Evenly posed at the half way mark of the #Ashes Test. Who do you think will win?

Lunch on Day 3 has the Test evenly poised with both teams in a position to stamp their authority on this match.

As I mentioned yesterday nerves have certainly come and gone and now the real show is taking place. The skill of each player is on display, most notably this morning by Pietersen who notched up a well played 64. He played most deliveries with a straight bat and seemed in good touch until Pattison was able to get a massive inside edge onto the stumps.

I can’t not review the morning session without  mentioning the man of the moment Agar who backed up his fairy tail batting display yesterday by picking up the rock of the England team, Captain Cook. What an amazing feeling to get your first Test wicket and the way the boys celebrated the wicket was great to see, despite it being Clarke who took a screamer to give Agar his 1st Test wicket. It was all about Agar at the moment and why wouldn’t it be.

As the session progressed the Aussie bowlers have tightened up their lines and lengths making it extremely difficult for the batters to keep the scoreboard ticking. With the wicket getting slower and the ball reversing, the next two sessions are going to be a battle of attrition.

If our young bowlers can pick up another 2 wickets they will be in the English tail, but I see Bell and Prior putting up a decent fight to keep building on the lead they already have.

It will be important that the Australia’s aren’t chasing more than 200 for victory as our batting still a little vulnerable.

Stay tuned folks.

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Agar wins the honours of the first session on Day 2 of the #Ashes Test, but will it be enough?

England have come out slightly ahead after the first day of the 1st Ashes Test. Despite my prediction of Siddle being the Aussie bowler to apply pressure and lead this young attack being correct, unfortunately it was the Aussie batters that didn’t keep the momentum going.

 

Resuming at 4/75, young guns Smith and Hughes had an important first hour ahead on the second day to put Australia in a commanding position of chasing down England’s total of 215. All was going well with the first 30 min allowing both batters to get themselves in and even Smith to reach his 50.

 

With the sun out and Australia holding on in the first 30 mins, it was noticeable that Anderson was doing a lot of work on the ball between each delivery. Sometimes he was evening making the batters wait until he was happy with the condition of the ball. All of this hard work seemed to pay off as he started to reverse the ball and with that the Aussie wickets started to crumble.

 

The next 30 mins was disastrous. Following the departure of Smith, Australia proceeded to lose 4 wickets for 9 runs.

 

Ashton Agar, selected for his left arm orthodox spin, was now about to play his first innings in Test cricket. No mickey with the bat and with Australia 9/117, the brash young WA originally from Victoria went about resurrecting the Australian innings with Hughes.

 

It was great to watch Agar bat so effectively, but it also meant the lower order out scoring the top order. Unfortunately something that the Australian fans are used to these days.

 

So my prediction for the rest of the day. Once England treat these batters as actual batters and bowl in the right area they maybe trailing less than 50. Momentum is with the Aussies thanks largely to Hughes and newbie Agar, but with the nerves now out of the way, I think that the English batters will enjoy the batting conditions.

 

It may be the man (or should I say boy?) of the moment Agar who might change Australia’s fortune with the ball as Swan certainly got spin during his spells. Look again to Siddle to keep Australia in this test, but he is going to need a lot of help from his mates. If they bowl in consistent lines and lengths, they will achieve success on this pitch.  

First Session of the #Ashes goes to England #cricket

The anticipation of the first ball of the Ashes Test has come and gone. The nerves were evident across all players faces, non more than Ashton Agar. The young 19 year old shocked all when Glenn Mcgrath presented his Baggy Green making him the 434th player to represent Australia.

 

Some feel sorry for Lyon, but seeing as the majority of the English batsman are right-handers and have never played Agar before it may be the biggest tactical move allowing the under dogs to gain some ascendancy.

 

With reports of the wicket being dry and set to spin later in the Test, I thought that they might have selected both Agar and Lyon. I am sure Lyon’s time will come throughout this Series but not this match.

 

The other player that seemed nervous was Captain Cook, who has the weight of England on his shoulders and it showed when he chased a wider delivery and was the first wicket to fall. 

 

At lunch England 2/98 have the upper hand as the young Aussie bowling attack couldn’t find their line and length to apply any real pressure. The boys were bowling a little too straight looking for the LBW which has allowed Trott and Pietersen to score freely.

