It was a brilliant day of cricket yesterday and day 2 looms large as one of the most important in the series. Australia fought back in the final session on day 1 to almost return the game to parity and both sides will be looking to take a hold on the game on day 2.
Here are my keys to winning the day:
How long can Australia bat?
At 6/135 Australia’s innings was in absolute disarray but Brad Haddin, ably assisted by Mitchell Johnson, rested the rot and remains unbeaten on 75 runs. Australia is only 27 runs from 300 which will be their first target of the day. Given the position Australia was in every one over 300 will be a nail in the hearts of the Englishmen so the longer Australia bats into day 2 the more pressure the Englishmen will feel.
M Johnson: now to step up with the ball
Johnson’s effort with the bat on day one in concert with Brad Haddin was a stoic and solid display at just the right time for his team. He will be bowling at some point on day one and one expects him to take the new ball. It will be vital to Australia’s chances of winning this test match that Johnson performs well and, in particular, does so in his first spell before the ball gets older and pitch flattens out even more.
Jonathan Trott, by his own lofty standards, had an ordinary series in the 2013 Ashes. He returns to a happy hunting ground for him following his performances in Australia in 2010/11 and one again expects him to be a key roadblock to an Australian victory should he recapture that form. He seemed to find strange ways to get out in the last series and Australia clearly has a plan to test him out with the short ball. Expect a deep backward square leg to go out as soon as he walks to the crease. His wicket early will be a prized one for Australia.
Will the Bell toll again?
Ian Bell was the best batsman from either side in the 2013 Ashes and has gone from being one of the most maligned and underperforming players in the English side to the glue that holds the English batting order together. He historically has not enjoyed Australian conditions but the quality of his driving on the up in England would suggest he will enjoy the extra bounce here. He came in regularly when the English were in trouble in the last series and if they are in trouble again on day 2 he will be looked to to return the game to England’s favour.
As I mentioned at the outset this will be another great day’s play and could have a large bearing on the outcome of the test and the series. Play kicks off in 2 hours time. Enjoy!