So here we are, the day has arrived and the Ashes gets underway. And we’re going to be blogging the first day’s play, you lucky people. Now, you should be aware there are a few house notes for this, namely:
1) We all work for a living. So it’s entirely possible that at some point during the night the updates will stop. This will be because we’ve fallen asleep*
2) We won’t be tweeting the hell out of this every two minutes to desperately get people to come and talk to us. That’s because the total absence of any advertising revenue derived from clicks makes it rather pointless, and it’s also annoying enough to cause anyone with a normal patience threshold to hit the mute button. It’s for this reason too that any references by Danny to Red Bull and hoping for supplies is sheer desperation on his part, and representative of nothing but terrible taste.
3) Any hopes for incisive over by over commentary are a complete waste of time. The BBC is over there.
4) Page refreshes are completely manual. To the surprise of most of you no doubt, we did actually look into this, but the plug ins looked complicated, and the suggestion of using html page coding resulted in a long silence given none of had the first idea how to do it. So hit the F5 button, and consider yourself part of the team.
*Not together. This needs to made clear.
2145: TLG here, to guide you through the build up. I saw build up, but half of you are watching The Apprentice, most of the others are watching I’m a Celebrity, and a very few are wondering how to find a decent stream. I’ve got BT Sport, so I can be smug.
2146: I’m a Celebrity is that programme where a bunch of nonentity Brits head down to Australia to be ritually humiliated. Seems appropriate. Presumably when Graeme Swann goes on it he’ll be asking them to get him out of there sometime after his third miserable experience.
2148: Are we excited? In a funny way the bit just before the start is the best bit. All things are possible, and neither English or Australian are wondering why on earth they’re watching this disaster. That feeling usually starts around the third Test. And the truth is there’s nothing quite like an Ashes series, and an away Ashes series in particular, for pushing the feelings of cynicism aside. It’s cricket, it’s the very best type of cricket, and it’s wonderful.
Sure, England are going to miss Ben Stokes, and the top order looks brittle. But Australia aren’t that great a team, and seem to have got themselves in a tangle over selection. It hasn’t stopped them sledging England even before it starts, while England have pretty much kept their counsel. And have had their team talk already done for them. Australia have form for this kind of thing, and while some may decide take great offence at it, for me it’s simply somewhat odd, and certainly unnecessary. Hardly a huge issue, but it keeps the press corps occupied at least.
2153: A bit of a timetable of upcoming events. BT Sport are currently playing their “behind the scenes” documentary, that tells us rather little, but there’s lots of bantz, while the programme properly gets under way at 11pm. Test Match Special begins the build up a little earlier, at 10pm on Radio 5 Live.
2210: Weather forecast for Brisbane is a little bit iffy, with the prospect of showers for the first few days. The trouble with Brisbane is that a shower can mean a biblical deluge some of the time
2216: Ben Stokes has issued a good luck tweet:
In his absence, and given the somewhat fragile batting, this series is a big one for Alastair Cook. For England to have a chance, the 2011/12 Cook is going to be required. Can he do that?
2232: With showers around, and with a pitch looking a bit green, is anyone thinking of bowling first?
2247: Some rumours that Shaun Marsh will be in the Australian XI. Whenever you feel like panicking about the England top order, just keep saying that to yourself. Shaun Marsh.
2256: Has anyone out there enjoyed BT’s No Filter Ashes? Anyone at all?
It’s time for some Sean, while I go and make a cup of tea…
2258: Sean on the decks for the next hour, that no filter Ashes was shite wasn’t it
2302: Talking about shite, this is fairly ironic:
2305: ooh Shiny Toy, what a surprise. Haven’t heard from him for ages…
23:07: Anyone else feeling insanely negative? If we lose this Gabba Test i feel it will be at least a 3-1 job to the Aussies. Anyone else fancy making me feel more confident?
2318: BTW, we are not sponsored by any betting companies, just 4 blokes who should know better live blogging (it seemed like a great idea at the time)
2320: Still I’ve heard William Hill have cracking odds on Joe Root being top scorer *promoted post*
2323: If i were Ricky Ponting, i’d get the machine gun out now and save us all from wanting to sew our ears together
2326: TOSS COMING UP…
23:29: ENGLAND WIN THE TOSS AND BAT
2231: Mark Nicholas is such a bore. Anyone disagree with Root’s decision to bat? I personally think its the right choice; however we could easily be 30/4
2334: Shiny Toy ‘Stoneman needs to admire Alastair Cook’ WTF??
2336: Everyone is going on about Starc as the Aussie spearhead, I still think Hazlewood is the main threat. Still think he can do a Ryan Harris job from winter of 2013….
2341: I give it 10 minutes before he starts blaming Eoin Morgan….
