In a near-clinical performance with the ball, Australia took the honours on the first day of the fourth Ashes Test against England. While the bowlers – particularly off-spinner Nathan Lyon – rose to the occasion admirably, most of the English batsmen let their side down due to poor shot selection.
Here are the flops of the day:
Ian Bell (6 runs off 17 balls)
After Kevin Pietersen and skipper Cook fell in quick succession, much was expected of Ian Bell if England were to reach a big total by the end of the day. Their thinking was justified because the Warwickshire batsman is the man in form at the moment.
However, he tried to do a Pietersen and jumped out to Nathan Lyon’s flighted delivery in the first over after tea, attempting a big shot. The bat turned in his hand and he ended up miscuing his stroke to Ryan Harris at mid-off.
Aggression isn’t exactly Bell’s forte – he’s more of a grafter in Test cricket. He’s got to get back to the basics and get his eye in before unleashing the huge hits. Horrible shot selection!
Joe Root (16 runs off 52 balls – 1 four)
First, he was punched by Warner. Then, he made a phenomenal 180 in the second Test. Since then, the Yorkshire batsman has blown hot and cold.
It wasn’t any different this time around, either. Root pushed at a length delivery outside off, sent down by Shane Watson, getting a thin edge through to Haddin. Upon Clarke’s appeal for a review, the on-field decision was reversed as the much-maligned Hot Spot showed that the Australians were correct.
Root needs to re-think his approach if he wants to build a long partnership with his captain. His shoddy display with the bat is only hurting his side’s chances at the top of the order.
Matt Prior (17 runs off 58 balls – 2 fours)
One would normally expect the enterprising wicket-keeper to hang in with the tail and shepherd the team to a reasonable, if not huge, total. However, Prior once again flattered to deceive in this case. Two consecutive boundaries off Ryan Harris proved to be a false indicator of a good showing.
Victorian fast bowler Peter Siddle got one to nip back into the right-hander, hitting Prior in the line of middle and leg. Australia appealed, were denied, and Clarke took the review. Once again, DRS came to the rescue of the fielding side, and Prior departed without having contributed substantially to the score. Not good signs for England!
Australia have their noses in front, while England will hope to get to 250 at least. With just one wicket remaining, it may be a tall order for Bresnan and Anderson, but then stranger things have happened in cricket. Anderson will be England’s go-to man when it is their turn to bowl, but for now, the Aussies are well and truly in command of this match.