Somerset v Australians, Taunton, 1st day June 26, 2013

Australian bowlers hit back after Jones century


Australians 2 for 0 trail Somerset 320 (Jones 130, Compton 81, Hildreth 66, Starc 4-33, Pattinson 4-56) by 318 runs

For five hours of a sun-kissed day at Taunton, Michael Clarke's Australians looked less like a team enjoying the first playing day of an Ashes tour than a collective still dazed by the dramatic shunting of their coach only three days before.

Chris Jones, generally deemed surplus to Somerset in a first-class career that had reaped him a sickly average of 17.31, did not have too much trouble compiling 130, and Nick Compton, an England opener fighting against strong indications that he could be dropped for the first Investec Test, still less while striking a composed 81.

The danger posed by Australia's bowlers, noted so enthusiastically by Mickey Arthur a few days before his violent exit, was exceedingly well hidden. But as the shadows grew longer at the County Ground that all changed. James Faulkner, a gradual improver across the day, coaxed a sliced drive from Jones, then Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson made the second new ball swing and prance so effectively that Somerset lost a startling six wickets without addition in the space of 28 balls, part of a crash dive from 304 for 2 to 320 all out.

That passage placed the day, and the bowlers, in a fresh context. Compton's runs at the top of the order gained significantly in currency, particularly as a batsman's pitch offered a little more to Starc, Pattinson and Peter Siddle in the morning.

His defiance was rewarded with the news that the ECB has arranged for him to play for Worcestershire in their tour match against Australia in a further audition for his Ashes spot. And Jones' display offered the promise that the first-class university degree he was awarded on the day will have to compete with first-class cricket as his pathway in life.

But the swiftness with which Starc and Pattinson disposed of Somerset's batting rump and tail provided the best on-field news the Australians have had so far on tour. Pattinson's speed and movement was pronounced enough to pierce the defence of a well set James Hildreth, before Starc's inswing was utterly confounding for new batsmen. Five ducks gave Somerset's scorecard the ring of those compiled by England at home against Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis 21 years ago.

"It's exciting. We hope to do it earlier on in the innings but when it comes it comes so that's the way they are, those types of bowlers can influence the game quite quickly," the new coach Darren Lehmann said of Starc and Pattinson. "We've got to get that happening more consistently and get it happening earlier in the innings."

Lyon also offered encouraging tidings, though Siddle's lack of control and consistency was of greater concern. The captain Michael Clarke even resorted to a speculative over from Usman Khawaja while Watson was held in reserve. His elevation to partner Ed Cowan in this match was a significant development in Australia's series planning, granting him a position he has coveted ever since being demoted to Nos. 3 and 4 by the opening combination of David Warner and Cowan.

Warner's suspension offered Clarke and Lehmann a chance to try something different, and the coach later confirmed Watson will now reclaim the place in which he has made each of his two increasingly distant Test centuries. Watson last opened in a Test in South Africa in 2011 but recently did so for Australia's three-day tour match in Chennai immediately before the India series. He clattered 84 and 60 before contributing nothing of value with the bat during a series in which he was suspended for failing to follow the instructions of the now-sacked coach, Mickey Arthur.

Watson strode to field at first slip after Marcus Trescothick had won the toss on a morning when the sun peeked through clouds over the County Ground. Pattinson's first spell mixed the unplayable with the mediocre, as he swung the ball at considerable pace and turned Compton front on several times with deliveries angling in then curling away. It was Trescothick who fell, however, hooking at a well-directed Pattinson bouncer and sending a swirling top edge to fine leg, where Starc claimed a fine catch lunging forward as the ball died.

Compton grew in poise, tucking boundaries away to square leg and also driving with certainty. Lyon demonstrated a more vigorous body action when introduced in the final half-hour before lunch, and twice had vociferous lbw appeals denied by the umpire David Millns. The first, against Jones, appeared tight but the second, to Compton when not offering a shot, drew exasperated and exaggerated reactions from the tourists - it is perhaps a little early in a long campaign to be revealing such frustrations.

