01 August 2013

The Ashes 3rd Test, day 1, Old Trafford

The Ashes 3rd Test, day 1, Old Trafford:

Australia 1st innings:
3/303 from 90 overs
Michael Clarke 125*, Chris Rogers 84, Steven Smith 70*
Graeme Swann 2-82

A day of Test cricket that finally went our way, well, nearly. It was inevitable that Michael Clarke would find the ability to dig in and score a century. No surprise really he is our first centurion of the series. It was just as an inevitable that questionable umpiring decisions would be highlighted by technology and made out to be disgraceful through DRS. A frustrating day in many ways for both teams but we have come out on top and finally won the toss!

Michael Clarke had things go his way as we finally won the toss and elected to bat, while he battled on to get our first Test century of the series. In my Ashes venue preview article I stated "History in the most recent Test matches shows an opportunity to get a good first innings total is there for the taking, so it's a bat first wicket in my mind. Visiting teams have struggled to "hold the fort" in their second innings, which England have then handled with home turf expertise to secure victory." This seemed true, the first part at least.

Chris Rogers scored 84 runs and it is fair to say there was a touch of masterclass to his performance. I have continued to back Rogers for his spot and believe he was the right selection for this campaign. His performance was top class and it was special to see him change his temperament. Instead of being the cautious batsman while Shane Watson (19) played the attacking role, it was a reversal and may have caught England off guard.

Rogers raced to his half-century at just below a run-a-ball, while Watson worked hard for his runs and tried to place immense value upon his wicket. Rogers' stroke selection was either cheeky or elite. He played the ball late, used his wrists excellently to angle the ball into the gaps or craft the late swing on offer by English bowlers with finesse. He resumed with as much confidence after the break and it took a break in concentration from behind the bowlers arm to see him on his way. He missed a straight one from Graeme Swann on 84 and he had to leave 16 runs short of a maiden Test century. He'd put us on the board and had secured some momentum.

Rogers also brought up his 20,000th first-class run. One massive achievement! Still a way behind Sir Jack Hobbs' 61,760.

The worry is that when Rogers departed we were 3/129 and we know the pattern that happens from there. Not for this day though!

Watson wasn't dismissed LBW this time but played at a straighter delivery from Tim Bresnan to find a generous edge to Alastair Cook at first slip. It was a straight forward dismissal and Watson will really be feeling the pressure come his second dig.

Usman Khawaja will have a restless night after his questionable decision. It has brought the DRS into question, not as to what it presents but how it is being executed and utilised by the third umpire.

A delivery which seemed to clearly miss the edge (even though there was a slight sound present) and had no hot spot or live video footage (zoomed in) to suggest the ball hit the bat was given out by Tony Hill as standing umpire in live time. With the above mentioned evidence Kumar Dharmasena seemed to make a massive, massive blunder and Khawaja was given out, the umpire's decision remaining. This would suggest there was "not enough evidence" to overturn the decision, but I disagree and it needs to be looked into. The whole system does as far as how the umpires are using it, or lack thereof.

Brydon Coverdale of ESPN Cricinfo listed the various scenarios this series. Worth a read for a recap.

Steven Smith found fortune in the system as well when he was as good as LBW when on 24. However, England got to taste the fault of perception as we had to suffer. They'd used all their reviews and when they needed it to overturn an on-field error there was no review on offer. Smith survived and has pushed onto 70*. A bit of karma I guess.

Michael Clarke's innings was a subtle one. He had to graft hard with the back issue, some tough bowling early on and find support in a fellow batsman. Once Clarke found some rhythm and got his timing right, which was bound to take a bit of time - as pointed out by Andrew Strauss in commentary - he was on his way. The confidence of Clarke was a mirrored effort of his sublime run dating back to late 2011. He now has a stand of 174 runs with Smith and we're in a fine position for day 2.

Best of all is that we've finally made it beyond 300 runs in an innings and England's bowlers have been forced to work hard for the wickets. Some sore bowlers on their part gave indication that it's been far too easy for them up until this point. Still four days of cricket ahead but this performance has changed the tone since Lord's as we fight to stay in the contest.

Well done Michael Clarke on reaching his 24th Test century!

Verdict: Day one of the Old Trafford Test belongs to us.

Welcome to The Baggy Green Blog!
Thanks for reading this article written by Ian.
To comment on this article, click on the 'Comments' tag at the end of the article.


No comments: