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Half an hour of heaven for England's travelling troops

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Tom Fordyce | 08:23 UK time, Friday, 3 December 2010

Adelaide, South Australia

Adelaide was supposed to be the Rachel Stevens of this Ashes series - extremely easy on the eye, possibly a little bland, very little chance of a result. Instead the first half hour on Friday was more Grace Jones: shocking, slightly bonkers and like nothing you'd ever seen before.

The 517-1 England supporters saw glowing from the electronic scoreboard at the Gabba earlier in the week should have been impossible to top. Three overs into the morning here, the beautifully ornate old manual board at the Cathedral End was showing something equally impossible: Australia 3-2.

In English scoring terms - two down for just three runs - it would have been happy enough. That it was in the local lingo was the stuff of wild English fantasy: three prime men back in the hutch for two runs on the best batting track in the country, after Australia had won the toss and quite sensibly opted to bat.

The scoreboard at the close, bathed in the baking evening sunshine and reading 245 all out, was worthy of snapping for a screensaver. But it was those first frantic overs that will stay in the memory unprompted.

The first three balls brought standard defensive shots from Shane Watson, coming forward comfortably to dead-bat Anderson back up the track. After the third-ball duck shipped by Andrew Strauss in the first over in Brisbane, it all seemed rather tame.

Then Watson came over all Allan Donald in the World Cup semi-final of 1999, setting off for a suicide single, senses scrambled by adrenaline and occasion, and the plot-line suddenly disappeared somewhere wholly unexpected.

His partner Katich didn't stand a chance. There wasn't so much as a backward glance at his errant partner, nor Trott, possibly the last England fielder you'd expect to throw down one stump from square leg.

If that felt like something of a Brucie bonus, the name of the game soon became delirious celebration.

Anderson and England celebrate Ricky Ponting's first ball dismissal

Anderson celebrates with his England team-mates after dismissing Ponting first ball. Photo: Gettty


There is no greater prize for an England cricket team in an Ashes down under than Australia captain Ricky Ponting's wicket, no manner of dismissal more unlikely or gratifying than snagging him for a golden duck.

It wasn't meant to be like this for Punter. This is his 150th Test match, a landmark only reached before by Sachin Tendulkar and two legendary Aussie captains of the past, Steve Waugh and Allan Border.

In all of the preceding 149 matches and 253 innings, he's only fallen first ball four times. But a firm-handed push at a full one with just a hint of swing from James Anderson, a thick edge through to Graeme Swann at second slip and he was marching on his way, bat tucked under armpit, eyes staring at the turf in front of his toes.

It was only the third time in history that Australia have been 0-2 in a Test innings, and the first time in more than 60 years. And for the England fans standing 30 deep on the grassy mounds behind Matt Prior, it was about to get even better.

When Michael Clarke got off the mark to make it 1/2, it allowed them to remind the locals through the medium of song that the score mirrored the previous night's World Cup voting - two for England, one for Australia.

And when the stiff-legged Clarke (average at this ground: 102) poked Anderson's seventh ball to exactly the same safe pair of spinner's hands as his skipper - well, let's just say it's a good thing Fifa president Sepp Blatter doesn't listen to Test Match Special.

Watson nearly followed, reprieved after England had referred a marginal lbw shout off Anderson. With the score on just 12, Mike Hussey slapped a difficult caught-and-bowled chance back to the same man and puffed out his lean cheeks with relief when it went straight in and out, and then repeated the tick when a wafty drive landed just shy of Swann at third slip.

Australia could have been five down, Anderson five up. Just as on the third morning in Brisbane, the England fast bowler had been superb - bowling the perfect tempter of a length, finding movement in the air both ways, leaving the batsmen poking and prodding.

Here in Adelaide he at last had some reward. Four years ago he endured a nightmarish tour, sent back to Burnley with series figures of 5-413.

One Test and an innings into this one, he already has more wickets. More than that, he is started to get something of a hold over batsmen who had previously felt the same way about him as David Boon once did about the Qantas drinks trolley.

What has changed? Talking to cricket analyst and TMS summariser Simon Hughes at tea, it's about two things: control and confidence.

When the ball is swinging, Anderson puts it in exactly the right place. When it stops - as it does very quickly on these hard, sun-baked pitches - he gives nothing away for free.
If it's happening for him, he has the faith in his own abilities to keep it going. When it doesn't, there's no panic or straining for the impossible ball.

His grimace when he shelled Hussey told its own tale. From the man most likely to be dropped a week ago, Hussey has been transformed into Australia's dominant force.

Take his 195 in Brisbane and 96 here on Friday out of the equation, and his side would be in a far more precarious position. As at the Gabba his footwork was a tippy-tap delight, his driving crisp and punishing, the noise of ball off the middle of his bat the sweetest of meaty pings.

When Swann had him bagged at slip by Collingwood, the England celebrations told their own tale. For Swann it felt like the first big blow has landed in this series, after a below-par first Test and a hot and frustrating afternoon; for Hussey it was another heartbreaker, the third time he had been dismissed in the 90s in Tests and a near-exact repeat of what happened here four years ago.

It was a wonderful first day for England in front of a record crowd of 38,500, not only a fine performance with the ball but almost faultless in the field.

To put it all into context, this was Australia's lowest total batting first in Adelaide since 1912, the first time they've been dismissed for less than 300 in the first innings here since they were skittled by a great West Indian side in 1993.

The par score on this pitch, from pundits ranging from Michael Vaughan on TMS to Damien Fleming on ABC, was thought to be at least 400.

