The Ashes – Third Test, Day 1: Malan and Bairstow defy the WACA

Stumps Day 1 – England 4/305  (Malan 110*, Bairstow 75*)


by Citrus Bob Utber, Perth.


What a beautiful day it is in Perth. Not a cloud in the sky and big crowd looking forward to this final Test in what has been a typical Test ground.  However the followers and I use that term reservedly, we no longer want the discomfort of historical grounds.

Such is the want of people who want luxury.  Maybe the players are wanting a bit of “luxury” as well and in particular the batsmen; many of whom have dreaded batting on this fiery track.

Love walking down to the ground via Trinity College and around past the entrance to the Showgrounds. Enter the ground and then walk around past the practice nets and the beautiful rose display.  Sometimes the players would be in the nets and you were arms lengths away.  You won’t get that at the new Colosseum.  Would not be surprised if one day you won’t see the cricketers until they come on to the ground via a tunnel that arises at the wicket.

Well the day has commenced with news that some business men have been involved in gambling or match fixing.  They would be better off playing two-up with Joe Root who has won his third consecutive toss.

Well he hasn’t made the same mistake this time.  He decides to bat.

No changes in the English team and as expected Mitch Marsh has replaced Peter Handscomb to give Australia more depth in their bowling.  A great crowd already in position in the stands and on the hill.

Stoneman starts off in great style; a beautiful cover drive of Hazlewood and then three in a row from Starc in the next over.  Looks no problem with this wicket for the batsmen.

Alistair Cook in his 150th Test match joins the party with a fine cover drive from Hazlewood. 0/21 with five fours.


Cook (7) takes a new guard and is immediately out LBW to Starc.  England 1/25.   He is in terrible form, the former captain and he was palpably in front.  It was a real puzzle why he took a new guard but that is his mind at the moment.


For the next hour and a half the Englishmen are playing with great confidence. Both Vince and Stoneman use their feet and are not afraid to attack anything loose from the fast men.  They are assisted by a fast outfield.  If you get the ball past the infield it is four.

Don’t know whether Tim Paine is practicing to be goalkeeper for the Socceroo’s but he takes many balls way above his head during the session. The bowlers are getting good lift and the ball keeps rising passing through to the keeper.


Considering it is a Thursday the crowd is marvelous and reaches 20,000 just before lunch. One can only wonder what the crowds will be like in the new Colosseum down the road when it hosts both cricket and football in 2018.


10 minutes before lunch. Just when it looks like being England’s morning.  Vince (25) fiddles once too often and nicks a good Hazlewood ball through to Paine.  England 2/89 and the advantage that they probably had was gone.  Along with Stoneman, Vince had built a solid foundation for the rest of the innings.  This has been their Achilles heel right through the series.  Looking good and then losing the momentum.

At lunch England 2/91, Stoneman a very good 48 and captain Joe on 1.  Starc and Hazlewood one wicket apiece.  Honours even


Credit to England in the fact that they used their feet to Lyon and he did not look like the bogey man he has been all series.



England is on the attack after lunch.  Hazlewood and Cummins are bowling quickly but Root and Stoneman play some fine shots.

Mitch Marsh drops an easy catch at slip from Stoneman on 52.  It should have been taken and Knackers from the Big Vee will be saying “Peter Handscomb would have not dropped that”. It virtually came straight to him. He hasn’t bowled a ball either!

Stoneman is in trouble.  He turns his head and is struck by a bouncer from Hazlewood. It smashes the helmet.  He decides to bat on and is dropped by Lyon first ball after the hit.  It was a difficult catch.  Is it a wise to bat on?  He does not look well.  Hazlewood shows no remorse, after all it was not his fault and he peppers Stoneman for the remainder of the over.

Hazlewood and Cummins are really working up pace and Cummins get a beauty to Root (20) and the ball goes off his gloves to Paine.  England 3/115 and with Stoneman in trouble the game has turned completely in Australia’s way. Did the hit to Stoneman unsettle Root?  I think so and on reflection it probably would have been wise for Stoneman to retire hurt.

The bowlers continue to pepper him. The only good thing going for England at the moment is that the bowlers are throwing everything at them but no more wickets.  Still no Mitch Marsh; surely time for him to have a trundle now.

Controversy!  Stoneman (56) seems to deflect a bouncer from Starc through to Paine who makes a great take high to his left. Umpire gives him not out and after a time the DRS from Australia is given in their favour.  It still does not look correct after I have viewed it.  A real howler if ever I have seen one.  England 4/131.  Stoneman had not recovered from his hit. I am sure on reflection he should have taken a break or be told to “take a break”.

Tremendous Test cricket at the moment with the bowlers giving everything and the batsmen showing great grit. Bairstow gets of the mark with a beautiful drive off Cummins.

Wonderful bowling by the Australians they are showing no mercy to the Poms, getting plenty of bounce but the wicket is doing nothing.

