The Ashes 2013 1st Test, Day 1: Quick flicks of the match
Day 1 of the Ashes did not disappoint; not one bit. In a day dominated by pace and swing, England managed to throw away a relatively good start as the Australian pace trio of James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle ran through the English line-up, dismissing the hosts for 215. Siddle was the pick of the bowlers, picking up a five-for, while Pattinson and Starc divided the rest of the wickets amongst themselves.
A few England batsmen got decent starts, but were unable to make any major contributions. Jonathan Trott looked in good nick as he scored 48, while Jonny Barstow held the middle and lower order together as long as he could before being dismissed for a well-made 37.
However, England won the momentum back by picking up key wickets before the day ended. At 75-4, Australia would be hoping that Steve Smith and Phil Hughes are able to stick around in order to reach a decent total.
Day 2 promises to be an even more exciting one.
Not a captain’s day
During the build-up to the Ashes, much was spoken about the irreplaceable importance of the two captains – Michael Clarke and Alastair Cook. And for good reason too; Clarke and Cook are arguably the best batsmen in Test cricket today. The confidence they inspire in their respective sides makes them truly dangerous opponents, the kind you constantly have to keep an eye on.
However, things didn’t turn out according to the master plan for either of the two skippers today. Alastair Cook hardly looked assured in his brief stay at the crease- 13 off 26 balls – before he was caught behind after offering a nervous nick to the ever-grateful Bradd Haddin; meanwhile, Clarke was clean bowled off the delivery of the day – a textbook James Anderson in-swinger that left the Australian no chance.
Certainly not the start either man would have hoped for.
Will the real KP please stand up?
There exist two Kevin Pietersens – one, a genius who can destroy an all-star team of bowlers in the most hostile conditions, and the other, a cocky, careless man-child who will find a way to give his wicket away. Today, we saw both Kevin Pietersens out on the field.
After hitting Siddle for a beautiful boundary through the off side, KP was threatening to look much like the genius he can be. But the other KP decided to face the next ball. In a lazy attempt to play a similar shot, he made captain Michael Clarke, who gleefully accepted a simple catch at second slip, a very happy man.
It may be early days, but a lot in this series will depend on which KP steps out to bat.
Why did you bother bringing spinners?
Out of the total 80 overs bowled today, the two spinners – debutant Ashton Agar, and Graeme Swann – bowled a total of ten overs, seven by Agar and three by Swann.
Out of a total of 14 wickets that fell, the spinners snared a grand total of zero wickets.
On a surface tailor-made for pace, neither bowler was able to get any purchase out of the pitch. In the mean time, the fast bowlers were running riot, producing vicious swing and bounce.
And although it’s too early to say, if the pitch continues to play the way it was today for the rest of the match, and the series for that matter, it’s not going to get any better for either of the two spinners.
Maybe both sides should just bring an extra batsman for the next Test.
The Lehmann effect?
Although the match is delightfully poised and looks likely to have a definitive result already, you would have to say that Australia would be the happier team at the end of the day.
Having been relegated to the underdog status, the Australians showed the grit and determination that seemed to have gone missing since a very long time. Although the late wickets would have hurt them a little, Australia managed to hold fort on Day 1, something they should try to build on now.
Ever since Darren Lehmann replaced Micky Arthur, one could sense the positivity building around him. Having been part of one of the greatest Test sides in the history of the game, Lehmann brings something that Micky Arthur never could –a winning habit. And the growing confidence in the Australian camp was evident from the enthusiastic, yet almost relaxed, training sessions; and they managed to bring a part of that to the field today.
They fought for every run and every wicket giving the Englishmen no quarter. The fighting spirit has, for better or for worse, been the defining factor of Australian cricket; Lehmann seems to brought it back to this rookie team. Now where that takes him and his dirty dozen remains to be seen.
Let’s hope Lehmann’s boys make this a memorable series for the neutrals.