2349: Anyone got any money on a Cook golden duck 🦆?
2350: Annoyingly I have a work a meeting with a German chap early tomorrow morning, so can’t stay up late to watch the cricket tonight. Danny is now taking over on the decks. Night all
2351: Hello everyone, Danny here. I’ve been given the honour of hosting the first hour. Or the poisoned chalice. Depends how England bat, I suppose. Root’s obviously confident as he doesn’t have his pads on for the anthems.
England’s anthem was I think better than Australia’s, although that might be coloured by the Aussie singer murdering “You’re The Voice” earlier…
0000: Cook survives the first ball. Don’t know what I was so worried about.
0004: Cook only needed to play at two balls in the first over from Mitchell Starc. Maybe Starc has been overhyped? At this rate, England should be 180-0 at the end of the day. I’d take that.
0009: Hazlewood also offering 4 sighters to Stoneman before getting one near the wicket. Dare I say it, the Australian bowling has been underwhelming to start?
0012: I think this is my first instance of commentator’s curse. Cook edged Starc to Handscomb at first slip. Didn’t look very comfortable once Starc started aiming at the stumps, and not a lot of footwork (to my very inexpert eye).
0021: Vince scores the first boundary of the day. Vince looks in good touch and could easily get 30-40 in this innings…
0027: Bad news for Australia’s plans for Bodyline 2: The Revenge. The pitch does not seem to be conducive to short bowling, with the ball not getting high and slightly slow bounce. I guess they’ll just have to rely on Plan B, England’s batsmen getting themselves out.
0035: First change for Australia as Cummins begins bowling in his first home Test, taking over from Hazlewood. Neither of them seem that threatening so far.
0050: A boring few overs, which is good news for England fans. Vince hitting the last two balls from Hazlewood for four, he might make it into the 40s today!
0100: TMS stalwarts Alison Mitchell and Geoffrey Boycott have taken over on BT Sport, and they’re talking a little less than the last two pairs. Still a little too chatty for my liking, but a definite improvement I think.
0105: As I metaphorically boot Danny off the keyboard, even though he’s nearly 200 miles away, England reach the first drinks session at 39 for 1. Dmitri taking you through to lunch and then we’ll see who remains in the land of the living. Feel like Smashy and Nicey on Radio Quiet.
01:10: Remains 39 for 1. Australia’s bowling certainly not giving off the aura of four years ago, but, and it is a big but, we were 80 for 2 in that first innings at Brisbane.
01:13: Boycott doesn’t do it for me. We have a big appeal on Stoneman, but they don’t choose to review. Back to Boycott – it’s a bit stating of the obvious, combined with a bit of mouth and not a lot else. He’s had his day, but I can see why BT Sport have gone for him. Alison Mitchell always impresses me and in a day and age when you have to be an ex-pro to get a gig, it’s welcome to see a professional broadcaster doing great work.
0119: 44 for 1 and things are quite quiet. When I was at Brisbane in 2002 they weren’t that noisy throughout the game, as I recall. Maybe the Aussies thought it was a matter of showing up, but they didn’t strike me as being particularly intimidating. Even the goon who just shouted abuse at Hoggard day was to be pitied, not to be intimidated by. Anyway, here comes Lyon. Where’s me man, Pontiac?
0123: One off that Lyon over with a hint of turn.
0125: Ponting and Fleming on commentary. Not sure many other countries would have two commentators from the opposition on at the same time, but definitely not a problem for me. BT Sport got off to a bad start, with Vaughan and Ponting telling us what we’d seen and not shutting up. But Punter is a good commentator, and Fleming is also no-one’s fool. Put it this way, I’d rather these two than Bumble and Botham.
0130: Two off Lyon’s second over. Stoneman giving us some cause for hope as an opener, and yes, I’m probably cursing him. Carberry made 40 at the Gabba first time up.
0133: This looks like a pudding of a pitch, relatively speaking. A real pudding. Malcolm Conn hasn’t tweeted yet.
0136: Lyon gets one to bounce a little and the Aussies have an appeal. No joy. Lyon exerting some pressure. A maiden.
0140: 50 up and a 50 partnership too between Stoneman and Vince. We’d take that given the bad start.
0144: Spared the Shiny Toy/Lovejoy partnership. For now.
0146: Hell on Earth. Holt and Samuel are both out there.
0148: Vaughan rabbiting on about football. As if we haven’t had enough of that. 55 for 1 at the end of the 25th over.
0153: Starc coming around the wicket to Stoneman. Vaughan mentions Mitchell Johnson. Over ends up being utterly underwhelming. And judging by the ebbing away of our visitor count, it might be time to head off to bed!
