Day 1 – Smith Stands Strong as Others Falter
England were met with concerns for the future after Jimmy Anderson had to retire injured with a calf injury after bowling just four overs. This is an injury that he and the England medical team were aware of, but it appears to not have healed as well as they believed. The danger is that it could rule Anderson out for the series, but what is more likely is that he’s out for the next 3-4 weeks. England can only hope they won’t miss him too much.
Australia did not make the start they wanted as openers Bancroft and Warner, both of whom are returning from their bans in the wake of the 2018 ball tampering scandal, fell early. Warner went first for two, Bancroft followed about four overs later. They would be the first of Stuart Broad’s five wickets, and their dismissals would be welcomed by the England fans who celebrated by waving sandpaper at both of them as they left the field. All this bought Smith to the field, where he would stay until the end of the Australian innings. All the time however, England’s bowlers made light work of the Aussie’s middle order with five batsman making a total of 46 runs. It was only in the tail that Smith found a partner with some staying power, as Peter Siddle made a solid 44 before finally being caught by Jos Butler off Moeen Ali. Smith and Lyon would press on to the end managing to add another 84 runs to the board before finally, on 144, Smith would be bowled by Broad as the England bowler completed what must surely have been one of his most frustrating five wicket hauls. Australia finished on 284 and the vast majority of credit for that must go to Smith as he put together what some referred to as “one of the greatest test innings” especially in the wake of recent history.
England had time to bat in the evening session as openers, and Surrey batsmen, Rory Burns and Jason Roy came out an made 10 before the evening was called off. A solid start to an important innings. England must bat all day tomorrow to put as much pressure on Australia’s batsmen as possible.
Day 2 – Burns Makes Century as England Push On
Off field news was first, that Mark Wood was confirmed as out for the rest of the season with both a knee problem and a niggle in the side. Jimmy Anderson’s problem, however, may not be as terminal as first thought, but a final and official word is still sought.
In day two England sought to build on their impressive day one. Surrey batsmen Burns and Roy resumed on 10-0 but Roy would leave after four overs having made 10 so Burns was joined at the crease by captain Joe Root. The two would press on despite Burns being struck on the helmet, and Root being bowled… but not getting out as the mystery of the immovable bail, something that became a bit of a feature at the world cup, where Pattinson bowled an absolute peach which clipped the outside stump, only for the bail to slide along its own groove, but stay where it was.
Both Burns and Root would make half centuries, but Root would leave on 57 after being bowled by Siddle. The captain will no doubt be disappointed as another opportunity to convert a 50 into a ton goes begging. Joe Denly came and went for 18, and Jos Butler looked like he was warming up nicely, but gave away his wicket cheaply for 5. When Ben Stokes came out to the crease, Rory Burns had been in the nineties more than long enough to make him nervous, but in the 71st over he made his maiden test century.
Stokes and Burns would then see out the day as England finished 17 runs behind Australia with six wickets in hand. Tomorrow they will seek to put themselves firmly in control by building a solid lead.
More to follow once day two is complete!