Shambolic. Embarrassing. Pathetic. Disastrous. Cricket pundits and critics would be running out of adjectives to describe Australia's batting effort (or the lack of it) on day one. How really does one describe a batting innings lasting less than 20 overs on the opening day of a crucial Ashes Test? It was a do-or-die situation for them, having been bashed in the previous match in less than three days. They were expected to improve their showing at Trent Bridge, at least the trend of the series suggested so. But, even the most fanatic of England supporters wouldn't have hoped for such a result on day one, which has effectively sealed the Ashes for them.
England surely had the early advantage having won the toss, on a Trent Bridge surface that had a lot in it for the bowlers. But, Australia would also have been aided by the fact that England's strike bowler James Anderson had been ruled out of the match. As it turned out, he wasn't needed at all as Stuart Broad came up with a sensational bowling effort on his favourite ground. Yes, the ball was moving around and doing all sorts of tricks. But, you need special talent to claim 8 for 15 on any surface. Broad's effort, which puts him behind only Jim Laker in terms of best Ashes bowling figures, may have singlehandedly sealed the Ashes inside an hour.
The batting performance on the opening day (or should we say opening hour) will be a bitter pill to swallow for Australia. They would have been hoping for a confident start, but even before he could settle down, skipper Michael Clarke, who came into the Test under immense pressure as captain and player, found himself out in the middle, and only minutes later, back in the pavilion. During his brief stay out in the middle, Clarke never looked in any sort of form, and his dismissal, having an almighty heave at a wide delivery was symbolic of his state of mind, and in a manner, the Australian side as a whole.
Throughout the series, veteran opener Chris Rogers had been holding the innings together for the Aussies. But, Broad definitely seems to have found a weakness in his game, and the same was evident again on Thursday. Rogers' early dismissal was a massive setback for Australia, and David Warner also falling early at the other end only made matters worse. England had stated before the tour that Steven Smith is a weak link in the Australian batting for them. And, but for the Lord's Test, they have walked the talk as far as Smith is concerned. Shaun Marsh got a much expected recall to the side, but his comeback was a forgettable one as he seemed completely overawed by the situation, created by Broad's sensational spell.
The big decision Australia had to make before the Test was whether to drop Adam Voges or Mitchell Marsh to bring in the other Marsh -- Shaun. They decided to leave out in the latter and, in hindsight, were left to rue their decision, as they were clearly one bowler short. Having said that, nothing would have made much of a difference after Australia were bowled out for a paltry 60. The England batsmen proved later in the day that batting wasn't impossible on the surface. Of course, to be fair to to Australia, the pitch had eased out by then. Still, the shoddy show at Trent Bridge will rankle Australia for sometime. In case of Clarke, perhaps longer than others.
-- By A Cricket Analyst