With The Bug’s imbedded Ashes reporter Bob “Smash” Smaddocks
In sensational news from England, Australia will go into the fourth Test at Old Trafford, Manchester, tonight Australian time with an all-spin attack.
In a world exclusive, The Bug can reveal that all of Australia’s topline speedsters – Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc – are being rested and the Australian eleven will be batsmen top-heavy with only part-time spinners to back up Nathan Lyon.
“Naturally, we’re taking quite a punt and hoping we win the toss and can bat first and build a big total with out batting depth,” said Australian coach Justin Langer of the strategy.
The Bug has also learnt that the tourists pleaded with the England and Wales Cricket Board to cancel the recent tour match against Derbyshire because the Aussies pacemen were all “emotionally and physically spent” after their Headingley loss.
While that county game went ahead, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle and some chap called Michael Neser covered for the exhausted speedsters from the shock loss in Leeds but are now also physically exhausted from that three-day game and need to be rotated out as long-standing player-management practice.
“The bottom line is that no-one has recovered on Test eve to do the right thing by Australia in Manchester,” Langer added. “We also have a duty-of-care to the well-being of our pacemen.
“Look at Pat Cummins, for example. He bowled nine overs in England’s first dig at Headingley and almost 34 for the match – that’s 17 overs an innings. He’d have to be rotated out and rested any way with that workload, and he’s no spring chicken at 26.
“James Pattinson is 29 and frankly his 30 overs at Headingley have left him a wasted wreck, as is James Pattinson also with 30 overs all up. An enormous load for all three men and no wonder they’re getting about using zimmer frames.
“And while Sids and Starc did okay in Derby, they’re buggered too and need to be rested.
“And we’re not that desperate yet to consider Mitchell Marsh.
“It’s then that we thought of the all-spin strategy. Luckily England agreed to waiver tour conditions and have allowed us to bring in some players outside the tour group. I think they feel a little sorry for us and could you blame them?
“So the Australian team for tonight’s Test in likely batting order is David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Kurtis Patterson, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (capt), Alex Carey, Nathan Lyon and Jon Holland.
“When it comes to our turn at the bowling crease, we’ll be opening up with Lyon and Smith. First change will probably be Labuschagne with his leg spin tweakers, followed by Jon Holland, who will send down some slow left-arm orthadox rubbish,” Langer added.
“Carey bowls some shit so slow he could probably keep to himself and I’m not sure what Kurtis Patterson bowls, if he’s ever bowled at all.
“Maybe we’ll even get Warner to toss down a few. Who knows. He might just make a major contribution to the series for a change.”
It is believed to be the first time in Test cricket that three specialist ‘keepers who can bat a bit but can’t bowl anything but rubbishy shit will play in the same game.
Coverage of tonight’s opening day is on 9Gem from 7.30pm.
STOP PRESS: Gutzy England all-rounder Ben Stokes, 28, will play at Old Trafford despite bowling himself to a standstill with 33 overs at Headingley, including the lion’s share of the attack in Australia’s second dig, leaving him with barely enough strength left to then trash Australia all around the park for a match-winning and series-saving 135no.