The Ashes Mumblings – Day 1 Review

Well, what to make of that?

England, I think, would probably have taken the position they are in at the end of this day. It’s not dominant, but it’s not disastrous either. The first thing that England needed to do was convince us, and themselves, that this opposition isn’t some sort of unrelenting tide of aggression and superior skills. This was a day that England found themselves three down early, recovered, and made 343/7. That’s not too bad at all.

It’s too tough to gauge really how things went while you are in the office and not able to watch. I got to see a little of the play after lunch, and I saw a pudding of a pitch and a team with positive intent. I like the latter. This is a team that needed to have a result for that attitude today. If they’d gone all guns blazing and been bowled out for 150, it would have been horrendous. And who knows what would have happened had Haddin held on to that catch from Root.

Joe Root was amazing, once over his let-off. He’s making a lovely habit of making hundreds regularly. They are usually very watchable, and his reliability is massively important.

I’m going to hand it over to you lot who have commented away and kept me informed all day. Did Australia bowl badly (I thought Johnson looked decidedly unthreatening when I watched and Starc appeared to be floating it up at too full a length too often) or did England wrest the intiative? What do you think about Ian Bell’s alarming lack of form? What was the coverage like? Who or what caught your eye?

I leave you with Martin Samuel. A man who makes me almost pine for Paul Newman:

And then there was Alastair Cook, the captain’s rhythm expertly broken not by Australia’s bowlers, but by the practice of knocking off for a round of refreshments every hour, no matter the weather.

This meant that on a chilly morning when most were regretting not packing a second jumper, rather than sun cream, spectators had to sit through the arrival of the drinks tray roughly 55 minutes in. Maybe they were dispensing hot toddies.

Cook had batted like a dream until then but lasted just two balls after the interlude, before clipping one to Brad Haddin off the bowling of Nathan Lyon. The distractions were proving as valuable as Australia’s bowlers, and Test cricket has plenty of them these days.

Fire away…..


36 thoughts on “The Ashes Mumblings – Day 1 Review

  1. metatone Jul 8, 2015 / 8:30 pm

    I didn’t see much of the later sessions, but I thought Aus bowled well at first.
    I suspect that we’ll find out tomorrow that they are still a better bowling side than we are, fightback notwithstanding.

    Liked by 1 person

    • metatone Jul 8, 2015 / 8:37 pm

      Credit to GaryBallanceGaryBallance who scrapped his way to 61. Big effect in stabilising the innings. Root definitely wrested the initiative away from Aus, because in this purple patch he scores consistently. But later on they got it back.

      As for Bell – I’ve never seen him so out of form. It’s interesting to compare with GaryBallance, it was like a demonstration that coaches are full of it. Good technique won’t save you when you’re out of form. Bad technique won’t stop you getting some runs if you have fight and some hand-eye co-ordination.

      On the one hand, I can’t see that Bell is going to come good, but with our openers in questionable form, it’s hard to know who could replace him. I wouldn’t want to move Root right now. They aren’t going to pick KP. Bairstow and Ali are both better below 4 (although Ali is better than 8).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sean B Jul 8, 2015 / 8:32 pm

    I’ve only been able to watch the highlights, so that my caveat for my comments below.

    It looks a slow low pitch prepared on purpose to negate the Aussie quicks, so I think we are below par as I don’t see it taking spin in days 4 or 5. Root played brilliantly, Bell got a good one, Cook will be disappointed with that shot, Hazlewood looks like he will cause England problems all summer and Starc will either bowl breathtaking wicket deliveries or will bowl some dross. In Summary, an ok day (thanks to Root’s salvage job), but 400 is a minimum on here for the 1st innings. Can the English tail actually wag now??


  3. Zephirine Jul 8, 2015 / 8:59 pm

    Root had a back problem – he was taking painkillers and the physio was on at least once to try and loosen it for him. This was really not good, given that a) England currently depend on him completely and b) it’s day 1 of the series.

    The commentators were praising him to the skies and rightly so, because even though England weren’t obliterated from the off in the way some of us had been seeing in our nightmares, the beginning of the England innings was undistinguished. Cook appears to have translated ‘play your natural game’ into ‘try something you can’t do’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • paulewart Jul 8, 2015 / 10:05 pm

      I know. He’s profoundly dim. He’s clearly never had an original thought in his life. How the pampered prince ever made captain I’ll never know (or I will…)


  4. Mark Jul 8, 2015 / 9:02 pm

    England didn’t captulate after a bad start. ( thanks to a bit of luck with Root) I agree with Dmitri this was quite important for the rest of the series. Although let’s be honest the idea this Australian side is on a par with the 2005 team is ridiculous. That’s why the last Ashes 5-0 was so much worse than the 2007 5-0.

