Australia won the first day of this final test of the English swing of the 2013/14 Ashes contest. In fact they won the day be a very long way off the back of Shane Watson’s rollicking 176 and the failure of the debutantes selected by the Poms.
Day 2 presents an opportunity for Australia to press their advantage in the game whilst for England they can regain their ascendancy with a strong showing. Here are my keys to Day 2:
1. Bat long Australia … bat very long
Australia’s position at 4/307 puts them in the box seat in this game but given the state of the pitch they will need to score many more runs today to secure their position in the game. One suspects that if Australia can bat till tea or, even better, stumps their position will be impregnable. Steve Smith and Brad Haddin, when he bats, hold the key to a big score for Australia. Smith is 34 runs away from a maiden hundred which will go a long way cementing his position in the team.
2. Early wickets … both for England and Australia, if they bowl
This wicket is at its best for bowling when the ball is new or newish so for England they need to collect early wickets in the first 30 minutes of day 2 whilst the new ball they took last night is newish. It seems likely that Australia will bowl at sometime on day 2 and given that they have only selected one spinner they will be looking to their new ball bowlers to get them off to a start which, if it does not arise, could see England very quickly on top.
3. Things can only get better for the debutantes … can’t it?
In order for England to regain the ascendancy in this game, if they are unsuccessful in the first 30 minutes of day 2 they will need their bowlers on debut to improve markedly on their day one performance. There are only so many overs that Graeme Swann can bowl so “Darryl” Kerrigan will be called to the crease at some point. If his stage fright remains from yesterday then he might be consigned to the ranks of Messrs Tahir and McGain in only 2 day of test cricket. That said, if he can return and take a couple of wickets he will not only help out his team but also regain some confidence.
4. Dusty, dusty, dusty … Is this the Oval or Madras?
This pitch took turn, albeit slow turn, within the first hour of play and, by that point, Graeme Swann was already at the crease bowling. The more turn the pitch takes the more England will be confident of resting Australia’s advantage in the game given the quality of Swann as a bowler and the lack of ability in the remaining batters for Australia in combating him.
5. Trott: he is due …. very due
I mentioned in my preview of the game that Jonathan Trott is a key man for England in this game and, noting his out of character and woeful form, he is certainly due for a big score. This is precisely the pitch that Trott thrives on batting on so him breaking his bad form line will be vital in England’s chase of whatever total Australia puts up.
Day 2 commences at 8pm Australian time (Eastern Standard) with Steve Smith chasing his maiden first class hundred.