It was a stop-start kind of day at the SCG.
For some it never really got going.
For one man, it was the start of what could be a fruitful Test career.
Before I go any further, I must hasten to add that while the plaudits for today’s knock of 37 from NSW Test debutant Usman Khawaja have been flowing steadily since he walked off to a standing ovation, while his mother fought back tears of pride, one would do well to exercise caution when praising this young man who seemed to bat so assuredly.
After all, look how well that’s turned out for Phillip Hughes. New messiahs, while loudly heralded, often have the nasty habit of being found wanting.
However, it’s hard not to get excited about this young man’s talent and brio given the moribund performances of most of his teammates lately. When the first wicket has fallen just before lunch and you are next man in, chances are that the meal you are eating is not going to sit easy.
He came to the crease to the sound of loud applause and the atmosphere around the ground, from England and Australian fans alike, was of immense goodwill towards him. Everyone wanted him to do well today. Maybe not too well, in the case of the England fans, but 100 for “Usie” and Australia all out for less than 300 would have been acceptable.
Khawaja did not get 100; nor did he reach 50. But his first 15 runs came off 8 balls including a glorious pull shot off only the second ball he faced from Chris Tremlett, and shot of the day was a blazing square drive off Tim Bresnan so flamboyant his bat should have had banners flying from it. To say it was a shot of awesome power and beauty scarcely does it justice.
The best thing, though, was when afterwards he said how much he enjoyed being out in the middle. On current form, most of Australia’s batsmen are so busy wondering where the next run is coming from that even the mere concept of gleaning pleasure from their chosen sport must seem a heresy.
Michael Clarke was definitely one who would rather wipe today from the memory banks. Newly anointed as Australia’s 43rd Test captain, 4 runs were all he could manage from an innings interrupted by rain before he edged Tim Bresnan to Jimmy Anderson at gully.
Clarke came to the crease to boos from the sell-out crowd, and left to more of the same.
Two men making their debut in different capacities for their country; one so far with conspicuously more success than the other.