    Having said that, I think it is a mistake to make too many judgements about how this series will go based on this pitch. Last time England made 400 and Aus made 670. Let’s see how England bowl on it tomorrow.

    Looking forward with all the rumours that Cook is going to stop being captain I wonder if we really want to burden Root with the captaincy just as he is finding his feet as a batsman. He is probably our best player at the moment..

    Finally I have a hunch Moeen is going to play a part in this match with the ball. We will see. The weather for Sunday is not looking good, so it may be a 4 day game.


  5. dvyk Jul 8, 2015 / 9:03 pm

    Atherton said that the groundstaff were down on their hands and knees yesterday with brushes, scrubbing off what little grass there was. I don’t think the groundstaff should be the ones playing the decisive role in determining the course of play and the result.

    Johnson looked toothless, partly because edges off a good length ball at 90mph weren’t carrying to slip. Lyth got out because he was through his shot too early as the ball held up off the pitch — in the third over.

    No doubt others have a different impression, but my emotional response is why go through all this hoo har about playing positive aggressive cricket if you’re going to provide a wicket like that to play on? The groundstaff and whoever gave them their orders are more terrified of Johnson and Starc than any batsmen were last year. So they ruin the game in order to nullify them.


    • Sean B Jul 8, 2015 / 9:09 pm

      Agreed, it was a wicket prepared to not lose on and a total antithesis of the positive brand of cricket (I immensely dislike that phrase) that we are meant to be playing.


    • Mark Jul 8, 2015 / 9:20 pm

      Well, on The Verdict Ravi said that it was fine for country’s to prepare wickets for home advantage. He was keen to point out that India are always accused of not playing well away from home, but except South Africa who does play well away from home?

      Not sure that is a good argument. Do we want one sided series everywhere because pitches are so messed about with? Many years ago Mark Waugh said he thought Englands pitches were the fairest in the world because groundsman were free to prepare what they thought was the best cricket pitches they could produce. That has changed now. Not sure it is a good idea for the best cricket. But if Englamd win , very few Englamd supporters will agree with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jul 8, 2015 / 9:22 pm

        And my typing is getting worse. Should be England, obviously.


      • Rohan Jul 8, 2015 / 9:28 pm

        Amen to all the above, agree completely. Pitches should be prepared for a fair test of bat and ball and to produce a result, ideally on day 4 or 5. NOT TO SUIT ONE TEAM OVER ANOTHER!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Steve Jul 9, 2015 / 1:23 am

        The dead pitches in England these days more a factor of wanting 5 days of cricket to sell more tickets? You should build bigger stands instead.

        Australia’s pitches I think mostly have retained their unique characters (although less so with drop in pitches I think) but then we have a vastly bigger range of climate between the cities being played over a continent.

        At the Oval for the 2013 Ashes I was surprised to hear the retiring groundsman getting congratulated for “preparing pitches for many England Victories”. Surely he should be preparing them for great games not England victories???

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Jul 9, 2015 / 8:21 am

          I genuinely have no problem with preparing pitches to suit our bowling and blunt theirs. We are far too prissy about this. The day we turn up to Perth and see a raging bunsen then I’ll say fine. I haven’t got over Sydney 1999 yet!

          That said this might be what you get in Cardiff. This might be what you get in Nottingham. It might be what you get at the oval. I’m not a gardener. These might be natural conditions here.

          Liked by 1 person

      • metatone Jul 9, 2015 / 8:44 am

        @LCL – that was my feeling too. The weather recently in Cardiff was not at all conducive to preparing a good pitch. Throw in the natural pressure to make a 5-day pitch and it’s easy for it to end up wrong and pudding-like…


      • Mark Jul 9, 2015 / 8:59 am

        Dimitri, I think there is a lot of truth in what you say about the pitch at Cardiff just being a typical Cardiff pitch. We will have to see what type of pitches we get elsewhere.

        But I don’t think England should shy away from playing on faster pitches. It might encourage some quicker bowlers on the scene. The more they get used to playing on slow low things the more of a cultural shock it will be when they go to Aus and South Africa. These slow pitches are not encouraging spin bowlers either.

        If genuine pace and spin are what is needed at test level we are not producing pitches to encourage either in the domestic game.


    • paulewart Jul 8, 2015 / 10:08 pm

      Indeed, but hard at Lord Selvey, who just yesterday was calling for doctored slow seamers:

      The scoring rate throughout the day was admirable –in excess of four runs per over – but turgid, emasculating surfaces such as this do Test cricket few favours.’

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Arron Wright Jul 8, 2015 / 9:21 pm

    There’s so much wrong with that Samuel excerpt we’d be here all night. Did no-one inform him of Cook’s legendary mental strength, inner steel and powers of concentration, which are apparently shot to bits by someone bringing drinks on? And as for “batted like a dream”, send him some videos of Gower 85 and Vaughan 02/03 ffs.