0159: Not quite lunch. An edgy, but safe, boundary from Vince, the first for 17 overs takes England to 59/1. Last over before lunch to be bowled by Starc.
0203: LUNCH. 59 for 1. Last April I went to the Oval to watch the post-tea session and a certain Mark Stoneman was the star of the show. I don’t think anyone thought he’d be the opener to go out at the Gabba with Cook to start the Ashes. He’s 25 not out. James Vince has been very solid, in his 32 after England lost Cook early on for 2. We could point out that hoping for Cook to come good in the Ashes is something we’ve been doing since 2010/11, but this is not a Gabba wicket to provide terrors in English hearts. Cook is one man we need to come through, or so received wisdom says.
BT Sport got off to a shocker, with Vaughan and Ponting acting as if they were radio commentators on speed. Things went further downhill when Lovejoy took the mic, and that’s something BT will really have to answer for. It’s calmed down with experienced TV and radio broadcasters in the chair, and I’m not in paroxysms of rage. They just need to get into the flow.
I’m having a nap, and might be back a little later. Chris and Danny will be taking you in their loving arms. England have had a pretty good morning. They do need to back this up. Thanks for the support on here for our first live blog…. Dmitri
0212: TLG back for the graveyard shift.
Let’s be honest here, we feared being five down at lunch, so this represents a mini-triumph. Of course, it can all go hideously wrong in the afternoon, but for now that isn’t so bad at all. The key for England is to be in the game, and in the series. Personally, I’d happily take a draw from the first Test, given the Australian record at the Gabba. It hasn’t been thrilling cricket, but so what? It’s been tense, and it’s been hard work. A teeny tiny thing that Stoneman did that got a nod of approval from me was one where he edged the ball into his pads and it dropped by his foot. No knocking the ball to the Australian fielders for him, he just stood there and waited for them to come in and pick it up. Good.
As for the commentary, it did get better as the session went on, a little more silence, a little less gabbing at the Gabba. Let’s see how it goes from now on.
0238: Been a bit of drizzle at the Gabba, but the covers are back off and we should be under way shortly. Lots of discussion about the pitch being a bit slow and pudding-like – for Australia anyway. But also that it should quicken up on day two. It’d be hilarious if it turned out to be perfect for Broad and Anderson though.
0242: Nope, the covers are back on. I am cursed to never write anything on this blog when there’s any actual bloody cricket happening.
0257: Raining quite heavily. Now the dilemma of any Ashes watcher – is it heavy enough to say sod it and go to bed?
0332: Well, there it is. It’s all my fault, so I think I’ll try and get some sleep – that’ll do the trick and stop the rain.
0336: Danny here, taking over from thelegglance on rainwatching duties. I think I might be the only member of the BOC team still awake, so you’re stuck with me for the duration.
0351: thelegglance must be asleep now, since the rain has stopped and the covers are coming off.
0357: Looks like George was a little optimistic, the official announcement is that play will resume at 0415 GMT.
0405: Details of the new times for Tea and the end of the day:
0415: Play finally resumes, with Lyon bowling a tight over and Vince scoring a single from the last ball of the over.
0422: Cummins bowling from the other end. It looks like the rain hasn’t slowed the outfield down at all, as Vince runs three and Stoneman strokes one along the ground to the boundary.
0430: After 18 consecutive dot balls, Vince steps down the wicket and drives Lyon for four. I’m not necessarily a fan of England’s batsmen taking that risk, but I guess it paid off.
0433: As Vince runs another three off Cummins, that brings him to a career milestone:
0445: Geoffrey Boycott just said “wank” on BT Sport. In happier news, Vince has just sliced a drive for four behind point and that brings up his first ever Test 50. Fair play to him, I’ve been attacking his selection since this summer but so far he’s looking good.
0507: Halfway through the day’s play, England are 101/1 at drinks with Vince and Stoneman sharing a partnership of 99. Apart from the rain shower, it’s been a pretty good night for England fans.
0510: And two balls after the break, Stoneman runs two and takes the partnership to 101. To put that in context, in 2013/14 England only managed one century partnership in the whole series.
0522: Steady progress by England, with nothing particularly threatening from the Starc and Hazlewood. With this in mind, Lyon returns to the attack…
0525: Lyon seems like the most threatening of Australia’s bowlers. Vince edges one past short leg, but drives the next one for four.
0534: Cummins is also challenging the England batsmen, although still no clear chances. Vince did just completely miss a wide drive though, so that’s a slight worry.
0542: And with an edge through the slips, Stonaman brings up his fifty. Not the most confident shot in the world, but they all count. He gets a single the ball after, so he’s currently just one run short of matching his highest Test score of 52.
