MCG Test, Australia v India-Day Two: Passing the Baton to new generations

Australia 530 (SPD Smith 192, RJ Harris 74, Mohammed Shami 4/138) v India 1/108 (M.Vijay 55*)

Stumps Day 2

Any Victorian doubters who remained about New South Welshman Steve Smith’s rise to the Australian captaincy would have been well and truly silenced on Day 2 of the Boxing Day Test. Leading from the front with the bat, Smith ensured, with great help from the tail, that a 5/259 scoreline that could go either way turned into an imposing 500 plus total.

There was plenty of love for Smith from the Victorian crowd on Day 2. He has won us all over, first with his impressive batting in all conditions around the world in the past 18 months, more recently with his composure and deeds as stand-in captain in a tumultuous time for Australian cricket. The man he is standing in for, while now universally admired, had his early battles with his public perception as captain. Smith has moved into the role smoothly, as if he was born to do it. Not having a Lara Bingle and a keenness to bat higher than number 5 helps. He looks set as our number 4 for the next decade. Unless he ends up being the answer to our number 3 question.

I’m at the ‘G with my two boys, nearly 7 and 4 and a half. Their first ever day of Test cricket. Is it too young to take them to sit through a Day of a Test match? Probably. But they really wanted to come. More than happy to encourage their enthusiasm for the best form of the game.

I’m not sure they knew who Steve Smith was before we entered the ground. They quickly learned. They have a favourite cricketer now. Smith mixed patience with some glorious strokeplay and hitting. He sometimes looks awkward in his stance, but like Shivnarine Chanderpaul, it all comes together when it matters. Haddin, who looked all at sea at the end of Day 1, comes out swinging against the constant barrage of short pitched bowling. It comes off for a while and a half century is his reward. He will have to deal with this type of bowling for the rest of his Test career. Johnson scored freely until finally Dhoni turned to Ashwin, who beat Johnson for flight. The pressure from the Indian quicks was minimal. They seem to want to take easy wickets, won’t work at tying the opposition down and building pressure. Only Ashwin is capable of this. Mind boggling how he wasn’t selected in Adelaide. Ryan Harris goes for his shots in an entertaining knock of 74. A solid technique and even more solid attitude has the adopted Queenslander.

With two wickets left Smith brings out the Twenty20 shots and scores boundaries almost at will. His dismissal for 192, trying to ramp the ball to fine leg, looks ugly. But he’s more than played his part setting up a big first innings total and totally entertaining the crowd.

India bat out the day for the loss of only Dhawan. Haddin drops Pujara and given not many chances were created by the Aussie bowlers, it could prove very costly. Sitting side-on in the Ponsford Stand, it’s interesting to try and pick up the ball from the quicks. According to the speed gun, both Johnson and Hazelwood are bowling regulary around 142kph. I can see most of Hazelwood’s deliveries. Barely pick up any ball bowled by Johnson. The crowd banging on the advertising  signs as Johnson runs into bowl makes for a wonderful, cauldron like atmosphere. Plenty of Indian flags and support for the visitors too. All peacefully co-existing.  The only disappointing aspect of the crowd is  the spotting of a few ‘selfie sticks’ being used in our vicinity. I’d heard of them but never thought I’d actually see one in use.

The boys, while slightly restless towards the end of the day, enjoyed their first Test match experience and are keen to go again. Test cricket, and SPD Smith, won themselves two new big fans on Day 2.

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134


  1. Good one Luke. Your piece had me searching my memory banks and the Cricinfo archives for my first Test Match. Australia Day weekend 1966 – Fourth Test in Adelaide – Simpson and Lawry put on a 244 run opening partnership against a very average English attack. It is their running between wickets that I remember more than any stroke play. In the days when players sauntered more than ran, I remember how they dropped the ball at their feet and took off with a nod rather than a call. Sitting with my dad and pop on the bum numbing wooden benches of the old Edwin Smith Stand.
    Priceless and timeless. Thanks.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Luke writing this as our fielding has let us down on day 3 glad the boys enjoyed it .i think my 1st was 74 75 waiting for a couple of hours and then when play started , Lillee dismissing his bunny , Amiss straight away ( I would have been 11 )

  3. Well done Luke what a good dad taking the boys it’s a long day for them keep writing

  4. You’re a braver man than I, Luke. It’s all I can do to get the kids through a footy game with access to a bouncy castle and kick to kick on the ground at the end of every quarter, let alone a full day of test cricket. That said the lad (6) has taken interest in the game in as far as occasionally looking up to check if Steve Smith is still batting (the answer is usually yes). Well done on getting to see some play!

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Peter. Would love to hear more about your first day of Test cricket. My first day wasn’t until Boxing Day 1996 v the Windies, though had been to many ODI’s before that. S.Waugh and Blewett got runs. Been to at least a day of every MCG Test since.

    Cheers Malcolm. There may be some good stories in everyone’s first day of Test cricket. 74/75 would have been a great series to start at.

    Thanks for reading Lizzie, was a long day for the boys but they enjoyed it.

    Cheers Dave, they had their moments while India were batting but were better than expected. Very happy for them and your boy to have Smith to look up to!

  6. Good job Luke.
    Exposure, exposure, persistence, persistence.
    We never know the influence we have.

  7. It sounds like you had a great day, Luke.
    Nothing like introducing the kids to life’s great experiences,
    and Boxing Day sure is one of those!
    I am impressed that your boys – at their tender ages – sat through the day!

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