We haven’t had much chance to cheer on this tour so far, so let’s just enjoy ourselves. Dawid Malan you are absolutely beautiful! That was an impressive knock. As time went on, he looked more and more composed, and I think we’ve finally got a hitter. He had his troubles in England and handled the pressure well.
It’s hard to believe that Malan has been with the England national team for years but only recently got his chance. He had a smooth kick off the ball with no obvious flaws – although he struggled a bit when fast bowlers rounded the wickets with their right arms.
It’s nice to know that our “throw enough shit at the wall and hope some of it sticks” philosophy of picks works sometimes. Talent can take longer to be discovered as smaller hitters fail and fall by the wayside, but you’ll get there eventually.
England took the lead for the first time in the series. There’s still a lot of hard work to do – I could still see Australia fighting back strong tomorrow morning and beating us by 360 – but we also have a chance to post something closer to 450 or 500. If we can do that, then the series should be covered (we can even go back to the series).
The first hour of tomorrow is absolutely crucial. When Australia’s bowlers tire and are given permission to bat, Moeen and tails can wag. But some early breakouts and we’re going to be under pressure again soon. So it’s crucial that we make hay when the sun is shining in Australia. Perth’s first innings average may have been an odd 320, but the place looked exceptionally good for batting. There’s a little speed (but not too much) and very little rotational or lateral movement.
Overall, our batsmen can be very proud of what they did on day one. Not everything was good — Cook missed a worrisome straight and Vince hit Vince — but everyone else was either a little unlucky or played well. Root, in particular, was unfortunately strangled on his leg.
Once again Stoneman showed grit and determination. He spent another half century before “going out”. It was a controversial moment as 3rd Ump Aleem Dar should not have overturned the decision on the pitch with the limited evidence available at the time. Subsequent replays allegedly proved him right, but it’s still possible that the noise on Snicko came from the grill rather than the glove. The England dressing room looked very angry.
Another star of the day was of course Jonny Bairstow. Although he takes his chances at times (as Malan did early on), he grows more and more confident. Some of Jonny’s breakthroughs were really commanding – like when we knocked down a nervous newcomer at medium pace in a league game at Headlingley. God knows why England hid him in the whole order. To me he looks like the perfect #5 or 6 test.
Before we get too complacent, however, we need to put today’s efforts in context. As I mentioned before, this place looks like a great place to hit the ball. There are a few rifts to monitor, which might help us later in the game, but these usually only open when the weather is hot. Unfortunately, the forecast shows that the weather will remain relatively mild for the next few days.
It’s also worth remembering that Australia’s offense is better than ours. Imagine how our kids would respond if their bowlers looked toothless after today’s spell. If it’s not overcast and we find some momentum (unlikely with the Kookaburra ball), we may have to rely on scoreboard pressure or poor batting to win 20 wickets.
I don’t want to be a harbinger of doom, but it’s worth noting that England’s only century in the last Ashes tour was scored by another left-hander from Perth. We lost that game, we lost the series 0-5. It’s entirely possible for Australia to beat England and then put us under real pressure in the 3rd innings of the game – especially with that bastard Smith keeping his eyes on it.
In any case, let’s be optimistic for now. Tom Harrison may have written to the players yesterday to warn them of their behavior – a completely unnecessary and cynical PR stunt as they had already been warned by Bayliss and Strauss and would not be late for the Test anyway – but Our guys are in good books today.
Unfortunately, the headlines focused on The Sun’s hitherto unproven spot-up attack rather than the performance of our batsmen.