Welcome to coverage of day three of the first Test from the Gabba. This could all get very grisly today.
It’s been a catalogue of errors so far from England – messing up selection, the decision at the toss, Rory Burns’ footwork to the opening delivery, shot selection, Burns’ catching, Haseeb Hameed and Dawid Malan missing run-out opportunities, the inability of Jack Leach to hold up and end and the injury to Ben Stokes’ knee that meant England’s three right-arm over bowlers, Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson and Chris Woakes, had to bowl about sic more overs each than planned. For all the stretching and ice baths, they are still going to wake up stiff and sore this morning but it is imperative that they hit their strides early. They need three quick wickets and the opportunity to put their feet up, if not for this match, then for the series.
Preparing these introductions, one is inclined to look for crumbs of comfort and there were a few. England were flogged yesterday but I think it would be unfair to say ‘the wheels came off’, they remained chipper throughout, had momentum-arresting spells and despite the fielding woes – why are they still shelling rudimentary catches after such intensive drilling, it has to be down to their mentality rather than their technique. But after dropping Rohit Sharma last summer, why was Burns still at slip to drop Travis Head after already shelling David Warner for half the score he went on to make?
Sorry, wasn’t going to dwell. Crumbs of comfort … hmmm. Well, in 2010-11 here England conceded a first-innings deficit of 221, Brad Haddin and Mike Hussey seemingly took the game away from them with a boundary-heavy stand of 307, Graeme Swann couldn’t stem the run-rate while the two were together and England had to turn to Paul Collingwood to wheel away for 12 fruitless overs.
The knives were out at the start of England’s second innings and yet Andrew Strauss made 110, Alastair Cook 235* and Jonathan Trott 135*. No one thought it possible after their first-innings collapse but that team found their resilience and turned the tide of the match and the series. It can be done … on the other hand, given Australia’s attack, it could be done and dusted if the weather stays fair by the end of the day.
If the worst comes to the worst and Australia steamroller them, they can look back to 1954-55 when Len Hutton’s side lost by an innings and 154 runs and Denis Compton was badly injured. Afterwards he made three changes, shifted the balance of his attack and won the most famous series victory. It can be done. Nil desperandum … at least, not yet.