Adelaide Test, Australia v India – Day One: The Emotion of Cricket

9 December 2014

Suffice to say it was a day driven by emotion: emotion and cricket.

A good crowd lined up early and filed into the ground en masse.

Surrounded by stands bearing the names of Australian cricketing legends – Bradman and Chappell – the overwhelming atmosphere was palpable – the anticipation of the return of cricket.

Cricket is an integral part of the Australian summer and this was no more evident than on this first day of this first Test of the season.

As had been well publicised, the day began with tributes, applause, bats, caps and armbands.

There were undoubtedly tears in the stands and perhaps behind closed doors, but the Australian players held their heads high, maintained their composure and did their late mate proud.

On a glorious summer day, not a cloud in the sky and the Adelaide Oval looking an absolute picture, Michael Clarke got his wish and won the toss, leaving no one in doubt the hosts would bat first.

David Warner started as he obviously meant to go on; with aggression and flourish scoring three fours off the first over he faced.

The determination etched on his face was undeniable but whether that would translate into a strong innings or whether it would result in a high risk loss of his wicket, as is often the case, remained to be seen.

Thankfully, the former was the case as he struck the ball purely, centring it sweetly on the bat and dispatching the ball around the ground.

In contrast, his opening partner Chris Rogers had an unsettled and staggered start, due in no small part to not facing many balls as Warner took centre stage. Never really finding his rhythm Rogers was sadly but not unusually leaving the crease all too early on a score of nine having edged the ball to second slip.

Watson joined Warner in the middle.

Eventually the significant numbers were arrived at.

Warner reached fifty with a boundary and raised his bat to the sky, looking to the heavens, as was perhaps expected. Australia was 1/80.

Shane Watson, disappointingly, went much the same way as Rogers before lunch on a score of fourteen which brought the captain to the crease.

As Michael Clarke strolled on to the ground to the rapturous and supportive applause of a grateful and appreciative crowd, there was a sense of ‘right, let’s get on with it’.

From the get-go, the pair – who are considered to have been two of the late Phil Hughes’ closest friends – made their intentions clear with Warner continuing his aggressive attack on the Indian bowlers and Clarke taking his shots when there to be taken.

When Warner reached 63 he stopped, again raised his bat, and then crouched down on his haunches taking a moment to pause as the crowd, very much aware of the significance of his score, again applauded in support.

Australia brought up its 100 in the twenty-second over with just two wickets down.

One hundred runs in the first session bring a sense of relief and of the building momentum of this innings.

After lunch, the fifty run partnership for Warner and Clarke came up with Australia at 2/138.

When Michael Clarke’s score arrived at 37, he too stopped and saluted the sky and all who watched knew he was celebrating the century achieved in combination with the now famous 63 not out of his young mate.

David Warner’s century was reached with Australia at 2/171 off 106 balls. The crowd rose to its feet as one and emotions flowed from the young man: running up the pitch, leaping in the air as he again thrust his bat and arms skyward, removing his helmet – as is the tradition – to kiss the coat of arms it bears. Finally and oh so poignantly, he walked into the tight embrace of his captain and friend who spoke intently and privately to him at close quarters while the young man tried to maintain his composure.

Such a moment brought a tear to the eye and will be remembered as part of this significant day in Australian cricketing history – the day we got back on track in a game for Australians that would never quite be the same.

Clarke followed Warner’s milestone with the addition of yet another half century to his own record. Sadly almost heartbreakingly, a short time later on a score of sixty, Clarke seemed to turn ever so innocuously when facing a ball from Ishant Sharma. The grimace on his face said it all. He pulled away from the crease and bent over, then dropped to his knees in an obvious attempt to stretch what everyone knew was the re-emergence of his problematic back.

In obvious despair, and under the supervision of both team doctor and physio, Clarke had no choice but to leave the ground – retired hurt on 60!

In the wake of this, the rest of the day – almost a session and a half – seemed to fade in significance while most were consumed with the fate of the captain both for this day, this test, this series and perhaps even his cricketing future.

And yet the job was only half done and the expectation to push on was still very much on the shoulders of David Warner and his new batting partner Steve Smith.

With Australia on 3/258 (Clarke retired hurt), Warner went for a slog and was caught almost on the boundary, ending a fine innings of 145 runs off 163 balls. Obviously annoyed at his lapse and feeling the responsibility to carry on had been his, he left the ground to great applause but with obvious disappointment.

Steve Smith however was not to be underestimated as he has proved repeatedly in recent innings. Amassing a total of 72 not out by the end of the day’s play while those around him fell, he remains the shining light in the middle of this Australian batting line-up.

A good spell by the Indian bowlers in the last extended session (due to slow over rates), saw three more wickets fall including the nightwatchman – to my mind a somewhat redundant role in this modern era.

So at day’s end Australia sits fairly comfortably on 6/354 with the prospect of a shortened batting list if Clarke cannot regain a level of fitness to return to add to his sixty runs.

All eyes will be on Smith tomorrow to steady the ship and add substantially to the total as best he can and with limited partners available to him.

At the end of the day, cricket has won. The summer is back on track although it will never be the same. I think perhaps Phil Hughes’ legacy is a reassessment of what is important to us in our world as it is defined by the game of cricket. A recalibration if you will, of the values and importance of what this game we so love represents in our broader lives. And that cannot be such a bad thing!

About Jill Scanlon

Blues fan and sports lover. Development through sports advocate; producer, journalist and news follower. Insanely have returned to p/t study - a Masters of International & Community Development. Formerly with ABC International / Radio Australia in Melbourne.

Comments

  1. Luke Reynolds says:

    Well said Jill. We needed this Test match. Fantastic summary of the days play. The nightwatchman should have been very much redundant given the situation Australia found itself in.

  2. Andrew Starkie says:

    Jill, i don’t like NWM. Never have. I don’t understand the thinking: we don’t want to send a real batsman out there in case he goes out, so we’ll send out a bowler instead? India back in the match. Your studies sound very interesting.

  3. G’day Jill,
    Top stuff.
    “if Clarke cannot regain a level of fitness to return to add to his sixty runs…”
    Probably more of a concern could be adding to his tally of Test matches in the next three or four weeks.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Thanks Jill great summary and perfect re the emotion of the day and love your last paragraph well played

  5. Great summary piece Jill and brought home the emotions of the day. As for NWM, never seen the relevance. Description states you’re a batsman. Therefore, you should be able to ply your trade for the team irrespective of time, light, bowler or match situation.

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