 

As it is time for me to head to bed, a few closing thoughts from me. I feel that the track will flatten even more throughout the day and with the Poms looking comfortable, runs are there for the taking. At this stage going on the opening session, the only bowler I can see halting their progress is the work horse Siddle, otherwise I expect England to take the honours at the conclusion of today’s play. 

Boof’s boys bring optimism on the eve of the #Ashes #ReturnTheUrn

As the Ashes heat up with the first ball about to be delivered in less than 12 hours, there seems a certain level of optimism amongst the Australian public of how the Australian team will go.

Over a month ago majority of Australians and cricket lovers gave Australia no hope of winning the Ashes, with some even saying that they wouldn’t even win a Test match.

The team certainly had its challenges, with a poor performance on the field during Champions Trophy and the off-field antics increasing.

Cricket all of a sudden started to rival other male mainstream sports, such as AFL and NRL, with back page tabloids relating to discipline issues, something that Australian cricket has normally been immune to.

It took James Sutherland and more importantly Michael Clarke to come out openly and say enough is enough.

During the press conference the day after the suspension of four players in during the India tour, Clarke spoke about what a privilege it is to represent your country and as players we need to respect that honour and the Australian fans expect that of us.

This isn’t the first time that Clarke has reinforced the responsibility and honour that comes when you put on the baggy green.

Presumably the poor showing in the Champions Trophy, coupled with Warner’s late night incident, was the final trigger for Cricket Australia administrators, with them taking the bold and brave move to sack the then head coach Mickey Arthur’s and instate the former player and ACA president Darren Lehmann.

Lehmann, whose playing record speaks for itself on the field, has also shown he is a talented coach with him delivering immediate success as head coach with Queensland and Brisbane Heat.

His surprise instatement initially attracted negative press headlines, especially from the English media, with headlines along the lines of ‘Poms take the Mickey as cricket coach sacked’.

Initially the theme of conversation was that Australian cricket was the laughing stock of the global cricket community.

However, once the shock of the events subsided, I cannot recall seeing so much support for the appointment of an Australian coach, particularly from past players for Darren Lehman, affectionately known as ‘Boof’.

As the days passed, the Poms were starting to backtrack on the bold pronouncements of a whitewash and were seemingly running a little scared.

Those of you on Twitter might recall Michael Vaughn, who had been antagonising the Australian team supporters for weeks, tweeting “For the 1st time in months I am worried about Australia. If Darren Lehmann is coach he will get them right.”

A couple of weeks later, with the dust settling regarding the coaching appointment, the Australian team seem to be in a much better place.

They seem more relaxed, enjoying each others company and it is no surprise that they are playing well.

Yes, some of you will say they haven’t played an international team since Boof’s appointment, but there are still plenty of positives to take out of the recent matches.

Our batters were able to score runs and our bowlers were able to get some necessary overs under their belts.

I can say that when you play warm-up matches before a major match or series, it is sometimes very hard to get motivated as you are tired of training and want to just head out there and play the real thing.

Therefore the Australian boys’ performances were outstanding given what the team has gone through recently.

Now the real test lies ahead of them with the first Test match of the Ashes about to begin.

Yes they seem a much happier bunch, yes they have had some recent success, yes they all seem to be enjoying the new environment created by Boof.

But the real test is whether they can stay together when the scrutiny of the cricket world tune in for that first ball and consequently critique their every move for the next five days.

Having played in major tournaments like World Cups and our very own Ashes, momentum is spoken about a lot, but it does matter.

It is vital that the Aussie have a solid start to their first test because as a young impressionable team trying to forge ahead under tremendous amount of pressure it can be very easy to fall back to bad habits if things don’t go to plan.

Back here in Australia the talk amongst my friends and work colleagues is more positive about our chances over in England.

There are still some that say we won’t win, but at least it isn’t going to be a one-sided affair.

Cricket Australia and the media are doing a great job to remind everyone that anything is possible with a new digital video series launched yesterday called ‘The Rivalry That Unites Aus’ and the new campaign “Keep calm and return the Urn”

It almost makes us believe that we are going to win, but what it comes down to is not the bells and whistles off the field, but the individual battles that will occur in a few hours on the pitch at Trent Bridge.

I hope for the team and those that support Australia are able to start well on the first day and show that true Aussie fighting spirit that will be needed if Australia are to play well