There’s a reason why Ashes remain so popular in the current era. Keeping aside the cricket being played on the ground, there are numerous side-stories and sub-plots each day that keep the viewers entertained.
Day 2 of the 1st Test of the Ashes in Brisbane saw an unexpected story pan out on the field. Australia were restricted to 295, and England were supposed to keep the hosts on the field for the next couple of days. But England folded for 136, and Australia’s lead grew to 224 at stumps.
Those who missed the day’s play, expecting the routine stuff to prevail, missed out on an exhilarating display of cricket and some interesting stories on the sidelines. Here are a few things that grabbed everyone’s attention on Day 2 of the Gabba Test:
The Broad mania continues
Stuart Broad ended with 6 wickets in the first innings on the 2nd morning and led his team off the ground. The Gabba crowd, religiously booing Broad so far, continued to jeer him even as others stood up to applaud his effort.
The mixed reaction prompted Michael Vaughan to exclaim on air – “I have never seen a crowd stand, clap and boo a player before.”
In yesterday’s post-match conference, Broad said psychological profiling done before coming to Australia revealed that he, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior would be targeted by the fans. Broad has taken the brunt of that hatred so far, with a local Australian newspaper in particular sticking to its promise and not referring to him by his name in its reports.
If anything, it has provided propelled Broad to give an inspired performance, and the lad seems hell bent on making a mark in this series. Though his team is behind in this match, his individual performance has been brilliant so far, taking 6 wickets in the 1st innings, followed by a contribution of 32 with the bat.
The other Aussie target
True to the psychological profiling which Broad mentioned, Kevin Pietersen soon became the target of the Brisbane crowd. During the 3rd over of Australia’s 2nd innings, a fan asked Pietersen for an autograph on a miniature bat.
As Pietersen moved towards the fan, he pulled back the bat, mocking Pietersen while doing so. The rest of the crowd soon joined in, and Pietersen was left with no choice but to move inside the boundary line with a smile on his face.
It may be going over the line now, this crowd reaction, but Pietersen had only flying kisses to give to the Australian fans despite all the verbal abuse he was receiving.
There was another interesting message flown over the stadium today for KP. The Australians have done their preparations it seems:
The no-ball gone unnoticed
Mitchell Johnson was bowling with pace and fury, and making England batsmen jump all around. However, his dismissal of Graeme Swann, where the batsman was beaten by pure pace, and edged a catch to short leg, was a bonus for the bowler as umpires failed to spot a clear no-ball. See for yourself:
Clearly, no part of Johnson’s foot was behind the line, and if referred to the third umpire, Swann and England could have found a lifeline. As has been the case so many times in the recent past, umpires do refer to the TV official just to double check the bowler’s footing in case of a dismissal. But this one just went unnoticed.
Swann was the 8th wicket to fall, and may not have had a major contribution to make in the game with the bat, but it’s Ashes, and it won’t be what it is without a few umpiring blunders these days.
England may not have been cruising along at 82/2, but they were in a good position from where they could have built a 100/200-run partnership which has been the norm for their strong middle order.
But Mitchell Johnson, with the moustache for Movember adding to his menacing looks, bowled with the kind of pace no other bowler has been able to generate in 2 innings so far, and hurried onto the English batsmen, getting the edge with sheer pace and bounce.
87, the equivalent of a Nelson (111) in Australia, actually turned out to be quite a fortunate number for them today. On 87, Michael Carberry was bounced out by Johnson, while Nathan Lyon joined the party by dismissing Ian Bell and Matt Prior on consecutive deliveries.
From 82/2, Australia slumped to 91/8. The Gabba crowd were at their feet, and England had choked after Broad’s heroics on the opening day.
Broad only delayed the inevitable a bit, getting hit on his helmet once. His vigil of 32 ended with a brilliant catch on the boundary by Chris Rogers, who himself partnered David Warner in Australia’s 2nd innings to remain unbeaten at the end of the day.
Australia are 224 runs ahead at the end of Day 2. The Brisbane crowd would reach the ground tomorrow in better spirits, definitely not sulking as much as yesterday when the Broad show spoilt their mood.