Stumps: England 29-0. Australia 268.
The Perth test poses special challenges for the English cricket follower. At the other four Australian venues, we watch a couple of hours’ play, go to bed, then wake up in the morning too nervous to even look at the score in case we’ve made a mess of it. At Perth, where play doesn’t begin till 2.30am, we wake up worrying if we messed it up from the very beginning.
Many of us were feeling very anxious ahead of this test match. Surely Australia were due some good form, and England a batting collapse? That may yet happen But nevertheless, spirits rose at Full Toss HQ when we awoke to a score of Australia 69-5.
All too predictably, Hussey and Haddin then did their best to spoil our fun. What a nuisance Hussey is proving in this series. Can’t we, just once, get him out early? Couldn’t he step on a loose cricket ball during training, or eat some dodgy prawns?
268 all out doesn’t look quite as good as 69-5 did, or 201-8. What a shame we couldn’t quite contrive a way to bundle them out really cheaply; Australia now have a workable total. But their late-order rally was a reflection of the pitch’s quality – there should be a lot of runs for us there if we can get through the next fifteen overs without serious loss.
On the bowling front, Tremlett was tremendous, and looked a class above Finn, who was pretty awful – and may not be fully fit. Swann’s removal of Hussey was a priceless breakthrough. And what about Colly’s catch?
It was no fun watching us bat out those twelve overs, although looking back, there were no real alarms and Australia bowled poorly, with their lines all over the place. Strauss has become a bad starter; watching him makes you nervous. As Nasser Hussain pointed out on Sky, Alastair Cook was much better at judging which balls to leave or play.
Tomorrow is massive. If we can bat big in this innings, then surely, surely, we will keep the Ashes. Australia’s seamers don’t look good enough to wrest the urn out of our hands through sheer skill – to lose control of the series, we will have to mess up. The Ashes are ours to lose. Which only makes us more nervous. This is England we’re talking about.