It was 23 Test match innings between David Warner’s latest century in the first Test at the Gabba and his previous hundred against South Africa at Adelaide. Meanwhile Alastair Cook has not managed to notch a ton now in his last 11 Test innings since facing New Zealand in March. In the 23 Test match innings Cook played prior to that knock at Headingley however, he racked up a monumental 6 centuries. The fortunes of both men are utterly key to the rest of this series.
In Jonathan Trott’s absence there is a choice between Joe Root and Ian Bell to fill England’s crucial number 3 slot, and it has to be said that both players have benefited either now or in the past from the England selectors’ faith in their ability – at least enough to be moved down rather than out of the batting order when not performing, hence Bell’s obscene average of 59.92 at number six. So we must spare a thought for the rapidly-discarded Ravi Bopara: scorer of more Test centuries (3) than golden boy Joe Root (2) in four fewer Test innings overall, and scorer of as many Test centuries from number three as Ian Bell (2 apiece), only Bopara’s came from just nine innings at first drop as opposed to thirty-seven attempts for Bell.
Since his recall to the Australian Test side in March 2013, experienced wicket-keeper BJ Haddin has leant a maturity and grit to Australia’s lower order with a number of resilient innings, in that period averaging just over 32. On the other hand MJ Prior is in crisis, lurching from one game to the next in a horrible spot of cricketing bother: in the same time-frame Prior has played 11 matches and averages….32.
Since *that* performance in Perth in November 2010 Mitchell has just bagged his first five-fer in 13 Test Matches across three years. In the preceding three years up to that Perth Test he had seven five-fers in 39 Tests: one for every five and a half matches played. At that stage he wasn’t really known as dodgy, unpredictable comedy Mitch – he was a serious quick who rattled through batting line-ups. If this really is the renaissance of Mitchell Johnson, we can expect further fireworks somewhere along the line in this series.
At 31, how much more does Anderson have in the tank? He was sumptuous in 2010 and 2011, averaging 22.96 and 24.85 and bringing his bowling average down to practically 30 after a very rocky start to his international career. Yet in 2012 and 2013 his average hasn’t continued on that steep descent, plateauing after two years where he has averaged 29.50 then 30.06. In spite of glimmers of excellence (see Trent Bridge) and generally excellent control, England will hope Anderson isn’t evolving into something of a stock bowler and can retain that match-winning threat he always used to possess. Curtley Ambrose is an unfair yardstick to use for almost any bowler, but for sake of comparison in his final year before retirement in 2000 he played 10 Tests and averaged a mere 17 with the ball. I will always use any excuse to namedrop Big Curtley:- it nis worth pointing out that he is now 50, which is a far scarier stat than any of it’s predecessors in this article. “Where does time go?!” I ask, and Jimmy struggles to answer.