Two days into the first Ashes test match and English fans are already experiencing all of the doom that they have dreaded since 2019.
Rory Burns was bowled on the very opening ball of the series and England subsequently collapsed to 147 before David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne and, more miraculously, Travis Head came onto the pitch and gave Australia a lead of 196 and their first innings has not even ended.
England’s batting, especially their opening partnerships, are constantly under pressure and being examined, and not without reason. Haseeb Hameed and Burns were able to put on a first wicket century partnership during the third test of England’s series against India in the summer, however the last time a century was seen between the opening batters was when Burns and Sibley managed 114 against the West Indies the year before.
It was announced on Tuesday 7 December 2021 that England’s all-time leading wicket taker, James Anderson, would not be participating in the opening test against Australia. The decision to then leave Broad out of the equation, even when he was selected in the squad, seemed almost unimaginable.
For the first time in 15 years of English cricket, neither Broad nor Jimmy would be on the pitch for a test match.
While the current disaster down under is undoubtedly a batting issue, Australia’s ability to make it to 343-7 also begs the question as to whether Silverwood and Root made a tremendous error in choosing to leave out England’s two best ever bowlers.
England will no doubt trudge their way through to the end of the first test and, with the second match only four days after, fans will look forward to seeing the pair with over 1,100 test wickets between them hopefully appear in Adelaide.
Why were Anderson and Broad left out?
Anderson’s record at the Gabba is not phenomenal: he has an average of 75.14 in Brisbane. At 39-years-old, while Jimmy is convincing everyone time and time again that age is just a number, it must be appreciated that he will not be able to bowl the same number of balls he could in 2003.
He has also been experiencing a small calf injury since his arrival in Australia, and despite being deemed fit to bowl, there was a precautionary decision made to omit him from the first squad.
Questions were asked from cricketing greats such as Alastair Cook, Steve Harmison and even the Australian test captain Pat Cummins when it was announced Broad would also not be participating in Brisbane.
Captain Root spoke after the toss insisting it was a “difficult decision.
“We are blessed with a very good seam attack and it was a difficult decision to make.
“There’s five Tests and it’s important they’re ready to go when called upon at any time.”
England, instead, appeared to go for potential over experience with Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson making up the fast bowlers.
What are Jimmy and Broady’s records in Australia?
Jimmy’s overall average in Australia is 35.43 and he has taken 60 wickets in 18 matches. He only has one fifer down under and his best bowling figures there are 7/127.
Stuart Broad has an Australian average of 37.17 and 34 wickets to his name from his 12 matches. His best figures in Australia are 6/81.
Ahead of the next test match, Jimmy will hope to improve on his already strong average in Adelaide. He has taken 16 wickets at the Gabba at an average of 29.50.
England are expecting the ball to bounce much more in the first day/night test and will hope that this will favour Anderson’s bowling.
Broad has taken six wickets in his three matches at the Adelaide Oval, and English fans will be desperate to see Broad reunited with his bunny, David Warner, as soon as possible.
Broad took Australia’s opening batter’s wicket seven times in the 2019 Ashes series and it is likely that his presence on the pitch is likely even to just unsettle Warner enough to hopefully throw him off his game.
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Anderson’s average improves even more at Melbourne Cricket Ground. With best figures of 4/44, he has taken 13 wickets overall with an average of 24.44.
Broad’s average is almost identical to his fellow paceman at 24.75. He has taken eight wickets in total with best figures of 4/51.
Sydney Cricket Ground
Anderson’s record at SCG echoes the previous two venues. He has an average of 29.00 and taken 14 wickets at the venue.
Unfortunately Broad’s record somewhat decreases when he crosses Australian borders into Sydney.
He has taken five wickets, despite only playing 63.5 overs but his lack of overs has given him an average of 48.60. However, Broad is a player that completely thrives of the criticism he receives. If any suggestion of a drop in form at the ground is suggested, England’s second highest wicket taker will come back fighting stronger and put his entire might into the game to prove everyone wrong.
It is yet to be confirmed where the final test will take place but the SCG and MCG are both putting in bids to host two test matches and, for England’s bowling sake, let’s hope the MCG is picked, favouring both of the England greats.
England continue their first test match at midnight GMT, Thursday 9 December 2021, and their next test match is on 16 December 2021 at the Adelaide Oval.
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