Second Test, Day 1 – Bravo Bravado

by John Butler

The lead up to this game was again dominated by dire prognostications on the state of Test cricket, the state of West Indies cricket and various predictions on the state of the Earth (emanating mainly from Canberra). I leave the state of the Earth to those better informed, but can’t help feeling that when my fellow baby-boomers tire of bemoaning the death of Rock ‘n’ Roll, cricket is one of the things that draws their attention. Would there be any connection in all of this to the loss of youth? Old Dame Test has survived many vicissitudes up ‘til now, and I wouldn’t count her out just yet. Anyway, on with the game.

Chris Gayle wins the toss, and exercises the only option for a sane man in Adelaide- he bats. Travis Dowlin would have grounds to feel stiff that he’s the one to make way for Sarwan. Dougie Bollinger bustles in to deliver the opening over, and Gayle takes advantage of some looseness to get under way. In fact, there is a fair amount of loose stuff to feast on early, and Gayle capitalises; just as well, because he continues to defend in a manner which suggests it’s beneath him to block- or move his feet.

After four overs, a slip has already made way for short mid-wicket. As one of countless armchair captains, I’m intrigued by the modern trend for close men in front of the wicket; especially when 80 runs or more a day regularly leak down to third man. It seems rather too clever by half in most cases.

A promising opening stand ends with Barath issuing a flat-footed drive at Bollinger, and Hussey flinging himself to his left to take a screamer at gully. Undeterred, Gayle clouts Bollinger down the ground for six; a mighty smite, even with the ropes in. Bollinger responds with his first real short ball of the day; it’s perfectly placed and a handcuffed Gayle can do nothing more than nick it to a leaping, one-handed Haddin. With 26 at better than a run a ball, another Gayle cameo has failed to amount to anything significant. A canny piece of bowling by Bollinger is rewarded.

Drinks finds the score 2-52; nothing to complain about there, although one would hope the 12 overs per hour rate will improve. With Chanderpaul joining Sarwan, the main game is afoot for the Windies.

Pete Siddle is the epitome of a wholehearted quick. Here, he bowls a 10 over spell with little luck. The return of 0-48 hints at his main flaw, a certain inconsistency of control, too many ‘4’ balls.

The two experienced Windies pros look to be settling in, until Sarwan spoons Johnson straight into cover’s midriff. This was a real waste, and left the Windies a precarious 3-84. Johnson would have appreciated the bonus. There seems to have been an enormous emphasis on Mitch Johnson developing an inswinger, and it doesn’t seem to be doing that much for his general bowling. The family hasn’t helped either, apparently. But he’s still quick enough to get them jumping, as Nash’s forearm soon attests.

Lunch leaves things poised at 3-119 off a dawdling 25 overs. A pretty decent first session by any standard.

Upon resumption, we discover Nash has retired hurt as a consequence of the Johnson blow. The team that desperately needs some luck continues to get little. Much now depends on Chanderpaul, as Bravo flirts with death early on. A drive just clears mid wicket, and then Katich nearly snares a freak rebound off his foot at short leg. Eventually Bravo settles.

At 3-143, Chanderpaul flirts at Bollinger outside off; the Australian’s seem convinced of a nick, but the batsman stands his ground. It’s referred upstairs, where there appears to be scant evidence to demand a dismissal. Punter’s obviously grumpy; it would have been a crucial breakthrough. What technology giveth, it can also taketh away- as he discovers later. Maybe the Windies’ luck is changing?

Watto comes on, bowling gentle outswingers way wide of off stump. It seems he wants to bore the batsmen out. Bravo gets the hang after a while, and dispatches a couple to the cover boundary. Whether batting or bowling, Shane Watson looks like an athlete who’s been manufactured into a cricketer; nothing seems natural, everything assembled.

The partnership continues to accumulate, and tea is reached at 3-194; the session very much in favour of the Windies. Ominously, Chanderpaul seems bent on avenging his Brisbane failures. He’s the antithesis of his skipper, but let him settle at your peril. With only 52 overs bowled, it’s going to be a long last session.

Australia restarts proceedings by dropping two sharp Bravo chances; Siddle off his own bowling, and Clarke at slip off Hauritz. Bravo celebrates by lofting down the ground for his fifty. He then fails to pick the change-up and barely clears mid off; Siddle concludes another unlucky over conceding 11. Bravo then hooks him in the air; Watto performs gymnastics on the rope, but just fails to hold a conjurer’s trick of a catch. Siddle is now beyond frustrated. He continues to bang it in; Bravo hooks away. The scoreboard is rattling.

Watto returns, and immediately we’re involved in forensic examination of a Chanderpaul play and miss. On somewhat slim replay evidence, it’s deemed on hit, and he’s on his way for 62. Then Ramdin plays on in the same over. 5-239. In truth, Watto’s bowled the over like an arthritis sufferer, but you can’t argue with wickets.

For a man who, in Brisbane, was bounced out by M Hussey, Bravo seems admirably un-scarred by the experience. Or is it just that hooking is the strongest of compulsions? He continues to chance his arm. When the Gatorade blimp rolls out, it’s 5-261.

Bravo brings up his ton with another loft down the ground. He’s had plenty of lives, but played plenty of good shots in between. Watto soon hits his pads and draws an LBW out of the ump. Off we go to the referral room again. This time the batsman wins. Slats pronounces “that’s the first decision to be reversed by the new process”. Errr, that would be excepting the last decision, Slats.

It makes little difference. Hauritz almost immediately knocks his off stump back. it was an innings of 104 which was sorely needed by his team. The fact that Nash returns without an arm guard is either a show of bravado, or a reflection of budgetary woes.

Just in case Haurie was getting cocky, Sammy plants him over the extra cover fence. For good measure he repeats the dose over mid off. Tall and slender, he’s a beautiful timer of the ball.

The six o’clock news arrives with 12 overs still to bowl.

The Aussies take the new ball. Johnson does little to reclaim it permanently. Nash enjoys the pace onto his pads, and by stumps he’s caught Sammy- 44 apiece. At 6-336, the Windies have provided a good day’s cricket. They’re in the game, but we said that after day one in Brisbane, didn’t we?

When the extra half hour expires, there are still 5 overs due. The Australian camp seems to have learned nothing in this regard since the Nagpur debacle. Nor do the authorities threaten to do anything meaningful about the problem.

In other regards, the usual Punter tactical questions remain. Why didn’t Bollinger bowl more? Why wasn’t Siddle bowled less? But in truth, if they’d held their catches, they would be in control once again.

PS: For the two people wanting a Tommy update- he’s a much happier chappy than last week, but a wistful expression still crosses his face from time to time.

About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Livable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has been a Carlton member for more than 30 years.

Comments

  1. Peter Flynn says:

    John,

    Spot on re over rates, Watson, tactics and short mid-wickets.

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