Cardiff Test – England v Australia, Day 1: Cymryd eich eiliadau (take your moments)

England 7/343 (JE Root 134, GS Ballance 61) v Australia

” “Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best—” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” – AA Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

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England v Australia. Day 1, Test 1. Moments were taken, moments were not. The narrative awaited the game at Cardiff, where JE Root shone brightly with a little help from BJ Haddin and the cricket gods.

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Do you make your own moments? Or are they thrust upon you? Do you take your moments? How do you react? Is there time to think? Does preparation help? Or is it instinct? Do you know when such a moment arrives? (Is this one now?) Or only in hindsight is it obvious? How do any of us construct an innings? A bowling spell? A session? How do we construct a life? Do we dive for the catch? Do we stray down leg with the new pill? Do we try too hard? What’s the difference? Do we contribute?

After the Welsh tenors and a sprinkling of rain, after red carpets and daytime fireworks, MA Starc opens and JR Hazlewood opens; MJ Clarke craftily keeping MG Johnson in reserve. The game is played in Cardiff, Wales, not England. A peculiarity of this at-times-United Kingdom.

Buds watching the first few overs.

– Dad it’s winter. Will that grass (on the pitch) grow back in time for footy?

– Ahh, great question, Bud. This cricket ground is not in Australia.

– Is it in England? It’s summer in England. Remember when you played cricket in England?

– I do. This is not England. It’s next door in a country called Wales.

– Oh, and today we’re in New South Wales.

A Lyth c DA Warner b JR Hazlewood 6 (1/7 from 1.6 overs)

Terrific village atmosphere imparted by small eclectic stands. None of those cavernous arrangements, divorced from their localities (e.g. MCG, Gabba).

AN Cook c BJ Haddin b NM Lyon 20 (2/42 from 13.2 overs)

IR Bell lbw MA Starc 1 (3/43 from 14.3 overs)

Moments come, are presented, are taken, are not. And I’m reminded, during the briefest of silences afforded wading aurally amid the verbal diarrhoea of IA Healy, of the moment-by-moment aspect of Test cricket. It’s fine afterwards to retrofit a narrative, necessary, even. And at times, onfield events are even informed by that narrative. But on Day 1 of Test 1, the narrative is yet to be constructed. We’re left only with each moment. JE Root has been flaying attacks all through the northern summer. Carrying on a run of form that mirrors our SPD Smith. But we have only the moment. And this moment, with JE Root facing his second ball, at 3/43, sees him dropped by a diving BJ Haddin. BJ Haddin was wrong to dive. And the chance was spilled. A moment missed.

We bought hand lines, hooks, sinkers and worms yesterday. Had fun feeding fish from the jetty here into the sunset. And then the offer from Nothafagus cunninghammii: – who wants to go fishing at dawn tomorrow? Buds are keen:

– me

– me

But I’m not.

– not for me. Tell me all about it when you get back.

A moment missed.

Lunch, England 3/88

The afternoon session offers a smorgasbord of runs, as MG Johnson tries to hurry up the batsmen on this custard surface, and goes for plenty, MA Starc cannot find his groove (England Deee-lited), and SR Watson is used well.

JE Root on 80 now, squeezes one from NM Lyon that lobs near short leg. SPD Smith snatches at it; drops it. Did Root hit it? A moment missed. This pair of clear-eyed Yorkshire cricketers denying Australia, batting for their country England in this land Wales. And on they bat. Throughout the afternoon session without loss. JE Root cutting and driving with intent. Taking his moment. Again and again. GS Ballance less fluent, but not out. Well done those two.

Tea, England 3/190 (GS Ballance 59, JE Root 93).

The last session remains forever unseen by my Australian Eastern Standard Time eyes. Yet England finish the day at 7/343.

GS Ballance lbw Hazlewood 61 (4/196 from 53.3 overs)

JE Root c SR Watson b MA Starc 134 (5/280 from 72.1 overs)

BA Stokes b MA Starc 52 (6/293 from 76.2 overs)

JC Buttler c MG Johnson b JR Hazlewood 27 (7/343 from 85.5 overs)

By all accounts MA Starc continues his Forest Gump box-of-chocolates routine. JR Hazlewood continues his stoic line-of-questioning routine. Moments. Building to a story. Both finish with 3 wickets on the day. England have rattled along at a rapid rate and have seen off the pre-series threat of MG Johnson, who goes wicketless. Both heartening for local hopes. Tomorrow (tonight) Australia will need to wrap up this innings and show patience with the bat. 7/343 is an evenly poised contest after Day 1. Moments good for the series. Which, even allowing for that little moment of anticipation just before it began, was a great pleasure to be a-seeing.

 

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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. Excellent report, e.r.
    The Australians we as flat as a night-carter’s hat.
    A distinct lack of verve.
    Maybe too many pensioners in the team?

  2. E.regnans says

    Good call Smokie.
    Flat.
    Seemed to be lots of effort on wicket-taking balls rather than wicket-taking spells.
    Build-up of pressure required.
    BJ Haddin, as ‘keeper, sets the scene in the field.

    But two sides to the story. Well batted JE Root.
    BA Stokes bats and bowls with intent. Good for the game. Good for the series.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Great report Dave. The build up and anticipation of an Ashes series gets better every time. England took their moments better than we did last night, but plenty of cricket left in this match. Hopefully our bowlers bowl more honey than pooh for the rest of the Test and series.

  4. Watched Starc taking in big breaths before he had fired a shot!

    “GORN” I thought.

  5. Steve Hodder says

    For reasons I don’t know, left hander bowlers seem to struggle controlling the placement of the ball to a left hand batter; perhaps because they have to arc the ball rather than slant it, as they would to a right hander. Johnson the pick of the bowlers when it came to control, for the first session and a half. Anyways, it was frustrating to watch. Root very composed. The pitch like something from the sub-continent of yester year.

    onya

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks OBP has Haddin dropped the urn ? A huge dropped catch as PJF has commented he kept to bloody far back ! With out Harris if the decks are going to be so slow,Siddle must be a huge chance to play,a vital 2nd day ahead thanks OBP

  7. E.regnans says

    There’s a lot of cricket between the fall of each wicket.
    That’s the game.
    The Test.

    Must be more disciplined at stopping the runs. Drying it up. Forcing the error.
    Pooh bear a worthy role model of patience and strategy (ref: how to catch a Heffalump).

  8. I couldn’t get into any rhythm as a spectator.

    I don’t think the important moment is sign-posted. It happens.

    A bit like an accident. I remember knocking a coffee plunger off the bench – an unlikely chain reaction. I just wanted that half a second back. That is the nature of an accident I suppose.

  9. E.regnans says

    Yup JTH – and a pivotal moment may never be recognised. Such as the decision NOT to play at a zinging outswinger.

    Like most of life, it seems just to happen.

    On Day 1, there’s no story on which to fall back.
    Moment by moment, event by event, decision by decision, it all unfolds. It’s all to be created. Love it.

  10. Mickey Randall says

    Thanks Er. Great recount.

    Watching the evening news the reporter announced something like, “Australia about to do battle on English soil..” Not a statement I’d share in a Cardiff boozer.

    After two days it’s nicely poised, but the English are well placed. Tonight could be Watto’s “moment.”

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