Simon Katich is the advance party, the intrepid frontman sent out to reconnoiter the field for mines. To canvass the terrain and map the crevices. He is the compass to Watson’s mine-sweeper. These two usually determine where Australia’s batting will end up. Ponting won the toss in his 150th Test and Katich would have relished the opportunity to be the first man out. He has always been up for the contest.
They call him “Crazy Eyes” because of the intense concentration he brings to every ball bowled. You can see the jaw line taut and the sinews straining as he crabs across the crease. He is conscious of getting into line. He wants to take the first bullet front on.
He is the soldier you expect to cover for you when the enemy fire is the most intense.
Unfortunately Katich was sold down the river by his partner and in hindsight there was not a single there. Trott had one stump to aim at and bang! Katich blown up before he could fire a shot in anger.
Watson, having been struck on the pad, instinctively took off without as much as a look towards Katich. He admitted later that the cry he intended to make to Katich was strangulated in his own indecision. Katich was seen stewing in the seating area below the dressing room a good hour and a half after being shunted.
Ponting came out to a standing ovation in this his 150th Test.
He got a beauty from Anderson first up and Swann took a nifty catch coming across Strauss from second slip.
Two down for nothing and Clarke would have to be reconnaissance man and a lot more if Australia was going to secure a lasting foothold in this match.
Broad tested Clarke with an “on the money” bouncer which he gloved away to a non-existent short fine leg. Clarke was not showing the judgment that he does in the Bonds ad catching the ball in his jocks. If anything his is not sure where the ball is. Predictably he nibbles at one from Anderson and is caught by the Swann again.
At 3 down for 2 runs Hussey is the man Australia turned to.
Anderson proved you don’t need a Duke to swing. Count Basie the “Holy Man” of swing would have been proud. And here was that harlot Lady Luck recompensing Jimmy for Brisbane.
Both Ponting and Clarke were beaten by the late swing. Both the deliveries were pitched up. Clarke though could have let it go if his body and mind had been in sync.
This was not the start the sellout crowd of 30,000 would have been hoping for. But buying a ticket to the cricket does not guarantee you a fairy tale.
This turned out to be a bitter struggle. Hussey was positive. He drove fluently and pulled with authority. Watson gradually put Katich’s dismissal out of his mind and built a partnership with Hussey. He was muscular and classic in the same breath as some of his driving past midwicket and mid-on had the high elbow and pleasing follow through that defines good batsmen.
Hussey and Watson took the score to 94-3 at lunch but it was all over soon after the break. Watson’s drive to a widish Anderson delivery was ambitious and the ball was still moving after 28 overs.
I suspect there will be movement right through the match and especially first thing in the morning.
North came out at 98-4 and would have felt an enormous sword hanging over his neck. To his credit he stood tall most of the time and one straight drive was as emphatic a shot as was played all day. Swann is a spinner with a fast bowler’s mentality. He has loop and drift and gives the ball a tweak. He will never die wondering.
He was an able foil to Anderson and these two were always threatening. North perished when a nothing nibble to an innocuous ball from Finn was gleefully accepted by Prior. His tenure at number six is, or should be, at an end.
Once again Haddin and Hussey steered Australia, if not to safety, then at least to credibility. Hussey’s 93 deserved a ton and Haddin took the long handle when Bollinger was his only remaining partner. Better the Waltz of Death than waiting for Bollinger to samba.
Australia’s score of 245 on a lively but true batting pitch will have England thinking of 450 by tea on the third day. In the only over bowled by Harris there was some hope as he fizzed the ball through at 148 kph.
He will have to bowl with Anderson’s consistency of line and length and then some more.
Australia will have to bowl exceedingly well to get back into this match. They could try placing the new Kooka in front of a CD playing Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. Time for the trio of Siddle, Bolly and Harris to start calling the tune.
Australian fans will be hoping the Fat Lady still has a few warbles left.