Heads vs Tails. It’s a good thing the Poms won the toss, because the last time they won a Test batting second at Adelaide was 1955, and by all reports Les Burdett has produced a batsman’s dream for today’s match. Former England captain Nasser Hussain will be breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing the toss fell his country’s way, declaring before the game that “if the toss goes [Australia’s] way it will be the biggest Test of the careers of Flintoff and (coach) Duncan Fletcher”. Nothing like the support of an old boy to raise flagging spirits!
Glenn McGrath vs his own heel. The stench of Edgbaston drifted through the Australian camp this week, trailing a sour memory: after a big First Test win, Glenn McGrath goes down and in quick succession Australia loses its nerve, its edge and the Ashes. For this reason, you will see McGrath bowl in this Test with his blistered heel and, if required, two broken legs and an anvil tied to one ankle.
Monty Panesar vs The King of Spain. Monty Panesar averages 32 and starred against Pakistan during the English summer, but still struggles to be taken seriously. Look at his funny hat! See how he occasionally misfields! Isn’t he darling? But let’s pick Ashley Giles for the First Test. He’s ten years older and averages 40. Sorted. No wonder the turbaned one has been left out yet again!
Adam Gilchrist vs the yips. Since the 2005 Ashes, where his exposure to the fast ball closing in from outside off-stump broke his confidence, Gilchrist has scored only one century against Bangladesh and a lot of similar-looking dismissals. Masked by the team’s overall success, Gilchrist is facing the crisis of his career, alone in the nets while the runs rack up around him.
Freddy Flintoff vs. the will to win. Earlier this week England captain Andrew Flintoff seemed baffled that Australia played to win the First Test. So what does he think about Adelaide? “I don’t know if it’s win or bust here, we obviously have three after this but we want to get something out of this game,” he said. I dunno Freddy, how about looking for a win this time? You know, if you want to. Or whatever. Never mind.
Update: Heading towards lunch on day one, England are 2/49, with Strauss caught after clipping one off his legs to Damien Martyn at mid wicket, and Cook caught Gilchrist, bowled Clark for 27.