Act II, Scene I

Australia, England, Australia.

That was day one at Lord’s in a nutshell.

But what a day it was.

A few quick hit thoughts:

Should England start worrying about Cook’s form? Is the pressure of the armband affecting his performance at the crease? It’s not unheard of – in fact it can be quite common. I don’t think it is anything to worry about quite yet, however, but his four-hour half-century at Nottingham notwithstanding, his performances with the bat have been poor at best. England need him to bat for long spells early in innings for their style of play to work – and he just has not done that yet.

And it might not even be the armband, it might be his new opening partner, or maybe his box is too tight, but scores of 12 and 13 in the opening innings of Ashes Test matches are just not going to cut it.

I have always liked Cook, so here’s hoping he scores a nine-hour 400* this weekend.

*

Ian Bell’s Test innings since his 235 against India at the Oval in 2011 look like this:

4-0-3-29-10-5-13-52-18-63*-61-22-76*-55-13-3*-11-4-58-22-0-28-5-116*-1-26*-24-11-75-17-6-31-6-30-25-109-109

Three centuries in 37 Test innings. Two of them against Australia in the Ashes. Talk about getting hot at the right time.

*

Mitchell Starc was dropped for this Test in favor of Ryan Harris.

Starc day one against England at Nottingham: 17-2-69-3
Harris day one against England at Lord’s: 20-6-43-3

Harris has been far less expensive despite fewer overs bowled. But the name of the game in Test cricket is taking wickets; this is not a One Day International. So I think it has yet to be determined whether or not making such a drastic change in the attack in the middle of an Ashes series was a good move or not. At this point it’s a stalemate in my opinion.

*

This is a must win Test match for Australia. They needed to put pressure on England early in the day and they did that. They also needed to put pressure on them at the end of the day and they did that too. But leaking runs the way they did in the middle overs was inexcusable – and might cost them the series. This England team can be simply relentless in their fight back – and they respond to pressure with pressure. Look for them to fight hard in the first session tomorrow morning, knowing that if the win the morning session, they probably win the day, and if they win the day, they probably win the match, and if they win the match, then the Ashes stay in England.

Australia on the other hand desperately need to carry the momentum from today into tomorrow. The upside is that they are a young side, playing loose cricket with abandon despite the intense pressure of the Ashes – and they also do not seem the slightest bit interesting in giving up the fight, so tomorrow’s morning session will be thrilling cricket all around.

This is it, Australia. 26 overs to save the series. Are you up for it?

*

My Twitter pal, fellow Minneapolitan, and dedicated cricket follower, Diane, is at the match. I am positively green with envy; greener than the Lord’s pitch even.

*

Until tomorrow.

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