Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Off-Colour Tourists Are Pretty Helpless in Pink but Red-Hot Stokes Offers Hope for Future

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Off-Colour Tourists Are Pretty Helpless in Pink but Red-Hot Stokes Offers Hope for Future

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones

IN honour of the McGrath Foundation, the Sydney Cricket Ground was decorated pink for the first day of the Fifth Test. Pink wickets, pink hats, pink flags, pink lanyards, pink polo shirts, pink advertising hoardings. But nothing was pinker than the hot and doleful faces of England's cricketers as they charged about the outfield, chasing down belters from Brad Haddin and Steve Smith.

Not for the first time this series, England started well. They bowled sharp and true during the morning session and had Australia pinned at 97 for five when George Bailey was caught in the slips in the fourth over after lunch. Then, also not for the first time, they lost their grip. Australia wriggled and wrestled and squirmed. And English fingers, which had been wrapped so firmly around the Aussie throats, were left clutching at not very much.

We could say that England were unlucky. Certainly Boyd Rankin was, when he hobbled off -- twice -- clutching his cramping hamstring.

That problem in turn increased the pressure on England's other bowlers -- the most obvious victim was another debutant, the leg-spinner Scott Borthwick, who was brought on a little early and smeared for 21 runs from three overs in his first spell.

But really, this was not a case of bad luck. The pattern of play has been repeated too often during this series. In Sydney just as in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne, the Australian lower-middle order took a bad position and recovered. Haddin and Smith put their heads down and charged -- 97 for five became 325 for eight. The last three Australian wickets fell for a single run but the hurt had been done -- England suffered for the fifth time the mentally sapping experience of seeing a commanding position disintegrate.

As the run rate swept towards four-and-a-half an over, England's well-promised New Faces took on much the same hue as the Old Faces, so many of whom have failed to survive this hideous tour. …

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