Wednesday 24 January 2018

England hope it will be alright on day/night

Australia's captain Steve Smith reacts as team mate Cameron Bancroft speaks during a media conference after the first Ashes test in Brisbane. Photo: Reuters
Australia's captain Steve Smith reacts as team mate Cameron Bancroft speaks during a media conference after the first Ashes test in Brisbane. Photo: Reuters

Jonathan Liew

The defining motif of the Brisbane Test came not on the field, but afterwards. Opener Cameron Bancroft sitting at a press conference describing how Jonny Bairstow tried to head-butt him. Alongside, his captain Steve Smith laughing, revelling in England's very public ridicule.

On the field, England are only 1-0 down. Off it, they are getting trounced. The big question, ahead of the pivotal second Test at the Adelaide Oval, is whether England can edit a script that is running resoundingly against them.

Privately, England are still seething at the Bairstow controversy, incandescent at how it was disclosed to the Australian media via the stump microphones, irritated beyond measure at Smith's reaction to it.

"If that's not motivation to the players," captain Joe Root explained, "I don't know what is. To see a reaction like that in a press conference is…" At which point, Root tailed off, his vexation clear.

Adelaide can make or break an Ashes tour. It was here in 2006 that England surrendered a seemingly impregnable position to the spin of Shane Warne.

It was here again in 2013 that Mitchell Johnson broke them irrevocably apart. But it was here in 2010 that Andrew Strauss's side dominated from the start, paving the way for a famous series victory.

England's task is simple: to take full advantage of the pink Kookaburra ball and conditions that are likely to favour them. It has been sweltering in Adelaide all week, but a cold front is sweeping in off the Southern Ocean, and the forecast from the weekend onwards is for much cooler temperatures in the mid teens. English-style evenings, in other words in this day/night Test match.

England have scant experience with the pink Kookaburra, but South African seamer Vernon Philander claimed it "did too much" when he played in the day-nighter at Adelaide last year. Lateral movement is almost a given.

And as England proved in 2015, when the ball is moving sideways, there are few new-ball pairs you would want to face less than James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

There have been three day-night Tests in Australia. Australia have won them all. Neither of the two Adelaide games has remotely threatened to go into a fifth day. A draw is by far the unlikeliest of the three results here, which feeds into the sense that for England, this really is all or nothing. (© Independent News Service)

Independent News Service

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport