Adelaide Test – Day 1: Beating on against the current

“Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back. That’s part of what it means to be alive.”
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

2nd Test, Australia v England, Adelaide Oval, Day 1.
Australia 5/273.     CJL Rogers 72, GJ Bailey 53, SCJ Broad 2/63.

Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back. That’s Day 1 of the Adelaide Test, the 2nd Ashes Test. No bowler took a bag, no batsman cracked 80 and a couple of catchable chances were fluffed.

It’s 2013 and the Poms are again in Adelaide. They were embarrassed in the first Test in Brisbane a fortnight ago, but it seems to me that embarrassment could easily have gone the other way. There remains a brittleness about both of these teams that makes the watching a tense experience. The foundations of the whole enterprise have the integrity of James Hird. Any favourable day/ session/ hour/ over of play seems more due to good luck than to good management.

I’m reporting largely from my open-plan office today, set among the concrete and steel, Docklands, Melbourne.  I feel a long way from the apparently flash new surrounds at War Memorial Drive, North Adelaide. Further than the 725 kms, or 7 hours 47 minutes that Google maps suggests.  But I’ve got my little tranny and headset. Just like in high school.

It’s Test match morning. Adelaide. The wisteria on the back veranda is still blooming. A Melbourne newspaper headline today asks: Is Fabelaide Australia’s coolest city? Things are shifting.  Adelaide. The town of free settlers, never to receive a convict. The town of no viable long term water supply. Capital of the driest state of the world’s driest inhabited continent. Limitless desert to the north, great white sharks to the south. For all that, I’ve never seen a ball bowled at the famous Adelaide Oval. One day.

Day one. It’s cold and bleak as Australia go in with an unchanged XI from Brisbane. It’s MS Panesar and BA Stokes in for the Poms. BA Stokes, of Durham, on debut.

It’s 11am and I’ve Jim Maxwell and Kerry O’Keeffe in my headphones. Australia win the toss & choose to bat on the drop in pitch. Every pundit saying ROAD.
JM Anderson (both arms intact) bowls the first over to CJL Rogers from the Giant New Stand End before rain forces them off. SCJ Broad opens from the Still Looks Like A Cricket Ground End.
DA Warner plays his shots. And then he’s the first out. It’s the 8th over.He’s snagged between having a crack and showing restraint. Caught off the toe at point.  DA Warner c MA Carberry b SCJ Broad 29.

Play is interrupted due to drizzling, cold rain. And now AN Cook throws the ball to a spinner. It’s the 14th over on Day 1 and we have off-spin. There’s a short leg in place. GP Swann starts with a maiden to SR Watson.

Off again for rain and after 14.2 overs, lunch is called. It’s 1/46. I’m at Melbourne Central station en route to the Vic Market. I should have brought an umbrella. And I’m eating a gözleme lunch with three English nationals as the rain tumbles down on Melbourne.

Play resumes with GP Swann and JM Anderson to SR Watson and CJL Rogers. And then it’s spin from both ends; MS Panesar and GP Swann in tandem after 20 overs. Day 1, remember. They bowl in parternship for 10 overs. GP Swann troubling CJL Rogers a little. Otherwise uneventful, the odd four ball.

At 1/94 it’s Ben Stokes on debut. His loosener is a dot to SR Watson. His second ball is cover driven for 4. The two new-comers bowl in partnershop now; MS Panesar and BA Stokes.

SR Watson plays out 23 dot balls in succession before clocking the 24th back over the bowler’s head for 6. That’s a big hit. BA Stokes serves up short stuff to CJL Rogers. Two cuts for four. The runs are starting to come. CJL Rogers 48*, SR Watson 43*.

SCJ Broad is brought back on. He has two short mid wickets. The ring field to SR Watson is doing the job. Lots of dots. He needs to turn the strike over. Meanwhile, England has found something to waste time over- the shape of the ball.

CJL Rogers reaches 50 by cutting SCJ Broad forward of point. Undemonstrative demonstration of appreciation. 1/124. And SR Watson gets 50 with a turn to mid wicket from GP Swann. 1/143. JM Anderson is now back on. CJL Rogers finds another gear. Cracking cover drive for four. He’s 69*.

And now, with a day of making hay ahead for Australia, SR Watson chips a return catch to JM Anderson. Goes forward to one that’s not quite there to drive. It’s a wasted start. Athletic catch, true. But that’s now three centuries in 88 Test innings.
SR Watson c&b JM Anderson 51. It’s 2/155. MJ Clarke is booed on arrival.

And now CJL Rogers is gone. His nemesis gets him. The ball spins, leaving the left-handed CJL Rogers and takes the edge.
CJL Rogers c MJ Prior b GP Swann 72. It’s 3/155

SPD Smith waddles awkwardly to the wicket. Are his pads too large? His legs too short? Regardless, it’s two fresh batsmen coming up to tea.
But it’s two right handers. And despite having got CJL Rogers, just now, GP Swann is swiftly replaced by MS Panesar. MS Panesar promptly beats MJ Clarke who prods. Beats the edge after spinning.

