After another resurrection from the Australian lower-middle-order led them to a more than decent 326, the hosts might have edged ahead of their opponents England at the end of the first day’s play in Sydney. Join us for live scores and commentary from 10.30am AEDT.
Let’s assume this was the first match of the series and Australia had been bowled out for 326 on the first day of the game.
Would we have still said Australia have the edge?
I have my doubts over it, it would, at best, have been a 50-50 kind of a day for most experts.
Four Test matches on and that score now looks like it’s already enough. In fact, there were a few who reckoned that on this Sydney Cricket Ground pitch, even 250 would have sufficed.
And there’s truth in it. It’s definitely more than plain arrogance and a lot has to do with the way things have gone in the series and in the first couple of sessions of this Test match.
Take for instance how Australia lost half their side for less than 100. Most of those dismissals were down to good bowling and dollops of assistance from the pitch.
Dave Warner and Shane Watson were done in by swing, Michael Clarke and George Bailey by pace, with only Chris Rogers contributing to his own downfall by an unusual cross-batted stroke that unfortunately found its way on to the stumps.
Even when the pair of Steven Smith and Brad Haddin was at the crease, there was enough in the pitch to suggest a wicket could fall any time. Haddin rode his aggressive shot-making and was aided by the injury to Boyd Rankin and the debutant Scott Borthwick’s nerves on his way to a fifth successive first innings fifty.
And later, in what was so reminiscent of how Australia have bowled all series, Ben Stokes polished off the tail in a jiffy. It should give as much hope of a brilliant career ahead of Stokes as it should of the Aussie bowlers being able to do exactly that over their next two innings on this grass-laden pitch.
In short, England’s batting will need to show a deviation from what has been their norm in this series of gargantuan proportions if they have to stay within touching distance of the Australian score.
And they have already lost Michael Carberry to the pace of Mitchell Johnson.
Of course, the pitch may not breathe as much fire as it did in the first session of the game which could be a bit of a factor but as one saw in both Adelaide and Melbourne, the likes of Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris have often removed the track out of equation.
England need to look at batting the whole day tomorrow but not at the expense of not scoring for chunks of overs together.
Choosing the best ball to score off and the alertness to the possibility of runs against a slacking bowler will remain the key to their success on the second day of this Sydney Test match.
Join me for the second day of the fifth Ashes 2013-14 Test on Saturday and you can follow the live score of this game from 10.30am AEDT and post your comments below.