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- Australian cricketer
Here’s out cricket correspondent Will Macpherson with his daily diary from down under…
Bit of confidence
Australia are so comfortable with the state of this series that, about an hour into the first session of day five, their communications team stuck out a release announcing their squad for the rest of the series. No changes, with Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins back.
Of course the game did not finish for a few hours after that. But it showed a few things; one of them being that, with George Bailey in charge of selection, they are not taking things too seriously, which will definitely help.
What England would give for clarity like that. While they scramble around to work out their team for Melbourne, Australia can give their one passenger, Marcus Harris, some confidence.
Call ups on the cards?
England sent all of the England Lions home last week, which felt a bit odd. Never know, Ben Foakes, James Bracey or another spinner might have a role to play in the coming weeks.
They say players in Australia on Big Bash duty are on standby, and it is thought Saqib Mahmood could join the squad in the next few days, perhaps with a view to playing one of the last two Tests. James Vince, who has experience in the Ashes, is another who could be an option. A longer shot is Mark Stoneman, who scored a rapid century in grade cricket at the weekend.
TMS is back
After a positive Covid-19 test in their camp, Test Match Special were back on air for day five – from London. Their team in Australia has been split in two, with half the group able to travel to Melbourne having been identified only as “casual contacts” of the positive individual, and the others made to isolate in Adelaide as they are “close contacts”. Confusing and frustrating, no doubt.
Pat Cummins has impressed the England camp with his response to being ruled out of the Test. He simply passed on the message to stay safe and dine outdoors to avoid more pinging as the series went on.
Apart from being able to return to his home in Sydney by private jet, it must have been a frustrating week for Cummins. He stuck out a tweet celebrating Australia’s win, and minutes later revealed that he was watching the movie Die Hard. ’Tis the season…
Tickets are on sale for the Fifth Test, in Hobart. Will we make it that far? There is yet to be a completed five-Test series in Covid times, and holding the match there – Tasmania is not yet open – always felt a little optimistic. Since then, Covid-19 issues in Adelaide have been a reminder of the shaky state of things.
The series goes to Melbourne and Sydney – where Covid rates are the highest in Australia – before heading for Hobart. Let’s hope things are not affected, because Blundstone Arena is a lovely ground and it could be a great, if cold (at night), spectacle.
Vaughan’s in town
The kerfuffle around Michael Vaughan’s involvement in this series has been pretty strange. He was dropped by the BBC, retained by Fox, but BT Sport want so little to do with him that they have flown David Gower out to Australia to commentate over Vaughan.
Vaughan’s arrival was delayed by Covid-19, but he is in Melbourne, ready to commentate on the Third Test, and has been seen on Australian screens for the first time as part of Fox’s coverage of the Big Bash.
It was nice to see Joe Root and Mitchell Starc, former team-mates at Yorkshire of course, catching up before play about the incident on everyone’s mind: Root’s second blow in the unmentionables on the fourth evening. Root was smiling as the cameras caught him reenacting the shot he was trying to play.