Firstly let’s talk about day one.
I’m not going to go into detail about how good it was to see Burns get through a tough first 25-30 balls and then score freely for 71. Or, about the monkey that Warner shook off his back by hitting a masterful 163, and forget about Khawaja putting in a chanceless century. You will read plenty about all of these achievements elsewhere. My first thoughts about day one actually go to the pitch.
Let’s hope the flatness of the deck isn’t a sign of things to come this summer. I’m actually scared that we are about to see a continuation of the pitch preparation from last summer. 2014/15 was the flattest wickets back to back in one season (that I can remember.)
The Gabba’s curator, Kevin Mitchell, is world class and there is no doubt that in seasons past The Gabba has been a deadly wicket.
If I were to custom order a deck for test match cricket, the batsmen should basically squirm till lunch. In my mind, the ball didn’t do much off the deck for most of the day. With it only moving in the air for the first 6-7 overs, it makes for a tough day at the office without early breakthroughs.
If we are to shake the tag of ‘flat track bullies’, we need to start preparing wickets that challenge our top order. There is no shame in going to the sheds at lunch at 1-50, if that’s what it takes. It is pretty easy to prepare flatter wickets when we have the extra pace in our attack that many other countries lack, but it only hinders our batsmen for when they go on tour.
At first inspection of today’s wicket, there is no doubt that both teams would have batted first. I also think both teams wouldn’t have minded getting stuck in with the ball if it doesn’t flatten out till after lunch. I just feel it was pretty flat from word go.
I know it is only the first day of a long summer, but I couldn’t help but get shivers thinking about the snore fest that played out at times against India. Here’s hoping it’s a one off, and we will see some personality in the wickets moving forward.
There…. I’m done complaining about it…. Unless it happens again and again and again. Then I can see an angry email coming on.
What else was disappointing on day one? The Kiwis.
As a bowling unit they will be the first to say they lacked the control required to build pressure. As a team they will be kicking themselves that they have finished day one so far on the back foot after coming here with such high hopes and expectations. There was some sloppy misfields and a thought going around that McCallum tried too much, too soon, and lacked a tiny bit of patience. I’m not going to slag Big Mac for that. If he had shown the patience some believe was required and it didn’t work, he would be targeted for not trying enough variety. You win some, you lose some. His record as a captain over the last few years shows he gets it right more often than not.
Obviously as an Aussie fan, I’m hoping Khawaja and Smith go to town in the morning, then turn the screws with a declaration half way through the second session. Although, as a cricket nut, I’m hoping Southee and Co come out, clean the Aussie’s up before lunch and turn this into a match real quick.
I’m sure his goal will be to get that score to 550 and declare as soon as possible. The statistics on a team losing a match after getting 550 in the first innings point to a win or draw minimum. Smith will want to secure a non-loss ASAP. If the weather is definitely coming on days three, four or five he might want the extra time bowling at them. So maybe a declaration around 500 depending on the run rate at lunch, (480 would even do the job), but it leaves New Zealand with the slightest sniff.
If the weather steals a victory from Australia in this one, the Kiwis will be rubbing their hands together. Australia really need to go to Perth one-nil up after such a great first day of the summer, anything else will feel pretty hollow.
Let’s see how Smith plays his cards.