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The first Test ebbed and flowed right up until the moment of uncertainty surrounding Brad Haddin's dismissal before the waters finally closed over Australia
July 14, 2013
News : Australia have proved credibility - Clarke
News : England not dependent on Anderson - Cook
Report : Inspired Anderson puts England 1-0 up
Jarrod Kimber : It was Jimmy who done it
Mark Nicholas : World changes for Ashton and Australia
Matches: England v Australia at Nottingham
Series/Tournaments: Australia tour of England and Scotland
Brad Haddin re-marked his guard like a man who had given the possibility of losing barely a nanosecond's thought. England's fielders swarmed around him, convinced of the edge that would deliver them victory. James Anderson was not so sure, having heard no sound. Behind Anderson, the umpire Aleem Dar was even less aware of the possibility of a nick, not for the first time in the match. Alastair Cook, Matt Prior and Anderson conferred, briskly but calmly, before deciding to review Dar's decision.
Offering them not the slightest bit of notice, Haddin strode down the wicket and conferred with Australia's last man, James Pattinson, ahead of the next ball he looked so certain would come. As England held their breath, Haddin and Pattinson began planning how to whittle those last few runs down. They also had the chance to ponder for a moment how they managed to get within 15 runs of an England team so few had expected them to seriously challenge. A match flashed past their eyes.
Trent Bridge had revealed its charms and dramas slowly. First impressions were seldom the same as final ones. Day one was frenetic but lacking in poise, nerves playing as great a part in proceedings as skills, tactics or conditions. Australia's first man through the wall on day one had not been Ashton Agar, a nervous debutant yet to become the popular phenomenon he is now. It was instead Peter Siddle, who confounded the small army of critics who had questioned his place. England's first blows were struck not by Anderson but Steven Finn, a hair's breadth away from a grand hat-trick with Michael Clarke as its apogee.
Pattinson started the match not as a nerveless tailender, but a decidedly keyed up fast bowler. He hurled down the first over of the Test match, a nervy bouncer to Cook followed up with a series of balls sprayed too wide to be of any danger to the batsman. Haddin made a similarly ginger start to his series, diving over a difficult leg-side chance offered from Pattinson's bowling and then having his defence punctured second ball by a ripping offbreak from Graeme Swann, who was never again quite as dangerous as he had seemed at that moment.
The disarming of Swann was perhaps chief among Agar's many achievements. Apart from setting records for No. 11 innings and partnerships, bringing a smile to cricket watchers the world over with his charismatic batting, and holding his own as a tidy left-arm spin bowler, Agar showed a confidence and assurance against Swann that can only improve Australia's chances of combating him for the rest of the series. The way he advanced to drive Swann on the second morning, lofting him imperiously towards the Trent Bridge Members Pavilion, was to be tellingly repeated by Pattinson as the target ticked closer on day five.
The confidence with which Pattinson and Haddin faced up to Swann, Broad and Finn left an enormous weight of pressure on Anderson. Throughout the match he responded stirringly to Cook's demands, extending his spells an extra over here or there, and coming back more frequently than either of his pace counterparts. Ultimately Anderson's tally for the match reached into a 56th over. Between them, Finn and Stuart Broad bowled 54.5. Anderson's pre-eminence as a fast-medium bowler in this series, and in the world, is unquestioned. But he is highly unlikely to be able to sustain the Trent Bridge effort for five Tests, let alone ten.
Something else that cannot be sustained, at least in Australian eyes, is the disparity in the two teams' use of the DRS. Another slightly misleading point for much of day one had been England's use of the system, notably a poor Finn review against his caught behind dismissal. The more lasting pattern of the match would be established late on the first evening, when Chris Rogers reviewed his lbw dismissal and found himself on the wrong end of a marginal umpire's call.
These would surface again and again to Australia's displeasure, though England were also to be humbugged by Jonathan Trott's lbw exit when bat appeared likely to have been involved. Broad's survival of a clear catch to slip was less the denial of sportsmanship than a reminder of flawed umpires, flawed Australian use of reviews and a flawed system.
Nothing, though, was quite so flawed as Australia's batting. The memorable tenth-wicket stands in both innings played a huge role in ensuring Clarke's team would stay close with England. They were in the same instant a reminder that this side has been essentially relying on freak batting events to keep them competitive for quite some time.
In 2011 and 2012 such happenings revolved around Clarke, who batted as if in a perpetual dream. This year too few of the runs have come from those men who answer to making them in their job descriptions. Clarke has said he does not care where the runs come from, so long as they arrive from somewhere. But no team can reasonably expect tail-end miracles of the kind produced by Siddle in Delhi, Mitchell Starc in Mohali and Agar here to carry them towards any kind of consistent success.
Haddin knew this as he stood side by side with Pattinson, refusing to believe the day was done. English hearts leapt briefly with joy when the replay screen appeared to show a speck of heat on Haddin's inside edge, then returned to a more laboured pulse as the third umpire Marais Erasmus cross-checked Hot Spot with the stump audio. Only three days before he had been oblivious to an inside edge by Trott.
Stern and confident, Haddin hung on to his thoughts of the next ball, the next run and the final victory, right until the moment Dar crossed himself and raised his finger. The younger Pattinson bowed his head, in frustration and defeat. But Haddin stared straight ahead, not willing to lose face. He kept his defiant posture on the walk off Trent Bridge, even if the removal of his helmet revealed a face lined with pain. However Haddin dealt with this defeat, he would not grant England the opportunity to see it. If his stance said anything, it was this: it isn't over.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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