I felt like I had won the lottery yesterday. After arriving in my favourite country, myself and Dobbie taxied to the 5* team hotel where we had been given a complimentary room. Not too shabby… The cricket fan in me is very much enjoying bumping into the legends of the game, past and present in the corridors and lifts!
A glorious day at the Adelaide Oval greeted the players and fans this morning. There is barely a captain in the land (except maybe Nasser) who wouldn’t have elected to bat here, and that’s just what Ponting did when he won the toss. However, the clever Spin team (me and Dobbie) posted this, shortly before the start of play:
It might seem like bad news for England, but actually this could give them their best chance of winning:
– If England get early wickets, they could quite quickly be into the Aussie tail, which has been weakened by the exclusion of Johnson. He might have failed dismally in the first Test, but he is dangerous when the bat when he gets going. Harris isn’t totally inept with the bat, but the rest of the Australian bowling attack are unlikely to trouble the scorers too much.
– If Anderson is to get the ball to swing at all, these first couple of hours would be the most likely time it will happen. So it is not out of the realms of possibility that England could do some damage with this new ball.
– Facing Doherty on day five on this pitch is unlikely to fill the England batsmen with too much dread. He hasn’t yet shown the ‘X’ factor.
Point is, it’s not all bad. Losing the toss for England may help get a result.
Now I am not one to gloat, but we were right, no?! In a dream start for Strauss and his men, England had Australia 0-2, and then 2-3! It included a rare diamond duck (dismissed for no score without facing a ball) for Katich, who was run out, and a golden duck for Ponting next ball (caught in the slips by Swann).
With the first ball of his next over, Anderson got Clarke in much the same way, Swann again with the catch at second slip. This was the kind of rewards Jimmy should have been reaping from his exceptional spell on the third morning at the Gabba last week.
After the dream start for England, this Adelaide pitch reverted to type, and Hussey and Watson patiently batted out the rest of the session, taking the Aussies to 94-3 at lunch, with Finn proving expensive for England.
However, this was still England’s session. Dismissing and humiliating the captain for 0, and taking those crucial early wickets, was exactly what was required with the new ball.
England, and Anderson, made another excellent start after lunch, dismissing Watson in the second over after the break, Pietersen taking the catch in the gully.
Next man in was Marcus North, who has been struggling for form recently. If he doesn’t get out early on, he is known for going on to make a big score. He looked to be heading for the latter, as he Hussey put on 60 during the afternoon session, Mr Cricket once again looking magnificent.
However, England claimed one more wicket shortly before tea to just about steal the session. Crucially, the wicket came from Steve Finn, who had struggled in the morning session, with figures of 1 for 45 from his nine overs. North made a feeble attempt at a shot, beaten by a lack of pace, and was caught behind for an uncharacteristic 26.
That brought Haddin and Hussey together again at the crease, for the first time since their epic 307 at the Gabba last week. The partnership added 51 before Hussey gifted his wicket to Swann on 93. That was the wicket England needed to get into the tail. Swann took Harris next ball, lbw, but was unable to complete a hat trick.
Some shoddy cricket from Australia resulted in the second run out of the day, Haddin hitting the ball to mid-wicket, Doherty ball watching and ignoring the call. He eventually set off, but a quick throw from Strauss via Cook to Prior, got the bails off with the batsmen still miles out.
England took the new ball on 80 overs, and Anderson and Broad finished off the tail, taking one apiece to dismiss Australia for 245, Anderson finishing with 4 for 51 from 19 overs.
England saw out the one over before stumps, finishing 1-0.