Epic night. Stayed up for the whole thing. Well, ok. Nearly the whole thing. I missed the last 20-30 minutes and reluctantly turned in toward bed just before 3am, eyes weeping from overexposure to electronic screens.
The build-up to the first day’s play was huge. At work in the tertiary sector, I’m located within a department where men are resoundingly outnumbered. However, there are a handful of us and thankfully, we’re all a similar age and all love cricket. One legitimate Englishman, another England supporter – albeit born in Australia to at least one English parent – and a couple of us Aussies. Makes for a good craic, and we certainly talked it up on Wednesday leading into the first day’s play, scheduled to commence at 8pm Australian time that night.
Watching Day One at my place were myself, my partner Sharon, who is a devoted Test cricket fan (but not as unhinged as I) and a good mate and work colleague Damien. Being a Wednesday night it was an alcohol free event, but imbibing caffeine through coffee kept Sharon going until about 1215.
Damo sheepishly left my place at 0215 – after we thoroughly enjoyed a solid five or six hours of cricket and several English wickets falling at the expense of occasionally erratic and nervous bowling from Australia’s pace battery. When Damo left I intended to go to bed, but I simply couldn’t. Got as far as the hallway, but kept checking the score on the Cricinfo app on my phone, so I thought “stuff it” and settled back in.
I’m obviously really impressed and pleased with knocking England over for 215 runs, which I think is about 130 runs under par for the pitch. The ball did loads in the air, but the pitch seemed good enough for batting. Generally I think the sense of occasion and air movement undid England and then our brittle batting was exposed late in day.
Watson played a horrible footwork-less waft in the first over to Anderson, and then, next over, dispatched Finn for a couple of convincing boundaries. Unfortunately he couldn’t discard the big booming drive and managed to snick – OUT. Australia’s number 3, Ed Cowan – who had spent most of the day running on and off the pitch shitting himself – looked absolutely spooked when he walked out to bat. I wasn’t surprised when he was out after snicking to a packed slip cordon first ball.
Trent Bridge suddenly came alive. “You’re not singing anymore” echoing around the ground as all and sundry pointed eagerly at the group of Fanatics (who’d undoubtedly jumped the gun in the afternoon and started giving it large after we did ok with the ball). Finn was now on a hat-trick steaming in with the whole ground on its feet, Clarke plays straight and hard and the ball somehow misses the bat and the stumps. At this point – believe it or not – we were 2/22 at 0222am. I stood on one leg, then Clarke was bowled… 3/22. Australia crumbling, Trent Bridge absolutely rocking.
Again, following on from the last two Tests in India earlier this year Steve Smith looked organised and mentally capable. When Chris Rogers copped an ordinary LBW decision we were four down for about 60. Our number six, Phil Hughes, has demons to excise from the 2009 Ashes series in England and Brad Haddin is mentally capable; the three quicks gets can some runs. Perhaps we can push on?
With Broad in doubt for Day 2, and what should be a good batting strip, Australia simply have to make hay on Day 2 and chip out out at least a 30-40 run lead to keep us in the match. England’s batting is too strong to not have someone stand up in the second dig and Swann is going to be pivotal at some point.