Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 1st day November 21, 2013

No magic cave for Australia

Australia were billed as a different side to three months ago but emerged as the same flawed team with a penchant for self-sabotage
33

Australia had improved. Despite a batting average of 37, David Warner was to be feared. Even though he finished his last Ashes series as a puddle of doubt, Mitchell Johnson would save the day.

In the few months between the series Australia had somehow magically improved their game. Alastair Cook's defensive captaincy wouldn't work in the Australian sun. They had found an in-form player in George Bailey. Even Shane Watson's body had switched from batsman to allrounder mode.

During the last two Ashes series, the Australian press looked nervous going into the series. Instead of being the vicious, bile-sledging 12th man, they had been reduced to noting more than the odd bit of chirpiness.

This time the Courier Mail walked into the Ashes like not only would Australia win, but England would end up shaking on a hospital gurney. It was back to the glory "banter" years. England were smug arrogant cheats that no one liked. Stuart Broad's name could not even be uttered. Unless you were calling him a medium pacer.

Despite the paper suggesting strongly that Broad should not be mentioned by name, the crowd decided their chant, which referred to him being a self-satisfier, would not work without his name in it. There was even a horror-themed banner inferring about his non-walking past.

Warner played some big shots, but did his best work by getting to the non-striker's end with ease. Watson kept planting that foot and watched the ball very intently as he defended most of them. With Warner and Watson solid at the crease, between 87 and 93 per cent of TV viewers on Channel 9 decided Australia would win the Ashes.

Somehow in the three months since the last series, Australia had found a magic cave of awesomeness to transmogrify them into a fierce Test team. The talk was right, Australia were back.

Then that smug arrogant cheating medium pacer with no name would not go away. The sun blared down on a flat pitch without much sideways movement, while he ended Australia's top order. Watson got stuck, as he has throughout much of his Test career. Either Clarke's back or his arch nemesis brought him down in a familiar way. Warner bunted an innocuous ball to cover point when he was well set. And Bailey and Steve Smith got out to bowlers who could be named, both tentatively, caught behind the wicket. That was the end of the top order.

That was the end of more than just six wickets. The bubble had burst. The emperor had no clothes. Schrodinger's cat was dead. Australia were still the fifth best Test team on earth.

Despite Johnson's moustache, Australia had not turned into apocalyptic demons in their months off, they were still the same team of inconsistent cricketers that lost a series just a few months earlier. Which considering they had not played a Test since, had a weird adventure in India and are not as used to the Gabba as they make out was not altogether surprising.

The best two shots were an uppercut from Warner and the front cover of the Courier Mail. Yet Warner got out with a shot that inspired not fear, but fearlessness. And a few minutes later the Courier Mail's headline was "Aussie Wickets Fall".

Then Australia had another lower order fight back. It seems they have one in every game now. Their lower order players face new balls at practice, just in case they are needed early on again. Every easy drive from Haddin and Johnson must have stung at the pride of the top order. Even Twitter is getting bored at the "reverse the order" jokes about Australian cricket.

Other than Haddin, Australia made it to stumps with all the panache of a limbless, bloodied ingénue dragging themselves away from an axe-wielding maniac. Hoping beyond hope that the axe-wielding maniac would trip and fall on his own weapon.

Australia might still do better in this series, Haddin might cobble together enough for Australia to defend. England may also fall in a heap on this batsmen-friendly pitch. But what is clear is that for Australia almost nothing has changed. Australia are the same flawed team with a penchant for self-sabotage we saw a few months ago. There was no magic cave. Australia had not improved. They just had not had a chance to fail for three months.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on November 21, 2013, 11:50 GMT

