Just 2 days into another Ashes series and already cricket fans all over the globe have been treated to a fantastic, tight contest. There’s been heroes and victims from both sides, there’s been controversy UDRS (Umpire Decision Review System) and most importantly, the match is anyone’s for the taking!
Day one well and truly belonged to Australia, having rolled England for a below-par 260 and finishing the day at 0/25 themselves. The star of the day was undoubtedly Peter Siddle, who took 6 wickets and a hattrick on his 26th birthday. Siddle, returning from a stress-related back injury, was back to his fiery self, ripping through the English batting line up on his way to career-best figures of 6/54. The other key bowler for the Australians was debuting spinner Xavier Doherty, who finished the day with a tidy 2/41 off his 13.5 overs. Leading into the Test Match, both Siddle and Doherty’s selection was controversial in the eyes of many, with many journalists and experts suggesting Bollinger and Hauritz should have been given first crack at the tourists. However, kudos to the oftern criticised selectors who trusted their instincts and reaped the rewards.
From an English perspective, it was a dark day, beginning poorly when captain Andrew Strauss couldn’t resist a short ball just three balls into the series and found Michael Hussey. The batting was reckless at times and despite glimpses of form from Trott and Pietersen, both players threw away positive starts. The stars for England were Alistair Cook who worked tirelessly for his 67, and the impressive Ian Bell who batted with confidence and maturity on his way to 76.
When it was Australia’s turn to bat, the impressive opening combination of Watson and Katich fired again, taking the score to 78 before Watson was dismissed after a promising 36. Katich was later dismissed just after reaching his half-century, not long after Ponting failed in his opening innings of the series. Michael Clarke was another batsman to fail, having looked scratchy in making just 9 runs off 50 balls faced. The real concern for the Australians however is Marcus North, who once again failed to reach double figures in a career which is hanging on by a thread. North’s average is now just 36.22, a figure which by Australian standards simply doesn’t warrant a place in the starting eleven. It seems that North has one chance left (in the second innings) and if he doesn’t produce the goods, Usman Khawaja is likely to win himself a treasured Baggy Green come the 2nd Test.
Finishing on a more positive note, the start of the day for Australia was Michael Hussey, who resurrected his career with a brilliant, Hussey-of-old, unbeaten 81, which included 13 boundaries and 1 maximum. Hussey has been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, and nobody will be surprised if he turns this start into a big hundred tomorrow afternoon.
All in all, a fantastic opening few days to the games most popular series. Australia will be looking to wipe off the 40 run deficit early tomorrow morning and then bat late into day 3, in order to produce a sizable lead. The English bowlers have a lot of work to do if they’re going to keep their team in this contest and it’ll then be up to the batsman to produce a score of at least 300, in order to give the Aussies a tough chase on days 4 and 5. At this stage its advantage Australia, but knowing recent Ashes series, that can all change in a matter of minutes.