DAY three ended a lot better than it started.
An extended rain delay left everyone frustrated with commentators dumbfounded as to why play had not begun during lunch. Pakistan left the field in a woeful position, losing six wickets throughout the day and finishing on 8/271 against Australia’s 8/538dec.
Nathan Lyon caused a lot of drama for the Pakistani tail, finishing with three wickets at the end of the day, including a ripper of a delivery spinning from outside off stump into leg stump to dismiss Wahab Riaz. The morning’s delay will see play start at 10am AEDT tomorrow morning with Australia looking to clean up the tail and force the tourists out of the match.
Here were all the talking points from day three at the SCG:
COMMENTATORS CALL FOR COMMON SENSE
It stopped raining at the SCG but even though the skies cleared, play wasn’t scheduled to start until 1.40pm. The umpires instructed groundsman Tom Parker to roll the wicket at around 1.10pm, but as per the rules of cricket, play can’t commence until at least half-an-hour after the wicket first starts being rolled.
It’s another one of the sport’s oddities that doesn’t make much sense, especially on a miserable day like today.
It seems ludicrous. There was a 40-minute break for lunch even though it wasn’t raining, and there was an extended 30-minute gap for seemingly no logical reason.
Ian Healy said what everyone was thinking.
“I said, ‘Why don’t they (the umpires) say we are starting at 1:20 or 1:30, not 1:40?’ He (Tom Parker) said, ‘No, from the time you roll a wicket it has to be half an hour. So if you start a day’s play at 10:30am the wicket gets rolled at 10am.’ That’s still the same today. So if the game is going to start now, it had to be rolled half-an-hour ago.
“So I said to him, ‘Can you start rewriting the groundsmen rule book and those sorts of conditions, please?’ Because we should be starting, we should be able to be on and playing now.”
Strangely, the light or heavy roller almost always comes out at the change of innings, when there’s only a 10-minute gap between the batting and fielding sides changing roles. This makes the half-hour wait seem completely illogical, a point reinforced by former Aussie captain Mark Taylor.
“I’m miffed by all of that,” Taylor said. “I understand the laws that they have to the roll the pitch and stuff. But when you have a change of innings, sometimes the change of innings is only 10 minutes and they get the roller out there.
“They generally roll it for seven minutes and the next team comes out batting. I find that strange. As Ian Healy is alluding to, it is delaying the game further.”
Ian Chappell and Shane Warne both called for more common sense.
“Common sense has to overrule the laws of the game at times. Put it this way, you have got to be a bit more mobile with the laws and the playing conditions and be able to fiddle around,” Chappell said.
“They have got to be more flexible. How many times do you see the hour-and-a-half you are off then play for half-an-hour then they go for lunch,” Warne added. “Let’s get out and play.
“I don’t know if the half-an-hour is for the players, the rope and all those things to happen. But as you say, 10 minute changeovers sometimes happen. Let’s get out and play. All the grounds in Australia these days dry so quickly. The pitch has firmed up. The rope has gone. Let’s get out there.”
As if to prove their point, just a few minutes before the action was supposed to start, a light drizzle began to fall and play was delayed again.
“It is ridiculous how long we had to wait. The rain is not that heavy. I think we lost about three hours in Melbourne too when it was barely raining. It was just fairy stuff. We should have been out there playing,” said Warne.
“The law is when you go off you cannot come back out until it stops raining. So even just the fairy dust like this stuff, you can’t start. Really, there is a good crowd here, everyone wants to see some play. We haven’t had anything today. We really want to see some play. Such a shame it is raining again.”
“You can see it is not very strong. We are hardly picking it up on the cameras,” Taylor added. “As I said a moment ago, you would keep playing this. You wouldn’t be going off. But the fact that they are off means they can’t start. You can hardly see it coming down. It is a shame we are not playing right now.”
