Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 2, 2019

First Ashes Test Day One – The Final Over of the Day

Steven Smith’s bat

Ball One – Warner fails to heed DRS warning

Not many seats empty at the start of play, not many inside the hospitality boxes either. The feeling abroad is that the series will be short and, well. not exactly sweet, but you know what I mean. In a more elegiac sense, Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad bowling to David Warner has been one of the great clashes in cricket, in sport, these last few years – and it didn’t disappoint. Warner probably edged his first ball down the leg side to be caught and the not out decision went unreviewed; he survived an LBW DRS from Broad; he received a very firm word from Aleem Dar about gardening on a line and length; and he was out LBW to a Broad delivery that was going down leg side. 14 balls; 2 runs; lots and lots of boos and lots and lots of incident.

Ball Two – Smith forges ahead with Head

A compelling session of Test cricket concluded with the scoreboard showing 83-3, England having won the first hour, Australia the second. England bowled extremely well in helpful conditions – but so they should on the first morning with cloud overhead. Steven Smith was back in Test cricket after fewer than eight overs and he looked a little rusty against a fired up Broad and hometown hero Chris Woakes. But he started lining the ball up properly, leaving well and England’s change bowlers lost a little focus. Crucially, Smith found a partner in Travis Head, whose four boundaries in ten balls signalled a shift in the balance of play. England need to get Smith out (and you can Cmd C Cmd V that for the next six weeks) because if he finds a partner, Australia will accumulate scores that will keep them in the game – and that might be enough.

I’ve been a fan for quite a while now.

Ball Three – Schoolboy errors, well not even that, scuppers Australia’s middle order

With Anderson unlikely to bowl again in the match, never mind the day, Australia’s batsmen seem incapable of lining the ball up and playing it late. Both Travis Head and Matthew Wade fell LBW, the head, hands and feet all over the place. Smith must have been despairing at the other end, his legendary quirkiness a smokescreen for a technique that brings everything into the right place at the precise moment it needs to be. Much of batting is difficult, especially against bowlers as skilled and motivated as Woakes and Broad today, but these players could perform the basics of batting in the back yard. Why can’t they now?

Ball Four – In, Out, In (the middle)

I’ve long held the belief that the umpires should rotate through each session of the day, so each umpire stands at each end and also does one stint in the DRS booth. Not only would that help with concentration, it would also give some respite if an umpire is having a bad day – because, like anyone else, off days do come along. A chance to gather thoughts without the knowledge that the camera is zooming in on you relentlessly as appeals rain in from fielders and crowd. It’s not an easy job – so why not make it a little less difficult?

Ball Five – Bowler of the Day

The guard could have changed today. Sam Curran and Jofra Archer on the ground and warming up and Olly Stone bowled very fast at Lord’s. But the old firm were selected and Anderson and Broad were tremendous, new ball in hand, clouds overhead. Both beat the bat and Broad, knees pumping, crowd bawling, snared both openers in the first 40 minutes – he could have had more. But Anderson’s injury flared up, breaking up the thousand wickets duo. Broad carried on, nailing the Aussie captain and James Pattinson (with a bit of help from the umpires). But he was powerless against Australia’s imperious ex-captain – but who wouldn’t be? Eventually, he got his man and his fivefer. And a chance to put his feet up.

Ball Six – Batsman of the Day

Steven Smith walked in (boos) at 17-2 and walked off (boos and applause, many on their feet) at 284 all out, his share 144. To say he was head and shoulders above the rest is to posit a freakish humanoid with with an emaciated torso and a giant bonce. Something about as outlandish as Smith’s batting technique, at least in terms of what it looks like. It reminded me of another innings played at this ground a year ago. Everyone who booed Smith will one day tell people that they were there when he scored a century for the ages – with a blush I hope.

Honourable mention – Peter Siddle, who played with a straight bat and drove the half-volleys. Like proper batsmen used to.

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Responses

  1. As the Graun have, probably sensibly, closed comments on their piece, I wanted to respond to your response to me by saying that if he continues to bat well, Australia are going to be very hard to beat.

    • Yes – and both sides will start to believe that, which just reinforces it.

      • And Jason Roy may not be the Messiah.


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