Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Ashes, Match Three, Day Four

Cricket is an acquired taste, but I can see why some folks take it very seriously.  Today, for example, Australia had to spend most of the day figuring out how long they wanted to bat in their second innings.  Here's the situation:

1.  England leads The Ashes two matches to zero, so Australia has to win the last three matches (including this one) to take the series.

2.  After the first innings, Australia led England 527-368.

3.  While Australia is ahead, the match will be considered a draw if play is still going on after five days.

4.  Today was the fourth day, and it was raining in the afternoon.  Rain is also expected tomorrow.

So you can see Australia's dilemma.  If the Aussies bat too long, they won't have enough time to retire England in the second innings and obtain a victory.  But if they don't bat long enough, they risk the possibility that England can come from behind and win the match outright.

In the event, Australia batted until 4:25 P.M., at which point the umpires suspended play for "bad light," apparently caused by rainy and overcast conditions.  This made no sense to me, as the match was taking place at a field with floodlights.  The only explanation I've seen is that test matches are played with a red ball, which is difficult to see in floodlights.  But no one has explained why they couldn't just switch to a white ball.  Anyway, as you can imagine, the bad light ruling was a huge advantage for England, which would be happy to see the rest of the match rained out so that they can have a draw.  The Aussies, on the other hand, were furious.

Anyway, with one day to go, here is the latest scoreboard:

INNINGS:  Top of the 2d
AT BAT:  Australia

Most of the experts think Australia will declare themselves out first thing tomorrow morning, and spend the rest of the day trying to retire England.  The oddsmakers don't think the Aussies will make it, and the match will end in a draw.  Here are the latest odds from Ladbrokes:

Draw:  1 to 7
Australia victory:  5 to 1
England victory:  16 to 1

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