My lifelong dream of following an Ashes tour started today with the first day of the first test of the 2017/18 Ashes at the Woolongabba, Brisbane
For the non-cricketers this is beyond words! The atmosphere and tension building up to the first ball has been developing since the last ball of the last Ashes series. For cricketers this is the ultimate goal, the ultimate test of skill and challenge with a history going back over 140 years, to times of empire and colonies, to the end of the dominance of the former and the rise of the other! One series almost brought an end to the Commonwealth with Australia threatening to leave due to (alleged) poor sportsmanship by England but hopefully this series will help enhance UK/Australian relations. There are photos of cricket and non-cricket to follow and include HM Queen in the crowd but not the cuddly Ashes!
But to the cricket…
I’d heard over the years that one aspect of cricket in Australia is that the light is clean and clear…you hear about it but until you see it, you can’t imagine it! Another area is the extra bounce in the pitch and the Gabba is supposed to the one of the fastest in the world. Well. If Australia had a plan to exploit these, then someone forgot to tell the bowlers in the morning and early afternoon- perhaps the rain break was the time to discuss the plan?
A green edged wicket appeared to offer more for the quicks at the start than the Australians delivered. In a stadium bowl setting, the pressure was palpable, the weather fair and for Brisbane (I’m told) on the cloudy and fair side resulting in a rain delay of 75 mins but play continued until darkness was about to fall.
England had a strategy of goab…go out and bat! Bat for as long as you can, bat the opposition of the game and end the match with a draw! After all the Gabbatoir hasn’t seen an Aussie loss in 28 years!
There are unproven players on both sides – points to prove, today and later! Cook looked unsettled. Others need to prove their worth and take their chance. Stoneman and Vince at one stage evoked memories of Boycott, Tavare and Trott but none of those tended to be sloppy and assume a run was there – coasting in my mind. And it gave Australia a crack to expose and exploit. But with Ali and Malan still there…there is hope. Malan was lucky against Lyon but needs to prove his worth in the side
The Atmosphere first ball was indescribable and exciting beyond words but it’s more than just one ball. Today at 4-196 England did well after an early shock, recovered well but one wicket due to sloppiness became two and then, the cracks were exploited – not a day of high drama and scoring, in part one of attrition, in part an excellent comeback.
All to play for tomorrow but favours the hosts – England were too slow at times and when a crack appeared, fell down it – less than 200 when the new ball is taken, England will do well to make 400 especially as the lower middle order is Stokesless…we shall see but what do I know?