The Battle Down Under – Ashes to Ashes, Day 1, Brisbane

November 21, 2013

The contest is well and truly back in this great rivalry, something only Test cricket can do. After the first day has come to an end I felt delighted to have been in attendance at a game were both teams had moments of dominance and players stood up and were counted. It wasn’t quite Trent Bridge 2013, with its dramatic flows but it had its moments of pure drama. Looking across the Gabba today it was a real mix of fans from all over Australia and from England and they all witnessed some excellent action which suggest this series is already challenging as a competition and much better than the one sided display back in the U.K earlier in the year.Jimmy Anderson

What has changed? well it seems that England still have a very solid, disciplined bowling unit and that was clear today with the detail in the fields that were set by coach Andy Flower making sure Captain Cook has the best preparation and analysis possible to over come their opponents yet again. This alongside a fantastic effort from Nottinghamshire speedster Stuart Broad meant that the first two sessions belonged to the Three Lions – not much change there. Perhaps the decision by the local Brisbane Courier newspaper not to print Broads name in the paper and to refer to him only as “The English Medium Pacer” may well have dramatically backfired. What will they print tomorrow? I cant wait to see. Perhaps an acronym TEMP takes 5 for, as its headline. Or will they swallow a large chunk of humble pie – Aussies? I think not. Some wag put on wikipedia today under the name Stuart Broad – Editor – Brisbane Courier.

However back to cricket, the wicket did not quite play quite as it looked, we were all expecting pace and bounce from the surface and at the toss I agreed with the professionals judgement, but after 2 overs it was clear that the pitch was true but was not on the quick side, it had more tennis ball bounce than cricket ball bounce and I am certain it will quicken up. Wickets that fell for me seem to be based around Australia having a batting order that lacks patience and discipline. Losing Rodgers early is always a blow for the Ozzies, he is the anchor, the innings builder, he opened the end up for England to keep bowling at indisciplined shot players and for them to win the middle session so comprehensively. I am sure Clarke will not want to see replays of his dismissal – it was poor.

Shane Watson is clearly very talented but for me flatters to deceive, he is not World Class in the test arena and I would argue with anyone of you who disagrees. In test cricket a batsman is judged by the hundreds he makes more than his average. Watson is a luxury as a batter, and a luxury this Australian team can ill afford when only captain Michael Clarke is a proven test batter to shout about. For Australia to be improving Watson either has to change roles or get the technical flaws out of his game (preferably when the IPL is on ).

On a positive for the men in green and gold was  All Rounders Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson who showed real heart, the later showed his doubters that he can play a role for the team at 8 while Haddin not out over night, makes you think that he could really challenge Matt Prior for title of the best keeper bat in the series if he keeps this going. Either way it was a vital knock and he and Johnson put on over 100 and eclipsed the previous 6th wicket stand which had featured the great Slasher McKay. They got the Aussies back in the game when they otherwise could have been steamrollered and the series all over in day one.

In summary an unbelievable day to be at. My first ashes match in Australia and you can feel the tension when you are at the ground. Over 6 hours of play and you get the feeling that every ball bowled is critical. You simply cant take your eyes off it for a minute. It flew by.

Betting wise, today threw up more questions than answers for me and I feel the draw is definitely in play as we forecast on Tuesday. Its 5/2 with Sportingbet now and I think you should have some more of it if you haven’t got a position. Speaking to an Ex- Queensland player, Jeff Foley he is convinced that this wicket is going to get flatter and flatter as the sun bakes it. One thing that was evident in England was that with the ball the Aussies really competed and they bowled very accurately. With the exception of Mitchell Johnson, who is both a match winner and loser, they all bowl a great line and length. If the Aussies don’t take wickets they can slow the rate and make it difficult for England to score quickly enough to create a result. There is also a question of bad weather on Sunday which may eat some time up. If the Aussies can get to 320 and hold out until lunch tomorrow they may be safe in the first test after an ordinary start. They are battling

I see Kevin Pietersen coming to the party tomorrow in a way only he knows how, look at him to make three figures and to be England’s top batsman.Get on him @ 4/1 with Sportingbet – now

I also think that because he made some runs and will feel good about life, Mitchell Johnson should be backed to be top Aussie wicket takes – he swings it back in to the right handers at 90+mph and with a bit of bounce keeping batters back on the crease if he gets it right he will take wickets. Back him at 5/2 with Sportingbet

Can’t wait for day two ! What did you guys think? post your thoughts on our website, Facebook or Twitter.