    Problem with Aus' batting today was every1 was tentative apart from Warner, Haddin. Stuart Broad didnt bowl particularly well- good deliveries to get Clarke and Johnson but the other wickets were innocuous deliveries. Watson definitely did "get stuck" and I knew he was going to get out any time soon, he was not going anywhere with the scoring, all his good shots were hitting fielders, no singles. You just knew he was going to poke at a wide ball soon enough. He's done this before as well, gets stuck with his scoring and ends up finding a way to get out. Anderson was prbs the best bowler, Tremlett also looked innocuous but kept it tight. They need to go after Broad's bowling, he bowls enough pies inbetween his wickets.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Looks-Silly-Now on November 21, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    Interesting to see today's 2 best players (Broad & Haddin) were guys who both had a point to prove. Broad with the booing Australian crowd and Haddin who was left out last summer thanks to Mickey Arthur. To Australian fans, don't despair. As someone who enjoyed watching all 8 Ashes series thrashings in a row for Australia over England and then the 5-0 drubbing in 06/7 all I can say is that all empires crumble. That's the cycle of cricket aswell as in life. It happened to the West Indies, it's happened to our team. The same will happen to England and South Africa someday, just remember that. Knee-jerk reactions such as sacking so-and-so and kicking out players who let you down is only a band-aid solution and will put even more pressure on whoever else they bring in. An empire takes years to build, have patience. Let the English supporters have their joy for they suffered alot in the past when their team was the joke of world cricket. It's their time to bask in the glory now.

  • Front-Foot-Sponge on November 22, 2013, 12:45 GMT

    Oh boy it really is hilarious reading some of your comments from yesterday! You must desperately wish there was a 'delete' button! Or, perhaps access to your own magic caves lol! Seriously though, apart from the pure fear the English batsman showed facing the Aussie attack, there is still a lot of cricket to be played, even in this match.

  • dnorbury on November 22, 2013, 8:39 GMT

    What a difference a day makes. If Australia is the 5th best team in the world, what does that make England?? As you would by now no doubt agree, it's generally advised to reserve judgement until both teams have had a chance to bat. Sweeping statements and rash, over-the-top condemnations can look pretty foolish 24 hours later...

  • humdrum on November 22, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    So, end of play on day 2 and oz ahead by 222. Now, if they bat for the first 2 sessions tomorrow and the overall lead crosses 400, it will set the game up nicely for the fab four of english cricket- to boldly go where no (english)man has gone before and get the 400+ required for an astounding win.Looking forward to that.

  • humdrum on November 22, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    Now is the time for captain Cook to stand up and be counted. For a start, he has to nanny the bowlers ( he is adept at it) as every minute wasted brings respite for England. Besides,you never know as to when it will rain and england might just muddle through.

  • humdrum on November 22, 2013, 4:38 GMT

    Ahem! Seems to me that the record of Eng not winning at the 'Gabba' since 1986 is in no danger. Dear me, the poms don't quite appear to be up to it,but I'll not jump the gun. Still early days in the series ,but already halfway through in this test. The pommies have much redeeming to do.

  • humdrum on November 22, 2013, 2:47 GMT

    Australia's strong point is their attack,and Jarrod has jumped the gun and sought to trample on the aussies even before their bowlers have a crack at the opposition.How is that for some learned words of wisdom ? I would like his response should aussies get a first innings lead. And oh,by the way,there are two innings in a test match,when I last checked.

  • wix99 on November 21, 2013, 23:25 GMT

    The selection of George Bailey says everything that is wrong about Australian cricket. Bailey may be a great leader and have performed impressively in one day cricket but that doesn't make him a Test cricketer. At least half a dozen others should be ahead of him in the queue.

    Australia also face the loss of Haddin and Rogers due to age in the next year or so. This will only further underline the lack of experience in the team. There are more dark days ahead for the Australian cricket team.

  • 2MikeGattings on November 21, 2013, 21:21 GMT

    @Green_and_Gold You are right, the Australian team are world-striding, unbeatable giants. People are just wrongly jumping to conclusions based on what is happening on the cricket pitch. Again!

