Seizing the GameWill Quinn |
The lunch break is always the killer when I try to stay up to watch cricket in Australia. After the first two hours, all bets are off.
I woke up just after the tea break on the opening day to see that nothing much had changed. A couple more wickets, a few more runs, neither side on top. It was as though the game hadn’t properly begun.
To me, England looked the more likely to take control of the match. Hilfenhaus was bowling a decent but defensive line outside off stump. Johnson was bowling pies. Siddle had a couple of wickets but had started his spell after tea pretty badly too. No one expected much of Xavier Doherty.
England had Cook and Bell with starts, and Bell in particular was looking pretty good. Prior was still to come. Batting was getting easier. 350 looked easily gettable, and Broad, Anderson and Swann are all capable of bowling a match-winning spell on their day. The match was pretty even, but I’d have expected that England would be the more confident.
Then came Peter Siddle. Three genuine wicket-taking deliveries, three wickets, an Ashes hat-trick, and the series had begun.
In truth, those three balls aside, the game has been remarkably even. As expected, no side has looked particularly dominant at any stage. And yet Australia are comfortably on top, courtesy of a brief flash of brilliance from Peter Siddle. Those three balls have defined the match moreso than the other 150 overs put together.
As it stands, the player closest to missing out on the match altogether is the difference between the sides. In a few hours, England take to the field for day 3. But with only a 40-run lead, they can’t afford to let the game drift any longer. The new ball is crucial. If Anderson and Broad can run through the Australian lower order, the game is back in the balance. If Hussey and co. make it to lunch, they’ll fancy their chances of batting England out of the game in the afternoon. Siddle seized the game for Australia on day one. If none of the English bowlers can seize it back this morning, they’re almost guaranteed to be going to Adelaide a game down.
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