10 July 2013

The Ashes 1st Test, day 1, Trent Bridge

The Ashes 1st Test, day 1, Trent Bridge:

England 1st innings: 215 all out after 59 overs
Peter Siddle 5-50, James Pattinson 3-69, Mitchell Starc 2-54

Australia 1st innings: 4/75 after 21.0 overs
Steven Smith 38*, Chris Rogers 16, Phillip Hughes 7*

I was wrong about one thing and right about another.

The first was doubting Peter Siddle's abilities for the Trent Bridge wicket, where he bowled beautifully. The thing I was right about was Ed Cowan not being imposing enough to take the number three role - something I wrote about in the most recent article here at The Baggy Green Blog. It's only his first innings of the series but I had a gut feeling we needed a batsman with a different temperament and approach.

Jonathan Trott (48) perfectly demonstrated the art of being the imposing number three batsman. Fortunately after he looked set to mow on, he chopped a wider delivery from Peter Siddle onto his leg stump.

Before Siddle's impact, James Pattinson started off with clear nerves and couldn't control his line or length. Ever since Harmison's first ball wide in the 2006/07 Ashes series, a wide has been a delivery to fret about as an opening Ashes delivery. However, with England on 27, Pattinson found fortune to throw away the butterflies as he managed to lure Alastair Cook into cover driving a looser delivery and the first wicket of the Ashes fell.

Siddle's performance must be credited to Michael Clarke in some ways. Realising Siddle was ineffective in his opening overs (going for more than 6 runs per over) he was switched to operate from the Radcliffe Road end. A different Siddle came out to torment England as he secured his seventh five-for in Test cricket.

An insanely executed yorker with some outswing removed Joe Root, and then Kevin Pietersen was caught by Michael Clarke in the slips not much longer thereafter. Pietersen also survived a catch behind which just dipped on Brad Haddin diving to his left. It was a big wicket. 

Siddle continued to work hard with Ian Bell outstandingly caught by Shane Watson in the slips, avoiding distraction by a diving Brad Haddin. The fifth wicket came with Matt Prior attacking him and the ball flew into the hands of Phillip Hughes.

There was brief resistance from Stuart Broad and Johnny Bairstow but it was all over with England scoring 215 runs. We had set up the 1st innings chase perfectly.

Sadly our batting was always going to be the worry and so it happened as we sit in a worrying position at 4/75 from just 21 overs. Fortunately we are chasing a total that isn't daunting. If we score good runs this Ashes series, we will win.

Shane Watson and Chris Rogers couldn't be expected to perform miracles. 14 wickets in one day shows it was hard grafting out there.

Rogers was simply given a good ball as he tried to counter-attack the swing of James Anderson. He looked steady and very calm at the crease. It was a pity to see he nearly escaped the LBW decision.

Watson was perhaps too assertive as he found an edge to the slips, while Ed Cowan played a disastrous shot to a delivery no new batsman should even contemplate. There were question marks over his selection and he will need to do something superb in the second dig.

It left us in tatters when Michael Clarke - who has carried the batting for some time - was dismissed for a duck. It's his second since the Mohali Test in March. Let's hope that was his first and only blunder. A big victory for England to remove Clarke so cheaply.

Steven Smith has shown incredible determination and worked really hard to manage 38* runs by stumps. He is being supported by Phillip Hughes (7*) who has looked steady in a middle order role. Best of luck to the former New South Wales teammates.

There is hope with Brad Haddin is still to follow, while Ashton Agar, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Mitch Starc can all bat with comfort. If there was a game we needed batting depth, this is it!

Ashton Agar was handed his Baggy Green cap at the expense of Nathan Lyon. It was a shock call up, clearly tactical, and while he is a young man with something to offer, he wasn't effective and only caused some hassles earlier on against Jonathan Trott. Long road ahead for him though to learn and improve.

Verdict: Day 1 to England.

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