The Ashes 2015 – Second Test, Day 1: For England, life’s a pitch

If Australia’s dilemma after the first Ashes Test match could be represented in one image, the gigantic slope at the famous Lord’s Cricket Ground would have been fitting.

A team full of old timers who are ‘past their best’ and a collection of babbling immature youths finally declining after a year and a half of solid dominance in what is the fickle game of test match cricket.

Well, that’s how the English press made it out to be, as they tore massive chunks off the rotting Australian carcass.

If the blunt attack could ever be salvaged, then it would be at a ground that is historic and looming, with the Lord’s venue being the perfect stage for a fightback to occur.

Michael Clarke strode out onto the plush grass in what could be a positive mood. He and his team finally had a chance to reply, as even the foreboding clouds weren’t a problem. The hopeful captain of the ‘broken’ Aussies promptly won the toss and chose to bat. The amendment of plans to call ‘heads’ on the toss proved to be a masterstroke, with the adaptations made after the scarring Cardiff test causing doubt in the English minds.

Rogers and Warner, the throwback and the innovator, walking out all padded up. The flashy Warner goes for a large chunk of a bat that is on the verge of being called a tree. Rogers waddles out with his standard Kookaburra, with a faded armguard attached to his forearm in what is a habit for the steady hand of Australia.

The older and more experienced of the pair deftly absorbs the first ball before driving crisply. Despite the hooping swing of Anderson, Rogers manages to edge a ball right near a ducking Root, before sending the shiny Duke crashing to the outfield for the second boundary of the game.

With the usually stagnant Rogers getting off to a flying start, most cricket watchers would be expecting Warner to send Broad packing and reassert his dominance after a disappointing first test. Yet his strange and gut wrenching form continues, as his regular array of punchy strokes being replaced by a seed of doubt and an uncertain grimace.

Somehow, he manages to push through and stay in, with the plucky Rogers turning into a free flowing and confident Rogers. They put on 78 runs in what is a strong statement; the Aussies are here to play in this test. Warner finally unravels his testing start, with a disappointing and careless shot to all-rounder Ali, leaving England with confidence and Australia with fear.

Finally, after all of the build-up and promise, the golden boy in Steven Smith strides out in his clunky and unique way to save Australia. The newly promoted number three starts off crisply, as he gets Australia through to lunch with the score past 100, with a resounding second session firmly placing the game in the Aussies’ grasp like a father does with house keys to teenage children before heading away for a holiday.

But, unlike the irresponsible teenagers, Smith gets a reprieve, with Bell spilling a catch to remove blonde dynamite for 52. He then continues to punish both Bell and his teammates, with some glorious drives being followed by some eye catching pull and cut shots. From an Australian point of view, what can be better?

Throughout all of this time, Rogers applies and applies like a college student at Harvard who needs to get the top mark to pass, with concentration being closely followed by reviewing one’s shot after each ball. He continues in a positive fashion to a wonderful century, as the cracked white lips covered in zinc produce a well-deserved and extremely wide grin.

The whole first day of this test match is basically a thorough examination of the batting of Rogers and Smith. If Smith uses his bat like a ninja does with his flowing blade, then Rogers uses his crafted piece of wood like a library book, as he treasures every part of every moment throughout the day. By the time the tea break strikes and the English bowlers are dropping into the rock hard pitch like it’s quicksand, Smith experiments like only Smith can, with a variety of strokes flying to all parts of the hallowed ground.

Whether it be down the slope or up it, the weathered Duke ball copped the full wrath of the Australian’s until the very last ball, with Rogers and Smith striding through to the end of play, both with monolithic tons to their names. If this is only the start of the reply, England better be fearful of what comes next.

Stumps- Day One
Australia 1/337 (90 overs)
Rogers 158*
Smith 129*
Warner 38

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