The Ashes – Fifth Test, Day 1: From The ABC and Others

I find myself in an unusual position today.  For the first time in a long while I will be watching a test match in Australia from the couch.

Old age seems to have caught up with me and after the wicket in Melbourne I have very much the same. No life in me but I will still be able to report.

Much of the main topic around Australia this morning would happen before the start of play.  Just who would open the batting for the ABC?

With the much vaunted, and rightly so, Gerard Whateley unavailable just who would get the important gig. Like the Australian 1 Day Squad will the selectors will be looking at the future?

Well instantly I know it is Alister Nicholson!   I know four Alister Nicholson’s (some Alistair) and this one is the boy from North West Tasmania who grew up wanting to call sport.  What is it about this part of Tasmania that they can produce sports callers of the ilk of Alister N, Tim Lane?

We wish him well as he opens the innings.  One good thing was that GW’s format was retained as in my humble opinion this has been a real plus.

I decide that I will have the sound down on TV and listen to the ABC sans advertisements. I have put up with it to the afternoon tea break but the ABC was too far advanced for the picture here in Mildura.  One good thing was that you could analyze a dismissal, a particular ball etc. at least 10 seconds before the picture came up.

Rain has delayed play until 12.40. The pitch looks pretty good with tinges of green. Whoever wins the toss will probably think twice though I am sure “honest Joe” will bat. He does and he does. Young spinner Crane comes into the English team in place of the injured Chris Woakes, who will be missed. Australia has Starc for Bird.

It has been a long while since Australia has gone through the series only making three changes.


As has been their wont all through the series England has looked very comfortable with Stoneman in particular playing some classy shots but he gets out on 24.  Cummins makes one jag into his bat and he could not let it go and Paine took a comfortable catch.  England 1/28.

Likewise James Vince. Beautiful shot maker but given a break in play and he loses concentration and get out caught by Paine from Cummins flicking at one outside his off-stump.   25 and England 2/88.

Must say the advertisements are ad nauseam.  Makes me think that when Tim Lane left the ABC (I know exactly where I was when that happened!)  I thought the world had ended as I knew it.  And it did in some respect as when I heard Tim on commercial radio it wasn’t the Lane I knew. It was radio rentals Tim Qantas Lane on the mike. Never had I been so deflated but I still regard him as a great commentator and acquaintance.  Will the same happen with GW?  It will be interesting.

AN Cook continued from his five day appearance at the G and looked comfortable but this Australian fast attack gives you nothing and on 39 he got a beauty from Hazlewood, who had bowled very well, and goes LBW.  England 3/95.

Speaking of le trio enfant terrible has there ever been a better attacking triumvirate of quick bowlers in the one team for Australia?  West Indies probably had a better group in the seventies and eighties but these three young guys are terrific and never give their opponents a moment’s respite.

Root and Malan are not taking any chances and they move the score along to 3/132 at the second break.  The Australian attack continues to bowl a good line and length which is making it difficult for the batsmen to score freely.


The two English batsmen are defiant with Root looking for runs more than his partner. This becomes more evident when Root is a metre behind Malan when the latter cuts to backward point.  A lucky escape as M. Marsh throws the ball to the wrong end.  Not that it is his fault.

Smith misses a difficult catch off Lyon as Malan get an edge but that looks like the only problems both batsmen had, as they confidently moved towards stumps.

Both batsmen continue on to make impressive fifties and at 3/220 ten minutes before stumps it looks like England’s day.

Then the predictable happens, as has been their wont, for England.

With three over of play left Smith decides to take the new ball. Root beautifully drives Starc for four, edges the next one between pads and wicket for four more and then spoons one to Mitch Marsh who takes a diving catch. Root out for 73, another century gone begging for the English captain 4/228.

Bairstow drives Starc for four and then gets a single.  Hazlewood bowls what is to be the last over. Bairstow (5) tickles the second ball to Paine and suddenly England are behind the eight ball at 5/233.

All the great work of Root 83 and Malan 55 not out had been undone in a matter of eight balls and Australia goes into the second day with the momentum going their way.

The bowlers as usual never gave up and Cummins and Hazlewood 2 and Starc 1 thoroughly deserved their wickets but four of the five Englishmen got themselves out.

And so ends my day on the couch.  For a purist not very satisfactory with much discontent about what I heard and didn’t hear throughout the day.  Then again I am a GOM.


