It was Australia’s day in the final test of “part 1” of this year’s Ashes contest at the Oval. If you had have asked Michael Clarke whether he would be happy to accept 4/307 at the toss I am sure he would have gleefully accepted.
Here are my talking points from Day 1 at the Oval:
1. Watto Rises
I commented in my preview of this test match that S Watson was possibly the most maligned sportsman to play any sport for Australia currently and that he was the key player for Australia in this test match. What a fantastic response from a player under pressure. Troubled early by Broad and Anderson, Watson took advantage of some loose debutant bowling and suddenly was 80 not out at lunch. He himself admits (to Jim Maxwell on TMS / ABC) that the knock to the head from Broad gave him something to wrong other than getting to 100 but the courage to stay out there after such a knock can not be underestimated nad ought never be forgotten. The usual phalanx of Watson “haters” will cry that it was bad bowling and a dead rubber but at the end of the day this was a wonderful hundred and hopefully the first of many.
2. Pup Struggles
At the other end of the spectrum have you ever seen Michael Clarke play a more out of form innings for 7 runs in your life? He looked like a rabbit in the headlights facing Stuart Broad and could not seem to even pick up his bouncer let alone play it. It is troubling that he is getting bowled so often at the moment but it is even more troubling when you see him struggling so much to play a delivery that used to be his bread and butter and the source of one his signature scoring shots.
3. Kerrigan: In company with McGain and Ahmed?
Perhaps that is an unfair comparison after the first day of the test match but this was a debut to be forgotten as the left arm spinner nicknamed “Darryl” by Australians of the 90s lost his length, his line and his confidence. Either too full or too short he was taken apart by a rampant Shane Watson in the first session and his day did not really improve from there. Must improve on day 2 to avoid being consigned to the same scrap heap that is occupied by McGain and Ahmed after their less than stellar debuts.
4. Where are we playing? Mumbai?
I made this comment on twitter and will make it again here: what is going on with the Oval wicket? I remember it as being a fast and hard surface where the likes of Devon Malcolm scared the life out of opposition batters. The wicket for this test match is so dry and worn and that spin was in use from the 11th over and by the day’s end 38 overs of this form had been bowled. To be fair I am certain that number would have been more if “Darryl” Kerrigan could have found a line and length. Australia need 500 as a minimum to ensure they are not spun out by the Graeme Swann in the third innings here.
5. Boof: give yourself an uppercut!
Whilst not exactly related to the game, the comments of Darren Lehmann on an Adelaide radio station regarding Stuart Broad were out of line and inappropriate. I am all for the larrikan streak that Lehmann brings to the role of Australia coach but he is still a representative of this country when a speaks and needs to be mindful that comments like those made are inappropriate to say the least. An apology must be forthcoming.
It was a wonderful day for Australia but it will be all for nothing if by lunch tomorrow England are batting. It is obvious to say, but I will say it again yesterday, Australia’s target for day 2 has to be to bat for time. If they do the runs will come. If they do not and England are in after lunch then England will be in the box seat and Watson’s ton wasted.