Pink Balls and Floodlights – The combination that was meant to give England a bigger chance of coming back in the Ashes series.
Well, on the first day of the second Test, he took a total of two wickets in 89 overs and looked often disappointed, sometimes frustrated and often lacking in ability.
David Warner scored 95 – his second in two innings in the 90s – and Marnus Labuschagne scored an unbeaten 95 as Australia reached 221-2.
And, if that wasn’t bad enough, Jos Buttler gave himself more pain with 15 minutes remaining, giving Jimmy Anderson a direct chance to overtake Labuschagne for 95.
It was the second time Buttler had dropped Australia’s No 3 – he dropped him for 21 off Ben Stokes – before opener Marcus Harris had a more difficult chance to send.
Australian TV coverage showed England legend Ian Botham with his head in his hands after the second spillage.
Already 1-0 up in the series, Aussies have caught a stranglehold and England will have to do something remarkable to take a win from here.
Australia’s balance could not be disturbed even by the shock of losing captain Pat Cummins a few hours before the start.
Cummings went for a meal at a steakhouse in Adelaide on Wednesday evening and was identified as a close contact when a man sitting at a nearby table suddenly announced that he had tested positive for Covid.
South Australia’s health protocols demand that Cummins self-isolate for seven days. Two other key members of Australia’s attack, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon, were in the same restaurant, but chose to eat outside. They were clean.
This meant that Steve Smith captained Australia for the first time since being sacked and suspended for his part in the sandpaper scandal nearly four years ago.
Above all, England’s attack looked similar – a collection of worthy but copycat 84mph bowlers.
England’s mantra during the two-year plan for this series – yes, they have been planning for a really long time – has been this: “We will never again play four right-arm fast-medium bowlers in the same team against Australia.” Won’t play.”
Well, here they had five.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by England’s distorted optimism about two day/night matches in this series. They have lost three of their last three overseas pink ball Tests while Australia are 8-0 at home.
It was not that England bowled poorly, but there was no variety in their attack. No spinner – other than Joe Root, who was mainly used to accelerate the over-rate – and no extra speed in the form of Mark Wood.
His selection for the second consecutive Test has been wrong.
England would think they didn’t enjoy luck, but, you know, you make your own luck, right?
Stokes was used in a sort of enforcer role, hoping to pouch a foul-hit pull shot with a collection of fielders at the legside boundary while constantly hitting the ball.
In fact the ball hardly swung or seamed in the hot sun of the first two seasons and, by the time the lights were on and the second new ball should be picked up in prime bowling conditions, Australia were already in control. .
Stokes took a wicket when Warner made a long jump into the hands of Stuart Broad at cover, while Broad himself removed Buttler’s fine diving catch from legside to opener Harris,
But the wicketkeeper’s two drops of Labuschagne were serious errors.
Broad, playing his 150th Test, and Anderson bowled very well and beat the bat repeatedly, suggesting that at least one of them should have played in the first Test, where conditions favored a lot of swing and seam. She was
Had he played in Brisbane, Broad would have had an early crack at Warner and that gave him a lot of teething problems here. The Australian left-hander needed 42 minutes to get off the mark.
But he gradually found some flow and displayed some signs of bruised ribs that threatened his participation in this match.
When Smith came out to bat he received a mixed reception – probably 70 percent cheers and applause and 30 percent boos.
He and Labuschagne, who are like twins with their quirky techniques and sleek demeanor, have the power to add up to a lot the other day.