In a press conference after his retirement, when asked about the Ashes, Sachin Tendulkar picked the name of Mitchell Johnson as the bowler who might make a difference to the Australian squad. A part of that faith must have come from watching him at close quarters as a team mate at Mumbai Indian. A part might have been gathered from the batsmen in the Indian cricket team.
Going into the first Test, the view, if you were following the coverage, was that Mitchell Johnson was going to be a huge factor in the series. The hype around him was so huge that, his captain, picked him to be the man of the series with a rider attached. The rider was, if he was selected in the eleven.
Johnson and Lyon must have been the last names to be pencilled in. In fact, New South Wales team management was informed a couple of hours before the start of the game that Lyon would be playing in the XI and wouldn’t be making the trip to Sydney. Instead, Faulkner made the trip to Adelaide.
Mitchell Johnson was given the new ball and the first ball he bowled was a full-toss down the leg side, much to the amusement of Barmy Army. In his second over, which was bowled to Cook, his bowling lacked the sense of direction. One was down the leg side and another one was short on the off stump, both deliveries were asking to be hit. Cook obliged and got himself a couple of boundaries. Harris, at the other end was also taking his time to settle down and he bowled a few deliveries that beat the outside edge of the batsmen.
Mitchell Johnson was removed from the attack when Carberry upper cut him for a boundary. All the while he was bowling from over the wicket. Harris removed Cook with a well thought out delivery. He got the line closer to off stump and the ball didn’t move as much as Cook expected and he got the outside edge. In walked Trott. An invitation for Johnson to come back into the attack, but he didn’t face Mitchell Johnson for some time as Carberry looked comfortable against him. The first ball that Trott faced from Johnson was a bouncer. He got his gloves in front of the face and the ball flew to the no man’s land in the off side. After that, Trott started moving inside the line to play the short ball barrage. He was dismissed off the last ball before lunch.
Though Australia didn’t go into lunch with ascendancy, they were kept in the game by those two wickets. After lunch, Pietersen was also peppered with short deliveries. Barring a few, he played them very well. He was dropped by Siddle of his own bowling. That didn’t cost Australia much as Pietersen’s flick was intercepted at midwicket by Bailey. It was the introduction of Lyon that put some doubts in the mind of Carberry. With a guard outside the off stump, Carberry was beaten in flight, turn and bounce. Lyon’ s first three overs were all maidens.
It was now that Johnson decided to go around the wicket. He bowled a couple of short deliveries to Carberry. He fended the first one off and was beaten by pace as he looked to hook one away. The third ball was aimed at the throat and Carberry edged it to the slip cordon. From that moment on, the innings veered towards disaster as England lost 3 wickets in thirteen balls. Bell and Prior fell to inside edges to short leg. Lyon was on a hattrick and bowled a ball that Broad left easily. Root was caught driving and the edge was easily taken in the slip cordon. A few deliveries later, Johnson also accounted for Swann by bluffing him. Swann was expecting a short ball and received a good length delivery that he edged to short leg.
Tremlett, who looked to be putting up a decent partnership with Broad was terrorised with short deliveries by Harris. He was dismissed fending off one to Lyon at leg gully. Siddle was brought back into the attack and was immediately punished by Broad. His figures before this spell read 15 runs conceded off 10 overs. The phase of play where Siddle and Lyon strangulated the run flow was a huge contributor to the collapse. Broad was dismissed by Siddle as he was looking for some runs and to cut the lead.
If Australian bowlers can continue this form into the second innings, they can be assured of a win in eight attempts against England.
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