India v Australia – Pune Test, Day 1: Skid marks

Stumps Day 1: Australia 9/256 (MT Renshaw 68, MA Starc 57*) v India (UT Yadav 4/32)

Losing the toss, India takes 9 wickets on Day 1, before MA Starc goes the long handle. Australia skids on take off. It’s a rare day that Australia’s top scorer is forced from the field suffering diahorrea. There’s something potent about the sub-continent.



Pune, south east of Mumbai. Hosting Test cricket.
Australia with two spinners, two quicks and two Marshes.
India with a long batting line up, spin, and undefeated at home for eons.
SPD Smith wins the toss and bats. Electing to lose in four days rather than in three, as I read on Twitter.


But DA Warner and MT Renshaw make a bright start. There will be key moments in these Tests, but there will be big picture graft, too. It’s a reasonably solid start, before DA Warner loses his wicket, and MT Renshaw loses control of his bowel.


DA Warner b UT Yadav 38 (1/82)
MT Renshaw retired hurt*
Lunch 1/84

Patience, patience.




We are in a pretty dire situation. Jeff and I have travelled with Mum and Dad to Kathmandu for the incredible wedding of my sister to Utsav. If you ever get a chance to participate in a Hindu wedding in Kathmandu, Nepal, take it.

We have been in the country a week. Down every narrow alley, outside every shop festooned with goat carcasses, locals follow our progress. Sometimes they ask: “Where you from?” It is World Cup month. Cricket World Cup 2003, in South Africa. The diuretic World Cup. So whenever we answer: “Australia. We’re from Australia,” swarms of local Nepalese are around us, asking, calling, shouting “Rickyponting! Rickyponting!”

In a restaurant with Utsav’s friends, we are asked about the Australian Test team selection, about the limited over team selection, about the Victorian team selection. Cases are argued for the inclusion of someone from the Perth district scene into the Western Australian squad. “He make lots of runs.”

I am baffled. We are baffled. We are not representing Australia well.

And now, despite eating mainly plates only of steamed rice (“No, just the rice, thanks”), the two of us have been struck down. Laid low with the curse of the sub-continental runs.

Living as we do in a western hotel, access to toilet paper is no problem. In fact, the very toilet bowl, I am soon to learn, is a rare nod to our palatial if uncomfortable circumstances.



SE Marsh c Kohli b J Yadav  16  (2/119)
PSP Handscomb lbw b Jadeja 22 (3/149)
SPD Smith c Kohli b Ashwin 27 (4/149)
Tea 4/153




But today we are in trouble. Utsav has booked us seats on a local bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara. If you google that trip, you’ll find an estimated driving time of six hours. You may not find that the road is improbably carved through precipitous cliffs on either side. You may not learn of the wandering animal life. You may not find, either, mention of the tinny, treble-infused repetitive high-pitched music blaring through the speakers.

But all of these are a mere sideshow to the main event: how to survive a six-hour bus trip afflicted with the crippling, stomach-churning, butt-burning runs.

“Impossible!” many would day.

“Preposterous!” would say the rest.

And as Jeff and I sit in the early morning on that old school vinyl bench seat, we each reach and then surpass a hitherto unknown level of anxiety. A new top score.

“Oh jeez,” says Jeff, before we have even departed the Kathmandu terminal, and dashes back to the road side, scanning, scanning, desperately scanning for relief. The body language of this type of distress turns out to be universal. Locals usher him away, disappearing between a crowd, only to reappear a few minutes later, a changed man. Silent.

With sweat bursting from our brows, we hatch a plan. There were to be two rest stops along the way. Effectively a six hour trip with two rest stops.

“It’s like a day of Test cricket,” Jeff says.

“Great,” I say. “First target is to make it to lunch.”

And that’s what we do. We play and miss, we survive narrow scrapes, but all the while, we preserve our wickets. We speak of Marsh and Taylor at Nottingham in 1989, of batting through the day. It can be done. We have precedents.

It is desperate. We are locked in traffic in sprawling Kathmandu. We are boxed in by cows. We snake our way into the alarming hill country, tyres slipping on gravel. We clench.

But then, pulling in to Stop 1 without the loss of a wicket brings the high-end relief of high-fives and high elation. It is a job only partly done. We cannot relax. We cannot afford to relax. Dashing to the conveniences, I learn a lesson in the relativity of the word “conveniences.” A stained porcelain squat mocks my disdain.

But we make it to lunch. None for. One session down, two to come.

The second session is a blur of distorted vision and near-death experiences. Around every bend looms remarkably short odds on a plunge into a river valley. Around every bend looms the only too real chance of a wicket.

We are grafting now. Occupation of the crease has gotten no easier. But we are determined to survive to tea. Audible grunts are heard. Sweat pops. Brows furrow.

And look; we are there.

Tea break. We are off the still-rolling bus, and into the sweet, sweet squat.

Heaven never looked like this before.



MR Marsh lbw b Jadeja 4 (5/166)
MS Wade lbw b UT Yadav 8 (6/190)
MT Renshaw c Vijay b Ashwin 68 (7/196)
SNJ O’Keefe c Saha b UT Yadav 0 (8/205)
NM Lyon lbw b UT Yadav 0 (9/205)

Stumps 9/256
MA Starc 57*, JR Hazlewood 1*
UT Yadav 4/32 from 12 overs





Stepping once more onto the old bus, for the final leg, we are weak and we are strong. We are groggy and we are determined. Around the death-defying edges of crumbling ravines we swerve, through inconceivable obstacles of traffic and detritus we plough on, and on. The Annapurna Range appears in snatches through the cloud. Houses, temples appear. Can we bat through the day? Can we make it?