A word of historical warning. After Australia's previous worst ever start against England, when Trevor Bailey and Alec Bedser had them 0-3 in the second innings at Brisbane in 1950, they went on to win the match by 70 runs.

England haven't lost the toss and won in Adelaide in 55 years, Australia have lost just one of the last 15 Tests here. And no-one who watched it will ever forget the way England followed a similarly perfect start here in 2006 with that calamitous last-day collapse.

But with two days of 35C sunshine to come and a pitch that appears tailor-made for all-day batting, England now have a marvellous chance to take this series by the scruff of the neck.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Great blog again Tom, yours is fast becoming my favourite, though I think the last post will take some beating! What a fantastic story to wake up to - I can only hope the news is just as good tomorrow.

  • Comment number 2.

    As Sir Geoffrey says,you can only really see what the wicket is like after both teams have batted on it.The Australian attack looks much better with Harris and Doug the Rug in.England's bowlers showed excellent discipline today,keeping things tight throughout the day.Hope the batsmen can show the same amount of patience.

    Quick question,does anyone know what Punter was grumbling about to Strauss as they left the field?

  • Comment number 3.

    Enjoyable stuff Tom and great to read it through again after watching the first hour and a half last night. I know you try to dampen expectations slightly by mentioning what happened 4 years ago but there are a couple of crucial things. This time around we don't have the worry of having to face Warne or McGrath on that last day. This match is by no means over yet, we got off to a similar start just over a week ago but came back brilliantly. Now we'll get to see just what the Aussies are made of and how quickly they can turn around their fortunes.

    I don't think anyone expected us to have as good a day as that though and I for one will be enjoying it all day long. I'll be feeling even better if we can put on around 450 in our first innings.

  • Comment number 4.

    Went to sleep listening to test match Special with the wickets falling and then woke up and the same started happening again. Happy days it makes such a difference when following England that when you wake from sleeping its not all gone horribly wrong. Australia were still only 200-5 when I woke up not 250-3 quite amazing or even 300-3. I like the way they were impressed on TMS when Strauss took the new ball and did not stay with spin, they said how positive that was. Not a word we sometimes hear about sport in this country, positive play try and push on and win the match well done England.

    And agree with the first comment great blog Tom sums it all up well done, look forward to each update.

  • Comment number 5.

    It wasn't a suicide single by any means. If Katich run instead of ball watching he would probably made it home.

    The first half hour was great wasn't it. I cracked open a couple of beers to calm me down.

  • Comment number 6.

    i completely disagree with you Tom the single was there to be taken, Katich screwed up and was ball watching and not doing his job, it wasnt a suicidal run it was just made to look it because of Katich.

    However as a fully fledged pom im delighted with how the bowlers performed, Jimmy deserved a 5for if only because of the spell at the gabba where he undeservedly got nothing.

  • Comment number 7.

    England have a better TEAM!

    It is time we realised we have an XI who can play and compete in all conditions around the world and are exceptional in their own back-yard!

  • Comment number 8.

    oh and for the record Tom, Hussey scored 93 not 96 :)

  • Comment number 9.

    Yes I agree that it was a quick single and Katich should have watched his partner whose call it was and made that run comfortably. Two runouts in an innings (of such importance) is unacceptable in Test cricket. And it points to one thing - nerves. Last night was quite brilliant. An absolute stormer of a first few overs. It does feel quite strange to be on top. And in typical British fashion, I felt a bit sorry for the Aussies at 2-3. I just can't help it. (although watching Punter get his first-ball duck gave me a warm feeling that might just see me through winter this year.)

  • Comment number 10.

    "When the ball is swinging, Anderson puts it in exactly the right place. When it stops - as it does very quickly on these hard, sun-baked pitches - he gives nothing away for free.

    If it's happening for him, he has the faith in his own abilities to keep it going. When it doesn't, there's no panic or straining for the impossible ball."

    As I said in a previous blog, Anderson is the one seamer who offers real control for me. He knows his role, it's one that England were working on over the summer, and he's bowling now as well as he's ever bowled for England in my view.

    Aggers was a little concerned about Collingwood bowling. On the contrary, I like the decision. Frequently in the past Australia have been able to call on a decent fifth bowler who gives the batsmen something to think about. Using that fifth bowler can make a batsman more cautious, the fear of getting out to something innocuous looming deep in the mind. Collie doesn't look like much but he is a canny guy and a few overs from him gives the seamers in particular a little time to catch their breath and recharge.

    Splendid day for England and a shocker for Ponting. His last two days in Test cricket have been punctuated by him complaining publicly on the field, first to the umpires at the Gabba on Day 5 and now to Strauss. He may go by the handle of 'Punter' but he's certainly not showing anything like a good poker face right now.

  • Comment number 11.

    Tom, don't you mean "3 down for just 2 runs"

  • Comment number 12.

    #2 I've been trying to find out what it was Ponting was whingeing about (great to say that about an Aussie isn't it) when the day ended as well but haven't had any luck so far. Anyone else know what he was so aggrieved about?

  • Comment number 13.

    whitecity_w12 wrote:
    Tom, don't you mean "3 down for just 2 runs"

    No, he was pointing out the different scoring systems.

  • Comment number 14.

    #12 i believe although not with total certainty he was still annoyed at the Harris dismissal which was a bit unlucky as there was the faintest of inside edges not picked up by the 3rd umpire. If its not that then maybe its the fact hes got a first ball duck, his side are second best to england.

