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http://www.cricket.com.au/Global Items/Blogs/dean-wilson/2013/8/24/test-crickets-versatility

Dean Wilson


Test cricket's versatility

24 August 2013 5

Cricket Correspondent for the UK's Daily Mirror newspaper Dean Wilson says the beauty about Test cricket is its versatility.

The beauty of Test cricket is that it can be played in an infinite amount of ways.

The skill is being able to take your method and impose it on the opposition so that you get what you want out of it and they get nothing.

That is pretty much what England did to Australia on Day three at The Oval to put themselves 46 runs away from saving the follow on and killing any hopes of a consolation win for the visitors.

It was a batting performance at the peak of pragmatism.

Right now the number that England care most about is not the 3 which represents their wins and could potentially have become a 4 in this match, but the 0 that belongs to Australia.

To send Australia home with nothing would be a victory in itself and in many way it would be something to be extremely proud of.

And that is exactly how they went about their business in front of a full house.

It didn't matter whether it was Alastair Cook, Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell or the great strokemaker himself Kevin Pietersen, the aim was the same.

To grind down the opposition until they are little more than a husk of a team.

You would call facing the West Indian pace quartet of the 1980s 'brutal' cricket, but I would suggest that the way England have denied Australia any sniff of success has been just as brutal.

They have closed the door in the Australian bowler's faces, refusing to play their shots, patting back full tosses so that the threat of defeat is slowly but steadily removed.

The pitch has not helped things with the slow low surface hardly conducive for strokeplay, but even if it was, why should England try and thrash their way to a series win.

They already have won.

It is Australia who are desperate for a victory. It is Australia who are fighting for pride and respect not England.

As Peter Siddle accepted at the end of the day's play. Australia have put themselves in this position by losing three matches earlier in the series.

It is they who must make the running. It is they who must take 20 wickets to win the game.

For now England can play the game at their pace and a run rate of 2 per over will do them just fine.

The fact is this is elite sport and when the margins are so fine and the cost of victory and defeat are so great, the amateur wish to gamble defeat for victory is only available when you've got not other option.

If you've worked hard enough to get your nose in front then you are perfectly entitled to do what you can to protect that lead.

Credit to the Australian bowlers. They toiled hard and gave it their best shot at taking the wickets they badly wanted.

But England's batsmen were too good to give them up cheaply.

Root's 68 was a significant milestone for him because it showed that he hadn't completely lost his mojo after his Lord's ton.

We all know that he is a quality player but the longer he went without backing up his knock, the more it would have become an issue.

Pietersen was patience personified and if Australia thought they could ruffle his feather with a bit of chat they were mistaken.

He reigned himself in like the best players can and the only real surprise was that he didn't go on and make it a proper Test score.

Bell did what Bell has done all series and played as if he will never get out and for Chris Woakes to start his career in the grand manner – hitting his first ball for four, would have done him the world of good.

Two other players spring to mind when it comes to hitting their first ball to the ropes. David Gower and Usman Khawaja.

Woakes will want to follow in the footsteps of the former, and when he resumes his knock, there is a very clear opportunity for him to take his time in doing so.

And if he takes all day, well that is entirely up to him.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia.
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