Tuesday 21 November 2017

Cricket: Captain Cook's field day marred by England's spilt catches

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 05: Alastair Cook of England dives for a ball hit by Michael Clarke of Australia during day one of the Second Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on December 5, 2013 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 05: Alastair Cook of England dives for a ball hit by Michael Clarke of Australia during day one of the Second Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on December 5, 2013 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Alastair Cook's leadership is still in its relative infancy but by getting his bowling mix right on the first day of the second Test – picking Monty Panesar as the second spinner – and most of his tactics spot on after Australia won the toss on a turning Adelaide pitch, he had what some were saying was his best day in the field as England captain.

Not that his team finished the day on top. But they would have been had they been able to catch. Michael Carberry's spilt chance off Brad Haddin just before the close of play was the simplest and most frustrating of the drops.

Cook was full of purpose with his field settings and when it did look like it had become too cosy, after Australia had reached 137-1 post-lunch, he had a long talk with his players. The team then took two wickets in the next six overs.

James Anderson found enough extra bounce to hit a dead part of Shane Watson's bat and pick up a comfortable return catch.

Chris Rogers departed next; once Graeme Swann and Panesar had reduced the number of short balls and allowed Cook to set a more claustrophobic field with three men close in, the left-hander began to get twitchy. Swann dismissed Rogers when, with his balance undone, he edged a hesitant cut shot to Matt Prior.

With Michael Clarke and Steve Smith at the crease, Cook brought on Panesar, who bowled Smith with a ball that turned from middle stump to strike off.

Panesar, though, dropped a return catch off George Bailey at 174-4, and the Aussie No 6 made capital out of his let-off with a breezy 53. Clarke was also dropped, on 18, a tough chance off Swann to which Joe Root got a hand at mid-wicket; a hopeful one.

However, when Stuart Broad banged one in short again, Bailey snapped off the shot only to find Swann leaping to snaffle a fine catch at square-leg catch. Broad and Anderson had taken the second new ball by that point, but Haddin prefers pace and Cook summoned Panesar, picked here alongside Test debutant Ben Stokes.

Haddin's loose cut, which went at chest height to Carberry, was put down in a flurry of flapping hands and accusing stares. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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