Will Hainsworth on the first day of the second Ashes test…
The first ever day/night ashes test got underway this morning: England won the toss and chose to bowl in order to capitalise on a gloomy adelaide afternoon. Blustery conditions and the promise of rain later in the day combined with the presence of the pink ball seemed to favour their swing bowlers as they looked to make crucial early breakthroughs.
Straight away the pitch looked to have more bite than that of the Gabba, Anderson was getting good bounce through to Bairstow who was taking deliveries above his waist. However the Australian opening partnership successfully continued the work they had started in Brisbane and looked assured at the crease. Warner, a decidedly proactive batsman, looks to accumulate runs by nudging anything straight into the leg side and pouncing aggressively on anything too wide. The best way to counteract this is to bowl a consistent off stump line and back up the bowlers in the field in order to build pressure and wait for him to do something rash. This should be regulation stuff for Anderson and Broad, neither of whom are particularly quick these days and rely more on accuracy and guile. However, Warner was aided by the English seamers in Brisbane who bowled either too straight or offered to much width and they hadn’t seemed to have addressed the issue before the first session today. After 14 overs the players left the field due to a rain delay at 33/0 and would not return until the evening session.
When play resumed just three more deliveries had been bowled before Bancroft, perhaps showing a lack of experience in just his second test, set off for a run to capitalise on a misfield from Ali, Woakes picked up and fielded well with a direct hit leaving the diving Bancroft short of his crease on 10. Whilst the opener may have been trying to buy into Warner’s positive ethos he had potentially overlooked the major change in Warner’s career which saw him transition from promising to world class: dropping wreckless positivity in favour of measured positivity (33/1). Khawaja was in next with something to prove after an all too familiar dismissal to spin in the first test, however he likes batting against a pink ball and he likes batting at Adelaide so he’s by no means an easy wicket. England continued to look sloppy in the field which as I mentioned is the best way to ensure Warner scores buckets of runs and the game drifts away from you. Despite this Chris Woakes, who had been bowling erratically finally gets one in the right area to Warner (pitching on off and moving away on a good length… admittedly this is the right line to pretty much any test batsman), but nonetheless Warner nicked off to a grateful looking Bairstow for 47 (86/2). Just before the dinner break Khawaja went to his 50, he batted and battled very well showing he wouldn’t be dominated by an aggressive short pitched spell from the English seamers. To seam he looked fantastic off the back foot, pulling and cutting superbly minus one blip where he was dropped at deep backward square leg. Elsewhere he addressed some of his critics by choosing to aggress against Ali, staying positive using his feet well to rotate the strike (138/2).
Not long after the sun had gone down over Adelaide Khawaja fell to a good delivery from Anderson, driving outside his off stump, Vince took a good diving catch. After Scoring 53 the Australian number 3 will be buoyed by an assured innings and glad his wicket was not taken by Ali (139/3). Smith, who has previously claimed Anderson is the best sledger in world cricket, took the bait and exchanged some words with the English bowler from the non strikers end which called for the umpire to intervene. At the start of the next over Craig overton, dismissed the Australian captain for 40 with a distinctly average delivery that got up to just 79mph. Not a bad scalp to get as your first test wicket (161/3). Hanscombe and Marsh saw out the night, consolidating and then building well, they always looked slightly precarious but remain not out overnight which is all Australia can ask for (209/4).