The Ashes 2015 – Fifth Test, Day 1: Wish you were here

The Channel 9 coverage commences and immediately the discerning listener can decipher that it has a decidedly loose dead rubber feel to it. Of course, it is now a lay-down misere that prior to the first day’s play of any Test, we viewers will be treated to our commentators acting as faux tour-guides. This is particularly predictably so in London. Look, there is Tubby in Trafalgar Square. And M Nicholas is gushing about the London Eye. Thankfully, common sense has prevailed and we are spared further images of the lads goofing about at the Abbey Road crossing.

These guys are bantering like it’s a T20. Although there were no shots of Carnaby St, it is all bordering on psychedelic. Maybe it is end-of-tour fever. The Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd could well be playing “Jerusalem”. I Healy’s introduction may as well be in SwaHealy for all the sense it is making to me. And S Warne is coming off the long run, unable and unwilling to hold back. It is scorched earth stuff, and anyone who has had anything to do with this most disastrous of tours gets a bake (apart from M Clarke – unsurprisingly). Later, Bumble Lloyd sings some Johnny Cash, just to be a part of it. Suddenly I am pining for the not so distant past – when Channel 9 parsimoniously beamed in the Sky feed. Maybe Australia’s performance in this series will see them revert back to the host nation’s callers in 2019? The cameramen are getting slightly funky also, zooming in and out on the London Eye (again), Clapham junction, the neighbouring gasometers, and that landmark which I have always thought is so quintessentially London – the Battersea Powerstation. Alas, there is no sign of Pink Floyd’s inflatable flying pigs.

It looks overcast. The pre-match talk is that the deck is another green-top – a bowl-first wicket, a saucerful of secrets. And A Cook duly obliges, looking like the cat that got the cream (as well as the tin of Garry Hocking), having no hesitation in inviting the Australians to bat. Clarke does not even bother to hide his disappointment, having said pre-match that the game would last but three days. However, D Warner and the valedictorian C Rogers make a decent fist of it. The ball hoops around a little, but S Broad is looking as flat as a night-carter’s hat. His work for the series is done. There are a few plays and misses, as is to be expected on the first morning of any non-sub-continental Test, but the openers are playing with a patience hitherto non-evident in this series, from both sides. They are leaving, and leaving, and leaving balls go. Despite being only 19 runs at drinks, it is more crucial that Australia still have ten all wickets in hand. Storm successfully weathered, Warner and Rogers set about cashing in. Australia lunches at 0/82, which is as comfortably numb a position as they could have wished for following the toss.

Rogers is Australia’s wall. Every run is another brick in it, building the innings’ foundation. Then, just as he is beginning to appear more expansive, he is gone for 43, nicking  agood ‘un to the juggling Cook off an impressive M Wood. 1/110. Warner carries on, but I feel his circumspection is less part of a plan, more the product of his not being in the peak of form. The innocuous M Ali is suddenly bowling hand-grenades to him, and in a momentary lapse of reason the batsman edges Ali to slip. 2/161. The Aussies are still on top. Just. Breathing in the air. Sitting 2/184 at tea, Australia has eclipsed England thus far.

Michael Clarke, in his final first innings, receives a warm ovation from the crowd, and a guard of honour from Cook’s Englishmen. For a brief moment it is not us and them. Clarke’s complete loss of form means there will be no fairytale finish – his innings is an exercise in skating on thin ice. It is a blessed relief when he feathers B Stokes to J Buttler; excruciatingly, Clarke prolongs the agony by calling for a futile review. He trudges off like a lost soul swimming in a fish bowl. 3/186. All the while, S Smith has been slowly accumulating runs – initially scratchy, but gradually playing his way back into form. He passes 50. The nonchalance with which he plays the cover-drive is counter-balanced by his quirky St Vitus Dance stance while awaiting bowlers to the crease. His shuffling is not as pronounced today. The pauper of Birmingham and Nottingham is once again the prince of London.

A Voges strides purposefully to the crease to replace the skipper. Welcome, my friend, welcome to the machine. Every innings now is a last chance to play for a Test career bestowed upon him late in his cricketing life, but he has the advantage of incumbency: a big score here and the #5 spot is his for the Bangladesh tour at the very least. He is busy and unhurried, and looks more solid than he has all tour. It is an important time, for the fall of another wicket would see the still-fragile M Marsh exposed. Voges denies England, however, grafting his way to 27 when the inevitable shower of rain stops play, with Australia 3/255. Smith is on 71. This last little session has been damp and tricky.

I am surprised that the players re-emerge some half-hour or so after running like hell from the field. Accumulating another 30 or so runs before it again becomes too dangerous, Smith and Voges settled right in now; Australia are well on top. The sting has long gone from the commentary box. The floodlights shine on like crazy diamonds. Stumps: 3/287 (Smith 78no, Voges 47no).


About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Welcome back, Test cricket. How good to again see thee.

    Appalling group-think on display from the usual suspects during the lunch break on channel gem. Speculating on composition of next Test team. Healy, Taylor, Warne all selected 2xMarsh.
    Can this be explained?
    Echoes. Any colour you like.

    Hats off Smokie.
    Careful with that axe, Eugene.

  2. What does Australian cricket do re S Warne.? After Bradman, probably our greatest cricketer ever, but some one who can never be called a unifying figure. I listened to his criticisms of R Marsh, and the selectors generally, but can S . Warne provide any positive input into the side ? Australian cricket , once again, i s in a mess, and i seriously don’t think the presence of S Warne is a positive factor. But then again, who is?


  3. I thought about turning it on before we went out to dinner. I thought about turning it on after we got back from dinner.
    Nah. Life goes on.

  4. Peter Warrington says

    Warne is a picklehead. Should be limited to 5 minute colour pieces. instead of 5 minute colour pieces every over, all of the same colour. but his abuse against the selectors and especially Marsh is generally supported, but not in the specifics.

    lovely description above, I thought we batted with luck and not as much patience as everyone in the media is acribing to us, but that is probably all relative.

    engalnd definitely down, dead rubber syndrome, good luck to them!

    there may be a role for Voges as a stabiliser in the next 18 months bt prefer to get all of Burns and Maxwell and Silk and Khawaja in with M Marsh and see how it floats.

    SMarsh – they are having a laugh. the ultimate flat track bully.

  5. SwaHealy and the Pink Floyd references… A very enjoyable read Smokie.

    So many lapses of reason this tour. Time to Bring the boys back home, I’m feeling comfortably numb.

  6. Peter Flynn says

    On fire Old Mate Smoke.

    Witty and sage observations.

    The cricket has been terrible. Really poor standard.

    Broad is streaky.

    Openers played well to be fair. Warner’s best chance of a ton was here.

    SwaHealy is a language that is becoming increasingly annoying.

    P Flynn

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