12 overs of England's suck

Describing 72 balls from hell.

The strap of Haseeb Hameed's arm guard is flapping, the ball is travelling back over his head, and Zak Crawley looks like he has seen a ghost. Pat Cummins chooses violence.

There is a moment as the ball approaches Hameed where he clearly doesn't know where it is. The fear for him is obvious, for his wicket and his well-being.

The ball takes his glove, ramps up from his arm guard and flies off. He has no idea where it is. He's in the middle of one of the world's biggest sporting stadiums looking in one direction, while tens of thousands look another way.

If Hameed remembers his name at this point he's doing well.

Hey England, welcome to the suck.

Cummins follows up Hameed's accidental escape by attacking Crawley's off stump like it abused him on the playground.  The entire over seems unfair. These two guys average 31 and 32 in first class cricket. Pat Cummins is a golden being of light that radiates perfect precision and happens to have the sixth-best bowling average of all time.

To misquote Bundini Brown, 'How you gonna play God, son?' At the beginning of the day it was Omicron that might end this series, now it's less Covid, and more a Cummins' scare.

The over doesn't get a wicket, and maybe it didn't need it. The balls were too perfect to be sullied by a slow walk off.

Next over, Hameed knows the short one is coming the threat is think enough he can taste it. But knowing about it doesn’t help him, it's too good and fast from Mitch Starc, and there is half a shot played.  It is hard to tell at times if Hameed is playing or leaving. He is moving his bat away, but late, like he wants to leave, but the ball has already been thrown to second slip. Last delivery of the over he plays a timid shot outside off stump to make sure his bat still works. It doesn't.

Crawley gets an edge trying to defend his off stump from Cummins. The ball flies to the right of Alex Carey who thinks of catching it, before politely leaving it for David Warner. Usually there would be an analysis of how he allowed a catch to pass by him safely. But no one cares, because it looks like there will be a wicket every ball. Or maybe two.

Yet for all the murderous intentions, Australia hasn't even taken one. There are countless plays and misses, leaves that make people feel ill and half shouts as balls hit things near bats.

But after 4.3 overs, there has been so many threats, but no victims. It feels like England could be five down already. Hameed's blind glove, one of Cummins many off stump streamers, Starc off a hard length and the Carey statue have all come and gone. It's clear that England aren't trying to make it through to stumps; every ball survived is a victory.

Ball 4.4 starts it. Considering what has come before, it feels tame. Starc moves Crawley across the stumps; he pokes one behind. It was a friendly execution, the final meal was well cooked and the priest agrees to keep it short.

The next ball is an explosion, Dawid Malan is in the picture, but almost more like a glitch from a different computer game. He misses the ball by a long way, and if he's playing a shot, we haven't given it a name yet. It's LBW. It's brutal. Next ball Starc flies past the edge of Root, the ground, and Marnus Labuschagne cannot believe this is not a hat-trick.

Cummins wants to join in, he hunts the edge again, and Root stands at the crease angry that he hasn't left the ball. He's worried about whether his tie is straight as his house burns down. When Root does get it right, he knocks a straight drive down the ground/. His team is batting on lava, and Root’s taking throw-downs from Cummins.

The first ball of the eighth moves like an off-spinner for Cummins, Hameed makes an early decision to leave it. It probably made sense at the time. Umpire Paul Reiffel's finger twitches. But it's high. There is no way to play this ball. It is not supposed to do this, this delivery just has its own mind, and it's evil.

Root gets two edges to Starc in the next over. Another strangely extravagant drive, and then a defensive shot which Carey does dive for, but is short. That is the end of Starc. Just another day of his merry mega mischief.

Now England get a much need change in vibes. Compared to Cummins and Starc, Scott Boland feels like a gentle breeze and a cool drink. But Hameed shivers and drops the drink all over himself.

The man lasted through Cummins almost beheading him, Starc almost ripping through throat out, countless increddy balls around off stump, and Boland takes him with perhaps the friendliest ball he was going to see this innings.

Imagine the stories he will tell his grandkids.

"Oh, You've never seen anything like it, Kiddo, they were the two fiercest creatures in all of existence, coming for me. Fast, dangerous and full of bloodlust. One athletic and godlike, crafted from flawless granite with the singular purpose of claiming your off stump. And the other one was tall and left armed, like a Raptor with an arm cannon. The ball was here, it was there, it was everywhere. And I was jumpin', hoppin', missin', duckin' and divin' all over this majestic cauldron. I could feel 30,000 droplets of spittle hitting my neck. It was the best spell of bowling I have ever seen, and here I was, out in the middle, facing up to the apocalypse."

"Who got you grandpa, Perfect Pat or Manic Mitch".

"Oh, I can't remember now; it was a long time ago."

But this is Melbourne, Boland's city, where he is, according to the local paper of record, 'unplayable'. Hameed may want to keep the cut out of that.

And then England sent in Jack Leach, has he not suffered enough. Is there no other  shit job left for him to do. Jimmy Anderson's laugh coach, Ben Stokes' locker attendant, or Chris Silverwood's agent? To throw him into his MCG pit as nothing more than a sacrificial wicket after his series is probably against socially acceptable cricket etiquette.

Let's send in the guy who is already struggling in his day job and let him try to survive a ball of Cummins and Starc. Or, in this case, just walk to the middle and then personally escort Boland's fifth ball to his stumps.

The good news is that England's best batting came next, as for two or three minutes they didn’t look like losing another wicket. The delay was brought about by Ben Stokes not having his pads on. He was, to quote the great Dante, not even supposed to be here today. They were the calmest part of this session, unless you realised that David Warner might appeal for a timed out.

Root survived Cummins last over. In fact, to prove he is not really related to the rest of his batters. The man finished the day with an on-drive.

An on-drive, while Rome burned.

The ludicrous nature of these 12 overs of English carnage finishing with a well legged three is so preposterous. There are times in this series when England has played a massive part in their own downfall. In this innings, their biggest mistake was getting on the plane in the first place. They were out of control for 28 balls according to the data. It was about 68 according to any England fan unlucky enough to be awake at the time.

And yet England survived Cummins. Tell the villagers, stop the presses. However,  they lost four wickets in the other six overs. The suck is real.