Sport Cricket Rodney Hogg: The Australian gamble that nearly backfired

Rodney Hogg: The Australian gamble that nearly backfired

Steve Smith was a nervous man in Brisbane. Photo: Getty
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What a game of cricket the first Test was.

It was unbelievable and I loved it. Pakistan were just amazing and nearly won from nowhere.

Our bowlers stuck to it impressively but one thing is crystal clear: we need more options.

Four bowlers isn’t enough and that is obvious.

We nearly lost having 490 on the board and that shouldn’t happen.

The balance of this side is wrong and Nic Maddinson has had his go. It hasn’t worked out.

The squad for the Boxing Day Test has already been picked and there’s no Mitchell Marsh.

I don’t agree with it though.

I thought they would look at him to come back in and give them another option.

We’re going to need more than four genuine bowlers in India, too.

Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird and Nathan Lyon just weren’t enough on what turned out to be a pretty flat deck.

Starc bowled a great ball to finally get Asad Shafiq, but you expect that from him. He is the leader of the pack.

I feel for the quick bowlers. They bowled on day two, three, four and five – and that’s hard work.

God knows when they actually got into bed after Sunday’s play, which finished just before 10.30pm local time.

Asad Shafiq batted superbly for Pakistan. Photo: Getty

The day-night Tests are great, but they mess with the usual recovery for the bowlers, with their ice baths and a good night of sleep.

Ever since that first Test in Sri Lanka, we are struggling to take 20 wickets.

I’m not sure what it is but Steve Smith needs another option.

I loved the Test, though – it was just brilliant for the longest form of the game and I’m not criticising Smith’s declaration.

We did set them 490 and if they pulled it off it would have been the highest chase – by some distance – of all time.

It was the correct time to declare.

Smith nearly cost us the game but that’s not a criticism of him.

He dropped two catches in the slips and it nearly came back to hurt us. But he takes screamers and got the run-out that ended the Test – so it all worked out in the end.

He has won us plenty of games in the past, too.

Smith’s clever run-out ended the match. Photo: Getty

Smith’s fields were pretty defensive on day five and probably could have been more attacking.

But it’s worth remembering that they would have been the tactics discussed by everyone.

It’s easier than it looks out there and the fear of losing probably crept in.

They wanted to stop the fours, block the runs and create some pressure.

I also enjoyed other moments of the game, like Sarfraz sweeping Bird and the battle between Younis Khan and Lyon.

Lyon’s figures don’t look great but I am a big fan.

I thought he bowled beautifully at times and he is the best spinner in the country.

Are we really going to have this discussion after every match?

Nathan Lyon took two wickets in Brisbane. Photo: Getty

He’s an early selection in the team for me.

As for Pakistan, well, they have set up Boxing Day nicely.

Shafiq looks an excellent talent and his 137 was a great knock.

All the tail-enders chipped in, too. I wonder if there is such a thing as tail-enders in Test cricket these days?

Pakistan’s effort to be alive on the final day, heading towards a score of 500, is a credit to them.

I was thinking back to an Ashes Test in 2005 when we got so close in Edgbaston from a similar position on the last day.

But to win from there, you need absolutely everything to go right and every bit of luck.

They scored very quickly and it was as if they played care-free in the second dig.

It didn’t pay off but gee, it was exciting to watch.

I’m so excited for the rest of the series.

Rodney Hogg played 38 Test matches for Australia, taking 123 wickets. He also played 71 one-day internationals for his country.

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