The Ashes 2010/2011 came alive with a spell of devastating swing bowling at the WACA last week, but it was to be England’s bowlers who struck decisively in the opening day at Melbourne, in the fourth Ashes test match.
At stumps on the first day, a bumper crowd of almost 85,000 – the home support reinvigorated by the performance in Perth – had seen the home side slump to 98 All Out in less than 50 overs.
To add to Australian pain, England then set about putting on 157 without loss to take a commanding position at the end of day one.
Strauss won the toss for England, and elected to field, and, with an overcast day leading to swing and irregular bounce, his bowlers quickly got their tails up.
Anderson (4 for 44 from 16 overs) and Tremlett (4 for 26 from 11.5 overs) claimed the bulk of the wickets, but Brsenan (2 for 25 from 13 overs), drafted in for the slightly expensive, though leading wicket-taker, Finn, also produced some admirable deliveries.
Australia never looked comfortable with the bat, though England must have been worried that Perth hero, Watson (5), was dropped not once, but twice, before being bagged by Pietersen at gully from the bowling of Tremlett for just 5 runs. That tells the story of England’s early dominence, however, as Australia’s best opening batsman found it hard to deal with the prodigious amount of movement Tremlett and co were finding. Australia had just 15 runs when Watson fell.
Up stepped Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, badly in need of a good innings with the bat. He and Hughes – who has also been having a torrid time at the crease this series – put on 22 runs before both of them feel with the score on 37. Hughes (16) went first flashing at a ball that moved away from new boy Bresnan. Pietersen bagged his second catch at gully from the thickish edge.
Ponting (10) fell to a second slip catch from Swann for Tremlett’s second wicket of the innings. Ponting had produced a couple of good pull shots to the fence prior to this ball jagging away from him off the seam. He has three more innings to save his captaincy, and his place in the side, it would seem.
The next three wickets would be caught Prior bowled Anderson, but it was the fourth Australian scalp of Hussey (8) that met with the largest celebration from the tourists. Hussey came into this test match in superb form, having produced more than 500 runs in six well put together innings. Two balls later, the sides came in for a 90 minute rain break, and took lunch. The score, 58 for 4 wickets.
Anderson came back out of the pavillion in great form, and soon had Smith (6) and Michael Clarke (20) back in the pavillion, both caught Matt Prior, before other form players of Perth Haddin (5) and Johnson (0) also fell with the score remaining on 77. Haddin was caught Strauss bowled Bresnan, who had been tight at his end, while Johnson fell to the Anderson Prior combination – the fourth such wicket of the innings.
All that was left was for Siddle (11) and Hilfenhaus (0) to fall, both caught Prior, bowled Tremlett, with the score faltering to 98 All Out. Wicket-keeper Prior had caught six of the wickets in a couple of spells either side of lunch during which the ball moved, both ways, in the air and off the pitch.
However, as England emerged with the bat, the clouds dispersed and the movement their bowlers had found appeared to dry up as Strauss (64 not out) and Cook (80 not out) showed good form to pass the Australian total and add a further 59 runs before the close of play.
England have a commanding lead in this test match. Australia have probably a hundred runs with which to remove the tourists or they will face a monumental task in the final three days of this test match.
If their is hope for the hosts, it must be that the clouds return and Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus show some of the movement that their first deliveries hinted at today. This melted away with the cloud cover, but tomorrow is another day.
England have the advantage at MCG, but there are four days left. There is a lot of cricket left in this test match, and this series, yet.
The Ashes 2010/2011 Scorecard – Day One, MCG
- England won the toss and elected to bat
- Australia 98 All Out, 42.5 Overs (Clarke, 20; Hughes, 16) (Tremlett 4 for 26; Anderson 4 for 44)
- England 157 for 0 wicket, 47 Overs (Cook, 80 n.o., Strauss, 64 n.o.) (Siddle 0 for 13; Harris 0 for 30)
- England lead by 59 runs