    Either way id much rather be Strauss than Punter.

  • Comment number 15.

    lee fett wrote:
    #2 I've been trying to find out what it was Ponting was whingeing about (great to say that about an Aussie isn't it) when the day ended as well but haven't had any luck so far. Anyone else know what he was so aggrieved about?

    --------------------------------------

    I assumed it was because Aus only got one over at the end when they fancied more, although I have to say I didn't see any delaying tactics from Strauss or Cook - if Trott had been out there they may have had a point!!

  • Comment number 16.

    What a wonderful day if you're an England supporter!

  • Comment number 17.

    Tom you didnt mention Harris' LBW - which is fine as it meant very little in the overall picture - but I just wondered how the Aussies would have reacted had the ball ballooned off his pad and he was given out caught?

  • Comment number 18.

    Good blog as ever Tom - like the Rachel Stevens analogy :-)

    Like most of you am still trying to find out what Pontings problem was with Strauss at close - nice to see Strauss giving some verbals back. I think it was clear before England batted that there was only going to be one over, so I dont think it was about slow play. maybe Ricky's just lost the plot - I certainly hope so!

    I knoow theer was some movement and a touch of uneven bounce, but I still think 400 is a reasonable score for England to target as a minimum in their first innings - whats your view Tom?

  • Comment number 19.

    Is the Andrew Strauss-Andy Flower combo a performance-enhancing substance and will the ACB demand that it be banned forthwith???

    Caution! As Sir Geoffrey says and as we all said at Brisbane, "wait until both sides have batted before making hasty judgements". Australia were struggling in reply to England's 260 and were one dodgy let-off from possibly conceeding a first innings lead. We may all see things very differently tomorrow morning. That said, you really could not have asked much more from the first day. The pressure has racheted up a notch and Australia are clearly chasing the game. How they react tonight will probably determine the result of the series.

    Michael Vaughan's reaction to Ricky Ponting losing his cool says a lot: he was overjoyed. So often in the past the Australians have used this tactic to destabilise England; in 2005 the historic win was down, in no small measure, to Michael Vaughan's constant psychological warfare winning the battle of minds and wills (as has been pointed out on here many times over the years, Australians love dishing it out, but absolutely hate getting it back). It looks like Andrew Strauss is taking a leaf out of Michael Vaughan's book and the first signs of cracks are appearing.

    Day 2 is going to be a very big day for both sides. It could just make or break the series for one or other side.

  • Comment number 20.

    Ha ha Tom, I like the Rachel Stevens/Grace Jones analogy. I think Ponting was looking forward to dining out on Anderson as he had in 2006 and didn't expect the poionous puffa fish he got first ball.

    Hussey has been immense so far - someone must have given him some kryptonite.

    England's batsmen could do worse than follow th lead of Wally Hammond in the 1928/29 match at Adelaide

    Adelaide Hero: Wally Hammond http://bit.ly/fkUcsg

    Day One at Adelaide disected: Australia capsize to Jimmy - Adelaide, Day One http://bit.ly/eVDdgs

  • Comment number 21.

    What a lovely morning it was today. 12.01 am - cup of tea on the coffee table. 12.10am - cup of tea spilt all over the rug and a tired angry flat mate seeing what all the comotion was!

    Could hardly believe what I was seeing. Punter go for a golden was my favourite sporting moment of the year so far.

    I firmly believe this could be one of the greatest ever English Cricket teams.

    Come on lads, keep it up!

  • Comment number 22.

    C'mon England!! 500 and plenty for 1 would be ideal !!

  • Comment number 23.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 24.

    Being a pessimist (caused by 30 years of watching Eng), it would be nice if England score around 550 with an hour or so of day 3 left and send Australia in with lots of pressure to not only score big but also to bat for a long time just to even have a chance of salvaging a draw

  • Comment number 25.

    Yet again, we've managed to get under Ponting's skin!

    He got upset in 2005 when he was run out by the 12th man and again in 2009 when England sent the 12th man on to waste time. You'd think he'd have learnt his lesson by now.

    From what I can see this time around, England haven't done anything wrong! Clearly Ponting's frustration right now is that his team is being completely and utterly outplayed. Hardly keeping within the 'spirit of the game' which is something he'sloves pointing the finger at other teams for!

  • Comment number 26.

    #23 - worry about that tomorrow. For now, take pleasure in the position England are in :) Fantastic bowling by Anderson, backed up well by Broad, Swann and excellent fielding. Finn was not so good today but he's young and learning and its always funny seeing Ponting trying to have a go at someone.

    Australia are not used to being bossed around on their home turf but that's exactly what England are doing the moment.

    Looking at tomorrow, even if England only get the par score (450 for sake of argument) that's still nearly double the Aussie score and gives England alot of room to play with.

  • Comment number 27.

    Ah papa shango, what a pleasure to have your company on these boards. Have you re-evaluated any of your opinions or are you just going to spout on about how poor a side England are again. Because, if it's the latter, they are proving you wrong nicely at the moment so it might be wise to hold fire until Australia come back at us. Perhaps you might give some congratulations to Anderson for his terrific opening spell?

  • Comment number 28.

    Papa Shango:

    Having read some of your comments I get the feeling you will actually be disappointed if England go on to win this test match. Why the negative outlook?

  • Comment number 29.

    Watching the game on the internet version of the broadcaster we probably cant mention on here which is about a minute behind the tv coverage. I received three txts the ball before we got each of the wickets celebrating the wicket i had not yet seen! Very very annoying!