    But remember: we are the know-nothings here.


    • Mark Jul 8, 2015 / 9:32 pm

      Martin Samuel is one of those former football writers who has been elevated to ‘man without portfolio.’

      This makes him a so called expert on anything from cricket, to the moon landings. So he probably reads Newmans crayon scriblings and thinks thats what is required.


      • paulewart Jul 8, 2015 / 10:10 pm

        And the bizarre thing is he knew nothing about football. Go figure…


        • LordCanisLupus Jul 9, 2015 / 8:25 am

          His anti American comment went down well with the beloved (and me). Still, my antipathy to Samuel predates his appalling forays into cricket. How do he and Mr sanctimony (Oliver Holt) coexist at the same rag? The Hold The Back Page generation.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Rohan Jul 8, 2015 / 9:25 pm

    Eurghhhh that Samuel’s quote is horrible. How can the editors allow that drivel through? How can he read that and think it’s good? How can the public read that and not question his journalistic integrity? Appalling one eyed, biased, blatant and brazen favouritism!

    Anyway. I thought, from what I managed to watch, that all Aus bowlers performed well in patches. Although their virtues were somewhat negated by the pudding. Where they erred, perhaps, was in lacking the patience to stick to a line and length and not stray from this. In the whitewash they did this very well. Maybe they missed Harris setting the tone for this disciplined approach and leading from the front.

    England perhaps took more risks and played more shots than Aus thought they would, especially based on the last ashes. Aus were slow to respond to this in field placings. So runs remained as a reward for positive intent, for most of the day.

    I have a nagging feeling that Aus can go a lot better and stronger than this, but when they do, we won’t be able to match it. They seemed within themselves, almost as if they were still ‘settling’ in to the tour. We shall see.


    • Steve Jul 9, 2015 / 1:28 am

      Starc can certainly bowl better than he did today, and Hazlewood was loser than expected especially early on. I expect he will become increasingly a handful as the series progresses.

      Johnson is going to struggle on pudding pitches. He may end up replaced with Siddle.


      • Mike Jul 9, 2015 / 8:28 am

        When was the last time there was a ptich with trampoline bounce at Glamorgan?

        Look I agree in principle with trying to produce the best pitch for exciting cricket, but genuinely this is not Perth.


  8. dvyk Jul 8, 2015 / 9:47 pm

    Someone could compile an encyclopedia of ridiculous excuses from the English press. That one from Samuel is even stupider than the idea that Cook dropped a slips catch because the slope at Lord’s put him off.

    “the captain’s rhythm expertly broken not by Australia’s bowlers, but by the practice of knocking off for a round of refreshments every hour”

    So the drinks break is now an “expert” at distracting Cook. Poor Cooky. He’s still learning captaincy, and maybe he’ll also learn how to start again after one of those dastardly drinks breaks…. It’s psychotic.

    He spent two whole overs running down the pitch to Lyon smacking it straight to a fielder. Two of the most aggressively batted maidens I’ve ever seen. He did force Lyon to drop shorter so he could hang back and cut it, but he didn’t read the spin. It was totally brainless. Lyon got the better of him with every single ball he bowled.

    If he has any sense at all, he will have watched how Stokes played him.

    (And he should also note what Clarke said about the hammering Lyon got in the warm up — he said he wasn’t concerned because hadn’t given Lyon any cover, and was more interested in him having a bowl and finding his rhythm. And Clarke wasn’t just making excuses either. He trusted Lyon to bowl early on with the new ball, with a well set field.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pontiac Jul 9, 2015 / 12:23 am

      Nathan Lyon’s secret weapon is that somehow every wicket that falls when he is bowling somehow has nothing to do with him.

      I suspect this may be because his variation is mainly in timing and the vertical plane which doesn’t show up so well on the TV.


  9. paulewart Jul 8, 2015 / 10:01 pm

    Another classic Selvey flip flop:

    Root, not yet 25 years old, is having the time of his life, in that state, unencumbered by theory and over-analysis, where batting becomes so easy that it must be hard for him to comprehend how difficult it can be for others.

    Unpack the subtext and backtracking in that one sentence. Quite remarkable. Flower and Moores regimes, so lauded by the author have in one sentence been dismissed and deconstructed.

    This beats his KP flipflop. You have to give it to the man; he craven sycophant’s got chutzpah!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. paulewart Jul 8, 2015 / 10:11 pm

    Hats off to the youngsters who are revelling in being told to play their natural game. Just a shame its taken so long for it to be licensed.


  11. Andy Jul 8, 2015 / 10:15 pm

    My 2 pence.

