Cricket fans in Australia awake this morning, some more bleary eyed than others, to the news that Australia posted a more than respectable 3/303 overnight on the first day of the 3rd test at Old Trafford. Having watched the first 3 and a bit hours of play, I bunkered down in bed with dulcet tones of the TMS team and was able to push through until the last hour of play on what was another quality day of test match cricket.
Here are my 5 keys to the first day's play:
- Well played Bucky: If my timeline in the preamble to the game means anything a number of fringe and former NSW players were appalled at the failure by the selectors to keep Phil Hughes in the team and were questioning the position of Rogers in the line up. Not that he would have been aware of them, but this was an innings that will take the pressure from the pundits off in droves but will also have not been a surprise to many. Indeed, anyone who has watched Victoria in the Shield competition will have seen many of those shots he played last night over and over again before and will know that that is the form he is consistently capable of. 20,000 first class runs at an average of 50 do not lie and that is why this bloke is in the team.
- Oh Captain my Captain: Has there been a captain of any Australian cricket team who has been forced to perform under pressure more, and succeeded, than the current captain? Allan Border in the mid to late 80s comes to mind in comparison to Michael Clarke in this context and he did it again last night. In at 2 for not many with the beast that is the English bowling attack stirring he came to the wicket and then batted out the day. This was another quality innings from a bloke who does not get enough plaudits, from me included, for his toughness.
- DRS … again: Can we all agree that the 3rd umpire made a mistake in the Khawaja decision and get on with it? That seems to be what happened doesn't it: human error despite the technology caused a wrong decision to remain in place. Umpires are human and no matter the quality of the technology mistakes will happen. It is an interesting side bar that without DRS all three decisions reviewed and upheld last night would have remained the same. What would we have had to discuss then? Well, human error wouldn't we?
- Come in spinner: This pitch is already taking considerable spin and it is only going to take more as the game goes on. Enter N Lyon: many have been looking for that moment when Lyon will have the opportunity to bowl Australia to victory and whilst it might be looking the metaphorical gift horse in the mouth at this early stage at does look like that opportunity may be upon us here.
- Wake up fans: Why is it that in seemingly every ground in the world “fans” of the game do not have the cricket savvy to know when not to move? Obviously if the bowler is bowling from the end you are sitting at and you are sitting anywhere upto 50 metres either side and above the sightscreen you plant your ass and don't move till the end of the over. How hard can that be? The members at Old Trafford got it wrong last night and probably cost Australia a wicket.
All in all it was Australia's day and it was a day that Australia and its fans desperately needed after the debacle at Lords. Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves though: it is only the first day of five and Australia will need to be just as good tomorrow to keep this momentum going. Par score for Australia is now looking like 500 and with the Myth lurking in a situation seemingly taylor made for his cavalier approach and poor technique that target certainly looks obtainable.
Day two kicks off at 8pm Australian time, or in roughly 12 and a half hours for those not on the eastern seaboard of Australia.