What a day of cricket for the 1st day of the 5th Ashes Test.
But the day was rounded off the way I wanted it. A day to the Baggy Green!
England decided to leave Graham Onions out of the squad, with Andrew Flintoff returning, and Jonathan Trott making his debut. Quite a time to make a debut! Australia made no changes, a bold decision regarding the spinner option, but as we neared the game it became increasingly evident the squad would remain unchanged. But they left us guessing for a while!
With the quick break-up of the Strauss and Cook duo, Peter Siddle roared as he captured the wicket of Alastair Cook. Ricky Ponting's reflexes were flashy and the 1st wicket was down!
The discipline by the bowlers was a major key in the performance for the days play. It seemed the only period England really had it well in tact was the first session as Andrew Strauss pressed forward with things once again, and Ian Bell made his promotion in the batting order count. Their hundred run partnership caused some slight concern for Aussie but the boys fought back!
It was after the wicket of Strauss, a faint edge to Brad Haddin off the bowling of Hilfy (another one to his collection), that a rapid change in momentum started.
Peter Siddle then delivered the spell needed, along with two wickets to Mitchell Johnson.
Stuart Clark held his game together really well, what you non-surprisingly expect from Stu, and kept it tight, and stuck to his simple game plan. Line and length, make them play and make them try play with patience!
It worked and the pressure at his end ensured the other guys could fire away. The wickets fell and it even gave Marcus North a gem of a chance to send some valuable balls down the wicket. He managed to get a couple to rip off the wicket, which has deteriorated quite quickly!
Sid's picked up 4 wickets, and another 5for is on the cards for him.
He just seems to do it at the right times doesn't he!
I think Sids' attitude is great for the team, and he embraces his opportunities, evidently seen in just his body language. He shows signs of the Baggy Green bowler's around the early 90's, where there's little doubt he would have fitted into that era quite comfortably. But I am so impressed with Sid's. I thought after his brief time with Victoria, his impact wasn't enough to get an Internatonal call-up.
I support the guys with total dedication (I mean this site keeps ticking along doesn't it!) but I admit I was quite harsh on Sid's early on in his debut stages in India. He proved me wrong at the MCG, and as he hits a quiet patch, he screams his way back into the wicket taking's and his focus becomes targetted on his opposition. Sid Vicious!
Even Mitch was had a great with the dismissal of Matt Prior.
Hostile fast bowling (up at the 150km/h mark) at the body, with variation in the angle, then bang, a slower ball wide of off-stump, lured Prior into the shot and Shane Watson took a dasher above his head at point! Awesome tactic, great cricket!
Highlight had to be the wicket of debutant Trott (who managed 41 runs, and certainly looks capable of International cricket)! Simon Katich you bloody beauty!
That run-out was one of the most spectacular bits of fielding I have ever seen in my time watching the game, similar to something Punter did a while back.
Lightning stuff from Katto at short-leg. Trott pushed it away, thinking it was through Katto latched onto it and was not shy in hurling it back at the stumps, dead eye! He acted with rapid instinct and the ball rocketed to the stumps and Trott was short of his crease. Not how you'd have expected to go out on debut!
That was my highlight of the 1st days play, and of course the wicket's of Strauss and Flintoff due to their reliance to boost the English team.
The only tactic I was a bit confused at was Shane Watson bowling. Marcus North was creating a decent amount of pressure at the other end, and was doing a really fine job.
I'm not saying Watto didn't give it his all (as he always gives it his all), I just feel it was an odd move. I would have opted for Stuart Clark to add some additional pressure at the other end.
We know Stuart wouldn't have taken the new ball which was due in that passage of playso a handful of overs with the older ball would have been good, and Watto doesn't seem to look 'Test bowling fit'. I see he nearly created two chances, but I just think it was an odd choice. I think opting to give Katto a couple overs would have been interesting too, I mean come on, after that run out who knows what he could have pulled off eh! But the wicket fell at the close of play atleast!
So no centurions for England again at the top of the order (I hope it stays that way), and Sids' 4th wicket was a great way to close the day's play with Swann caught behind. He will be looking forward to bowling at our batsmen with the way this wicket is starting to turn out.
We will only know the true state of it once our guys have had a good bat against the English bowlers, but there are still two wickets to get, and we have seen what the English tail enders can do.
If they aren't getting a flow of edgy runs, they are able to sit it out for a decent period of play. Hopefully we'll see some change to this set-up come the morning, as our bowlers stir things up to get those remaining wickets. Most importantly is to get England out well short of that 350 mark, which will be their focal point.
At one point it looked like England were going to be taking the day's play, but the Baggy Green fought back a fine style, and competitive aggression, which I love to see from the guys as that's our brand of cricket, and in such a series it needs to be shown.
Punter stated before this game that you rarely get a chance in your career as an Australian cricket to play in such a crucial game in such a historic series. Every opportunity has to be taken and every moment of play won should be embraced to keep the momentum flowing.
While the team need to perform as a unit (obviously) I would want nothing more than to see our bowler's ultimately lead the way, as this younger bowling attack have had one heck of a journey up to England, and this would be a memorable mark for their careers to progress.
But they have a lot of work left, and this is where it all counts! From their respective opportunities coming to the fore front to get them their Baggy Green caps, to making it into this Test, this is the game where it matters, this is where they have their chance to achieve their own piece of history. Support the guys, it's needed from all parts of the globe!
4 days to go, where it's all or nothing!