    Honours just about even. England would have taken that score before the start while aus would have wanted eng all out in the day, but would probably expect to score more on their first innings.

    Cliché time…

    You don’t know anything until both teams have batted.

    I only listened on the radio because of work, but the pitch sounded poor early on. While ‘home advantage’ will always be a thing it should not go as far as negating the actual cricket or making matches dull/predictable.

    340 runs at about 4.25 rpo with 7 wickets falling is a pretty good return. There will be better days and there will be worse.

    As someone mentioned, if haddin hadn’t missed the catch (one of the few bits I did see – to me it looked like he misjudged how wide it was going and over dived) then England would probably have been in total schmuck.

    If root goes straight away, does that knock onto ballance/stokes etc and they don’t get the runs.

    Bell is a concern and I agree, I wouldn’t be surprised if he hangs up his spikes (international at least). I hope he gets one last hurrah and scores a few but he he doesn’t feel like he will.

    What else. If roots back is playing up already… It’s along series…

    Does he need the burden of captaincy if he has a dodgy back? But… Who else?

    If bell goes, there is no steadfast opener, ballance – seems not captain ready, Ali, buttler? A bowler…. Imagine broad as test captian…


    • dvyk Jul 8, 2015 / 10:53 pm

      It looked to me a bit like Haddin misjudged the speed of the ball and dived too early. Not blaming the pitch for the drop, because he should have taken it, but I am blaming the pitch for the slowness.

      Everyone prepares a pitch for home advantage, and it’s alternately condemned and requested by the media, but this is really a bit much — preparing a pitch specifically designed to negate two members of the opposition.


      • Mike Jul 9, 2015 / 8:40 am

        Come on stop it. I agree the pitch is far from what we want in a test match, the lack of carry especially is very poor, but it’s not as bad as the absolute road a Trent Bridge last year.

        When was the last time Australia prepared a nice green seamer for an England touring side? Now when realise how ridiculous that question is, based on a) the Australian climate and b) why would they if they could then you understand my slight incredulity about Australian complaints about the pitch.

        I apologise, as this is going to sound awful, but you won’t be complaining when Warner & Smith are smearing our bowlers around the park for 600 odd over the next 2 days before bowling us out on Sunday.


    • d'Arthez Jul 9, 2015 / 6:51 am

      It rings a bit like the Chennai pitches (2013) prepared for Australia. The groundsman there was proudly explaining how he made the Aussie quicks useless. Okay, sometimes a pitch does not behave like you expect, but in this case, it seems like this is just what ought to be expected, judging by the preparation method of the wicket.

      Australia tend to struggle on subcontinental pitches, but if it evolves in a battle between Lyon and Moeen, I’d put my money on the former. Australian batsmen are probably no worse in playing spin than England either.

      We have had independent umpires hoisted upon us, to avoid neutral umpiring bias. Is it time to insist on neutral groundsmen?


      • d'Arthez Jul 9, 2015 / 6:52 am

        That is home umpiring bias of course. I need my coffee.


  12. SHERWICK Jul 8, 2015 / 10:46 pm

    FFS, we’re back to TINA in order to save Root!


    • Andy Jul 9, 2015 / 9:55 am

      Not suggesting that root should be saved or that there is no other – but its one of those concerns that should be addressed.managed appropriately so that we don’t wreck the bright spark of the England team.

      I actually don’t know if Root would make a good captain or not. The MSM just seem to be assuming he will take the reigns. I don’t knwo enough about his tactical ability/nous etc (beyond what batting & interviews I’ve seen) to make a solid judgement


      • Mark Jul 9, 2015 / 10:08 am

        That’s the biggest concern. Nobody knows if he can captain. It’s another preordained captain based on ECB demands.

        Can’t we just have the best captain? Who ever that may be.


  13. amit Jul 9, 2015 / 9:49 am

    It’s a good thing that Johnson had a few issues with his radar yesterday and that the length for a bouncer wasn’t getting much help from the pitch as I am yet to be convinced of GB as a top order batsman. He struggles against pace, even on a spongy wicket that takes the pace away. I wonder how he would’ve ever coped up with the likes on Shoaib Akhtar. Thank God there aren’t any serious pacers around any more.

    Root did get the runs and as they say, “how many” not “how'” counts. He should be happy.
    But, I would be conscious of the way Warner can treat this bunch on a slowish wicket where the ball sits up and begs to be put away. Given broad and stoke’s styles of bang it in, they look most vulnerable to me. Of course both can go on to surprise but i would think Wood might be more useful on similar pitches.

    I just wonder if this pitch is going to be the template we will see over the series. Trying to negate the aussie pacers and hoping to sneak one in for a 1-0, somewhere along the way. Can’t see them falling for the same trick more than once.


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