  • on November 21, 2013, 11:50 GMT

    Problem with Aus' batting today was every1 was tentative apart from Warner, Haddin. Stuart Broad didnt bowl particularly well- good deliveries to get Clarke and Johnson but the other wickets were innocuous deliveries. Watson definitely did "get stuck" and I knew he was going to get out any time soon, he was not going anywhere with the scoring, all his good shots were hitting fielders, no singles. You just knew he was going to poke at a wide ball soon enough. He's done this before as well, gets stuck with his scoring and ends up finding a way to get out. Anderson was prbs the best bowler, Tremlett also looked innocuous but kept it tight. They need to go after Broad's bowling, he bowls enough pies inbetween his wickets.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Looks-Silly-Now on November 21, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    Interesting to see today's 2 best players (Broad & Haddin) were guys who both had a point to prove. Broad with the booing Australian crowd and Haddin who was left out last summer thanks to Mickey Arthur. To Australian fans, don't despair. As someone who enjoyed watching all 8 Ashes series thrashings in a row for Australia over England and then the 5-0 drubbing in 06/7 all I can say is that all empires crumble. That's the cycle of cricket aswell as in life. It happened to the West Indies, it's happened to our team. The same will happen to England and South Africa someday, just remember that. Knee-jerk reactions such as sacking so-and-so and kicking out players who let you down is only a band-aid solution and will put even more pressure on whoever else they bring in. An empire takes years to build, have patience. Let the English supporters have their joy for they suffered alot in the past when their team was the joke of world cricket. It's their time to bask in the glory now.

  • Front-Foot-Sponge on November 22, 2013, 12:45 GMT

    Oh boy it really is hilarious reading some of your comments from yesterday! You must desperately wish there was a 'delete' button! Or, perhaps access to your own magic caves lol! Seriously though, apart from the pure fear the English batsman showed facing the Aussie attack, there is still a lot of cricket to be played, even in this match.

  • dnorbury on November 22, 2013, 8:39 GMT

    What a difference a day makes. If Australia is the 5th best team in the world, what does that make England?? As you would by now no doubt agree, it's generally advised to reserve judgement until both teams have had a chance to bat. Sweeping statements and rash, over-the-top condemnations can look pretty foolish 24 hours later...

  • humdrum on November 22, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    So, end of play on day 2 and oz ahead by 222. Now, if they bat for the first 2 sessions tomorrow and the overall lead crosses 400, it will set the game up nicely for the fab four of english cricket- to boldly go where no (english)man has gone before and get the 400+ required for an astounding win.Looking forward to that.

  • humdrum on November 22, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    Now is the time for captain Cook to stand up and be counted. For a start, he has to nanny the bowlers ( he is adept at it) as every minute wasted brings respite for England. Besides,you never know as to when it will rain and england might just muddle through.

  • humdrum on November 22, 2013, 4:38 GMT

    Ahem! Seems to me that the record of Eng not winning at the 'Gabba' since 1986 is in no danger. Dear me, the poms don't quite appear to be up to it,but I'll not jump the gun. Still early days in the series ,but already halfway through in this test. The pommies have much redeeming to do.

  • humdrum on November 22, 2013, 2:47 GMT

    Australia's strong point is their attack,and Jarrod has jumped the gun and sought to trample on the aussies even before their bowlers have a crack at the opposition.How is that for some learned words of wisdom ? I would like his response should aussies get a first innings lead. And oh,by the way,there are two innings in a test match,when I last checked.

  • wix99 on November 21, 2013, 23:25 GMT

    The selection of George Bailey says everything that is wrong about Australian cricket. Bailey may be a great leader and have performed impressively in one day cricket but that doesn't make him a Test cricketer. At least half a dozen others should be ahead of him in the queue.

    Australia also face the loss of Haddin and Rogers due to age in the next year or so. This will only further underline the lack of experience in the team. There are more dark days ahead for the Australian cricket team.

  • 2MikeGattings on November 21, 2013, 21:21 GMT

    @Green_and_Gold You are right, the Australian team are world-striding, unbeatable giants. People are just wrongly jumping to conclusions based on what is happening on the cricket pitch. Again!

