Friday, 10 January 2014

Thoughts on Day One and ahead to Day Two

England will probably sleep slightly more soundly than the Aussies tonight with a lead of 192 and two key Aussie wickets back in the hutch - Lanning and Villani. Given Nicole Bolton's recent form you would have thought she would have been a shoe-in for this Test Match, but the Aussies decided to gamble on Villani at the top of the order. It is a decision that may come back to bite them. Sarah Elliott may well stick around for sometime tomorrow, but she does not score runs quickly so is unlikely to take the game away from England. The pressure will be on Cameron, Blackwell and Fields to get the Aussies up to or passed the England total. They may well get some help from the tail - Perry, Osborne, Coyte, Farrell and Ferling - but England must fancy their chances if they can remove Cameron, Blackwell and Fields in the first hour or so.

England owe their position in the game to good knocks from Arran Brindle - she looked good up until about 55 and then seemed to get bottled up, and Natalie Sciver, who is proving to be a very valuable and stabilising middle-order bat. There was then the small matter of Anya Shrubsole, who mainly bowls inswingers, getting the wickets of Villani and Lanning caught behind the wicket. One booming inswinger and the next straight ball becomes difficult to play.

But perhaps England owe most to the tactician who sent a message out to Dani Hazell to either get a few runs or get out with 30 minutes to go. Immediately after an impromptu drinks' break for Hazell and Cross, Hazell slapped Farrell to midwicket and walked off. Coincidence? Who knows? It gave the Aussie openers an uncomfortable 30 minutes to bat after a long hot day in the field - a task in which they subsequently failed and the initiative had shifted back to England.

The twists and turns of the day are what make Test cricket so much fun. England 32/3 and in a hole. England 154/4 and looking in good order. That became 154/6 and then 201 all out. Advantage Australia. Aussies lose two early wickets and at 9/2 their whole approach to tomorrow's first session is changed. They cannot afford to lose early wickets. England will come at them hard.

Either way it looks like this Test might actually produce a result and one team or other will be 6-0 up with just 12 more points to play for in six games. The loser will need to win five of those last six games to win the Ashes. That seems too much to me. 4 points for the Test would mean that the series would be drawn if the Test loser won four of the last six games. 3 points for the Test would mean the Test loser would win the series if they won four of the last six games. Either result seems preferable.

Alarm clock set for 2.20am again tomorrow. It is not to be missed.



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