December 6, 2013
Choice of game
I picked this game because it's the Ashes. It's the Adelaide Oval - new and improved. It's the world's greatest sporting rivalry. It's my home town. Oh and I got in for free. Before the series started, I honestly thought we'd lose the series 3-1. I had renewed hope after Brisbane, mind you, but I still thought the Adelaide Test would end in a draw.
When Michael Clarke won the toss and elected to bat, I backed Australia, but after losing 3 wickets for 19 runs, I thought that it was evenly poised from then on until stumps.
While Chris Rogers' gritty 72 was influential, he by himself wasn't the key performer. Jimmy Anderson's tight bowling throughout the day kept the pressure on Australia and he kept tightening the screws. I felt his line, length and pace were far more consistent than any of the other bowlers.
One thing I'd have changed about the day
The weather was absolutely shocking. Unfortunately for us Adelaideans, our weather is more temperamental than an Australian selector, with a cold front blowing through the day before and it hailing during summer. Furthermore, we had our coldest minimum for 18 years overnight, and a stiff south-westerly breeze made it freezing for cricket. It's the first time I ever wore jeans and a hoodie to a cricket match.
The interplay you enjoyed
One of the tactics that was a bit laughable was England's penchant to consistently want the ball changed since it wasn't swinging. The first time they did it was by the 4th over and about 10 times after that, and every time Umpire Kumar Dharmasena looked at it for a fraction of a second and told them to carry on.
Filling the gaps
I had the chance to walk around the fantastic new surrounds. This change for the Adelaide Oval was sorely overdue, and should be a massive boost for our city centre and for us as a state. The new stands on all three sides are world-class, yet don't take away a single bit from the rich heritage of this ground. Being able to enjoy a beer, while taking in the view from Level 5 of the Southern Stand is amazing.
Shane Watson's six off Monty Panesar to bring up Australia's 100 was as much a wow moment as a pressure release. Australia had been stuck on 99 for a few overs and with Watson at the crease, you get the feeling he's about to do something silly, like get out lbw or ping his hamstring again. The six woke everyone up and got the Australian supporters in song.
Stuart Broad seemed to attract plenty of boos for no apparent reason. Also, the crowd held it's collective breath whenever Monty Panesar fielded a ball.
Shot of the day
George Bailey monstering Stuart Broad's bowling to bring up his half-century by whacking a six to the short square boundary was my shot of the day.
The lead-up to the test was all about how big the lines and the crowd would be as soon as the gates would open at 8am, but due to the rubbish weather, the crowd was hesitantly muted. Even the Barmy Army took a while to get into stride. The buzz, though, was full of praise for how fantastic the ground looked. Sure, the Eastern Stand was more of a construction zone than a spectacle, but it gave you all of the grandeur of the old ground, with even more impressive surrounds and comfort. The Australian support was led by respectful claps from the SACA Members - which I am a part of - but the Barmy Army was definitely well heard around the ground. The biggest cheer went around for when Michael Clarke came out to bat, and the biggest jeers when Broad was announced as the new bowler. The crowd had a noticeable grunt about it whenever the ground staff came on to the pitch, especially after the 1st over. The tension and buzz around the ground was starting to fizzle due to the inclement weather.
The usual fare of over-fried potato chips, cold hot dogs and warm beer - to appease the visitors? - were all on offer. There were teething problems from the new stands, as beer and gas ran out in certain kitchens, much to the ire of dozens. I had my AM radio with me, to listen to ABS Grandstand while watching the cricket. I walked out with it too.
Banner of the day
"Help needed: a Cook and a Root. Enquire within."
The quality of play was above average, with no real fireworks from bat or ball. The pitch is as flat as glass, and with no swing for the bowlers to take advantage of, the batsman got out due to overconfidence, and missed opportunities from the fielding team meant they weren't fully taken advantage of.
Having said that, the new Adelaide Oval must be on your bucket list. It's amazing.
Marks out of 10
9.5/10. Wear a jacket.
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