  • Bonehead_maz on November 21, 2013, 21:07 GMT

    Australia ARE better - because this Mitchell REALLY CAN win matches. I know it's a long shot, but striking the ball so nicely was a good start ?

  • Partyman on November 21, 2013, 20:56 GMT

    OK. The reaction from the Aussies are over the top. If anyone bothers to cast their mind back to the last three Ashes series, England were always behind the Aussies in the first innings in the first test before going on to win the series. So Aussies are still in it big time. It feels depressing for me to say that, but England don't hold the upper hand by any means after the first day. Having said that, I hope they gain the upper hand at the end of second day and stay there for the rest of the 23 days remaining in this series.

  • ScottStevo on November 21, 2013, 19:59 GMT

    @WelshWizard87, I'm a tad confused with your logic there, mate. You state that Rogers is one of our best openers, then drop him from the side you named. Then added Cosgrove as if he were the next cab off the rank. I can assure you those naming him anywhere near the side are kidding themselves. Then to finish off, the squad you've got is basically the one we've got with Hughes over Rogers (which will happen post this series, or during if Rogers can't score) and added Cosgrove for Bailey. Hardly any changes made to the side that failed - again - today...

  • ajpryce13 on November 21, 2013, 19:52 GMT

    Ever since Punter began his form slump, we've been having regular top order collapses. I really think we need a number 3 who can do the job.

  • on November 21, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    It is too early to sound the death bell for Australia. i remember how the knives were out for all the english players when England lost the first test when they last toured india. Pietersen was the biggest villain to have walked the earth after he was found 'repeating all the mistakes' that he had made in playing spin against Ajmal during their losses to pakistan. However, he made a brilliant century in the Mumbai test and became a hero again. Just the first day of the first test in a 5-test series and people like Jarrod who have never played top-level cricket are ready to lay it into their own players damning them completely.

  • amarish on November 21, 2013, 18:55 GMT

    I am sure Rob has written this before Toss!! he knew this was coming! lol !

  • on November 21, 2013, 18:15 GMT

    How many runs did England score on the first day of the first Ashes test 3 years ago?

  • blink182alex on November 21, 2013, 17:47 GMT

    People getting a little carried away after one day. Australia are not a poor test team. Yes we are a few 40+ batting average batters away from being one of the best teams but you only have to see how WI competed with India to see that at least we're not that bad.

    Still a long way to go in this match.

  • 2MikeGattings on November 21, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    And Sutherland is still there.

  • Green_and_Gold on November 21, 2013, 14:51 GMT

    All this based on day 1 of 25 - im looking forward to see how we respond in the rest of this match then over the series. C'mon aussies!

  • WelshWizard87 on November 21, 2013, 12:41 GMT

    Let's get this right - the same team that lost are now expected to win a Series? Like the England of old, you Aussies don't seem to be learning. Katich and Jaques were the best 2 openers, along with Rogers after JL and MH retired. Jaques got injured, and was dropped never to be seen again, and Katich was discarded like a dog. Cosgrove is liked by Lehmann, but wasn't by previous regimes due to his lack of fitness (which he is addressing). Phil Hughes was your leading scorer on the tour prior to being dropped, and has been in the runs recently too (245n.o I believe?)

    Before you accuse me of being a cynical pom, I'm a cricket lover who's enjoyed watching the Great Aussie Teams of the 1990's and early 2000's (even when they beat England). Sort your top order out - Warner, Hughes/Cosgrove, Clarke, Cosgrove, Smith, Watson, Haddin. That line-up will score 300-400 more often than not!

  • Montague_Withnail on November 21, 2013, 11:59 GMT

    Very funny piece, a gentle mock, but I hope Australians can have a chuckle at themselves as well. It's only a game, maybe tomorrow will be their day.

  • heathrf1974 on November 21, 2013, 11:59 GMT

    Remember the writer is also making conclusions after one day of play. England still have to bat.