The afternoon session progressed more or less as the last hour before lunch had done, Compton punching out his runs with surety and Jones scratching around in the kind of manner long-known to infuriate Australian touring teams if wickets cannot be procured. Starc was economical but lacking bite in his first long-form fixture since the India Tests and Siddle and Faulkner remained expensive, leaving Pattinson and Lyon to do most of the heavy lifting.

Lyon gained some spin and bounce, and it was a ball that did not turn so much that accounted for Compton, who played from the crease and edged the half chance that Clarke would dive to his left and ultimately grasp at the third attempt, sprawling behind Brad Haddin. Hildreth was soon into stride, and his repeated cracking of Lyon through the off side had the score mounting rapidly.

But Faulkner's defeat of Jones opened up an end, and Pattinson charged through in Starc's company. Watson and Cowan played out a vestigial final over, after their bowlers had offered hope of getting them in to bat far sooner than occurred during the last Ashes series.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • $$ milind on June 28, 2013, 4:48 GMT

    It looks Starc, Pattinson are certainties in 1st Test and Lyon may win his place adding variety to the attack but whom does Clarke pick - Harris/Bird/Siddle/Faulkner or does he go with a 4 man pace attack with himself as a spin option.

  • Naresh on June 27, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    Oz have started well under Lehmann. Already there are changes with WATSON been given openers role. I hope Oz does well as they do have the quality to do well. The ashes must go to Oz this time. English bowlers have always put England on top in TESTS. Between England and SA they have good bowling attacks. Oz batting lineup will be tested and we wait for a nice encounter.

  • V. on June 27, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    @PrasPunter -India lost ALL -Test, ODI T20, matches, not just the test matches and won ALL matches -2 warm ups and 5 ODIs this time around.

  • manan on June 27, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    l think lyon will be a key player for aus in ashes

  • Peter on June 27, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    @JG2704. I'll happily swap posts with you, and a few more of your own countrymen as well. Given your previous tongue in cheeks comments, I sort of figured that. Good luck.

  • sri on June 27, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    @bobmartin My point is why even arrange a game against a side (county or some X11) that has a little or no probability of representing its players in the actual series? Why not bring in all your second choice/untested potential players and play them in some combined X11 side. Wont that benefit more?

  • John on June 27, 2013, 8:00 GMT

    @Chris_P on (June 26, 2013, 22:58 GMT) Think the answer is unfortunately no. BTW my Overton remark was truly meant in jest

    @ dunger.bob on (June 26, 2013, 23:30 GMT) Mate , he surprised us all. He rarely gets in the Somerset side even.

    @ Lliam Flynnon (June 27, 2013, 0:34 GMT) Like any other countries fans wouldn't be all over Eng if the opposition understrength domestic side had them 300 odd for 2? But yes it would be foolish to read nothing into the way they bounced back and the Aus bowlers had SA in alot of trouble before the India debacle

    @ Mitty2 on (June 27, 2013, 3:28 GMT) I was only jesting there. Have full respect for the Oz side

  • sam on June 27, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    Oh, the Aussie bowlers have done the job packing off the county in day1 .Would been better if they got warmed up earlier in the day and not been way below their menacing best in session1 allowing county players like Joannes and Crompton free and put on the partnership . At the best Aus could have started batting practice mid lunch and tea . Well done though in finishing job in style like the no1 pace attack they are in world now. Today is the day for the modern day Bradman and Aus skipper Clarke to give another masterclass in front of county faithfuls and get his 1st big 300 of the tour . It's going to be money's worth for the packed ground and a rare chance to see the world's best batsman at work. And what a friendly bowling awaits Clarke and Co . on a good pitch to pile on big runs for themselves the best part of day 2 and 3 .Expect to see Clark's 300 early tomorrow and over to bowlers to clean up the job and win for Aus.

  • Prasanna on June 27, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    @Sunjay007 , if you refer to the fact that india lost the ODIs in Eng in 2011 but won it this time, then i think you are comparing apples with oranges. We are talking about test cricket here, not the ODIs that are played generally on flat-tracks.

  • Dummy4 on June 27, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    Jason Bird and Ryan Harris will be ideal in English conditions. Since the pitches are slower in Eng than in Aus, bowlers who pitch the ball up to the bat and give it a chance to swing will get buckets of wickets ,, rather than the bowlers who hit a back of a length ( Siddle )