Almanac Cricket – Australia v Pakistan: First Test Day 1 Review



I took the long trip to Brisbane.


Bus to Swan Hill (3.30am), Train to Melbourne, bus to airport, plane to Sydney and then plane to Brisbane.  In total 14 hours on the “road”. Not that I am complaining.


What it did was show me that we are in a parlous state in Australia as far as our climate goes. The train trip from Swan Hill was eye-opening. One can read about drought for ever and a day, view it on television, listen to people from the bush but it is not until you actually are in it that you realise how bad it really is.  Even the sheep were running to catch the train. At least there was food (?) on board.  The fields were as bad as the pitches in Islamabad. Not a blade of grass anywhere, shocking is putting it mildly. It makes sand-paper-gate look like tissue paper.  I think everyone, particularly you city folk, should get out there just to have a look yourself.  It will blow your mind.


At the opposite end of the spectrum the ground was a lush green when I arrived this morning.  Oh, for some of that green in the hinterland of every state.


What do we expect today? It is hard to say as the visitors have virtually a new team with only three of the side playing that graced our girt a few years ago.  If their star batsmen can get going, seeing that they won the toss, it could prove interesting but on form Australia should win within four days.


Australia entered the field wearing black armbands in memory of Tony Mann who did have a fine test century (105) behind him against India in 1977. He was only the second batsman to score a century after being sent in as a night-watchman. I read somewhere that Mann was the “best all-rounder produced by WA” and I thought what about Ian Brayshaw? Brayshaw in my opinion was one of the better players not to represent his country.


Starc and Hazlewood are innocuous early with the batsmen getting a chance to get their eye in.  Little movement in the ball despite the conditions. Like most players from the sub-continent Ali and Masood’s wrist movements are precise and Ali hits a lovely four through mid-wicket of Hazlewood. Cummins replaces Starc after four overs from the much-maligned paceman.


At 0/33 the points have gone to Pakistan.


Watching Masood and Ali bat there seems to be a preference for what I call a shovel shot. Its like they dig the fuller ball out rather than play a flamboyant stroke with lots of wrist work. Interesting


If you are caught smoking at the Gabba you can be fined $243.80. I wonder how many boffins it took to work out that figure?


Not much action out in the middle. Both batsmen are very circumspect and not playing any rash shots.  They have rarely played and missed.  The 50 comes up in the 26th over from 155 balls. Not your Daniel Ricciardi type innings but never the less a great start for the visitors.


At lunch Pakistan are 0/57 and as the great man WML said after lunch “it’s all happening out here”!


The game was going along sedately when all of a sudden with the score on 75 two wickets in three balls to two fine catches. Masood (27) caught Smith of Cummins and then Ali (39) by Burns from the bowling of Hazlewood.  A bad blow for the visitors with both openers gone after such a good morning from them.  Mind you the Australian attack was more on target in this spell than they had been for the whole morning session.


Starc chimes in shortly after when Sohail (1) plays a tentative shot and Paine takes a simple catch 3/77. It has been a great first half to the second session with 3/20 for the Aussies.  Another goes as Babar (1) plays a shocking shot 4/78.  Burns another fine catch of the bowling of Hazlewood.


Shafiq is trying his hardest to get his team out of the mire and plays the best shots of the day but Iftikhar (7) is no help and goes to Lyon caught in close by Labuschagne 5/94. Five wickets have fallen since lunch for 37.


It has been a magnificent comeback by the home side backed up by splendid catching and fielding. No balls heading for the boundary can be counted as fours as at least two Aussies chase the ball all the way. A great performance. There is certainly a bit of G & D in this team.


Rizwan has taken the lead from Shafiq and is playing shots.  The Australian pacemen have put on a splendid display in this session and must be getting tired.


At tea Pakistan 5/125 Shafiq (18) and Rizwan (19).


Rizwan takes Cummins to the cleaners in the first over after tea taking 13 runs.  Often wonder about the tea break and for that matter the lunch break.  Something always happens after the long intervals whether it is wickets or runs. Must ask the doyen of scorers Rick Finlay who has all the answers.


A couple of more fours from Rizwan (37) and he falls to Cummins caught behind. He lashes out at himself for his indiscretion. He was on top of Cummins but the Australian strike bowler can never be under estimated. Controversy again as the batsman waits and waits at the gate before he is finally given out by the off-field umpire.  Pakistan 6/143.


Must clock a cricket and AFL match just to see how much is lost through the off-field antics of technology.


Hazlewood has 5 slips, deep point on the fence, mid-on, mid-off, third man, the keeper and someone else somewhere. Australia is attacking.


Yasir Shah, definitely not Usain Bolt, runs a struggling laborious three and decides that hitting fours is a better option. His square cut of Cummins is vintage Javed Miandad sans aluminium.


A smoke haze is starting to descend on the ground, the tell-tale reminders of our dangerous country and what can happen.  Today for example there are fires in all States plus another dust storm in Mildura and environs, the tenth for this Spring.


Cummins has been a bit short this session despite his wicket and has gone for 6 fours which makes 11 in his 2/54.


