I have just gotten home from the first day of the of 2013/14 Ashes series and what a first day it was! It was a day that had something for every cricket fan no matter whether you are an Australian or English fan or just a one of the game’s purists. It would be fair to say that it was England’s day but Australia’s fightback in the final session of the day has made it a closer day that looked likely at the tea break.
Here are my talking points from the first day’s play:
Courier Mail v Broad: Broad wins in a first round knock out!
The Courier Mail lost the plot with its campaign to sledge Stuart Broad and to “silence him” by ostensibly not mentioning his name. 5 wickets, including the first 4 of the Australian innings, on day one from England’s key allrounder are enough for me, and basically every cricket fan, to declare this battle a win for Broad by knockout. Widely panned by all serious cricket journalists and all fair minded fan this stunt has done nothing but fire up the English team and successfully so it would seem. The people responsible at the Courier Mail, the journalist who wrote the article, the person who operates the social media and the editor who approved the stunt should be banished from this series for the remainder.
White ball form DOES NOT equate to form in the long form of the game
Australia’s top order again struggled. I have been vehement on this blog and in general discussion that some of Australia’s test players had been given insufficient time to prepare due to playing in a one day series before the test match and, I hate to say I told you so, so it proved for the most part today. George Bailey, on debut after a stunning series of scores in ODI cricket, looked out of sorts and out of touch and played at a ball he should have left. Shane Watson parried at a ball outside off stump that he should have left alone. It is easy to say that with more time in first class cricket at home instead of being in India they may not have played at those balls. I know Brad Haddin was on the same tour but he is not a top 6 batsman.
The Maligned Rise: Mitchell Johnson
It was a great day for Johnson. Under the pump from most fans (including me I concede) and under pressure given the situation Johnson played a gem of an innings. He was assured in his foot work, left the right balls alone and hit some very long balls when the opportunity arose. This was an excellent rearguard performance but the real test for Johnson will come tomorrow when he is called on to take the new ball. I, for one, he can take the confidence he must have gained from today’s performance and put it into play with the ball.
The Pitch: slower than expected … just the way James Sutherland ordered
I went into the ground expecting to see an old school Gabba wicket in late November particularly given the weather we had in Brisbane earlier in the week. I expected a bouncy green tinged wicket. What we got today at the Gabba, in the main, was a slow wicket with limited lateral movement. Fans should hark their minds back to the openly reported directive from Cricket Australia that James Sutherland and his sidekick wanted to see more batter friendly pitches for first class cricket this year. Seems that directive has impacted on the pitch prepared by Kevin Mitchell Jnr for this test.
Tomorrow beckons with Australia on 8/273 with Brad Haddin unconquered on 78 and Ryan Harris on 4. It presents as another great day of cricket.