England 215 (Trott 48, Bairstow 37, Root 30, Siddle 5/50, Pattinson 3/69, Starc 2/54), Australia 4/75 (Smith 38*, Anderson 2/25, Finn 2/37) Stumps Day 1
The majority of Australian sports fans had one question last night, “who the hell is Ashton Agar?” Unknown to all but the most serious cricket fans, the former Richmond CC left arm orthodox spinner joined Western Australia last season and impressed all as he quickly became the Warriors number one spinner. In a well kept secret that no-one saw coming, 19 year old Agar was handed Australia’s 434th Test cap, yet another spinner in the revolving door of tweakers since the retirement of S.K. Warne. A bold move, a kick in the guts to Nathan Lyon. The Lehmann era will be interesting. 5 changes from Australia last Test against India in Dehli, with in coming Rogers, Clarke, Haddin, Starc and Agar in place of Warner, Wade, Maxwell, Johnson & Lyon. After 17 Tests with the Warner/Cowan opening combination we have a new opening pair with the prolific 35 year old Chris Rogers being given another chance, alongside Shane Watson who was successful in his campaign to be reinstated at the top of the order. No faceless men required.
England captain Cook wins the toss and has no hesitation in electing to bat on a dry looking Trent Bridge pitch. Pattinson and Starc spray the new ball around, getting good movement through the air but not in control of the swinging Duke. England get to 27 when Pattinson entices an edge from Cook, the skipper out for 13. Trott comes to the crease and is easily the most impressive batsman of the day, Siddle enters the attack and is also wayward, bowling several half volleys on leg stump that Trott easily dispatches. Agar enters the attack and there is no Shane Warne style fairytale first ball on English soil, instead a full toss is put away for four through cover by Trott. But the tall left arm spinner lands them pretty well after that and could have an influence later in the match as the pitch wears. Siddle then finds some accuracy and turns the match around by bowling Root for 30, getting Pieterson to edge to Clarke at second slip for 13 then bowling a well set Trott for 48. 1/78 becomes 4/124. Bell and Bairstow offer some resistance until Bell nicks one to Watson off Siddle, then Prior is caught by Hughes at point and the lion hearted Victorian has 5 wickets, silencing his doubters and living up to his Test bowling ranking of no.5. Pattinson dismisses Broad and the first 7 wickets have been claimed by Victorians. A brilliant in-swinging yorker from Starc knocks over the defiant Yorkshireman Bairstow for 37, and then dismisses Finn next ball. Pattinson takes the last wicket and England have been bundled out for just 215.
215 may not be that bad a score given the brittleness of Australia’s batting. The tourists face a difficult 21 overs to finish the day and don’t do it well, 4/75 at stumps. Australia needed a Robin Hood innings from Watson but he only gives us Lady Marian, pushing hard at a Finn delivery outside off stump and edging to Root at 2nd slip. Next ball Cowan slashes at a wide delivery from Finn and is caught by Swann. Not the sort of shot Cowan needs to be playing early in his innings if he wants a long career at number 3. Jimmy Anderson plays the Sheriff of Nottingham role, bowling Clarke for a duck with a great delivery that just moved away enough to miss Clarke’s edge and clip the top of off stump. Chris Rogers works hard but is trapped in front by Anderson for 16. Steve Smith batted well and with intent, finishing unbeaten on 38 off 51 balls. England finish the day in front.
The hopes of an entire nation will rest on the shoulders of Steve Smith and Phil Hughes when day 2 starts. A scary thought for most of us, a huge opportunity for the maligned duo. Haddin will need to stand up too, and all of the tail can bat. Ashes cricket is always totally captivating.