Surprise, surprise Mitch Marsh is handed the ball and he delivers two uninspiring overs.

Malan (42) and Bairstow (14) survive a torrid last hour to go to tea for England 4/175.  Australia probably won the session due to the fiery onslaught by the trio enfant terrible.  Bairstow going up in the order will need to prove in these conditions that he is a top batsman in his own right.

Very slow going after tea with the two batsmen consolidating the position for their team.  As usual the Australian bowlers are giving nothing away.

Bairstow and Malan consolidate well and are looking assured, playing with confidence.  They take the score past 250 with still about 10 overs before the second new ball.  Marsh and Smith are into the attack in an endeavour to break up the partnership but both give the batsmen some easy runs.  Smith does beat the bat a couple of times and the usual cry goes out “why does he not bowl more?”

Indeed why does he not bowl more?  If he did it would save having to make a change in a winning team to give Marsh.M a guernsey.

At 4/267 the second new ball is available.  Will Smith take it?  Doubtful considering the work load that le trio enfant terrible have done today.  He does!

The first ball from Starc to Malan (92) is dropped by another Westralian as Bancroft cuts across Smith who would have gobbled it up. Lucky R.B.Simpson or K.R.Stackpole is not commentating or they would have said “the slips are too close together”.  A good first over from Mitchell Starc.

The new ball only brings runs for England and Malan reaches his century with two beautiful strokes for four. He gets to 102 from 159 balls with 23 fours and one six. A marvellous innings from Dawan Malan – his first Test century.

He and Bairstow have been magnificent in their record fifth wicket stand for an English Test team in Perth. There is no doubt that England have won this session with style and overall, the day.  The taking of the new ball has accelerated the run rate and they have scored 40 runs in six overs.

At the end of the first day England are 4/305  Bairstow 75 and Malan 110.  They have won the day due mainly to the fine partnership of these two players who have shown all the grit and determination that their team required from them.

A marvellous day of really tough Test cricket with both teams on top at various times throughout.  A tough middle session that saw the Australian fast bowlers give their all – Bairstow and Malan giving theirs as well.

And now for day 2……

Will Australia fight back hard with a near new ball?

What part will Mitch Marsh play?

Will Tim Paine continue to be a class above all keepers again?


Can’t  wait.

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. Excellent day’s cricket. Malan and Bairstow taking the game to the Australians after our quicks were on top early. Don’t worry – the heavy rain forecast for Days 4 and 5 should save Australia.
    The hard bouncy pitch was great to see, and batsman get full value at the WACA. Pity the spectator facilities are so primitive. Glad you agree.
    Jim Maxwell really gives me the pip these days. Always rambling on about the old days in a vaguely elitist way. Easy for him to lament the demise of cricket grounds – he’s sitting in an air condition booth – not plastic chairs roped together under a lean-to (and that’s in the Members Area last time I went). 15 minute queues for a beer. There is just no economic rationale for stand alone major cricket grounds – unless they can also accommodate football. The WACA missed that boat 20 years ago.
    Sorry you got lost on the way to the ground. Long walk from Claremont Showgrounds to the WACA.

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    The series really needed today’s England performance. When Root was dismissed they could have folded, was good to see them show some fight. M.Marsh will need to make some runs to justify his selection after limited bowling and his dropped catch. Would have liked to have seen Handscomb given more opportunity to work through his form slump. The man still averages 47.35.

    Peter B- heard J.Maxwell’s rant today. I’m starting to switch to Fairfax’s coverage when he comes on. Watched highlights of the Perth Scorchers v England Lions game at the new Perth Stadium on YouTube tonight. The venue looks incredible, how good will it be with 60,000 per day at the Ashes Test there in 4 years! Of course Jim would have all 5 Tests at Sydney venues if he could.

  3. Love it, Citrus.
    And agreed Luke. Just what the series needed.

    Citrus – can you confirm that the middle letter of D Malan’s first name is in fact “w”?

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    The selection of M Marsh such a defeatist one more in case,England make 450 plus agree with PB re spectator lack of comforts at the Waca and re above,Jim Maxwell as well agree,Luke the series needed it.
    Citrus Bob agree re Stoneman retiring hurt disagree re magnificent bowling by Cummins to get rid of Root and yes the aussies may we’ll be looking for the rain days 4 and 5 thank you

  5. There are plenty of runs in this wicket. I’m not a subscriber to the “Its good for the series” idea. I want to pound them. 5-0 would sit nicely on the mantle piece.

    Excellent reporting as usual Citrus.

  6. Good for the series, but much work still to do for the Poms.

    ER – Dawid Malan. His father had the same name. I originally thought it might’ve been a Welsh thing. Apparently not. Elsewhere, it’s listed as the Polish form of David, or the original hebrew form. Which is strange, because apparently ‘W’ isn’t a sound in Hebrew.

    And Malan was English-born, South African raised. I suspect it’s like ‘Riewoldt’.

    But to summarise, I mostly have no idea.

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