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December 3, 2010
England 0 for 1 (Strauss 0*, Cook 0*) trail Australia 245 (Hussey 93, Haddin 56, Watson 51, Anderson 4-51) by 244 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
James Anderson reduced Australia to their worst start to a Test innings in 60 years and despite a stirring fightback from Michael Hussey, England remained well on top after the opening day in Adelaide. Few venues in the world are kinder to batsmen than Adelaide Oval, and after winning the toss on a 34-degree day, for Australia to be dismissed for 245 before stumps was not only sub-par, it was potentially ruinous.
Anderson and Graeme Swann bowled superbly on the flat surface at a ground that holds four-year-old nightmares for some of the England players. It was the Australians who were suffering from frightening visions early on this occasion, although it could have been even worse for Ricky Ponting's men after they were 3 for 2 in the third over.
Hussey's second counterattacking innings of the series dragged the hosts back to a vague level of respectability, but they wanted his 93 to be another big century. There was also a late half-century from Brad Haddin but an England attack led by Anderson, who thoroughly deserved his 4 for 51, ensured Australia's worst first-innings total at Adelaide Oval since 1992-93. England faced an over before stumps, and the openers enjoyed a more sedate start than had Australia.
The chaos began with the fourth delivery of the Test, which ran away to square leg off Shane Watson's pad. There was a leg bye on offer but Watson later admitted his call was too quiet for his partner Simon Katich, who hesitated, then took off and was denied the chance to face even one delivery when he was caught short by Jonathan Trott's brilliant throw.
If a diamond duck in the first over was an embarrassing start for Australia, it was only to get worse. Ponting, who looked so fluent in his second-innings half-century at the Gabba, was greeted first ball by a great ball from Anderson, who angled it in and then moved it away from Ponting, whose thick edge was snapped up by Swann low to his left at second slip.
The match was five balls old, Australia were 2 for 0, and the spectators who hadn't yet made it through security at the Adelaide Oval had missed one of the most memorable starts to an Ashes Test. It quickly got even better for England in Anderson's next over, when he sent down a ripsnorter to get rid of Michael Clarke for 2.
Clarke looked horribly out of sorts in Brisbane, and in truth he was unlucky to even get an edge to Anderson on this occasion, as the ball hooped in towards him and then jagged away. Clarke reached forward, trying to smother the movement with a positive drive, and his thick edge was taken at second slip by Swann. Clarke has been working with Ponting in the nets during the week, but emulating his dismissal was not the idea.
It was a wonderful start from Anderson, who bowled well in at the Gabba without luck, and not since an Ashes Test in Brisbane in 1950 had Australia scored so few runs for the loss of their first three wickets. Marcus North and Haddin, who had been settling in for a quiet morning, were frantically searching for bats and pads to prepare for a potentially early entry.
Fortunately for them, Hussey and Watson launched a counterattack. There were a few more nervy moments for Australia - Watson survived an lbw review on 7 and Anderson put down a tough return chance when Hussey had 3 - but the pair got through until lunch unscathed.
However, just as he had in the first session, Anderson struck early in the second, with another good outswinger that drew Watson (51) in to a drive that was taken at gully by Kevin Pietersen. While Hussey kept building at the other end, looking as assured as he did during his 195 last week, Marcus North poked and prodded his way to 26, before a lapse in judgment gave Steven Finn his first wicket.
North tried to open the face and guide Finn past the cordon, only to feather a catch through to Matt Prior. It ended a 60-run stand that was useful, but on a flat pitch this was North's best chance to silence the critics who point to his poor results in sticky situations for Australia. Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus, who were dropped for this Test, know the selectors are no longer willing to carry passengers and North deserves to be nervous.
All the while, Hussey kept finding the gaps, although England's bowlers didn't feed his pull as they had in Brisbane, which was a wise move given the tiny square boundaries in Adelaide. Before the first Test, Hussey's brother David tipped him to be the leading scorer in the series and although not many fans had the same faith, he has been unquestionably Australia's best batsman so far.
But Swann denied Hussey a second century of the series with a magnificent piece of bowling, curving the ball in from around the wicket to entice a cover drive. The ball spun further than Hussey expected, and his edge was snapped up at first slip by Paul Collingwood. Swann was on a hat-trick when he had Ryan Harris lbw first ball; Harris asked for a review, confident he had edged the ball, but Hot Spot was not definitive.
Swann couldn't match Peter Siddle's opening-day hat-trick at the Gabba, but his 2 for 70 was a good reward on a day when he kept one end tight. Neither Finn nor Stuart Broad were at their best, but both claimed a wicket; Broad's dismissal of Haddin, caught at fine-leg for an entertaining 56 ended Australia's innings.
It denied Anderson the chance for a five-wicket haul, which he deserved, but none of the England players would worry about such trifles. They know that with four days to play, on a good surface, the match is theirs for the taking.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at CricinfoFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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