Yasi Shah is better than he looks and is giving fine support to the classy Shafiq and they have now added 36 valuable runs for the seventh wicket.  Wicket-breaker Labuschagne comes in to the attack to try and break up the partnership.


For the arithmetic people out there, is this the highest partnership by numbers in the history of test cricket?  Just think about it. It is certainly providing nuisance value to Australia and a great fillip to Pakistan. The visitors have had a great start to the day, a disastrous second session and a fighting third.


The partnership ends at 227 when Starc bowls Yasir (26) neck and crop. A fine 80 runs added to the score. Next ball Afridi (0) kisses one through to Paine. Paine discusses a review after “not out” given and asks everyone bar me. The verdict is in the affirmative and Afridi walks. Starc has 3/45.


Cummins gets Shafiq (76) with the ball of the day when it cuts back through a slight opening and takes his middle stump. A fine innings by the prolific batsman and it took a ripper to get rid of him. Pakistan 9/228.


Australia are trying to waste time as they would not want to bat for a couple of overs in this light. Naseem hit a four and an attendant wanted to throw the ball back to Lyon but the wise old man of the Aussie team said “no I’ll get it”.


The first fielding mistake of the day when Labuschagne drops Khan the ball flying high to his left, a difficult chance. Does not make any difference as Naseem (7) goes caught and bowled to Starc in the next over.  Pakistan all out 240.  Starc 4/52, Cumming 3/60, Hazlewood 2/46 and Lyon 1/40 shared the wickets.


An interesting day’s play with the fortunes of both teams fluctuating. When you consider Pakistan lost 4/3 after a solid opening and then 3/0 after Shafiq and Yasir added 80 a score of 240 was so-so.  Australia won the day that was not great to watch but it is “test” cricket and there are still four days to go.



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About Bob Utber

At 84 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he has always done since growing up on a small farm at Lang Lang. Talking, watching and writing sport and in recent years writing books. He lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny) and a groodle named 'Chloe on Flinders' and can be found at Deakin 27 every day.


  1. Daryl Schramm says

    Hi Bob. Watched little, listened to a bit but missed first 3 hours. Tell me. If Pakistan were 0/57 at lunch off 27 overs, of which a high percentage were maidens, why wasn’t there at least 30 overs bowled in session one? Do we still get fined for slow over rate despite bowling them out? We would have been 3 overs short at least (in my view 10 overs short if scheduled finish was enforced). Not good enough. Thanks for your review and best wishes. DS

  2. thanks for that report

  3. Bob in SA even just driving to Murray Bridge for work easily the driest I have ever seen it is bloody scary to say the least,a fluctuating days play with dogged resistance combined with two separate collapses of 8-32.
    Over rates wise the commentators were talking about penalties are included in the test championship would like it explained further personally love to see run penalties teams would then get on with the game.The major debate for the day whether the wicket off,Cummins was a no ball or not thanks,Citrus Bob

  4. $243.80? Amazing!

    Nice report, CB.
    The Rizwan dismissal was a Cummins no-ball every day of the week. No excuse for not keeping some part of the foot behind the line. What are all the high-paid coaches actually doing?

    I was most disappointed by many of the lazy Pakistani dismissals – minimal foot movement.

  5. Daryl makes a good point about the over rate, especially in the first session. Then the Aussies had to get Lyon and Labuschagne to rip through a few quick overs late in the day to try to claw back some of the slack. Financial penalties may be the answer (against every member of the fielding team) or run penalties, eg 5 runs added to Extras for every over under 90 by the scheduled stumps time.

  6. Agree with Daryl re the over rates.
    It is a blight on the game

  7. Morning chaps
    hopefully we will get a “full” days play today. your criticism of the over rate is justified. It is a disgrace and one of the main factors is the number of times a “reserve” runs out on to the ground for what? Sometimes nothing e.g. Warner changed his hat after 4 overs, Burns wanted some tape and the Pakis called for the ambulance every time they were touched by the ball.
    Fining teams and players is not on. The only remedy here is banning them from the next game and a FINANCIAL % of their match payment.
    Smokie you are right some of the batsmen were very lazy indeed
    6% – good to have you on board.
    Today I will keep a tally of everytime a “reserve” runs on to the ground. Oh! I forgot Steve Smith is batting so that will up the tally anyway.
    My thoughts – hope Burns gets a score he has been harshly treated by the selectors. Both of them!
    Cannot see the bowlers having any advantage on this pitch and it be up to Yasir to bamboozle the Aussies.

  8. Ken Richards says

    Over rates are a lost cause. Nearly 90 overs must be bowled in 6 and a half hours so as the sponsors get in enough ad breaks on the TV. Teams have no incentive to bowl the required 15 overs per hour, keeping it slow helps the quicks keep from wearing themselves out.

    My solution involves a mix of run penalties and free hits which are applied after each hour where 90 legal deliveries are not bowled. Say if the bowling side has managed 84 deliveries, the first 6 deliveries of the next hour are free hits, plus a one run penalty for each delivery. If the team is more than one over short, the penalty is 2 runs per delivery. I’d warrant we’d see exactly 90 overs bowled in each 6 hour day under these conditions.

  9. KR – good points. I had forgotten all about our beloved sponsors – how silly of me!

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