There’s something strangely comforting in the familiar sense of helpless rage experienced on waking up to another bloody England collapse.
Truly, no winter is complete without it.
Having kept myself going throughout the night on a diet consisting almost entirely of coffee and foam bananas, I threw in the towel at tea time, when England were 171-4.
When I woke up this morning they were 260 all out, and Australia were 25 for the loss of no wickets.
The first over didn’t go so well.
Third delivery, Strauss got a ball from Hilfenhaus that seemed to nip back in and cramped him up; going for the pull he was out caught by Mike Hussey at gully. Rash shot or genuinely good ball? Bit of both, I think; nerves probably did for the England captain after all the relentless hype and talk leading up to this game.
Cook’s head is still falling over like a piss-head sailor negotiating a storm-tossed deck, but he played sensibly and solidly for the most part, that ugly-as-hell technique of his not such an issue since the ball wasn’t doing a heck of a lot.
Trott played well enough despite a couple of streaky boundaries and nervy edges that fell just short of fielders, but he batted with good intent and helped his team get a start. The fact he departed attempting a loose drive off a decent ball from Shane Watson is not a mistake he will want to repeat.
It is all too easy to hold Shane Watson up as a figure of fun, and he does bring it on himself, but he was the pick of the bowlers for me in the morning session, snaring Trott with one that nipped back off the seam, causing the England batsman to lose his shape while attempting to drive it through midwicket.
The small battle between Kevin Pietersen and new boy Xavier Doherty was entertaining, and nothing gave me more heart than watching KP charge down the wicket towards the debutant who immediately hurled the ball back at the batsman in anger. Tasty stuff.
There’d been a bit of hooha about Peter Siddle’s selection, with the explanation offered by Ponting for the omission of Bollinger not making a heck of a lot of sense (lack of match practice – a supreme piece of arsed-up logic).
Siddle proved the selectors had made the right decision in the most emphatic way possible.
Often referred to using the terms “blue collar” and “honest trier” – which sounds rather like a classic case of damning with faint praise – he proved to be England’s chief executioner. His hat-trick – Cook, tempted into playing forward to one that nipped away; Prior, full, straight, nipping back in, pegging back the off-stump; and perhaps the best of the three, the one that got Stuart Broad: full, straight, referred, upheld – was the bolt-gun to the forehead that knocked the legs of England’s batting out from under it.
It was a truly outstanding spell of bowling, an example of a canny bowler adapting to the conditions, a history-making passage of play that brings a cricket ground alive regardless of which side you are supporting.
After viewing that spell over a late breakfast, catching up on the action I missed when I retired to bed, I am more inclined now towards the philosophical where England’s situation in this match is concerned.
Had Siddle not bowled so superbly, Ian Bell, playing beautifully and with more assuredness than I have ever seen him play in a Test, would have gotten his ton and England would possibly have added another 100 runs to their total.
Instead he came up against a bowler seen as second best by many and with a point to prove, and whose removal of the batsmen at the other end put the mockers on a total of 350 plus, quite achievable on this deck.
England’s bowlers now have it all to do. I fear Day 2 might turn out to be a very long one.