MYSTERY FIELDER IMPRESSES COMMENTATORS
With Matthew Wade off with a stomach bug and Matt Renshaw recovering from a blow to the head, Australia were down a man in the field. Enter the mystery fielder. A bearded man — who Ian Chappell dubbed “The Bearded Wonder” — joined the Aussies in the field late on day three and made some stunning saves from the infield as Sarfraz Ahmed and Younis Khan let loose on the bowlers before the new ball was taken. The commentators were audibly impressed with the nameless man, and raced to find out his name to let the world know of his talent.
“We are desperately trying to find out the name of that fielder,” Ian Healy said.
The young fielder’s name was later revealed to be Nic Bills, an up-and-coming bowler on the grade cricket circuit.
NSW grade cricketer Nic Bills getting his moment in the sun as the substitute fielder for Matt Renshaw #TripleMRocksTestCricket
— Triple M Sport (@triplemsport) January 5, 2017
DIVISION OVER HANDSCOMB’S REPLACEMENT OF WADE
Peter Handscomb given the gloves for the day with Matthew Wade leaving the field with a stomach bug. The first thing on everyone’s minds was if Handscomb could deliver Wade’s famous “nice Garry” remark to Nathan Lyon’s bowling. Wade became an overnight sensation on his return, blowing up on social media for his hilarious drawl behind the stumps. As impressive as he was with the gloves in Wade’s absence, Handscomb’s delivery of the famous remark left fans divided.
Some praised the stand-in keeper for his drawling imitation of his Victorian teammate, white others confessed it simply wasn’t the same.
Handscomb with solid ‘nice garry’ after that ball
— Chris Barrett (@ChrisBarrett_) January 5, 2017
Just in: After being heard saying “Nice Garry” over stump mic, Peter Handscomb has been given the keeper gloves. #AUSvPAK
— Cuz (@cuzcloud) January 5, 2017
— StateOfGace † (@sarahd610) January 5, 2017
— Nic Savage (@nic_savage1) January 5, 2017
‘ LUCKY’ LYON ATTACKED BY POMS
Two former England greats took aim at Nathan Lyon’s ability to provide a genuine wicket taking option with his off-spinners.
Michael Vaughan and Graeme Swann — himself an offie in his day — both believe the 29-year-old isn’t troubling the Pakistani batsmen nearly as much as his team needs him to.
“His last five-for was in 2014 (5/134 against India in Adelaide) — 27 Test matches ago. If a batsman went 27 Tests without getting a hundred you know what would happen,” Vaughan said on BT Sport.
“Everything’s just angled into the right-hander which is exactly what you want as a right-hander. Thankyou very much.
“It’s a very difficult delivery for him to bowl (one that drifts away) and that’s why the right-handers are going at the minute, ‘You know what, I’ll have a bit of Nathan Lyon, I’ll just milk him off my pads’.”
Lyon took 3/33 in the second innings at the MCG, but Swann believes that was more down to good luck than good bowling. Peter Handscomb took two excellent catches under the helmet in close and Misbah-ul-Haq played an ill-advised sweep shot off just his fourth ball to be caught at short fine leg.
“Part of the problem when he got those three wickets last week when Shane Warne was up in the commentary box going, ‘Brilliant, that’s how to bowl’, he knows he didn’t do anything differently. All he did was change his line a little bit and he got lucky with a couple of really good catches and a ridiculously bad shot,” Swann said.
“The fact that Steve Smith still took him off — the layman looks on and thinks, ‘Why isn’t he bowling?’ — Steve Smith knew he wasn’t really troubling anyone.
“That’s planted seeds of doubt in Nathan Lyon’s mind.”
Vaughan says Lyon’s bowling has actually deteriorated in recent years.
“He bowled a lot better a few years ago and I just watch him these days and think he’s very comfortable to face.”
Lyon’s performance late on day three showed glimpses of his former greatness. A series in India, which always produces wickets more suited to spinners, will be key to him keeping his spot in the side with a number of plucky young spinners waiting in the wings.
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