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Ashes: Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

By bowling Australia out on a hot, sunshine-filled day, England have enjoyed a near-perfect start to the first day at the Adelaide Test, from the first ball to the last.

There was one tiny blemish, when Mike Hussey, who went on to make 93, was dropped by the otherwise immaculate James Anderson on just three.

But we cannot attach any blame to Anderson, who took four wickets in the day, and it was one of those tough ones off your own bowling which most people would not have got close to.

Ricky Ponting has words with England's openers
Words were exchanged between Ricky Ponting and England's batsmen

To see Ricky Ponting remonstrating with Andrew Strauss about something at the end illustrated the emotions of an Australian captain who is a rattled man.

It started off when the wicketkeeper Brad Haddin said something just after the last ball had been bowled. We don't know what happened but Ponting waded in and his actions were those of a man whose team are in crisis.

This is not a typical Adelaide wicket. There is more bounce in it than usual, and the bounce is a bit variable.

The ball swung for Anderson again, and he picked up the wickets he had deserved at Brisbane with Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke swiftly sent packing.

What ignited Anderson and England was the wicket in the first over, when the least mobile fielder in the match, Jonathan Trott, pulled off the run-out of Simon Katich with a measured aim and direct hit.

It was just a brilliant start, Ponting had to come in and got a lovely ball first up, there was a sharp catch by Graeme Swann in the slips and England were away.

Just six days in, the series is turning out pretty much according to my predictions. It was vital that Brisbane was not lost, and now we see real problems in the Australian camp.

We have batsmen playing for their place, two changes already to the pace attack - a virtually unheard-of move after one match - and to see the Australians underperforming and people starting to seriously worry about it, plus the captain losing his rag, just plays into England's hands.

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England still need to do well on Saturday with the bat, make as giant a stride as they can but be careful and disciplined - make sure they bat for five sessions or so for a 200-run lead.

Australia are still in the game, thanks largely to Hussey, who made that big century at Brisbane and seemed set for another in Adelaide.

He appears to be emerging as the Aussies' most important batsman, which is extraordinary when you consider the doubts surrounding his participation.

He probably needed that century in the Sheffield Shield for Western Australia to guarantee his place after poor form. It was fingernails on the blackboard stuff at the time, and fair play, he looked a fine player today.

He knows Swann well from their Northants days, and went down the pitch to him on a regular basis very aggressively. Swann got him out today, tossing one up, getting it to spin, but not before some lovely leg-side shots by Hussey hit against the spin.

Graeme Swann (centre)
Swann took some punishment off Hussey, but got his man in the end

Steven Finn looked a bit tired at times and did not bowl his best. It's new territory for him - this is high-octane cricket in front of big crowds and it's exhausting just walking out there to play.

It was a little bit worrying seeing Paul Collingwood bowling with Australia five wickets down and attempting a counter-attack.

I thought our bowlers might be exposed, but England do plan to rotate their bowlers during the series - which they need to if they pick just four per match - and remember they have 10 days off after this Test.

It was pleasing that our bowlers were able to wrap up Australia's tail cheaply despite the absence of a strike bowler, but I feel there are runs in this wicket for lower-order batsmen like Swann and Stuart Broad - and those runs could make a big difference.

Broad, incidentally, has bowled bowled much better both here and in Brisbane than his figures suggest, swinging the ball and locating a good length.

As a footnote, there was another untidy moment when Ryan Harris was given out lbw following a review, despite some evidence that he had hit the ball.

I've got a meeting with Haroon Lorgat, chief executive of the ICC, on Saturday night, and I'll tell him the decision review system is not working. There are still controversies about dismissal which is precisely what this was supposed to stop.


Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC Sport's Oliver Brett

Listen to commentary highlights from day one (UK users only)

TMS podcast: Agnew and Boycott's review (available worldwide)



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see also
England dominate in Adelaide Test
03 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Second Ashes Test in photos
03 Dec 10 |  England
Australians drop paceman Johnson
02 Dec 10 |  Australia
Records fall as England draw Test
29 Nov 10 |  Cricket
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket


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