Friday, December 01, 2006
Like the 1950s: Second Test Day 1
England won the toss, batted and reached 3/266 in 90 overs of tight, though only intermittently scintillating, cricket.
As the weather changed from sunny and warm to overcast and cool, so did England's persistence pay off. 2/45 was not a good start, especially as both Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook had looked relatively comfortable until their respective dismissals. Bell and Collingwood showed what could be done with a partnership of 113 for the third wicket, and after Bell's dismissal from an unwise pull shot which went straight up in the air, Pietersen joined Collingwood and the pair gradually accelerated to stumps, when the former was 60 and the latter 98.
Australia's bowling today, apart from Stuart Clark who was underbowled, some pre-lunch spin from Shane Warne and a few fiery deliveries from an often wayward Brett Lee (his wicket taking over also conceded 12 runs) , did not look especially penetrative. It did though keep England in check reasonably well, and might have done even better had Stuart Clark instead of Michael Clarke (who bowled 11 overs of left arm spin which the batsmen played comfortably) been given more overs when Pietersen came to the wicket.
Ricky Ponting's tactics at times during the day weren't easy to fathom. As well as his choice of bowlers some of his field placings, such as those in the photo which shows Glenn McGrath bowling without a slip and with several close in fielders on the off side, raised eyebrows.
While England has had the better of the day it is too early to say that they are likely to win, or even to draw it. 266 in a day is not a 21st century Ashes score: it is more typical of the 1950s.
England need more runs: I'd say a first innings total of 450 at least, and scored relatively quickly (say by tea tomorrow) if they are to press for victory. A lower score will require 2005 standard bowling from their key bowlers. On the positive side,as Collingwood showed today, it is possible with a cool head and a sound technique, to survive on the pitch; as Pietersen showed, it is possible, with a cool head, good shot selection and some luck, to flourish.