commentary at the time I suggested 260 was worth 290 as it was difficult to time and play shots.
Certainly, no criticism of Head Groundsman, Stuart Kerrison, who does a wonderful job.
The square at Chelmsford isn’t massive and his main 1st XI strips are limited due to the very small boundaries, unlike at larger Test Grounds. Pitches are natural, and the very next-door strip will often play so differently, but the club did have high hopes……
Back to the County Championship today with Nottinghamshire visiting Chelmsford.
Essex, beware of the best county bowling attack in England!