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Sunday, December 26, 2010

England to retain Ashes after dominating T4 first day

England 0/157 (47 ov, A Cook 80*, A Strauss 64*) lead Australia 98 (42.5 ov, C Tremlett 4/26, J Anderson 4/44) by 59 runs with all 2nd innings wickets intact: T4/5, D1/5 at MCG

After as one-sided day as anyone with even a rudimentary grasp of current cricket form could have expected, or as England supporters might have wildly fantasised about, Australia surely can only be saved by the weather from a crushing defeat which will leave the Ashes in England's possession (even though - small comfort- the series could still be drawn 2 all).

Yes, the toss favoured England, but, apart from the first 10 minutes, they made the most of the conditions. Andrew Strauss chose to field on an overcast morning, and from the outset the ball moved around.

Australia's luck ran for the first 10 minutes during which Shane Watson was dropped twice, but after he was c
aught off his gloves for 5, there were few moments when the team looked like getting, let alone holding, the upper hand.

Their quick bowlers Jimmy Anderson , Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan ( who replaced Steve Finn) exploited the English - like conditions magnificently and skittled the home team for 98. Their figures: Tremlett11.5-5-26-4, Anderson 16-4- 44-4, Bresnan 13-6-25-2,
speak for themselves.

None of the Australian top order looked comfortable against them: several were caught playing at balls outside the off stump. Ricky Ponting failed again well caught in the slips - after a slow start, Michael Clarke struggled to the innings top score of 20 while Mike Hussey, as was bound to happen sometime in the series, and Brad Haddin both failed.

I thought that the tailenders should have hit out and, even if it meant a smaller total, got England in before the sun came out. But they didn't, the sun appeared, play was extended to make up for a rain break earlier in the day, and the pitch flattened, making the bowlers' job harder, though Strauss 64*/ 147b (5x4) and Alistair Cook (80*/137b (11x4) played hardly a poor shot between them.

Australia used six bowlers: the four quicks who'd played at Perth (Michael Beer again didn't make the final cut), Watson's medium-fast and Smith's leg spinners. None of them, as the scorecard suggests, really troubled the English openers. Certainly Mitchell Johnson didn't approach anything like his Perth form while none of the others showed many signs of their best. TV graphics showed that the England pace trio were accurate: the Australian quarted tended to spray the ball round a bit more.

So a disastrous day for Australia. Moreover, the hoped for (and hyped for) world record attendance didn't eventuate, even though 84,345 was pretty good given the moderate weather.

Surely Australia can't have another day as bad as (or England another as good as) today....I hope the South Africa - India Test in Durban isn't as one-sided.


Fox Sports report

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