0546: DROP James Vince gets a second life as the Aussie wicketkeeper drops an edge from Lyon’s bowling. Not necessarily an easy chance, but with Tim Paine being picked as a specialist wicketkeeper that’s got to hurt his chances of playing all 5 Tests in this series.
0556: And here it is if you want to enjoy it over and over again:
0557: WICKET Cummins bowls Stoneman through the gate, with a fast ball swinging into him. Stoneman increased his highest Test score by just 1 run in the end, and brings the partnership to an end at 125. Root comes in with just a few minutes left before Tea, and having to face Cummins who’s getting some reverse swing with the old ball.
0601: Root survives the last 4 balls of the over and that’s TEA.
129/2. England will be the happier of the two teams, but England’s slow scoring and the rain break mean that they aren’t as far ahead as you might think if you were waking up and seeing England only two wickets down. With a wicket and a missed chance just before Tea, Australia’s tails will be up and they’ll be eager to make inroads in the evening session.
On a personal note, it’s the first time I’ve ever stayed up all night to watch an overseas Ashes and I’m struggling a little. I’m pretty sure my blood is 50% sugar right now.
0621: The final session of the day begins with Hazlewood taking over from Lyon, no doubt hoping to get some reverse swing like Cummins managed before the break.
0626: Geoffrey Boycott just talked about being naked in the England dressing room. When he was a player, but still. In better news, Starc is bowling from the other end. With Cummins having got the wicket and swinging the ball before Tea, he’d feel hard done by to not get the ball back after the break.
0631: A boundary from Vince managed to land the ball in a puddle, which likely puts an end to the reverse swing. The Aussies are therefore trying to persuade the umpires to switch to a new ball. For a nation which refers to us as “whinging poms”, they sure do complain a lot if anything goes against them.
0643: WICKET And there goes James Vince’s chance for a first England century. Lyon takes the wicket, but from the field rather than bowling. Vince hit the ball into the covers, where Lyon picked it up and scored a direct hit at the bowler’s end. Disappointing for England, and 143/3 is basically a par score for a team batting first in good conditions.
0705: A few tight overs after the wicket, Root scores a four from Starc to release a bit of the pressure. Lyon has a good over straight after though, beating the edge a few times.
0717: Lyon bowling to Root after the last drinks break of the day, and Root does not look comfortable. An edge drops to the floor off his pade, a reverse sweep was mis-hit and a chance almost carries to short leg. Shaky times for England with two new batsmen at the crease, even if one of them is the #2 ranked Test batsman in the world.
0722: Malan doesn’t look any better against Cummins, with Malan taking one full in the box and a mistimed pull. England need to ride this session out, if they can.
0736: WICKET And that’s the big one for Australia. Cummins bowls one full and straight and it hits Root on the pad as he tries to flick it to the leg side. Given not out by the umpire. Australia use their first DRS referral of the game and it pays off. That brings in Moeen Ali, who has been promoted to #6 for this game.
0754: After a slow start, Moeen slog sweeps Nathan Lyon for 6. Malan’s starting to hit a few now as well. There’s just 5 overs left until the new ball, and 7 overs left in the day.
0800: Anderson is padded up, so Bairstow won’t be batting is a wicket falls in the remaining 5 overs. Australia have tightened up their bowling again after a few loose overs.
0810: Australia’s keeper Tim Paine has been appealing for anything that he manages to catch, but who can blame him after his drop (see 0556). Australia take the new ball with 2 overs left in the day.
0815: REVIEW Starc bowls a full, fast ball on the third ball of the over, hitting Malan on the pad. The umpire gives it not out, and Australia eventually decide to review (probably after checking with the dressing room). Hawkeye suggests it was sliding down the leg side, and Australia lose a review.
0817: BAD LIGHT ENDS PLAY 196/4 With 9 balls left in the day, and just after Australia almost took a wicket with the new ball, the umpires called both teams off. An odd decision, since it seems unlikely that the light will have diminished significantly in the two minutes from the start of the over. This is the kind of umpiring decision which really frustrates a lot of fans.
So the day ends with England marginally on top, although Australia have done well to get themselves back in the game after a strong start by Stoneman and Vince. England’s “world class” batsmen both failed, with Cook and Root scoring only 17 between them, whilst the more questionable Stoneman, Vince and Malan have amassed 164 so far. The scoring was pretty slow, with a run rate of 2.43, and Australia did well to contain England even when they weren’t threatening the wicket.
England will hope to bat through most of tomorrow if they can, although without Stokes there’s only two strong batsmen left in the lineup. 400 is a possible total to aim for, but equally you could see Australia rolling out the tail for less than 300. At the very least, the game is still in the balance going into the second day which exceeds my very low expectations for this game.