  • KeshavSeshadri85 on November 21, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    Hussey's loss has hurt Aus really badly. They're suddenly finding themselves unable to post 400+ scores in his absence and are relying on Clarke to score big. None of the others have a proven test record of making 100s. Australia's performance against India in 2012 when India were flattened was a mirage. India didn't have the bowling to trouble Aus and India's top order came unstuck for the first time in a long time, but the signs were there that Aus were looking better than they truly were and England are taking full advantage of that. Really would love to see Aus bounce back and make sure that if England do win the Ashes, they at least have a bloody nose at the end of it. Otherwise, we'll never hear the end of it from England supporters.

  • o-bomb on November 21, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    Another good article from Jarrod IMO. He makes it all sound so simple. Why did people suddenly think Australia were world beaters again when the evidence pointed to something else? I don't know. Perhaps we all just got caught up in the hype. Thankfully (from an English point of view) the England team clearly didn't buy into it and just carried on. Roll on day 2!

  • on November 21, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    Agree with every word. A flawless piece. How are we able to be arrogant with our track record? They're a joke. The desperation of the pre-match sledging made me want to go find my own cave to live in for the next couple of months.

  • proczilla on November 21, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    Looks like its Australias turn to be saved by the rain. CA really has crapped the proverbial bed in the last 6 years, the Katich fiasco being a prime example. Jeez Id feel a lot more relaxed when we win the toss on a flat track if we had someone with a bit of Aussie grit at the top of the order. All these jokers talk a big game but go to water when a bit of pressure is applied. If Australia put their 11 best TEST players on the field at the same time Id back us to win the urn back. Sadly this mob will be lucky to not lose the series less than 3-0.

  • Chris_Howard on November 21, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    Pick 10 bowlers and a keeper. We'd easy score 300 plus still, but then have the firepower to blast out the opposition.

  • xtrafalgarx on November 21, 2013, 9:50 GMT

    Shaking my head. No spine in the Australians, not the players but the supporters. You are a blade of grass in the wind, Jarrod. One minute it's "Australia is on the rise." After a bad day, it's "Australia havn't changed, havn't improved," please...

    We havn't even seen England bat, if MJ runs through the English tommorow, will it be Australia is on the rise again? What did you expect, people? A change is not going to happen overnight.

  • Rahul_78 on November 21, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    "They just had not had a chance to fail for three months." What a fantastic article Jarrod. You just sumed it up beautifully. The bottom line is this is a very, very ordinary Australian batting side and it reflected in a way they batted on tailor made Win the toss and bat 1st pitch. The poor batting has reflected in recent test results in which they havent won anything but what is sad to see is they havent seem to have learned anything. It was naive on their part to follow the routes taken by previous invincible generation and try mentle disintegration. What they seem to have failed to understand is you need to have the aura and muscles to intimidate the opposition with your talk or else you end up looking like a clown. It was funny to see guys with batting average less then 40 in tests trying to scare opposition made up of Anderson and Swann. Aussies should pray that their bowlers come to the party not only with the bat but with the ball as well.

  • DustyBin on November 21, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    Brilliant Mr Kimber; in much the same way, players that are not selected or injured, miraculously become much better (than their actual performances would suggest they are), even better than the players keeping them out. & 1 or 2 become even better in their autobiographies, than their stats show they were when playing..

  • Jeremy303 on November 21, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    STILL no Mark Cosgrove and SOK in the XI! Rogers will be out by the end of this summer (or after the tour Of South Africa) and MARK COSGROVE should be in the side for that change. I was hoping That Watson would have the game off which could have Provided Cosgrove with an opportunity to prove himself at test level. SOK out Bowled Lyon In Shield and could provide some extra runs when needed (like today!!!). Get these blokes in the side ASAP.

