England batting succumbs to the sheer endeavour of Peter Siddle
Finn’s flying start blows dark clouds away
Australia’s Peter Siddle celebrates after the dismissal of England’s Matt Prior during the first Ashes cricket Test match at Trent Bridge cricket ground in Nottingham, England, yesterday. Photograph: Reuters
What a day. Exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure - and that just for those watching - England and Australia slugged it out on a day that had been expected to produce runs and instead saw the home side’s batting succumb to the sheer endeavour of Peter Siddle, who took five for 50, and then the Australians stumble against the new ball.
By the close of the first day, Australia had reached 75 for four in reply to England’s 215 all out as Steven Finn and Jimmy Anderson went some way to making amends for their team’s sloppy batting. Australia do bat deep, however, much more so than England, with the surprise selection of the teenage left-arm spinner Ashton Agar instead of the offspinner Nathan Lyon adding to that and Siddle, a Test match centurion, the probable tail-end Charlie.
They might need it too, and will be hoping that when they draw the curtains to greet the second morning it will show clear skies once more. As it was, Steve Smith offered some late counter-punching, hitting Graeme Swann straight for six in the final half hour and ending unbeaten on 38 - the day’s second highest score after Jonathan Trott’s 48 - with Phil Hughes on seven.
The crowd got behind England in the last hour and deprived of Stuart Broad - who took a nasty blow on the right shoulder when batting against the pace and aggression of James Pattinson, and was left in the dressing room to ice it - Finn and Anderson responded.
Finn, rampaging in from the Pavilion end, was thrice clattered to the boundary in his first seven deliveries by Shane Watson, but came back strongly to have him well caught by Joe Root at third slip as he drove vigorously. He then removed Ed Cowan, who had been off the field for part of the day through illness, caught first ball by Swann at second slip, thus continuing what has been a miserable tour for him.
Michael Clarke narrowly avoided the hat-trick but then received what, when he sits in his armchair and reflects long after his retirement, he may come to regard as the best delivery he ever faced.
Anderson can produce some stunning bowling but this was just sublime, angling in, pitching and darting away to beat the outside edge and clip the
offstump. Anderson aeroplaned his delight as the coach stood on the team balcony and applauded his admiration. It was stunning.
The England man then removed the new opener Chris Rogers, a 35-year-old who played his only previous Test more than five years ago, although this appeared to involve an element of guesswork rather than conviction from Kumar Dharmasena. Anderson was round the wicket to the left-hander and attempting to straighten the ball down the line of the stumps. Rogers did fall across them a little but the geometry of these things has to be so spot-on: Rogers reviewed and HawkEye, by a whisker, vindicated the umpire.