  • Comment number 30.

    Delighted with the first days play! Gutted that I stayed up to watch the toss and then went to bed straight afterwards thinking that the first hour would be dull...

  • Comment number 31.

    Like the others above, I'd like to know what the verbal was all about at the end.

    I did wonder if it was because Strauss and Cook seemed to start walking off as soon as the final over ended, as opposed to waiting for the umpires to make it official. Braddin seemed to start it by having words with Cook before Ponting got involved.

  • Comment number 32.

    I'm going to agree with a few others on here about the first run out, if Katich had set off when called he'd have comfortably made his ground, there was a definite single on there so to blame Watson is a tad harsh I think!

  • Comment number 33.

    Could have done better...but not by much, but I'll take some responsibility for as I went to the land of nod as Watson and Hussey steadied the ship...if only I stayed up!

    Lets hope Strauss, Cook and Trott can maintain their form from Brisbane!

  • Comment number 34.

    On the runout, Watson admitted that his call was far too quiet. Katitch didn't hear it.

  • Comment number 35.

    You have to expect some sort of resilience. 120 all out would have been incredible, but ask anyone if they would have taken 320 all out and they would have took it without hesitation, let alone 245.

  • Comment number 36.

    Take a chill pill, Papa Shango. What's with the negative vibes? The aussies look unsettled, so even if England aren't great with the bat, they have at least achieved that. If they bat well though and take 20 wickets (why not they took ten in a day) then this will compound it.

    Only a complete batting collapse will put the Aussies in the driving seat and whats the chance of that?...........err....ermmm

  • Comment number 37.

    "I firmly believe this could be one of the greatest ever English Cricket teams."

    We just never never learn, do we?

  • Comment number 38.

    Apparently Ponting said something like this to Strauss: "you're getting on my nerves", "I just cannot take the fact that you lot are playing much better than us." "I am tired of being the captain of this lot- can can I come and play for you? I'l make the tea!".

  • Comment number 39.

    What a first day, superb.

    http://teestacklesandtons.blogspot.com/ predicted a psychological backlash after the first test.

  • Comment number 40.

    gef05 - no, some people just never do. This team is not the greatest collection of players but they are working as a team better than recent years. Greater than the sum of their parts and all that

  • Comment number 41.

    An Aussie in England
    cgtz to England .. while not a massive believer in momentum in sport .. various Cricket/football series/matches have proved in the past sometmes to much is made of it - I have to say that your bowling performance especially on the back of the batting display in the 3rd innings of the 1st test is ramming home the apparent backbone a very decent England side now posses ... as stargazer pointed out in post 19 .. lets see how the English bat before getting too carried away .. though personally I believe our 2nd Inns will hold the key to this test ... If England 'rack up' a decent 1st Innigs total it will be down to our batters to prove they can show the same fortitude/discipline and resolve England showed in the 2nd inning of the first test .. are Aus up for the task .. only time will tell .. though body language and the general demeanour of the team suggest not.
    for the sake of cricket (hopefully not at cost to us Aussies mind) I pray the wicket doesnt bcome the benign tarmac like track we saw toward the end of the last test - another non-contest due to a batsmens paradise of a pitch is not good for the game as a whole

  • Comment number 42.

    Cheers for the info #34, it did seem strange that he seemed to wait so long before setting off. I think both players can take their share of blame from it. I didn't think it was a suicidal run, Katich just wasn't awake, but now you have to say Watson should also have been clearer with his call. Everyone knows every batsman is always eager to get off the mark and if Katich had been awake he'd have made his ground comfortably.

    No not Finn's best day but he's 21, you couldn't name any bowler that didn't have bad days from time to time at that age. He's still learning his trade and there's a long way to go before he's the finished article but he took a 6 fer in his first Ashes Test, he's not doing badly.

    It's clear who the in form players are for the Aussies at the moment though and who's out of touch for them. It's normally us that are looking at our line up and asking how long do certain batsmen have before they're dropped. Now it's the Aussies that have had to change their bowling line up and could well be having to change their batting line up as well if things don't improve in their second innings. Unless North does something pretty special I could see him dropped either before the third or fourth Test. Clarke they'll try to stick with for as long as possible, but at least with him they can use the excuse that his back's playing up and he's not really being dropped if his poor form does continue. That's a big if though, only 6 days down, 19 left in this series.

    I'm certain that the English fans will be much much happier than the Aussie fans though.

  • Comment number 43.

    Excellent blog, Tom.It sure was a great day for England. 1st getting twice as many votes as australia in the fifa world cup ballot and then stunning us in the 1st over in Adelaide.It might make the chilly winter a little warmer for them.i'm looking forward to tomorrows play to see if the baggy greens can snap out of it.

  • Comment number 44.

    Talk about greedy, I'm slightly disappointed we didn't end up getting them out for sub-200 after that hot start!

    See what our response is like. Tons of time and meant to be a wicket great for batting, so any silly shots giving away wickets would deserve a firm clout round the earhole. Okay, KP?

    Rack up 400+ and we can really put the boot on. Get skittled for 250 ourselves and it's all been wasted.

  • Comment number 45.

