The venue was Adelaide Oval – a place for which the clichéd ‘F’ word is not used as frequently as it is for the Gabbatoir, but it has been a happy hunting ground for Australia nonetheless. The baggy greens have lost only Test match here since 1983 – against India in 2018.
The opposition was a meek and timid England, who had lost the first match of the series by 9 wickets, thereby bringing up their tenth defeat on Australian soil in the last 11 outings. Despite almost every parameter hinting at a comfortable victory for the hosts in the second Test of the ongoing Ashes, the game hung in balance prior to the start, mainly for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, Australia missed an important member of their pace contingent in Josh Hazlewood owing to a side strain. Having picked up 13 wickets in his last three Test matches, Hazlewood was certainly loving life in whites. To add to the Aussies’ misery, skipper Pat Cummins was also unavailable for this match after coming in close contact with someone who returned a positive diagnosis for COVID-19.
Their absence, however, was not reflected in Australia’s performance, as they registered a 275-run triumph over the Three Lions. Batting first, Steve Smith’s boys put up 473 runs on the scoreboard, while England could only score 192 in reply. The hosts declared at 230/9 in the second innings, and though England offered plentiful resilience in the second innings, they were eventually bundled out for 236.
We witness plenty of brilliant individual performances in the Adelaide Test. Let us have a look at the best players from the second Test of The Ashes 2021/22.
4. Jos Buttler
The hosts dominated the match right from the get-go and this list will comprise mostly of Australian cricketers, with England’s charismatic wicketkeeper-batter, Jos Buttler, being the lone exception.
The 31-year-old lad from Somerset has a T20I strike rate of 141.16 and an ODI strike rate of 118.66. Known for his unorthodox and innovative strokeplay, one can find a plethora of yet-to-be-named techniques in the ‘Guidebook of Jos Buttler’s brand of cricket,’ barring one age-old one – blocking.
Yet, when his team and nation needed him to, Buttler did block. Short balls, in-swingers, nippers, over-turners – Australia threw the kitchen sink at him, and he blocked. England had to bat a minimum of 134 overs in the second innings and they batted 113.1 of those, thanks to his grit.
England were 86/5 when Buttler came to bat, with the fans already planning their trip back home. However, Buttler went on to face 207 deliveries and also set up a commendable 61-run seventh-wicket partnership with Chris Woakes. His knock should be enough to motivate the Englishmen to up the ante at Melbourne.
But how many runs did Buttler score? Don’t ask, for, in instances such as these, a quantifiable digit cannot justify sweat and blood.
3. David Warner
Australia dominated the match in almost its entirety, except perhaps the first twenty overs. The reunion of the Stuart Broad-James Anderson pair initially worked well for England. Marcus Harris was dismissed in the eighth over, and the Aussies could only score 20 runs in the first 17 overs.
A second wicket at that stage could have been fatal, but David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne soon turned the tides in favour of the hosts. Having cautiously blunted England’s initial sharpness, he eventually started playing the big shots.
From 1 run in 35 deliveries, the 35-year-old went on to score 95 runs in 167 balls, hitting 11 fours in the process. For the second consecutive match, however, he failed to convert a 90+ score into what could easily have been his 25th Test ton.
2. Jhye Richardson
Among the Starcs and Lyons, Jhye Richardson was perhaps not the number one candidate to steal the limelight on the last day of the Test match. He would have not have played this game had Hazlewood and Cummins been available.
Besides that, Richardson was making his comeback into the Test team after nearly three years, having gone under the knife not very long ago. He went wicketless for 78 runs in the first innings, but like a quintessential opportunist, came back to become Australia’s unlikely hero in the second innings.
The 25-year-old dismissed Haseeb Hameed in his first over and just when Rory Burns thought his perennial troubles might be over, he got the better of the left-handed opener. The Murdoch-born player then provided Australia with one of the more crucial breakthroughs in the match, when he handed Chris Woakes marching orders in the 88th over.
That, however, was only a job half-done. Jos Buttler was still at the crease, doing all he can to somehow salvage a draw. In the last ball of the 110th over, Richardson’s back of a length delivery was tackled on the backfoot by the English wicketkeeper, but he went a bit too far in the process and ended up dislodging his stumps. Richardson then called curtains to the match by dismissing Anderson in the 114th over.
1. Marnus Labuschagne
There were quite a few candidates for the player of the match award, but no one had a stronger case than Marnus Labuschagne, who played defining knocks in both innings. In the first innings, he provided Warner with commendable support, as the duo effectively evaded Stuart Broad & Co.’s upsurge.
The 27-year-old was once batting on 21 runs off 90 deliveries and had an easy catch dropped by Buttler, but then showed great composure to score his sixth Test hundred in only his 20th appearance.
The second innings begged for a different approach – Australia wanted Labuschagne to ditch his overly-cautious approach and score runs at a better rate, and he obliged by scoring 51 runs in 96 deliveries, with his strike rate of 53.12 being the best among Australia’s top six.
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