For the second year in a row, Australia had to reflect on what could have been.
England, against all odds, held on for a draw.
That left questions about Pat Cummins’ decision to walk away from Australia’s declaration so late.
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Shane Warne said Cummins would have a rough night, while former Ashes winning skipper Michael Vaughan said Australia would have won if they caught better.
The truth is somewhere in the middle.
The weather didn’t play a big part, with Australia playing 91 overs on day five and yet England fell short of Australia’s 388 goal despite some fighting spirit.
Here are three talking points from an exciting final day at SCG.
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THE SCG MYTH THAT JUST BEEN DISASSEMBLED
Once upon a time, the SCG was a revolving track.
It was a bowl of dust where Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill let themselves be torn apart.
Even after the leg spinner duo said goodbye to cricket, Australia continued to play two spinners. Steve O’Keefe has often been used in tandem with Nathan Lyon, but it was more out of outdated nostalgia that the SCG remains the only bridge in Australia where two spinners are used.
Those days are over.
While O’Keefe has enjoyed success at SCG, winning seven wickets at 23.71, those numbers are likely due to the opposition he has played against: Pakistan and the West Indies.
Nathan Lyon didn’t fight so much against England at SCG but didn’t play the role he hoped for.
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After taking 2-88 in the opening innings, Lyon took 2-28 in the second inning of 22 overs. Along the way, he took one of the key wickets twice, as he picked up dangerous man Ben Stokes.
He found the outside edge of Stokes late in day five with a ball that spun and bounced sharply, but that ball was the exception.
England spinner Jack Leach also played well without much help, taking four wickets in the second inning as Australia tried to score quick points.
Steve Smith grabbed a late wicket for Australia, but even his wrist failed to extract much help from the day five wicket, which Pat Cummins pointed out had few “demons. ”Or“ stuff ”.
In the days of the walk-in wicket, it’s time the SCG revolving wicket fantasy was over. It is nothing but a myth.
Last year’s draw against India showed the SCG wicket is not crumbling, England’s draw proved it.
The rebound was truest on the last day like any of the five days. The footprints in front of the drummer’s eyes were nonexistent.
It is a shame because the character of the Australian test windows has been lost.
It also doesn’t do much for Australian tours of the subcontinent, where a second spinner will likely be called in.
Mitchell Starc might like the pink ball, but the Australian spearhead could be resting for the fifth and final Test in Hobart.
Starc, 31, is the only Australian crimper to pass all four tests.
Josh Hazlewood may have already been ruled out of the test, but there were signs of wear and tear from Starc in Sydney.
On a rock hard SCG, where the rapids all struggled to plant their feet in the developing footprints, the left arm at times appeared in agony as it slammed down on the shattering crease. .
In light of Starc’s grimacing face, former Aussie captain Adam Gilchrist said the coaches could take a cautious approach and rest the quick first pitcher.
“These are signs of wear,” Gilchrist said in a comment for Fox Cricket.
“He had a great Starc series, and that’s not a good sign.”
“He is the only front row pitcher for Australia who has made all four test matches and this could be the first signal that Hobart could be a step too far, but he has a job to do here.”
Former Australian drummer Mark Waugh agreed: “I think Starc could rest.”
Australia are fortunate to have a new depth in bowling stocks despite Hazlewood’s absence.
Jhye Richardson hasn’t played since taking five wickets in Adelaide’s pink ball test and is fit to come back after failing Boxing Day’s test.
It was his absence, as Australia’s managers took a cautious approach with a small glitch, that allowed Scott Boland to make a remarkable entry into Test cricket.
Head coach Justin Langer and Pat Cummins both mentioned Richardson is set to return for the Hobart test, but also pointed out that Michael Neser, who was stable in his Adelaide debut, was also in the account. .
Boland was considered the perfect flat deck specialist given his sounding line and length with the red ball, but selectors will be watching closely how the quick Victorian came to a standstill after his remarkable entry to trial cricket.
BOLAND A CAPTAIN’S DREAM
It was halfway through England’s brave draw in the second set that Boland won again.
After taking the first wickets from Haseeb Hameed and Joe Root, Bolland returned to pick up the crucial wicket from Jonny Bairstow.
He left Boland with the numbers 3-24 in the second inning.
It came after Boland showed his incredible 6-7 at MCG on his debut was not a dream after taking 4-36 in the opening innings in Sydney.
Boland now has 14 wickets at 8.64 since his first two tests.
His average is the best in the history of testing those with a minimum of 10 wickets, topping Charles Marriott (8.72), Fred Martin (10.07) and George Lohmann (10.75).
In the same way that it seems ridiculous to think that Usman Khawaja could be abandoned, Boland has made his own case.
” Where did he go ? Shane Warne joked on his Day 5 success.
Boland worked on a line and length method.
He doesn’t have the beat of Cummins, nor of Starc, but has proven that the beat is not just anything.
Just ask Darren Stevens – the 45-year-old Kent veteran – who fired Marnus
Labuschagne at County Cricket last year, but is playing his crimps at a slow to medium pace.
As the coaches send their slingers into the nets to prepare their batsmen, Boland works to work on a batsman and exploit their technical flaws and patience.
Root has now been called out by Boland three times without the England captain scoring a point.
Almost overnight, the 32-year-old booked a ticket to Pakistan where precision is in order.
As Michael Vaughan said in a commentary for Fox Cricket, he has become a Cummins favorite due to his reliability and ability to ask questions with every ball.
“I’m going to tell you what, as a captain you always want reliable performers, the ones who can throw the ball in all conditions, Pat Cummins himself is a bowler and three games in the captaincy, he has played two with Scott Boland, I think he already has his favorite, ”Vaughan said.
“It’s so easy to put pitches on that kind of bowling as a captain, you can play with the cord, you can put short holds for extra cover.”