    Agree we need to see what tomorrow brings but you still have to say that was a good day. Without Hussey and Haddin Australia would be in all sorts of trouble in this series. Adeliade is usually a good batting strip but can full apart and take spin a bit at the end of a test and we are batting last. Unless of course we really can bat superbly tomorrow and perhaps on day 3 and get far enough ahead to take advantage of a wearing pitch and skittle them second innings to win by an innings. That has to be the plan I would think but lets see. Certainly hope we can win in Adelaide as that is where the wife's relatives live and it will be worth the banter :-)

  • Comment number 46.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 47.

    The only person who likes to see England fail more than papa shango is sepp blatter

  • Comment number 48.

    Sorry, but are you an England supporter? Why on earth would you be looking forward to Collingwood failing?

  • Comment number 49.

    I wouldn't rise to it Dragon_Soup, a quick look through the rest of shango's posts will tell you all you need to know about him and why he comes on these boards.

  • Comment number 50.

    Everyone really needs to stop responding to papa shango. He obviously thinks it's hilarious to come out with outrageously ill-informed opinions to get a reaction. Just ignore him.

  • Comment number 51.

    look, must every blog descend into talking about how little papa shango knows about cricket? We all know he is clueless!

  • Comment number 52.

    Yes, I've seen papa shango's posts. All about how Swann is in fact the worst spinner England have ever had! Strange to want you own team to fail though!

  • Comment number 53.

    Looks like Papa Shango lost his happy pills.

    Big opportunity for Pietersen and Colly to step up to the mark tonight. Hopefully we won't see them until tomorrow!

  • Comment number 54.

    Papa_Shango:

    http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/warriorshtm/troller.htm

    Enjoyed watching the cricket last night. But it is so true that it means nothing until we bat tonight. Really hope KP can get some nice runs during this innings.

  • Comment number 55.

    'Instead the first half hour on Friday was more Grace Jones: shocking and like nothing you'd ever seen before'.

    My, what a sheltered and repressed life you must lead.

  • Comment number 56.

    Mr Cricket sure is Mr Lucky so far in this series. First ball edge just short of Swann in Brisbane, plum lbw not given on the second morning with no chance of review, dropped by Anderson on 3 this morning, another edge just short of Swann again a few balls later. Just goes to show the fine margins between success and failure in top level sport and I have to say fair play to Hussey for taking advantage of his luck and going on to score big. But no 'daddy hundred' on this occasion.
    Those first three overs will live long in the memory, regardless of the result. Well done to England on a fine first day. Let's hope the batsmen can back it up now.

  • Comment number 57.

    bow4fowler!! YES! Very amusing. Wonder what delights he would cook up for tea?? Couldn't believe my eyes when Trott threw down the stumps with only one to aim at, I'm sure he looked a bit of a liability in the field not long ago...? Surely Katich could have scampered through though? Him and Watson don't really have the best record with regards to running between the wickets. And for someone who looks as consistently classy as Watson, he certainly doesn't cash in on his good starts!! Australia's bowling attack looks toothless, and Clarke looks so out of form! If it wasn't for Hussey (who is proving his class) and Haddin (who I did not rate until now) I think the Aussies could well be staring at 2-0 down! As it is, we'll have to see how England reply. But so good to see Ponting throwing the toys out of the pram once more!!

  • Comment number 58.

    "Thought Anderson was ok, helpful conditions then faded away."

    papa shango - dear, oh dear. ok? ok? helpful conditions? faded away? Let's look at the evidence, to quote Lloyd Grossman. 19-4-51-4, at adelaide, a batsmen's paradise, in 30 degree heat. Now you've proved you're just on here to wind people up.

  • Comment number 59.

    #50

    I agree, ignoring papa shango is the way to go, but I couldn't help throwing in my own 2 penneth. In polite terms, Papa shango, you are an unpatriotic ignoramus.

  • Comment number 60.

    Who's everyone predicting to do well in our innings? Personally I think KP will come good this time round, he won't like the fact he got in but didn't make a big score in the last Test. Add to that the fact that everyone above him now has a century and he'll feel he has a point to prove. Hoping to see Collingwood and Prior make some good runs as well. Strauss and Trott both made amends for their first innings disappointments in the first Test, now it's time for the others to get back into form and score some runs. Particularly Prior who won't have enjoyed having to wait so long to bat again since his Golden to Siddle.

    I'm still slightly concerned that it's going to be tough to take another 10 wickets in this match but I definitely think we'll get a lot closer to winning than the Aussies did at the Gabba. They'e got the players to put on a good total in the second innings, when they're all on form, however that's not how they're playing at the moment. Momentum is with England and the feel good factor is flowing through the team. Hopefully they can channel it well and keep the pressure on for the next 4 days.

  • Comment number 61.

    I'd be interested to now what Ponting was grumbling about but I'd be more interested in why he does it so often. Ok, it's an understandable human reaction to being frustrated and coming second best, but it can only damage team morale and coherence to see the skipper reduced to having a pop at the opposition or the umpires. It's a captain's job to manage and channel his team-mates' frustrations, not to amplify them, especially on a day like Oz had today.
    Punter is one of the all-time greats with the bat: I'd put him alongside Lara and Tendulkar as the best of recent times. But (also like those two) I suspect he'll be remembered as a mediocre captain at best. He'd do well to heed the words of Tom Hanks to one of his squaddies in "Saving Private Ryan":
    "I don't gripe in front of you. I'm a captain. Gripes go up, not down."

  • Comment number 62.

    I am quite new on here but have followed Papa Shango's posts with interest. He is a bit more intelligent than normal trolls as he mixes reasonable comments with deliberate barbs to antagonise. Maybe he isn't, but that's my feeling.