And now SPD Smith is comprehensively bowled by MS Panesar for 6.
There is a bit of turn, true, but SPD Smith plays that from the crease. Our man SPD Smith declines to offer the full face of his bat as defence. Instead, he’s squared up and the ball beats his slicing bat. Clatters into off stump. It’s 4/174. Australia have lost 3/19. Missed opportunities abound.

Players and umpires take tea, while I participate in a meeting. There are serious expressions on serious faces.

Meanwhile, ABC radio is awash with talk of a “500 pitch” and “par scores.” I reckon the idea of a 500 pitch is a furphy. There is no such thing.
It’s a 500 pitch for whom, then? For Wally Hanmmond’s England? For Clive Lloyd’s West Indies? For Daniel Vettori’s New Zealand? Who is their opposition? What is the weather like? Nope, it’s lazy commentary. Par scores and predictions are for mugs.

We’re back on. Last session. It’s 4/190 when GJ Bailey is dropped from his own bowling by MS Panesar. And then the Australian 200 is brought up by GJ Bailey with a lofted drive for six off MS Panesar. The England spinners continue to bowl down-breeze, bewildering Terry Alderman on ABC radio (“why would you have the spinners bowling with the breeze?”).

Now there’s a loud appeal for the run out of MJ Clarke, backing up as GP Swann deflects a GJ Bailey straight drive into the bowling-end stumps. Not out.

It’s 4/217 and I’m on the tram home.
Seven overs til the new ball is due. The new ball is usually good for a wicket or two.
In the 80th over, GJ Bailey shuffles forward and cracks MS Panesar over long off for six. It’s 4/243.

JM Anderson takes the new ball immediately with SCJ Broad, still favouring that familiar labouring approach.
GJ Bailey ducks under an SCJ Broad bouncer.
Two overs later, GJ Bailey swivels into an SCJ Broad bouncer that bounces too high on him. He makes good contact but can’t hit over the top of the ball and he’s caught at square leg by the high collared GP Swann. It’s a solid catch. But GJ Bailey is another off to rue a missed opportunity.
GJ Bailey c GP Swann b SCJ Broad 53. MJ Clarke 39*

BJ Haddin joins the skipper for a tense little session before stumps. And MS Panesar is thrown the rock hard cherry, only six overs old.

SCJ Broad bowls the 88th over and has Haddin (3*), in the shadows of stumps, playing uppishly through mid wicket. JE Root can’t hold the chance. To the Missed Opportunity room for you, JE Root. Next ball a confident LBW shout is turned down. 5/265.
MS Panesar bowls the 89th over and has Haddin slashing backward of point. MA Carberry fluffs the chance with two hands. MA Carberry, you follow JE Root. It’s still 5/265.

Stumps after called after 91 overs with Australia 5/273.
MJ Clarke 48*, BJ Haddin 7*.

It’s a day of missed opportunities. Will anyone rise above the mediocrity? Can anyone transform their dreams into reality? Or will everyone expend their energy in pursuit of a goal that moves ever farther away?

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further… And one fine morning –
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.

Comments

  1. Top stuff EiiR Wilson. Very disciplined innings, unlike those in Adelaide. The last line to Gatsby is among my favourites – well played.
    “500 for Daniel Vettori’s New Zealand”??? Not likely – Chris Cairns says you can have 10/1 with him.

  2. John Butler says

    Well played E Reg.

    Great sides force their own opportunities, mediocre sides gratefully accept what comes (if they can). It was a day to assuage neither combatants self-doubts.

  3. Steve Fahey says

    Great report E Reg

    Astute observations on cricket and any cricket report with one of the thousands of great lines from PM Kelly gets my vote.

  4. Thanks all.
    PB – murky waters under the long white cloud just now
    JB – Agreed. If this was a footy game it would be 2.7.(19) to 2.5.(17) coming up to quarter time.
    SF – well spotted.

  5. Mickey Randall says

    Lovely, accurate report. I really enjoyed it. In remembering the last Ashes Test at Adelaide oval I hope the English are not considering another quotation from The Great Gatsby

    “Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!”

  6. Thanks Mickey.
    MJ Clarke probably has his eye on repeating some of his own Adelaide past.
    Beating on

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Fantastic report David. Was the tranny and headset hidden from view as presumably it was in high school, or in open view?

  8. Thanks Luke. Good call. Unfortunately the tranny could only really come out at lunchtime & on the tram home.
    V happy to get home in time to see the wickets in replay, though, and to see those two late dropped catches.
    Something soothing about cricket on the radio.
    Always love the work of Aggers.

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