The first day of the first ever Ashes Test in Hobart delivered big time as a manic 59 overs saw Australia end Day 1 on 241/6. The situation looked grim for the hosts at one point, with them losing their first 3 wickets for 12 runs, but a stunning ton from Travis Head, and a fighting fifty from Cameron Green, helped Australia keep the tourists at bay. Rain brought an early end to proceedings with Alex Carey and Mitchell Starc remaining unbeaten.
Manic first session sees wickets and boundaries galore
There are good tosses to win and there are GOOD TOSSES TO WIN. It’s fair to say that, seeing the green nature of the wicket and the overhead conditions, not a single soul in the English camp would have had second thoughts about bowling first once Joe Root called it right.
And for 10 overs, it genuinely felt that a repeat of Hobart 2016, when South Africa skittled Australia out for 85, was on the cards. Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson took the pink ball on a pitch indistinguishable from the outfield, and for an hour they were impeccable. Australia simply had no answers.
Warner fell for a 22-ball duck while Usman Khawaja, taking Marcus Harris’ place in the side, lasted just 26 balls. Steve Smith, walking in at 7/2, lasted just 2 balls, perishing for a duck. At 12/3, even a score of 100 felt a long, long way away. The pitch simply looked unplayable.
But it would be then that Marnus Labuschagne (who was dropped on 0) and Travis Head would launch arguably the best counter-attack of the series.
Coming together at 12/3 off 10 overs, the pair quite astonishingly added 65 runs off the next 10 overs, with both batters willingly taking the attack to the English bowlers. Head batted the same way he batted in the first three matches of the series, but Labuschagne uncharacteristically threw caution to the wind and freed his arms as if it were a one-day game. The Aussie number three, at one point, was 42 off 46 balls. This no-holds-barred attack from the batters saw the English seamers completely lose the plot after starting off in impeccable fashion.
Australia looked on course to winning the session, but in the final five minutes, a bizarre dismissal saw Broad get the better of Labuschagne. The right-hander over-balanced and missed one that was aimed at his leg-stump, and fell flat on his stomach as the ball clattered into the stumps.
A manic session saw 85 runs be scored in 24 overs for the loss of 4 wickets.
Head, Green partnership completes Australia’s turnaround
Losing Labuschagne at the stroke of lunch was a blow for Australia, but there was to be no way back in for England for the next couple of hours as the visitors were tormented by a stunning century-run stand between Travis Head and Cameron Green.
After watching Labuschagne free his arms in the fourth wicket partnership, Head, this time around, was the aggressor in chief, and he produced another Gabba-esque innings to completely deflate the English bowlers.
The southpaw was on 31(33) at the start of the second session, and he got to his fifty off just 53 balls as Australia started to run away with the game. Green entered the match with a fine fifty at SCG under his belt, and he fed off that confidence as he too batted with plenty of intent.
The pair batted and batted and batted, and in the blink of an eye, Australia brought up their 200 in just the 48th over. In the proces, Head brought up his fourth Test century, the second of the series.
But there was to be no daddy hundred this time around, as the southpaw perished on the very next ball. A leading edge off Chris Woakes carried to Ollie Robinson at mid-on.
Head was replaced by fellow South Australian Alex Carey, and he simply stood and watched as Green started to cut loose. The youngster brought up back-to-back fifties, and looked set to score a maiden Test ton.
However, 26 runs short of a maiden Test ton, he fell to the short-ball trap set by Mark Wood, as he holed out to Zak Crawley in the deep.
Australia were 236/6 at this point, and play only lasted 2 more overs before rain brought an early end to proceedings.