FAN FOLLOWING

First-person reports from the stands

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

January 4, 2014

Stokes' six, and a bash for cash

Stuart Lowe


Ben Stokes took three wickets in an over to finish with 6 for 99, Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 1st day, January 3, 2014
Ben Stokes: England's new all-round talent © Getty Images
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Choice of game
I live in Sydney, and one of my mates came out from England for the Ashes, so I got us and another friend tickets for days 1 and 2, half expecting that England would have wrapped up the series by this point!

Team supported
After losing the first four Tests, I was hoping for a strong finish to the series from England. I was excited to see Scott Borthwick, Gary Ballance, and Boyd Rankin selected, with half an eye on the upcoming series against Sri Lanka and India.

Key performer
It looks like Ben Stokes has cemented his place as an allrounder in the England side with six wickets today. For Australia, Brad Haddin once again saved the day after coming in when his team was 97 for 5.

One thing I'd change about the day
It was really disappointing that Rankin got injured today. He must have been absolutely gutted. If he had been able to bowl more overs, the other pace men would have been fresher and England would have been less reliant on the inconsistent spin of Borthwick.

Filling the gaps
During lunch, we had a walk around the ground. Outside Gate E, they were displaying the World Cup trophy, which was nice to see. At tea, I enjoyed the Bash for Cash, where a spectator gets to pitch an over to a batsman attempting to hit a target for a cash prize. Unfortunately the target proved elusive today! Trivia was also a feature of the day, with quiz questions even printed on the coffee cups!

Champagne moments
Stuart Broad bowled an excellent delivery to dismiss David Warner early on, which really set the tone for the entire first session. This was closely followed by James Anderson demonstrating his keep-up skills with the cricket ball later on.

Shot of the day
Steve Smith's six to bring up his century was a big moment, and it was probably the low point for Borthwick on a disappointing debut.

Crowd meter
The crowd was pretty large today and vocal for the Australians, particularly Smith and Haddin. Things really started to heat up late in the day when Mitchell Johnson opened the bowling.

Fancy-dress index
The best outfits were of a guy in a bull costume accompanied by two matadors!

Tests v limited-overs
For me, Test cricket is the most engaging format, followed by T20s, then ODIs. Test cricket is all about getting absorbed in the rhythm of the game, and each day's play has a context provided by the days preceding and following it. T20 is just great fun to watch as a spectator, with so much colour, sound and action. If Test cricket is like a good novel with twists and turns and sub-plots, then T20 is like a cartoon strip. Both are entertaining in different ways. It's been interesting that the Big Bash league has been run in parallel with the Ashes. It's almost too much cricket.

Accessories
I took a pair of binoculars with me for watching bowling actions and spotting friends from across the ground.

Pie-o-meter
The meat pies were excellent - eight out of ten. It seemed like a trip to the food stall was the most effective way of causing a wicket to fall.

Overall
This was one of England's better days but there were positives from both sides. There was a six-wicket haul and a century, so the quality of cricket was pretty high. The view of the pitch was great and the stadium had a friendly atmosphere. The bar and food queues were very short too.

Marks out of ten
8.

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Stuart Lowe is British, but moved to Australia a year ago and has been the subject of much Pommie-bashing ever since. He still insists to his fiancée that the move to Australia had nothing to do with watching the Ashes.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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