0The Ashes urnFirst blow to England

So the Ashes are under way again with no great sur­prises so far.  Aus­tralia won the toss and bat­ted, Eng­land came out with the ball and made life dif­fi­cult for a very aver­age look­ing Aus­trali­an bat­ting line-up.  The man of the day was without doubt Stu­art Broad, who should have now silenced all but the most loud-mouthed of his crit­ics.

Aus­tralia closed on 273–8, a score unlikely to put much “score­board pres­sure” on Eng­land, and show­ing that they’ve not improved their bat­ting since the recent series that Eng­land won 3–0.  All the talk before the series has been by Aus­trali­ans about how they were going to scare Eng­land and tar­get Broad.  As an Eng­land sup­port­er it is nice to see a for­eign press doing what our own tabloids so often do — goad­ing the oppos­i­tion into a high­er per­form­ance.  Broad respon­ded just as our oppon­ents do when the Brit­ish press tar­gets the oppos­i­tion — he demol­ished the Aus­trali­an bats­men, tak­ing 5 for 65.  If the boo­ing has a sim­il­ar impact on his bat­ting we can prob­ably con­clude the series now.

As good as Eng­land were, Aus­tralia con­tin­ue to dis­ap­point.  Their best bats­man, and cap­tain, still has­n’t learned how to deal with the short ball, a fail­ure which will cost him dear in this series if he isn’t quick to address it.  Warner got him­self in and then out by play­ing like a 1‑day bats­man.  Wat­son added to the mount­ing evid­ence that he’s a flat-track bully by get­ting him­self in, and then out for a poor 22.  Smith con­trib­uted 31, not unreas­on­able for a dis­tinctly aver­age play­er but not a score that will turn many games.  Bailey is new to the side and has­n’t yet shown he can offer much, but against an older ball on a bats­man’s wick­et he should have made the most of his oppor­tun­ity.  Only Brad Had­din and Mitchell John­son offered much pro­longed res­ist­ance with the bat.  Had­din is a qual­ity play­er — if Aus­tralia are to win a test, let alone the series, it will undoubtedly require a sig­ni­fic­ant con­tri­bu­tion from him.  John­son is handy with the bat but is unlikely to make many half-cen­tur­ies in the series.

If Eng­land bat like they did the last time they vis­ited Aus­tralia they have every chance of win­ning by an innings, and win­ning the series com­fort­ably.  If they bat like they did in the recent home Ashes series it will be anoth­er fairly close series with Eng­land likely to edge it over­all.  Here’s to wak­ing up tomor­row to hear that Eng­land are 250 for 0.

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