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. Sorry to learn of your ailment, Citrus.
    It’s a long summer.

    Thanks very much for your observations.
    I didn’t see anything today (paid employment) – so your story is especially welcome.
    I like JR Hazlewood. I like PJ Cummins. You’re right about these four being tight. I’m not a big one for comparisons, so I’ll leave that for others.

    Can’t stand commercial radio calling sport.
    I didn’t know T Lane was still calling. (Is he?)
    The best Australian cricket commentator I can remember.
    I think Aggers of the BBC is brilliant.
    Good luck to A Nicholson.

    I’d love to know how a day in the media centre contrasts with a day on the couch. What are you missing being there?

    Maybe an idea for a future piece.
    Hope you’re fighting fit soon.

  2. All the best,Citrus I have found myself to switch channels re radio side of things all summer I was glad to hear and totally agree with Dirk Nannes with his criticsm of Steve Smith re the bewildering selection of
    Chris Lynn and Ashton Agar compared to Glenn Maxwell and Jon Holland.i still enjoy,Tim Lane on commercial radio and we totally agree re Stoneman and Vince look good but haven’t gone on with it any where near enough we wait and see if the last 10 minutes are vital re the outcome

  3. Missed a lot of the play so glad of the report Citrus. Get well soon. I feel a bit flat about this Test. There is no edge of excitement, just a question of curiosity as to who will perform and who will not.

    I started the summer listening to the ABC (as usual) but have turned off. Now I’m with Tim Lane at Macquarie radio. Ads are a pain but the commentary is far superior. Strange but I reckon Ian Chappell is a far better radio analyst than a TV commentator. Have been enjoying his work.

    Won’t be long and there will be AFLX games on our TVs. I’m already breaking out into a cold sweat. At least with the NAB Cup I was only disinterested.

  4. Citrus Bob says

    E R – like the change rooms “what is said stays in the shed”. However I do love the buzz of the media box and the love of cricket that all the sribes have. You also pick up some great pointers from the experts like Knox, Lalor, Baum, Haigh and this year Atherton. They just sit there contemplating their next move like chess players.
    Yes, Tim Lane from northern Tasmania has been on commercial radio for a number of years now. The doyen of cricket commentators in my opinion. We struggle to pick up commercial stations here in the bush even on relay so it is and will always be the ABC. Alister Nicholson will be very good given time.
    RULE – The worst part about the Pom batsmen is they do look good for their 20’s and 30’s but as Garry Lyon says “we know we will get them soon.Just wear them down”.
    Dips – how about Alison Mitchell?
    Thanks all for the good wishes. The cricket makes me feel better but not looking forward to Saturday with the temp to reach 44 degrees.

  5. Citrus – The TV/radio “delay” has long intrigued me (small things and small minds). Just sitting here in Perth and reading with the ABC radio commentary and #9 (permanently) muted. The TV picture is 3-4 seconds behind the radio in Perth, which I find ideal. I don’t really listen to the radio while reading, but the rising cadence of a commentator triggers me to look up and watch when there is something exciting.
    You were saying 10 seconds in Mildura. I wonder if it is different in different states/cities? I tried listening to the ABC commentary stream on the CA site earlier in the series but quickly discarded as it was a delivery or more behind the picture, which was very disorienting.
    I guess that small delay between “live” at the venue and “live” on tv/radio is what the secret “spot” gamblers try to exploit. Like Wall Street where big “investors” fix the market by having millisecond advantage through direct links to buy/sell with algorithm driven trading. Its a mugs game as they say. What are the Cramp family doing these days?
    Enjoy the air conditioning at Citrus Towers over the weekend. Stop stealing my GOM monicker. It belongs to Cranky and I.

  6. Citrus Bob says

    Peter_B GOM (a bit to early for OZ Honors)
    You make an interesting point on the delay between cities, towns in different states. Not sure about that but where I live in Mildura we do miss out on a lot. No local television all gone in last 4 years, Adelaide Advertiser no longer available in town and you can forget Friday and Saturday night football scores and details in the paper the next day!
    The Cramps are still around but not so much involved in sports.
    Motor Sports are huge here and the local council have set aside land for the development of a motor sports complex second to none. Just waiting on money. China?
    Will not move out of the house/couch tomorrow .

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Citrus, look after yourself, rested for this Test to ensure availability for South Africa?
    A.Nicholson slotted in very well.

Leave a Comment