    I would be interested for Papa Shango to discuss this but suspect he won't as he would have to be very clever to pull it off. A sociopath without the charm, perhaps.

    Come on England, a decent bat, then one up and pressure on Ponting and co.

  • Comment number 63.

    I think Ponting is trying to give his team that idea that people are against them so they've got to dig in together and fight as a team. If he has strong characters around him in the dressing room it may well galvanise them and they might rise to it. Trouble is that's a pretty inexperience bowling unit in international cricket. If they don't rise they could very well plummet under the pressure. If England get a good partnership going early on in the innings I don't think it will take the Aussies too long to start thinking "here we go again".

  • Comment number 64.

    Great start by England but if I were an English batsman I'd be looking at how strong Watson, Hussey and Haddin appeared after the new ball burst. This wicket is still very good so Strauss et al need to see off the new ball then cash in. No run outs please!!

  • Comment number 65.

    have to remember also the aussies spent the last two days in the field (bar the last session) at the gabba, and now face the prospect of another day or two in the field if england bat well in 40c heat, tiredness i think will play a part when australia come out to bat again, that coupled with a pitch that offers more to the spinner the later the game goes, and england have a brilliant chance to go 1-0 up.

    Strauss and Cook need to see out the new ball then pile on the runs, would love to see a KP ton along with Colly and Prior then the aussies would have no one to target as all would be in some sort of form.

  • Comment number 66.

    Lee, he tried that in 2009 with the constant grumbling about those three famous bad umpiring calls. Unfortunately, not one of them was actually clear-cut and the one that most people complain about as being a clear error is far less clear than the urban legend says. In the end, it is just saying to Andrew Strauss "you can get under my skin and stop me concentrating on my job". England captains have had to live with it for years. Australian captains need to learn to cope with it too when the boot is on the other foot.

  • Comment number 67.

    Firstly, I think this is a brilliant blog. Entertaining and very well written indeed. Not even any grammatical errors for people to pick on!! Well done Tom.

    Secondly, as some people have heeded, you can't really judge a match until both teams have batted. We could rack up 500. Then they might make 500 in their second innings and it's a draw. Basically what happened in the first test. Or we could get 500, bowl them out again and win by an innings. Or we might make 200 all out and be under pressure. Odds are that we will take a decent 1st innings lead, but you never know, and as simonhill77 (56) points out, the margins at this level are very small. One decision here or there can make a huge difference.

    And finally, my theory on papa shango. He seems to have made some previous judgements about certain players, possibly based on decent evidence (for instance, Cook being out of form) or just personal dislike - i.e. a certain player isn't his 'cup of tea' (e.g Swann). Now the evidence disproves his theories (Cook double ton, Swann good bowlng today). Most adults would say "OK, I was wrong". But papa steadfastly refuses to accept this, despite the irrefutable evidence. So instead he pops up with odd comments, most of which are are provocative or just plain wrong, and then ignores people who ask him for justification. So now he is shifting his attention to how poor Finn has been (has he really?) and how Collingwood will fail. Then of course if Collingwood gets a decent score then he will go on about Anderson, or Swann, or about how Key would have got more runs, or some other diversion.

    In laymans terms, he seems to be a bit of an idiot. Not really capable of backing up his arguments (unsurprisingly as many of them turn out to be garbage) and not willing to admit when his (overly pessimistic) predictions are wrong. Not sure who he supports but if he is an England supporter then he should be ashamed of himself. It's possible he is just a WUM but he doesn't appear to be smart enough for that.

    That said, I agree that he should be completely ignored. From now on!

  • Comment number 68.

    I agree I think it shows the signs of someone who's clearly rattled and is trying anything to get his team to show more spirit than they are at the moment. Personally I don't think it will work but I think that's what he's trying to do. Unfortunately for him he doesn't have players around him of the same class as then. But what's worse is that they aren't combining well together. As someone said earlier, this England team aren't one of the greats but together they are performing very well as a team. It's not about the individual it's about the collective. And that's what Ponting is trying to instill in his team, I just don't see it happening over this series. It's something England have been building on for a couple of years now and happily it's working, now Australia have to do something similar but it will take them time.

  • Comment number 69.

    @ Lee (#63+69), yes I'm sure you're right about what he's trying to do. Changing sports, that's more or less what the 1974 Lions did in South Africa under the captaincy of WJ McBride. But they were a great team playing in difficult conditions overseas; the current Aussie XI isn't. And they've got to dig in and fight as a team anyway: right now they're coming off second best to a team that has much more experience (and is probably better on paper) in a home series they must win. Adding to that a sense that the umps are against them and the opposition are cheating (or whatever) only makes a difficult job harder.

  • Comment number 70.

    Re: the Ponting/Strauss A certain pay TV company is saying that England were due to face two overs, so Punter was accusing the two openers of time-wasting. Debatable, and I wonder what he would do, if the shoe was on the other foot...!

    Good blog Tom, look forward to a good day's batting tomorrow and then the bowlers to perform once again. Agree that another two days in the field for the Assies will cause a bit of tiredness, but still all to play for really.

  • Comment number 71.

    #66, Stargazer - what were the 3 famous decisions? I can't really recall.

    The other one was the run out in 05 by Gary Pratt. Punter whinged that England were using subs inappropriately, but the ironci thing was that Pratt was on (I think) for Simon Jones who was on his way to hospital.

    Agree that this all bodes well for us. Let's hope we can capitalise.