The enormous expanse of Phewa Lake appears. We are Geoff Marsh and we are Mark Taylor. We are going to do it.

We bounce into the valley. And spot our accommodation.

“There it is!”

The bus brakes. Doors hiss open. And we are off.

Undefeated, raising our invisible bats to the non-existent crowd.
Imaginary applause carries us.
We can do anything.
With application, we can do anything.


*the sub-continental trots (you poor, poor man)


Full scoreboard from ESPNCricinfo link below:


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.


  1. Mitch Marsh number 6? He bats like a number 8 or 9.

    The other two Mitch’s, Starc / Johnson, have proven more adept with the bat.


  2. John Butler says

    Graphically amusing E Reg.

    Starc staved off embarrassment – so far. Renshaw played well under the circumstances (Alan Border notwithstanding).

    No Khawaja? They are surely joking. I know his record starting against spin is poor, but it won’t improve if you don’t back him to learn. Mitch Marsh would have to claim 4 wickets in this game to vaguely justify himself.

    Otherwise, same old same old. The easy kill against Pakistan will soon pale.

    Suspect Starc will have to do it with the ball as well.

  3. Indeed, Glen.
    Indeed, JB.
    MA Starc contributes. But he’s one man.

    Logic and evidence are demonstrably small factors in the selection of cricket sides.

  4. If only the Australian middle-order had yesterday shown as much resilience and application as Jeff and yourself did in Nepal.
    A very enjoyable read, e.r.

  5. Well done ER. Time will tell whether the Australian day of cricket was as impressive as yours. By the sounds of the state of the pitch 250+ may just be a competitive score. The trouble with Mitch Marsh is he’s just not a No. 6. Matt Wade has the same problem.

  6. Ahh, for us there was a large dose of fortune in what otherwise looks like resilience, Smokie.
    I think that’s very often the case (and overlooked) in many applications.
    But yeah, it starts in the mind.

    Nice, Dave.
    Looking forward to the Indian innings.
    From what I gather of the pitch, they’d be hoping to bat only once.

  7. Ditto above well played,OBP

  8. Great piece. Agree with the above on Marsh & Wade – hard to win with five batsman!

  9. Let’s see how the pitch pans out. It looks very poor so maybe our first day knock might be far better than we think: or not.

    JBanister i concur with you. As i said M Marsh is a number 8 or 9 on what we’ve seen so far. Hits the ball a mile when he connects. Wade came in for Neville as he was deemed the better batsmen. Apart from his incessant talking behind the stumps he’s not shown any evidence to be chosen in front of Neville.

    It should be over some time Sunday. Just hope it’s a win for the visitors.


  10. Good job David. The interminable Marsh bros affair is the worst reality TV show ever conceived and we’re only part way through season 15 with about a dozen episodes left…

  11. Peter Warrington says

    this is a piece of epic genius. you write like Trots-ky

    Mitch Marsh is an 8 at best. and 5th seamer quality. but i guess he is better than Ishant Sharma, who is a number 12, and 5th seamer quality

    they lost me when they used Renshaw as a stalking horse to justify the dropping of the guy with black hair who averaged 62 in the summer just finished. who may not be flash in Sri Lanka, but at least he’s not vice captain, like the “genius” who averaged below 30 in both his two series (India, Sri Lanka.) who chucked starts away for most of 12 months. who chucked starts away in both innings of the tour game, that the guy with black hair didn’t even play. and then who chucked another start away yesterday, when we just needed to bat bat bat. “that’s just how he plays”. piffle.

    the wicket. We went from 2-148 to 9-208, and as we did, our rhetoric about how bad the wicket was intensified. 2-148 should have been 3-250 at stumps. What was Smith thinking? Why was SMarsh even playing that ball – does this dismissal sound familiar?… “Great effort. The bounce has done Marsh in, he thought it was going to be a simple ball that he could defend. That’s perhaps why he defended at one pitching outside leg stump. The ball takes a lot of the pitch along with it, and that always tends to help a spinner. Sri Lanka go into lunch with smiles”. Just use your bloody pads.

    Team selection: we drop Khawaja so we can include MMarsh because we need a 5th bowler who has to be a pacer because it’s the worst turner we’ve ever seen and that Ashwin is a pretty strong new ball bowler isn’t he.

    In terms of Wade, I was all for the dropping of Nevill. He was terribly out of form. I am all for the dropping of Wade. He is terribly out of form. How can we have no back-up keeper? How does this place any accountability on Wade for performance. Disgraceful.

    It all started when they started the chatter about Khawaja the day they named the team. They got on the plane knowing who was playing and Lehmann is so pigheaded and Hohns so loose with his analysis that only 4-0 will impact. except it won’t, because we’ll beat the Poms.

    If I was Khawaja, I would go home. He has to run drinks out to guys who aren’t worthy of combing his beautiful black hair.

    Go India

  12. John Butler says

    Well, I think Glen! wins the crystal ball award for the day.

    Steve O’Keefe – 6-35. Cricket will never cease to amaze.

  13. Luke Reynolds says

    Brilliant ER.
    As a 10 year old I watched the whole day Taylor/Marsh performance. Reckon you and Jeff have Tubby and Swampy covered.
    Well played!

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