Saturday 24 February 2018

Anderson gives England the edge

Paceman leads rally as 14 wickets fall on thrilling first day

Derek Pringle

Ashes contests have struggled to live up to the sheer ding-dong nature of the 2005 series but there was more than a passable impression at Trent Bridge, with 14 wickets falling and a bowler on each side having the opportunity of a hat-trick.

It was the most wickets to fall on an opening day since the 17 at Lord's in 2005. If seam and adrenalin caused the carnage at Lord's, it was swing and nerves that were the prime disposers of batsmen here, though the odd bad choice of shot and poor technique were its close allies.

With Peter Siddle rampant in taking 5-50, England were dismissed for 215. But Steven Finn removed Shane Watson and Ed Cowan in successive balls as Australia lost four wickets, including captain Michael Clarke for a duck, to finish an enthralling opening day still 140 runs behind England.

Clarke is a prize almost beyond rubies and it needed one of the better balls of James Anderson's career to get him. He later added Chris Rogers, though the left-hander can count himself unlucky that Hawk-Eye's track had the ball clipping leg-stump rather than missing as the naked eye suggested.

With Australia's captain back in the hutch, Alastair Cook's team are just shading the honours but that could change quickly should any swing evaporate along with the grey cloud that enabled it yesterday, and should Stuart Broad remain an onlooker as he did during the final session.

Broad was struck a painful blow on his right shoulder by James Pattinson during his innings of 24, the one he had a cortisone jab in last week.

The portents that this might be an unusual day's cricket began when Australia tore up the conventions of Test cricket by picking teenager Ashton Agar, a development spinner not even in the original Test squad.


Having chosen to bat first, Alastair Cook at least owed his team a defiant innings once the ball began to hoop about, but he edged James Pattinson behind when he had made just 13.

The wicket was against the run of play after Australia bowlers made a nervy start. It was not until Root and Jonathan Trott had added 51 for the second wicket that Siddle got into his stride, having leaked 27 runs off his first four overs.

Firing the ball full at Root's middle stump, he got some late outswing to defeat the hasty rearrangement of his footwork. Kevin Pietersen followed, edging one that Siddle shaped away from him.

The swinging ball had not tethered England's batsmen as boundaries flowed. In fact, boundaries comprised 70.69pc of their total, the highest they had managed in the first innings of a Test since 1961 at Old Trafford, also an Ashes Test.

For once, Trott was the greatest contributor of fours, his role as England's rock shelved why he put away the sundry bad balls sent down by the Australia's pacemen. Trent Bridge has not been a good ground for him or Cook. The pair have played 19 innings between them here and never reached 50, a milestone Trott fell two short of after he dragged on a wide one from Siddle.

Ian Bell edged a good outswinger from Siddle to Watson at first slip, that having been delivered wide on the crease drew him into playing it. In the lead-in to this match, Siddle had looked out of sorts. But the competitive nature that clearly stirs within, and which is released at the first whiff of Pommie blood, transformed him into an unlikely destroyer, a role he completed when Matt Prior wafted a wide ball to short cover to spring a trap a blind rhinoceros would have seen.

As he tired, Mitch Starc and Pattinson took up cudgels. Jonny Bairstow had little match cricket coming into this game but he overcame it to play a fine innings until his old habit of playing across and over straight half-volley gave Starc his first wicket.

Starc then had another next ball, when Finn wafted away from his body and nicked off the Haddin. His hat-trick ball was close but no cigar, but this was a day when any satisfaction on either side was short-lived – England's last four wickets fell for just two runs. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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