Thank God…… The wait for the second test of an Ashes series feels longer than the wait between the series. Especially when England are 1-0 down, having been humiliated. Ben Stokes, we all miss you.
At 1-0 down, this is a huge test for England, who won the toss and decided to bowl. This was despite the opinion of everyone else I have spoken to, and Steve Smith’s as well. A classic Adelaide wicket, looking flat and quick despite a touch of grass rolled in with the outfield looking pristine. The Barmy army supposedly having around 8-15 thousand brought with them in an attendance of around 55 thousand. Packed to the rafters and then some, with some spectators even on the roof. Considering how windy it was, that was a braver move than Piers Morgan consciously deciding to face Brett Lee.
Broad and Anderson of course opened the bowling to a field seemingly set on restricting Warner, instead of going full out for the wicket. Not much happened in the first few overs after that, England improved their length bowling a whole 0.000001% fuller still struggling to hit a good length. Warner and Bancroft seemed very happy to face out the England openers while not particularly pushing on, with the exception of a sumptuous cut shot from Warner.
Woakes came on after overs bowling much of the same as his predecessors before the heavens opened on the two teams forcing a rather long break off the field. This turned out to really suit England. They came out looking much better then the previous session bowling fuller and moving the ball a lot more in the air with a touch more humidity.
Not soon after, the visitors struck for the first time this test with the very fortunate dismissal of Cam Bancroft for 10. Warner played a cover drive to Moeen Ali who fumbled it. The roar from the English crowd would have made you think that there were millions of them. As the pair have done in these ashes so far, they attempted to scramble for a single resulting in Warner sending Bancroft back down the wicket without a paddle. Woakes collected the ball and after briefly collecting his thoughts, calmly struck the wickets down with Aleem Dar choosing not to send it to the third umpire. This was all very much reminiscent of the 2010/11 Katich run out at the this very same ground.
Khawaja came in with the hosts on 33/1 with earlypressure being mounted on him from the off with three narrowly missing his edge in the first few overs. Unsurprisingly, England brought on Moeen to try and exploit Khawaja’s weaknesses to offspin. Khawaja had a strong response, going on the attack and taking on Ali. There were a couple of half chances but Root had to take him off as his game plan seemed to be to just restrict the two as much as possible.
Woakes was brought on and struck fairly quickly tempting Warner into poking a fairly short ball outside off behind to Bairstow in a much needed wicket for England and a well deserved wicket for Woakes, who has really improved his game on the first day. Warner ended up on 47, leaving Australia on 86-2.
This wicket brought the danger man, Smith in to the crease and England’s main tactic seemed to be to just derail the Aussie skipper through intense conversations which seemed to really unravel the batsman. This culminated in Aleem Dar, the umpire having to stand between Anderson and Smith several times to try and stop the two chatting. This reminded me of my teacher having to do the same to me, only I was eight at the time. Overton continued what was a very good first day of cricket for him in the England set up by coming close several times through two LBW shouts and a skewed straight drive just beating the 195 centimetres of Overton.
Khawaja used up another one of his nine lives shortly after, being dropped by Stoneman in the deep who was yet again wearing his short fielding pads in the deep, which restricted him from getting to the ball properly. This pads problem has been outlined by many people as there was a chance of him getting on the other end of a Smith top edge in the first test. The catch would have been routine and although Khawaja only went on to score another 9 runs, it was still a problem that is so easily solved, and so needlessly created.
For the first time in ashes history, the dinner break struck. Khawaja being the man to go after using up all nine lives. His dismissal came from the hands of James Anderson in a really needless dismissal. Anderson found a rare hint of movement early on in the session, moving it away from the batsman who was caught fishing without a license edging it to James Vince at gully who took it easily to some delight. He finished on a well deserved, if streaky 53, leaving Australia on a strong 139-3.
Handscomb came on, and in the first time this series, both Australian batsman looked extremely shaky with Smith showing his signs of disturbance very clearly. He was doing his extra shuffles, twitches, and steps away from the pitch every so often responding to one of the English players, who were still constantly in his ear. This didn’t take too long to materialise into a wicket, with Smith showing an extraordinary lapse of concentration with a short break in spells for Overton doing the trick. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very good ball which cut in, but would not have hit the stumps if it wasn’t for a thick edge of the skipper’s bat. Overton was absolutely delighted, much alike the Barmy Army. How happy would you be if you took the world’s number 1 batsman on debut though? A very good day from the debutant and an extremely deserved wicket. Possibly the new tactic to Steve Smith could be to just get in his face, as he was definitely perturbed by the England team.
Marsh came on with the score at 161-4 hoping to emulate his heroics in Brisbane alongside Peter Handscomb. They formed a steady partnership at the end of the day putting Australia on 209-4. Marsh finishing the day on 20, with Handscomb on 36.
The decision to bowl from Joe Root was definitely questionable at best, however does not look as poor as it did at the end of the day. Still anyone’s game but definitely Australia’s day. They are in a very strong position heading into day two but you never now. As always this track is very flat and very quick. Will be interesting to see if England can bat on it as well.