Ashes 3rd Test, England vs Australia Day 1

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shane-watson3After a much needed break to recharge some batteries after the drama of the opening two Tests, The Ashes was due to resume this morning at Edgbaston, scene of England’s famous 2 run victory in the 2nd test of 2005. Leading up to the game the early news was that Kevin Pietersen would play no further part in the series and he would be replaced at number four by local boy Ian Bell. The weather then dominated the headlines with head Groundsman Steve Rouse saying that following monsoon like conditions the pitch was going to be behind schedule and like jelly.

The two captains traded opinions on auras, Strauss firing the first shot by saying that Australia had lost theirs with the retirement of McGrath, Warne, Hayden and Gilchrist. Fairly bleedin’ obvious really. Ponting shot back saying that England didn’t have one either. Ooooh… Handbags away gentlemen. On the morning of the match, team news from the Australian camp, and from Twitter, was that Philip Hughes was dropped in favour of Shane Watson.

No play was possible in the morning session, with pitch reports at 11am and 12 noon leading to nothing but a further inspection at 2pm. The 2pm pitch inspection lead to the covers coming off, but there wasn’t going to be any play any time soon although the rain had been off for an hour or so. Rudi Koertzen said that it would be possible to start play before 6 o’clock, but that may have been to placate the booing Brummy crowd.

Shortly after half past 3 the captains appeared on a sodden outfield and at quarter to four it was announced that there would be another inspection at 4.15pm and assuming all was well with that, play would begin at 5 o’clock. Ricky Ponting won the toss and chose to bat, teams were announced as expected, and weather permitting play could go on until 7.30pm. Watson and Katich to open, with late news that Brad Haddin broke his finger after the toss and is out of the Test to be replaced by Graham Manou. Not quite an Edgbaston injury of Glenn McGrath proportions, but England will take it. Interestingly…it was Haddin who rolled the ball McGrath stood on in 2005. Well well.

Anderson and Flintoff to share the new ball. It was a steady start, 33 on the board after 10 overs although both batsmen had thumped a couple of fours each. The first bowling change came after 12 overs when Onions replaced Anderson and the fifty partnership followed 2 balls later. 26 Katich, 24 to Watson and both men unfurling some cracking shots. 50 became 62 at drinks, as Broad replaced Flintoff and followed Onions in conceding 8 from his first over. Plenty for Strauss to ponder, 11 fours hit from 14 overs.

Ponder he did as Katich and Watson continued at 6 an over until Swann appeared and got Katich LBW. Fantastic opening partnership, 85-1 and Watto still in on 37, about 10 times his average as an opening bat in 1st class cricket so far. Ponting in next needing just 25 to overhaul AB as the leading Australian runscorer of all time.

On his way to that landmark Ricky passed 20,000 first class runs and less than a handfull of runs later Watson had 50. The 30 over mark arrived soon after with Australia 126-1. More play than anyone had expected, and more runs than the English would have liked. The weather forecast still favours a draw, but batting first and with some quick runs on the board, the old enemy are in front thus far.

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