On a pitch that offered little to the bowlers and plenty to the batsmen, Australia won the toss, and to no surprise, elected to bat first on the first day of the Ashes test in Adelaide.
After what was a furious 10 days of off-field taunts and pointing fingers, there were plenty of fans expressing their excitement on social media. David Warner and Chris Rogers took to the field, but after just one over, the rain interrupted, albeit briefly.
Warner started his innings with some hard-hitting drives, but his decisiveness was to be his undoing. With the score on 34, Warner became caught in two minds as to whether to play a full blooded cut shot to a rising Stuart Broad (2-63) short ball, or let it go. He bumped it Carberry’s safe hands at point, and the aggressive left-hander was on his way for 29.
Eager to stamp a name for themselves, Rogers teamed up with the fluctuating Shane Watson. The pitch gave very little help to James Anderson, Broad or débutante Ben Stokes. Having taken an early lunch at 1-46, Watson and Rogers accumulated a 121 run partnership, before the briefest of concentration lapses saw Watson lobbing an easy return catch to Anderson (1-56).
Still in control, England‘s luck turned. Rogers (72) went out the next over to off-spinner Graeme Swann (1-55), who at times found a surprising and troubling line and bounce, as did the returning Monty Panesar (1-68). A sharp riser caught the edge of the left-handers bat, and Prior deftly took the catch. Just before tea, as Australia looked to settle into the break, Steve Smith hung his bat out too far from his body, allowing a gem of an off spinner to crash into the woodwork. Australia was 4/174 at tea, with the game evenly balance.
The ever reliable Michael Clarke came in at 2/155, and is still there, 48 not out from 99 balls. Only one wicket would fall after tea, that of George Bailey, but not before he had the chance to mark his first test 50 into the record books.
Flat is a reasonably apt word to describe the behaviour of the drop-in pitch, the first of its kind in Adelaide for quite some time. Having almost 34,000 at the ground on day one also became a prominent part of the atmosphere, given the construction on the Eastern stand lends itself to distancing some of the fans as the turf is completed.
Overall, England may only slightly hold the upper hand. Restricting Australia to only 250 or so on a day one, dry Adelaide wicket might just work to the tourists advantage – there is still the potential for the hosts to score 400, but it will mean “staying awake” on the lifeless pitch. It seems likely that Australia will take to the field sometime after lunch on day two. The key will be relentless pressure around the stumps, as all the balls that dismissed the Australians on day one were mostly in and around the off-stump line.
For now, the stage is set for an interesting day two.