Ball One – Like Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting is in the twilight of a glorious career and, like Rahul Dravid, he is getting bowled more often than he would like – more often than he should. Yes Umesh Yadav is slippery, yes he’s got a decent ball early in his innings and yes he’s been out all through his career pushing hard at the ball with his head falling to off, but he looked beaten for pace too, late on the shot. Perhaps that’s what happens when a 37 year-old fronts up to a 24 year-old, no matter who the 37 year-old is.
Ball Two – Hit on the head, hit on the arm, dropped (horribly) by Virat Kohli at first slip, David Warner just blocks it or hits it (he doesn’t leave many) and runs like a hare. Then there’s the gum chewing, the narrowing of the eyes and the teeth bared in what might be a smile and might be a grimace. He is the personification of the romantic Australian image of an Australian. Michael Clarke – at the other end – isn’t, but he’s finding a different route into Australian hearts. Both are their own men and have grown in the last twelve months into cricketers of substance.
Ball Three – Ian Chappell on commentary with Ian Healy is the aural equivalent of Sachin Tendulkar batting with Chris Martin. Chappelli is spiky, sometimes offensive and often unpredictable, but he knows his cricket and he knows how to communicate that knowledge pithily and seriously. He’s 68 now, but that’s relatively youthful in the Channel Nine box.
Ball Four – All my lifetime, the WACA has been a venue that rewards positive batting and positive bowling. Pitches should vary around the world, but it should not be beyond the ken of modern science to analyse the composition of the WACA’s soil, variety of grass and the approach to preparation by the groundstaff and adapt that knowledge to local conditions and get a little WACA into the roads that too often reward ordinary batting. Pace, bounce and a little help for bowlers as the match progresses – that’s the ideal for a Test strip.
Ball Five – It’s easier said than done, but bowlers really need to concentrate on the last ball of the over. In the 58th of the Australian innings, Ishant Sharma had logged five dot balls and then delivered a wide half-volley that Mike Hussey merely had to meet with the bat to send it through the covers for four. It was a double release of pressure, as Hussey was on just two at the time and would have felt a lot better for a boundary notched.
Ball Six – Australia have seldom gone into a series with so inexperienced a opening pair as Cowan and Warner, who had just 72 matches between them coming into this Test. But their stand of 214 is the difference between the sides – take them out of the match and India’s 161 does not look so dismal compared to Australia’s 99-6. Batting in partnerships has never been more important than during this curious spell of low scores in Test cricket.