    Also, I was delighted for Swann as he proved (to a large degree) the doubting Thomases wrong. Perhaps not the best bowling in history, but he did for Hussey and really swung things back in our favour with this and then Harris' wicket, even if it was possibly controversial. At 200-5 I was having deja vu from the first test, and Swann changed that in 2 balls.

  • Comment number 72.

    It's nothing more than desparation and shows why people were questioning his captaincy so much before the series started. I was one of the ones who defended him saying I thought he was a decent skipper but he's proving me wrong at the moment. A long way to go yet but he has to somehow address the slump his team are in, the way he's going about it so far isn't working that's for sure. And if things don't pick up soon then his players will look at him and think more and more that it's nothing more than the rantings of a man who isn't coping well with his team's failures. I actually don't think he's even so concerned with how his captaincy will affect these players in the future, let's face it he isn't going to be leading this team for much longer at all. But all he's focusing on is not being the Aussie captain that lost 3 Ashes series, and definitely not the one who led his side to defeat at home for the first time in over 20 years.

  • Comment number 73.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 74.

    Where did the 150 come from?

  • Comment number 75.

    In the real world

    A brilliant day for England. Everyone came to the party and did their part. It's the batsman's turn next and they need to continue where they left off in Brisbane. Here's hoping for a good weekend of cricket !

    Or in Papa Shango world ;

    What a dismal performance by England letting Australia get over 200. Anderson dropped a sitter off his own bowling, Swan was poor as usual and couldn't even manage to get a hat trick (Monty would have) and we still haven't dropped Cook for Key. By the time you all wake up tomorrow, England will be following on having been bowled out for 17 with Collingwood being out twice for golden ducks.

    :-)

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    Hilarious, "I don't mean to sound negative..." then 2 sentences further "if we only make 150..." is that your definition of optimism then after we made over 500-1 in the last innings we batted?

    I agree with other posters that you really don't know what a pitch is doing until both sides have batted once but England definitely take the spoils from the first day. Now it's about turning a good start into a winnable Test. Australia couldn't do that in the last Test and we took the attack to them, this one's now about whether they can do that to us. I'm not so sure they can after what happened at the Gabba but the next 4 days will tell.

  • Comment number 78.

    Best to ignore the idiot. Keep giving him oxygen, and he'll keep replying. Mind you, it is hard when the guy comes out with such ludicrous remarks. Everyone else rightly agrees Anderson bowled really well, apart from one person.

    Lets forget the twerp, and celebrate a great performance by England. The temperature out there is meant to hit 40 degrees tomorrow/tonight, so if the openers can consolidate in the morning we could see Australia struggle in the heat.

  • Comment number 79.

    In fairness to Papa Shango's post 73 we'll need to see how England get on in the 1st innings to see what 246 is like.Chasing 150 on the 5th day would be hard work,especially as Harris and Doug the Rug have been picked.Hussey and Haddin made batting look fairly comfortable,England bowled with a lot of discipline through the middle period to keep the runs down.

  • Comment number 80.

    Can't deny that England's batsmen are on form here. Prior to the 517-1 I would have said Bell was the one in really great nick - now there are a few. Can't really say any are out if form although looking for Colly and Pietersen to fire and Cook to continue the resergance. Obviusly we can't say the same for the Aussies. So it is probably going to be the second innings for Aus that is key. Swan is getting better- if he can find more spin in the later days this seems a great chance for a famous Englad victory. I'm not one to count chicken's though - it'll be interesting to see how the new Aussie bowlers deliver!

  • Comment number 81.

    Boikey, in swift and bewildering order, they were:

    - Low catch from Bopara to mid-on (can't remember the fielder off the top of my head). Referred to third umpire and NOT given.

    - Low catch to Andrew Strauss at slip from Ricky Ponting. Given by Square Leg umpire and NOT referred.

    - Catch to Andrew Strauss at slip from Ricky Ponting. Given although the TV images show that the bat caught on his boot and the ball *may* have missed the edge (I've looked at it many many times and it is still not clear at the resolution of my HD TV). Of course, what gets forgotten is that Hawkeye shows that if he didn't hit it, he was dead in the water LBW.

    Each decision was met with muttering and, on one occasion, dissent.

  • Comment number 82.

    Not sure about Shazad for Finn.His first spell looked tired,but he came back well.Broad bowled very well again without reward.Hope he can get among the wickets in the 2nd innings.

  • Comment number 83.

    Agree #80, I said on another blog of Tom's that I've only seen Bollinger in the shorter form of the game where he's looked good. But can he bowl consistently well all day and bowl to a plan like you have to in Test cricket? Harris is supposed to be a terrific bowler in Aussie conditions but is coming back from injury. I just hope he doesn't return like Siddle did in the last Test!

  • Comment number 84.

    Papa Shango,

    Are you Ricky Ponting in disguise?

  • Comment number 85.

    Re; Katich run out... maybe not suicidal but without wishing to sound too 'Sir Geoffrey', why were opening batsmen going for a quick single in the first over?

    All I'd say is please, please, please, if we have the luxury (fingers crossed) don't declare until there's at least 600 on the board and/or there's only time for the Aussies to bat a second innings and not pass the English total.

  • Comment number 86.

    Rob, if you do sadism, provided that you bat fast enough to reach 600 in under two days, there is a case for batting on on the fourth morning. It's what Clive Llyod or Steve Waugh used to do: drag the fielding side out for yet another session when they already had more than enough just to make them worry about when the declaration would come finally.

