Michael Neser must be thinking Test cricket is easy. You make your debut and do nothing for a day and two sessions, and then get the opportunity go out and whack the ball all over the park.
He’s a hard hitter, and we’ve seen it before, and he just went with it. It was an exhilarating knock but it also allowed him the opportunity to get comfortable in his debut Test – scoring quick runs in an important partnership.
It panned out exactly how Australia would have wanted when they won the toss on Thursday – bat until late on day two with a sizeable score in the bank, and then get the England top order in under lights. But for the lightning that brought a premature end it could have been an even worse two days for the tourists.
Neser’s innings allowed him to take momentum into the field, and it only took two balls for him to get it done.
He’s been a member of this squad for a long time; you could see the appreciation his teammates have for him in how they celebrated it with him.
I reckon his Queensland teammates Usman Khawaja and Mike Steketee showed Usain Bolt-type pace to get out there and celebrate with him, and the pile on from his teammates is something he’ll never forget.
The Aussies bowled full and gave themselves a chance, much fuller than England did on day one; and they were rewarded.
England were better with the ball on Friday than they had been on day one, but once again let themselves down with too many errors.
Marnus Labuschagne had four chances in his first Ashes century, including being dismissed from an Ollie Robinson no-ball. For a team that needs everything to go right to go toe-to-toe with Australia, England are really blowing it. That’s nine dropped chances and two wickets from no-balls – it’s going well beyond bad luck.
The very first nick that Australia produced was taken straight away – a Starc reminder and a stark reminder of the difference between the teams.
Ben Stokes bowled really well today when he stopped with his bouncers – his dismissal of Cameron Green gives an indication of the length he should have been concentrating on.
Robinson was the same. He bowled fuller and I think the Australians learned from that in the night session.
The way Australia stormed home in their innings might have demoralised England. They weren’t clean in the field, their bowlers were smashed and the top order batsmen spent almost two days out in the field – and it was particularly hot today – and then had to go out and face a very tricky mini-session.
They need what they didn’t get in Brisbane – a big hundred from Joe Root to save them. with handy contributions from Dawid Malan and company.
Marnus and Steve Smith struggled at times, and a century to Smith would have been nice, as he’s battled for one hundred over his last 20 innings. It wasn’t Marnus’ most fluid innings but to get your first century in an Ashes series is awesome. Along with Warner, the Aussie top order is scoring runs – something England can’t manage.
The selection has been poor, their tactics have not worked and they’re facing an uphill battle to save the Test match and stay only 1-0 down going into the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
I can’t see Australia not rolling right through them. That last part of the Aussies’ innings took their chances of winning away; often when teams don’t have an incentive to win, they can have rearguard action like Root and Malan did at the Gabba, but they will find it very hard to sustain.
The wicket is drier than normal, but if you bowl full enough it still nibbles, so there will be something in it for the pacemen early on Saturday.
Nathan Lyon, though, could well end up the major wicket-taker in the Test. He’s got 19 wickets here, and no other spinner has his record. He loves bowling here, he’s got a drier pitch than normal. and potentially more footmarks to bowl into as well.