MCG Test, Australia v India – Day One: Batsmen, Not ‘Batters’

Last time I was here in the battle of the birds Hawthorn absolutely slaughtered the Sydney Swans. I wonder what we can expect today? The first two test matches have been absorbing and attacking cricket. We hope that occurs today and that there is no repeat of the other great day at the “G”.

You cannot beat a test match at the “G”. Whatever any other state suggests, the capitol of Victoria is the world capitol of cricket. The crowd has come in early and full of expectations and Christmas left-overs. Last time the Indians were here, 70,068 people attended. Let’s see what happens today.

The Indian python strikes early, with Yadav striking with a hiss; Warner is beautifully caught by Dhawan in the second over. Australia 1-0. Did Warner’s sore hand have any part in it?

A sign on the scoreboard says “Ground Behaviour Fine $1107”. How come it is such an obscure total?

Rogers continues from where he left off in Brisbane, playing some splendid drives off all bowlers. After the initial wicket Australia begin to dominate the game.

Watson has an average of 89.6 in his Test matches at the “G” and the way he is performing at the moment he could be in the zone today.

Australia go to lunch at 1-92 and playing comfortably, while the Indian attack like their fielding is SFXF (Suffering From Xmas Festivities).

Whatever the Indians had for lunch it certainly paid dividends. In almost no time, Rogers (57) and Watson (52) were out: Rogers falls to Sharmi by edging him to Dhoni and Watson is dismissed trying to sweep Ashwin, but is instead given out LBW. It was India’s first hour with Australia losing two wickets for just 28 runs. The bowling was tight and the fielding was sound. A complete change of fortunes.

In contrast to his earlier spell, Sharmi bowls four overs, three maidens and claims a wicket for just runs: a superb effort.

Meanwhile Ashwin continues to check the batsmen (why do they call them batters?). Batters are for fish and baseball. The Americanisation of Australian sports language continues to infiltrate even the most English of games. Perhaps you are right SB, maybe I am a GOM (Grumpy Old Man).

The ebb and flow of the game sees Smith (23) and Shaun Marsh (32) consolidating until team time. It has been absorbing cricket.

The tea break once again strikes with Marsh showing the impetuosity that stops him from ever being questioned as part of the team, nicking through to Dhoni off Sharmi. Out for 32 and Australia are 4-184.

New comer Joe Burns (the fifth debutant this year) receives a great reception of the near 70,000 crowd. Melbourne crowds know their cricket, and Burns would have felt right at home. He bats for 34 minutes and shows sound quality with a couple of impressive fours. He tries to pull a short ball from Yadav, gets a bottom edge and Dhoni takes the catch. Burns out for 13. Australia: 5-216.

Steve Smith continues to lead from the front and when his current innings reached 60, he also clocked up his 1,000th Test run for the calendar year. Considering that he started 2014 not fully convinced that his test place was secure, he has moved through the 12 months with imperious cricket, culminating with being made captain in the previous test in Brisbane. A century there and a match saving 72 not-out today does say that Australian cricket will be in good hands for the ensuing future.

Brad Haddin, whose place is not as secure as it was before the series started was troubled by every bowler. The area between your ears is probably the biggest problem for a batsman (not batter) and Haddin is not playing with any confidence at the moment. He struggles to 23 but he is still there at the end of the day. Together Haddin (23) and Smith (72) have added 43 for the sixth wicket, and India will try and wrest back authority with some early wickets tomorrow morning.

Looking back on the day, one could say that the game is ‘even -stevens’ with both sides having their special moments, taking control and then losing it. Once again, Boxing Day in Melbourne has proved a great success and the crowd of 69,993 certainly enjoyed the day.

The “G” is the place to be and now we can head on over to AAMI Stadium to watch Melbourne City play Perth Glory in an A-League block buster.

Ah! To be in Melbourne at this time of the year is paradise for a sports afficienado.

About Bob Utber

At 80 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he wanted to do as a 14 year-old living on the farm at Lang Lang. Talking, writing, watching sport. Now into his third book on sports history he lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny ) and a groodle named "Chloe On Flinders". How good is that.


  1. Nice one Bob. Fills in the gaps on my day of half watching the cricket, without the curse of idiot commentators. I miss I bit but I prefer music to muleheads as my Boxing Day soundtrack.
    Watto is a plonker (front foot variety).
    SMarsh – I’ve given up. ERegnans is right. This bloke is pure class and poetry to watch, but jeez the secret to Test batting is not getting out. And like Watto – can’t he find a way?
    SPD Smith shows what the broad face of the bat and working the ball with Azharuddin-like wrists can do. Maximum output with minimum risk.
    Chappelli always said that a 300 first innings guarantees a competitive Test. Don’t think we can keep relying on 7-11.

  2. Thanks Bob.
    Watched a fair portion of this on the box with a rising anger developing for what has been allowed to happen to the once-entertaining Ch9 commentating effort.
    WM Lawry made the rest of them (excepting IM Chappell) sound like self-aggrandising matey slop, displaying a frightening lack of insight or humour or gravitas.
    Enjoyable cricket, though.

    It’s a patience game. On lapses in concentration and taking of opportunities the game is turning and twisting.
    BJ Haddin looks scared of the ball. That’s fair enough, given his last 6 weeks or so. But he probably needs to decide whether he really wants to be out there. On one short one today he turned his head. Crazy.

  3. Gee whizz, speaking of batsmen hasn’t Steve Smith had a stellar 2014. 1,000 + runs, test captaincy, he, is delivering. Not sure if I can say the same of India.

    Can’t say the same about India.. The bowlers toiled hard, but the fielding was poor. Dhoni behind the stumps was tawdry, a number of bad misfields, with dropped catch off Watson , was a less than impressive performance. it made me think of a recent posting about their players being spilt, overpaid and believing the hype about them.

    Though the BCCI runs world cricket, the on field performances have rarely been commensurate. True they’re the current World Cup holders, as well as being the nation who knocked of the Widies when they were the undisputed champions back in 1983, Credit where it’s due. Test cricket though they’ve hardly set the world on fire.

    Apart from a period under Ajit Wadekar in the early 1970’s, and to a slight degree in recent years under Dhoni, they have not been the best test playing nation. their poor record here emphasises that. This is their eleventh tour of Australia. they have lost eight of those, drawn two, and they can’t win the current series. They have only won 5 tests in their eleven tours here.

    Phew, that’s my Saturday soapbox.


    PS: Didn’t Brendon McCullum turn it on in Christchurch. When he hits the ball it stays hit !

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