Australia won the toss and batted. Stumps, Day 1, 3 for 303, Clarke 125 no, Smith 70 no. Rogers 84, Swann 2/82
The remodelling of Old Trafford has resulted in a squarish ground, surrounded by stands without roofs, a strange sight to see for Australian fans. There’s a zebra painted on the field behind the bowler’s run ups and Clarke wins a toss for once, so everything’s slightly out of kilter.
Australia though returns to a pattern of consistency by dropping one Test opener batting out of position in the middle order and replacing him with.., well, you get it.
Australia’s selections, whilst understandable, start to take you back to the days when Australia was dominant in these contests, and would make perhaps one change through an Ashes series, when England would bring in all sorts of unknowns and trundlers who would play twice then disappear. England’s unchanged line up makes you pine for the good old days.
Brett Lee on Channel 9 signs off by saying Australia need to get off to a good start. Brett will be on Rockwiz on Saturday night when Julia Zemiro will quiz him on his special subject, “the freakin’ obvious”!
In the glory days, when Shane Warne was bowling, you got the feeling a wicket could fall any delivery, and you had to time your dunny runs within the ad breaks between overs, lest you missed anything. Australia coming out to bat on the first morning of an Ashes test at the moment has a similar feeling of dread.
Early on, Rogers seems comfortable, judging the swing well and despite being patient, is timing the ball well and going at about a run a ball. He is a picture of economy, not much of a follow through compared to Watson but highly effective. Maybe the much vaunted English awareness is paying off.
Watson is playing the circumspect role, sees off his kryptonite in Anderson, and then the up-until-then ineffective Bresnan bowls a ball that does nothing and Watson provides catching practice to Captain Cook.
Khawaja never looks really set, but then The Decision occurs. The less said about it the better, save that it was the worst, most useless, terrible, awful, ridiculous, brainless, insane, simply wrong, shocking decision we’ve ever seen. Anything that makes me nod my head in agreement with a KRudd tweet is more pain than I need.
Khawaja’s shot itself it should be noted was poor, with his bat being as far away from his pad as it was from the actual ball.
Maybe the BCCI has it right with refusing to use DRS. It sadly will be a talking point of the series and so far, this match.
The only positive thing that the DRS has bought to cricket has been the return of the word ‘howler’ to popular conversation. Seemingly, cad, bounder and egad can’t be far behind.
Rogers, wearing an armguard that looks like a piece of dirty plaster board married to a piece of cuttlefish, eventually goes for his highest score and brings to the crease Smith.
Smith baffles me. I just can’t see him at Test standard, but he keeps making runs, although the gods are with him and Australia for a change. He’s an enigma wrapped in a mystery, rolled into a pork bun, but his 70* is impressive.
Clarke does what all Australia have willed him to do for ages, and be the man that we build an innings around. Coming in again far too early, he shows why we both take so many openers on this tour, as well as the fact that regardless of whether he bats at 4 or 5, he’s always in reasonably early.
A fine hundred, the much clichéd ‘Captain’s knock’, and we wake to the surprising news that we’ve both taken the points and returned to the Waugh days of making 300 in a day.
It’s not quite “In your face Shelbyville” just yet, but it’s a better day than we’ve had for a while. It’s not where you start though, it’s where you finish, and recent form tells us the chickens have yet to hatch and we are always a few balls away from ruination.
The best bits of the day?
The bowlers got a full day off
Someone other than an Australian spinner with 100 runs next to his name
We all go back to loving Clarkey again
Watson couldn’t waste a referral on his decision
DRS, of course
The rev counter when Swann bowls, useless and tells me as much as the late Tony Grieg’s players comfort level used to
Watson, another start wasted
Warner’s ad for sport sox. Get off