Cardiff Test – England v Australia, Day One: Dizzy’s done us in!

It’s here. The Ashes. In England. Test cricket at it’s best.

For as long as I can remember, Test cricket’s oldest and most coveted rivalry has been the pinnacle of the sport. Childhood memories of huddling around the wireless tuning in to the BBC’s simulcast coverage are vivid and enduring. Blofeld, Agnew, Boycott and Johnston filled the airwaves with ‘Pom-isms’ and filled my young mind mainly with confusion. However, a fascination was conceived and to this day, I look forward to the Ashes in England like no other. This is the series where reputations are forged and careers defined.

This year’s edition begins in a somewhat confusing fashion. Australia are facing England….in Wales. Sophia Gardens in Cardiff is by no means a traditional venue and looks to be a curious little ground. The first Test of the 2009 series was also held here, though I’m not sure why. Anyhow, there’s a good crowd in and after three (Welsh, Australian and English) national anthems, the games begin.

Prior to this series, lionhearted Aussie quick Ryan Harris announced his retirement. This is a huge loss. A vital cog in this line-up, his consistency and wicket-taking prowess ensured he was always among Australia’s best performers for the majority of his twenty-seven test career. Hazlewood, Starc and Johnson will now form the nucleus of the attack for this Test, and most likely, for many to come. This attack looks to be our strength and when Captain Cook wins the toss and elects to bat, it’ll need to be.

What a start! On the last ball of the second over, the Tamworth Tower, Josh Hazlewood strikes. A peach takes the edge of Lyth’s bat and is brilliantly caught by D. Warner. Hazlewood appears to be perfectly suited by the conditions in Old Blighty, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the big man can do. Inconsistent lines and lengths prove disappointing in the subsequent new-ball overs though, and the boy from Young, N. Lyon takes up the attack with a new-ish cherry. An attacking move from a skipper renowned for such decisions. And the offie doesn’t disappoint. Cook is well caught behind after a little extra bounce may have surprised. Two for forty-two and a solid start with the Duke ball.

Ian Bell’s brief stay at the crease ended just one run later when Starc’s yorker expertise came to the fore. Plumb. Joe Root joins Gary Ballance at the crease, and my thoughts turn to their Yorkshire connection. Yorkshiremen have famously thwarted Australian ambitions since the urn has been up for grabs. Boycott, Vaughan, Trueman and Gough just a few of many who have worn the three lions’ cap. After Haddin drops Root second ball, these Yorkshiremen get to work. That’ll cost us.

The current coach of Yorkshire is one Jason Neil Gillespie: Australian Test Cricket legend. And, as these two grow seemingly more comfortable at the crease, I increasingly feel that he is doing too good a job in developing young cricketers…..for England! Dizzy is a much-loved character, famously mulleted in his prime, however his young prodigies are showing us up. Bloody Dizzy’s done us in! Root looks assured. He is the class in this batting line-up. Glorious drives are accompanied by aggressive pull shots when dealing with the short ball. Ballance is a workman-like batsman, occupying the crease and looking solid in defence.

Unfortunately, our pace attack are dishing up a steady selection of pies and the Poms are dining out. It’s a disappointing display from a group that possess so much more. Both Yorkshiremen compile half centuries and they survive the middle session unscathed. We need a breakthrough. and soon after Tea, Hazlewood, the pick of the quicks, provides just that. Ballance is gone, but Root is damaging. And speaking of damage, Ben Stokes continues the carnage. A crisp, clean hitter, he finds the middle of his blade very early on.

Another big partnership is building as some pedestrian half-volleys as juicy and tantalising as a serving of Welsh rarebit, are dispatched to the short boundaries. When Clarke calls on Warner’s medium-paced muck, I am worried. But, just as the new pill is about to be taken, Starc returns and finds the edge of Root’s bat. Caught by Watson for a fine 134 and a most memorable Ashes knock. Is this the beginning of a late afternoon surge for the Aussies? Well, Starcy’s just knocked Stokesy’s castle over, so I reckon it is.

The cricket is captivating as wickets start to tumble and England continue to attack. Pints of lager are in danger now as Ali and Buttler look to clear the ropes. Lyon’s under attack and the new ball is imminent. The Welshmen in the stands have found their voice, finding spirit in song which Aled Jones would be proud of. I like this ground, let’s make it a tradition!

And so, the new cherry is taken and the men in the baggy green caps are all set for a final push. Johnson continues his underwhelming day with an ill-directed spell that only encourages run-scoring and not wicket-taking. Perhaps Dizzy could have a word? A run-a-ball seventh wicket partnership will always serve to annoy and frustrate a fielding side. This is no exception. However, crucially, Hazlewood strikes again and claims Buttler’s scalp, just as the home side had regained control. As the day draws to a close, an entertaining day’s play finishes at 7/343. Honours with counter-punching England and work to do for Australia. Welcome back, Ashes cricket. Welcome back.

 

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About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979

Comments

  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Who would have thought during his playing career that Dizzy would make a great coach? At least he’s not coaching England.
    Disappointing bowling effort. Need these last 3 wickets quickly tonight. Great write up Joe!

  2. Joe Moore says

    Thanks Luke. Certainly wouldn’t have predicted Dizzy to be the fine coach that he appears to be.

    Great day of Test cricket, those last three wickets are crucial to our chances. Need MJ to hit back and clean up the tail!

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Joe the loss of Harris is massive https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/a-tribute-to-ryan-harris/ and may even be bigger than we realized,the doubt of Starc and Johnson together in English conditions is real mind you if Haddin catches Root it is entirely a different story.Dizzy is enjoying considerable success with
    Yorkshire,( I have emailed,Dizzy your article,Joe) huge 2nd day ahead

  4. Excellent point, Luke. Who would have thunk it about Dizzy?
    And they absolutely love him in Yorky.

  5. E.regnans says

    Great stuff Joe.
    Gotta say, I was always a devotee if JN Gillespie.
    The flapping pigeon wings, the tongue tricks on approach, the odd 26-yarder. In amongst some hostile leaping and seaming genius.
    Always gave the impression he was bowling to a plan.
    And tremendous application with the bat.

    Not at all surprised to see him leading a club.

    Looks a good contest after one day.

  6. Joe Moore says

    Thanks guys.

    ER – I’ve also been a long time Dizzy devotee. An all-time fav. Great to see him doing so well. Looks an evenly poised contest at present. Huge first session tonight.

    Rulebook – Agree. Harris is a huge loss when faced with relying upon the Mitchell’s in English conditions. Not ideal. Lets hope MJ can find some form over there and prove us wrong.

  7. Peter Flynn says

    Rulebook, agree.

    2 left arm pace bowlers is an RFD.

    PJF

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