    Of course, you have to be good enough to bat for that long! :-) We will all look daft if England are shot out for under 200 just after tea tomorrow. I am just hoping that Australia don't have that kind of fight left in them...

  • Comment number 87.

    Haha good point Stargazer, it's difficult finding that balance between being optimistic of how things could go for England tonight without feeling overconfident and tempting fate. The way they batted in the last innings at the Gabba suggests things could go very well, but then it was only 1 innings earlier that things went horribly wrong. And it was only 3 people that actually batted in that second innings. I still say we'll do well and will still be batting at the end of the day, I won't put my neck on the line any further though by saying how many men I think we'll be down. I'm just hoping for a big score from KP. If he makes a big score as well then that really could scare the Aussies, knowing that pretty much all our batsmen are in good nick and are capable of scoring will really have them worried.

  • Comment number 88.

    im sure i read on the bbc commentary that strauss was looking to bring in the heavy rollers to flatten an already flat pitch...maybe this is what punters was grumbling about

  • Comment number 89.

    We're actually on the same wavelength, my point was...remember the lessons of the past (i.e. 2006).

    Don't assume the Australian cricket snake is dead until you've stamped on it, trampled over it, set it alight with naplam then shoved it in the microwave for 10 minutes on full power. Then, and only then, let them have a bat.

    And even then rememeber, the Aussies are at their most dangerous just after you've written them off

  • Comment number 90.

    Stargazer - "I am just hoping that Australia don't have that kind of fight left in them" - I'm right there with you. If this was anyone else other than Australia I would be very confident....but no matter how far they dig themselves into a hole, they have a history of digging themselves out again

  • Comment number 91.

    It's why I have been saying that we have to be cautious and that tonight may decide the series. If England can bat Australia out of the game it could just finally make them crack. If, in contrast, Australia roar back and bowl England out tomorrow, all the momentum that has been built up will just slip away.

    I note that Michael Hussey is saying that the pitch has uneven bounce and is suggesting that 245 may be enough. If England could set a big total, that kind of spin will look increasingly desperate. This is definitely the night where we want Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook to bat calmly and sensibly.

  • Comment number 92.

    Just in case no-one's noticed, Papa Shango is a troll.

    If you don't feed him he'll get angry. That's even angrier than currently, pondering the futility of spitting bile all over his keyboard. That's even angrier than a Punter going out for a golden on his 150th test, probably even angrier than his wide of the mark posts suggest, certainly more angry than he knows and could possibly comprehend, although possibly less angry than the Australian sports media in a few days time.

    Good effort lads. Looking forwards to some more fine batting and grumpy Punters tonight.

  • Comment number 93.

    To all of those who think Australia will "roar back". They won't.

    Can you imagine any of the current Australian side getting in to their side of ten years ago? Can you imagine any of the current Australian side getting in to England's team now?

    The tables don't lie. The Aussies are 5th in the World and sliding further. They are not to be feared, only pitied..

  • Comment number 94.

    Nice blog but one thing completely wrong

    it was a easy single, if Katich had started off right away, instead of stopping going back, then starting again he would have been home quite comfortable.

  • Comment number 95.

    G'day all, its 12.41 am here I am as drunk as a skunk having just watched us bowl them out. Well where do I start.
    Anderson bowled awesome tight and accurate and true to my prediction from first test picked up wickets as he was unlucky not to in Brisbane. Swann was great too (Papa take note its test match cricket so a marathon not a sprint being so dead against him). Finn well its not his sort of wicket he's gonna come into his own on something with a bit more lift there's not a lot he's gonna be able to do on this track. Broad was unlucky a few times and nice and tight too. The Aussies looked shell shocked, shame we didn't have a few more overs to run their noses in it (Barmy army and openers).
    Also Papa what sort of idiot comment is it that you hope Collingwood fails again. Your an England supporter, at least I think you are, though sometimes I have my doubts. So surely you want the team to do well. Maybe you don't which means your not a true supporter at all.
    You seem to have to get people early on this (England batsman take note). If you get in your gonna score.
    Will be interesting in the morning if the VB hasn't given me the sore heads of sore heads.

  • Comment number 96.

    If England can see off the new ball then 500 should be on the cards. With bad weather forecast later that might save the Australians. If we get overcast conditions on day three then that might help England if the Aussies are back in.

    Historically Adelaide is a batters pitch and it usually takes five days to win a test there, so time may yet defeat England. Only my opinion though, I've watched too much cricket to think this is anywhere near over. This is a much better England team than the one that toured four years ago and the Australian team is considerably weaker than the team England faced then.

  • Comment number 97.

    Can you imagine any of the current Australian side getting in to England's team now?

    I wouldnt say that completely tbh. Haddin is looking pretty good, definitely in better form with the bat than Prior. Legend suggests a tiger is most dangerous when wounded (interweb Chinese cliché ftw), its crazy to write off a team like Australia in their own backyard no matter what their form is. I am fascinated to find out what England can do with this pitch now.

    As a weird bearded (and dead) guy said during the 2005 ashes "Bring it on"!11!

  • Comment number 98.

    Lets face facts.Papa Shango is not English!!!

  • Comment number 99.

    Actually, at the end of this Test Australia will be 4th in the Test rankings unless something very very odd happens at Pallekele. And England will be just one place ahead of them.

  • Comment number 100.

    Well done!

    England clearly have been the superior squad in this series hitherto. A commanding first-innings score will land the visitors comfortably in the driver seat.

    All things being equal, this is England's battle to lose.

    Well done!

 

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