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Friday, August 02, 2013

At last, a top order Australian batting fight (in the face of an appalling umpiring blunder) T3 D1

Australia 3/303 (90ov, Clarke 125*/208b/17x4, Rogers 84/114b/14x4, Smith 70*/150b/7x4) v England: T3/5 D1/5 at Old Trafford, Manchester. Australia won toss and chose to bat.

I turned in just after tea, expecting Australia, 3/180 at the interval with Michael Clarke and Steven Smith rebuilding a fragile 3/129, to wobble a bit more and leave the first day more or less evenly poised. Had this happened I'd still have been satisfied 

As it was they batted through the session, adding 123 from 37 tightly contested overs. I was pleasantly surprised, and a little relieved.

Smith toughed it out, as he did at times in India earlier this year. Clarke played himself into form, at first cautiously, tentatively, then reminding watchers how stylish he is, especially against spin. I only watched the second part of his innings via the highlights, but these included a wonderful slow motion replay of him dancing down the pitch to Graeme Swann which was reminiscent of the famous 
photo of Victor Trumper.

Earlier in the day Chris Rogers had played an innings which I thought was beyond him - confidently aggressive, in a manner which vindicated the selectors' choice.

And then there was the Usman Khawaja dismissal, an initial error by onfield umpire Hill confirmed by TV umpire  Dharmasena. As Warnie said from the commentary box "a shocker..a ridiculous decision". Australia may subsequently have had some good fortune in the matter of umpiring decisions, but nothing as  Palpably bad as Khawaja's. Is Dharmasena a Test (or international) standard umpire?

Well as England bowled at times the scorecard reflects a strong Australian fight back which lasted, unlike 
many recent Tests, a full day. David Warner, not Phil Hughes - along with Ashton Agar, dropped - is next in in a 
situation which should allow him to play his natural game even if no6 isn't his customary position.

Runs, but not enough, on the board. The Test is nicely poised. I hope this opinion doesn't come back to bite me.
<a href="">Scorecard </a>.

Point of interest

Old Trafford Cricket Ground has undergone a  90 degree reorientation, with the wicket now on a north- south axis. 
From above it looks odd, but it helps to bear in mind that the straight boundaries are now short and the square 
ones long: the reverse of what the Adelaide Oval used to look like.

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