  • ssshNevo on November 21, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    It's time for the Australian public to realise 2007 is in the past. Warne and Mcgrath are gone. Hussey quit, punter is finished. It's time to look ahead to ODI specialists like Bailey AKA quiney LOL. Goodbye CA- FOR A LONG TIME

  • ssshNevo on November 21, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    It's time for the Australian public to realise 2007 is in the past. Warne and Mcgrath are gone. Hussey quit, punter is finished. It's time to look ahead to ODI specialists like Bailey AKA quiney LOL. Goodbye CA- FOR A LONG TIME

  • Jeremy303 on November 21, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    STILL no Mark Cosgrove and SOK in the XI! Rogers will be out by the end of this summer (or after the tour Of South Africa) and MARK COSGROVE should be in the side for that change. I was hoping That Watson would have the game off which could have Provided Cosgrove with an opportunity to prove himself at test level. SOK out Bowled Lyon In Shield and could provide some extra runs when needed (like today!!!). Get these blokes in the side ASAP.

  • DustyBin on November 21, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    Brilliant Mr Kimber; in much the same way, players that are not selected or injured, miraculously become much better (than their actual performances would suggest they are), even better than the players keeping them out. & 1 or 2 become even better in their autobiographies, than their stats show they were when playing..

  • Rahul_78 on November 21, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    "They just had not had a chance to fail for three months." What a fantastic article Jarrod. You just sumed it up beautifully. The bottom line is this is a very, very ordinary Australian batting side and it reflected in a way they batted on tailor made Win the toss and bat 1st pitch. The poor batting has reflected in recent test results in which they havent won anything but what is sad to see is they havent seem to have learned anything. It was naive on their part to follow the routes taken by previous invincible generation and try mentle disintegration. What they seem to have failed to understand is you need to have the aura and muscles to intimidate the opposition with your talk or else you end up looking like a clown. It was funny to see guys with batting average less then 40 in tests trying to scare opposition made up of Anderson and Swann. Aussies should pray that their bowlers come to the party not only with the bat but with the ball as well.

  • xtrafalgarx on November 21, 2013, 9:50 GMT

    Shaking my head. No spine in the Australians, not the players but the supporters. You are a blade of grass in the wind, Jarrod. One minute it's "Australia is on the rise." After a bad day, it's "Australia havn't changed, havn't improved," please...

    We havn't even seen England bat, if MJ runs through the English tommorow, will it be Australia is on the rise again? What did you expect, people? A change is not going to happen overnight.

  • Chris_Howard on November 21, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    Pick 10 bowlers and a keeper. We'd easy score 300 plus still, but then have the firepower to blast out the opposition.

  • proczilla on November 21, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    Looks like its Australias turn to be saved by the rain. CA really has crapped the proverbial bed in the last 6 years, the Katich fiasco being a prime example. Jeez Id feel a lot more relaxed when we win the toss on a flat track if we had someone with a bit of Aussie grit at the top of the order. All these jokers talk a big game but go to water when a bit of pressure is applied. If Australia put their 11 best TEST players on the field at the same time Id back us to win the urn back. Sadly this mob will be lucky to not lose the series less than 3-0.

  • on November 21, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    Agree with every word. A flawless piece. How are we able to be arrogant with our track record? They're a joke. The desperation of the pre-match sledging made me want to go find my own cave to live in for the next couple of months.

  • o-bomb on November 21, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    Another good article from Jarrod IMO. He makes it all sound so simple. Why did people suddenly think Australia were world beaters again when the evidence pointed to something else? I don't know. Perhaps we all just got caught up in the hype. Thankfully (from an English point of view) the England team clearly didn't buy into it and just carried on. Roll on day 2!

  • KeshavSeshadri85 on November 21, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    Hussey's loss has hurt Aus really badly. They're suddenly finding themselves unable to post 400+ scores in his absence and are relying on Clarke to score big. None of the others have a proven test record of making 100s. Australia's performance against India in 2012 when India were flattened was a mirage. India didn't have the bowling to trouble Aus and India's top order came unstuck for the first time in a long time, but the signs were there that Aus were looking better than they truly were and England are taking full advantage of that. Really would love to see Aus bounce back and make sure that if England do win the Ashes, they at least have a bloody nose at the end of it. Otherwise, we'll never hear the end of it from England supporters.