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Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 1st day

Bright debut and the captain's curse

Andrew Miller and Peter English at the SCG

January 3, 2011

Comments: 15 | Text size: A | A

Usman Khawaja pulls during his Test debut, Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 1st day, January 3, 2011
Usman Khawaja pulled his second ball in Test cricket to the midwicket boundary © Getty Images
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Boundary-free Watson
The opener Shane Watson delivered a fine demonstration of leaving during his uncharacteristically patient 45. Watson usually aims to attack but he settled in and batted through the first session for a boundary-free 19. After the break he started to wind up, hitting his first four, a flick in front of square, in the second over back. His pace increased but when he reached 45 he departed to an edge off Tim Bresnan and walked with his 11th score between 34 and 62 in 14 Test innings against England.

Hungry eyes
This is an important Test for Phillip Hughes, who can prevent Simon Katich's return from injury with a big score. Hughes looked his most composed of the series as he played straight and mostly avoided wild slashes outside off while creeping to 31. Chris Tremlett had four balls left before lunch when he delivered one outside off and Hughes was finally tempted, with the edge racing to Paul Collingwood at third slip. Hughes walked off slowly, dipping his head and tapping his bat against his helmet as he left. It was a disappointing end after such hard work.

Khawaja's cool arrival
The timing of Hughes' dismissal meant Usman Khawaja had precisely forty minutes in which to visualize his first ball in Test cricket. To judge by the trio of offerings he served up in the final three balls of Tremlett's interrupted over, he used the time as wisely as any old pro. Tremlett's first ball was on the pads; Khawaja tucked a comfortable two to get himself off the mark. The second ball was short again but outside off this time, and Khawaja rocked back to play Australia's most assured pull stroke since Michael Hussey's epic at the WACA. The third ball, however, was arguably the best of the lot - a fuller length, nipping away, to which Khawaja shouldered arms with the flourish of a left-handed Ricky Ponting. Throughout his innings of 37, he looked thoroughly at home at Test level - more so, arguably, than most of his top-order colleagues.

Home captain's curse
Ricky Ponting spent the first four Tests struggling for a significant contribution and Michael Clarke suffered the same fate on his opening day as captain. Clarke entered under gloomy skies in the afternoon and arrived not long before a rain break. When the teams returned he started by playing straight, but changed his method when Bresnan dropped a short ball just outside off. It was too close to cut but Clarke had a go, finding James Anderson in the gully. He walked off with 4, taking his tally for the series to 152 in eight bats.

Bresnan bundled
Bresnan was once again England's unsung hero with the ball. Though his first five overs went for a relatively costly 22, he returned to his parsimonious best later on in the afternoon, to shut down an end and force two vital breakthroughs either side of the rain delay, as first Watson edged low to Andrew Strauss at slip, before Anderson in the gully made a fizzing chance off Clarke look simple. Before Bresnan could take his rightful place in the celebratory huddle, however, he was tap-tackled by the in-rushing Kevin Pietersen, leaving both men in a tangled heap on the turf, and Matt Prior doubled up with laughter.

New caps
Clarke's first day as Test captain began with Shane Warne and Mark Taylor being asked to present the caps to Australia's two debutants. Warne handed one to Michael Beer, the left-arm spinner, who the legspinner had tipped to be part of the Perth squad a week before the selectors named him. Beer, who now plays with Western Australia, used to represent St Kilda, Warne's old Melbourne club. Khawaja received his baggy green from Taylor, the former New South Wales left-hander, who started his career at the SCG against West Indies in 1988-89. Clarke, looking smart in his captain's blazer, then won the toss and batted.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo and Peter English is the Australasia editor

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (January 5, 2011, 6:21 GMT)

Who decided to bat first on a green top with overcast conditions?? Surely not the new captain. Lot of bravado but little ability to deliver.

Posted by PlayingItStraight on (January 4, 2011, 1:25 GMT)

When are the Australian batsmen going to learn that five day cricket needs a different approach than 50-over or T20 cricket? It seems the art of compiling an innings has disappeared from the landscape - whatever happened to leaving the good balls when you can, defending when you have to, and putting away the bad balls? The English bowlers maintained a very good line and length with a little bit of movement, but it was bad technique that got most of the Aussies out. Also, Khawaja made 37 which was solid but not oustanding, but at least it was more than the previous No 3's last 4 innings combined (20, 10, 1 & 12 which totals 33). Assuming the selectors let Ponting return in August, he should drop down the order and let Khawaja continue at first drop.

Posted by 5wombats on (January 3, 2011, 20:48 GMT)

@RednWhiteArmy; agreed, Khawaja was steady, nothing more. As you are in Australia now you'll know from first hand experience how some of them will grasp at any fig leaf to cover their embarressment. This sort of thing is hard for some Australians to take - they have been so good for so long.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2011, 15:13 GMT)

Let's be honest .... The English bowled very poorly before the lunch break.... Almost every tremlett delivery was bouncing over the stumps taking bowled and lbw out of the dismissal... They bowled much better after lunch tho... I thought swann shda been bought much earlier... At least. Then the ch9 commentators would have stopped talking about how "good" khwaja looked. Ian bell looks good too but.. Anyways, here's to hoping English bowlers bowl a lot more fuller and then make a big score while batting and unleash swann

Posted by dropdeadfred on (January 3, 2011, 12:27 GMT)

Khajawa showed a bit of promise and played some good shots. But at the same time, he wasn't the great savior that people were expecting of him and I think he will be disappointed with his score as if he stayed in, he could really have given the English something to worry about along with Watson and Hughes as they were starting to show some runs, but then screwed it up by getting out...

England played well, kept the Aussies under some pressure, and although they did let partnerships form, they were breaking them before they got out of hand and kept the run rate low. I think barring more rain they should be confident about tommorow's play.

Posted by aracer on (January 3, 2011, 9:46 GMT)

Matt Ritchie - good to see you're still arrogant even in defeat - and you wonder why we're having a bit of a gloat. Maybe in 20 years time when you've not won anything you might have learned to lose a bit more gracefully. Of course we know SA are good -that's why we have so many of them in our team! But you know what, if SA and India really are better than us, that makes you no better than 4th best (probably actually 5th).

Posted by   on (January 3, 2011, 9:34 GMT)

Is it that hard to spell Khawaja's name correctly?

Posted by popcorn on (January 3, 2011, 7:59 GMT)

Wonder why RednWhiteArmy finds Channel Nine's commentators eulogising Usman Khawaja as 'going on and on'. At last! a genuine No.3 who played with the assurance of a pro. Welcome to the fold, Khwaja.

Posted by rohanbala on (January 3, 2011, 7:34 GMT)

Michael Clarke again falls to a single digit score in the current series.. I wonder whether he would trouble the scorers much in the second innings of the sydney test. His bad run creates a huge amount of pressure on the other batsmen in the team and yet the selectors continue to keep faith in his capabilities.

Posted by evenflow_1990 on (January 3, 2011, 7:32 GMT)

because its a historic occasion for australia.

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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