Brad Haddin keeps England on the back foot
Australia reach 326 after being in trouble early in their innings
Brad Haddin of Australia plays a pull shot as he helped to rescue the Australian innings on day one of the fifth Ashes test. Photograph: Matt King/Getty Images
Back in the early 1960s, when Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were in their pomp and hitting back-to back home runs for the New York Yankees, their esteemed colleague Yogi Berra, a man to whom tautology was not unknown, watched in wonderment. “This,” he is said to have announced,” is déjà vu all over again.”
Berra is 88 years old now, and almost certainly has never heard of Brad Haddin, but his spirit lived on at the Sydney Cricket Ground where yet again, the wicketkeeper pulled Australian out of the mire and, together with Steve Smith, batted them to a position from which they will already fancy their chances of completing a whitewash. Déjà vu all over again.
In Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne, Australia have variously been 100, 143 and 112 at the fall of the fifth wicket and now Haddin marched into bat shortly after lunch with the England seamers in charge, the scoreboard reading 97 for five and Smith on 10: England were, not for the first time in the series, in the ascendant. Alastair Cook had won the toss and put Australia in on a pitch tinged with emerald and a duvet of clouds hanging low, and it was looking a canny move.
Two hours later, after tea, when Haddin edged Ben Stokes to Cook at slip and walked back to the pavilion, the pair had added 128 for the sixth wicket; Haddin had made 75 and Smith was well on his way to his second fine century of the series.
When he was last out, caught at mid-on to give Stokes a sixth wicket and end an over that had given him three of them as well as a missed chance, he had made 115 and Australia had 326, maybe 50 runs more than England would have settled for at the start of play.
Haddin, meanwhile, had walloped his way to an aggregate of 465 runs, the most ever by a keeper in an Ashes series. Only two other players in any Test have made 50 or more in the first innings of all five matches of a five Test series. It is an astonishing record.
It left England 25 of the trickiest minutes, facing rampant pacemen, in front of a baying crowd and in gloomy light that demanded and did not get the floodlights. It was time enough for Mitchell Johnson to remove Michael Carberry though, beautifully caught low down at leg gully without scoring, as he tried to turn the ball off his body.
It meant that Jimmy Anderson, who will have strapped on the pads with a cheery smile, plodded out as nightwatchman, but did the job well enough helping Cook see things through to the close, with England 8 for one. It had been Australia’s day, not overwhelmingly so, but theirs nonetheless.
Stokes has been a revelation in this series, gaining his place in Adelaide simply through circumstance that required bowling back-up for two spinners, and in the space of four Tests making himself indispensable. There was rather more to this than meets the eye, however.
As anticipated, England had given debuts to three players - Gary Ballance, Scott Borthwick and Boyd Rankin- in place of Joe Root, rather than Carberry, Monty Panesar and Tim Bresnan. It was to prove an unhappy start for Rankin, however, who had bowled eight overs without success and was just starting his ninth when he pulled up, and eventually limped off with what appeared to be a hamstring strain or possibly cramp. He was to miss the middle session and then reappeared after tea, only to limp off once more, visibly and understandably upset, after one further delivery.
A bowler down, Stokes, a true competitor, took over the mantle of extra duty, rolled up his sleeves and flung himself into the fray with a willingness that did him great credit. Both Haddin and Smith clambered into him at times but that just made him put his head down and run in all the harder. For a time he suffered from Finnitis, knocking the bowlers wicket, so tight does he step into the crease before delivery, but this is readily solved by the simple expedient of going a little wider.
In his final over, he had Ryan Harris caught at short extra cover and then saw Lyon edge his first ball to Jonny Bairstow, but there was to be no emulating Darren Gough here with a hat-trick; although Peter Siddle edged his second delivery low to the left of Anderson at fourth slip, he could not cling on to the catch. A century and a five wicket haul for England in an Ashes series is something special: Andrew Flintoff managed it in 2005, and Beefy did it of course, so he is in the best company.
It was Cook himself, rather than a guest, who presented the three new caps, a recognition of the symmetry that came from knowing the last time such a thing had happened, in Nagpur eight years ago, he had been one of the recipients. The team clearly represents a line in the sand from the old era and the side built by Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower, and the start of a new one. Rankin might have played earlier in the series and so would Ballance, from the start in fact, had fate, in the form of Cook’s dodgy back, not catapulted Carberry into the side and Root down the order from opener.
It had been widely anticipated, though, that it would be Carberry who was dropped with Root opening. If so, this would have seemed harsh on the second highest England run scorer this series, but Root is seen as the future. He has some technical problems to sort though and generally, although not on the first day here, Carberry has fulfilled the principal role of seeing off the new ball.
For Borthwick it was a mixed day in that he managed a wicket, but was panned round the field as well. Wrist spin is the most difficult of the arts to master, and the fact that the most prolific England leg-spinner of the last 55 years is Bob Barber, an opening batsman, says much about the heritage. It is a cruel arena into which to be thrust. But he held his nerve and will not be the poorer for the experience. Guardian Service