The Ashes Down Under 2013/14: Adelaide

It’s the Mitchell Johnson show!

I don’t know what happened (and I’m sure most of the population of England are wondering, too…), but Australia is continuing to batter England in spectacular fashion. The Second Test went much the same way the first one did, only now the Australian fans are used to victory, and their team is truly on a roll.

Adelaide, a ground that used to be beautiful but has now been updated almost beyond recognition, is historically tough to bowl on. Pitch conditions are a science in itself, and much can be said about it, but it would bore us all. As a part of the redevelopment of the Adelaide Oval, drop-in pitches have been introduced, essentially making it a whole new ground to play in. It still seems a challenge for bowlers, who don’t get much bounce out of it. Batsmen generally fare better, and so Australia, after winning the toss and choosing to bat first, had an early advantage.

Scoreboard at the Adelaide Oval cricket ground, 2010.
See? Beautiful. I want to live there.

And they did well. Not only did Michael Clarke, their captain, score an impressive 148 runs, he had the satisfaction of declaring at 570 after almost two days of batting. I love declarations; their mock-pitying, “Oh OK, here you are, have a go if you want…” and absolute coolness. (Clarke’s slight nod and gesture towards the field was awesome.) England went in late on day two, and lost their first wicket shortly after.

And then.

Mitchell Johnson, arguably a great bowler, but only if he feels like, was better known for his *insert adjective* moustache before the series started. After his success in the first Test, Australia was quite keen on him keeping the facial hair for a bit longer. A facebook page was set up, and it seems to have helped. The man is having a very good time on the pitch. Here’s how it’s done:

With Australia 398 runs ahead before they even started their second innings, the press spent the remainder of the Test wondering what had happened to England, and replaying Johnson’s wickets. Australia batted a bit and then declared before the fourth day’s play, leaving England with two full days to chase a total that nobody believed could be achieved by a team that has fallen apart in such a fashion this winter. In the end, England was all out for 312, and Australia took the 2-0 lead in this Ashes series. It’s looking good for the home team.

My ambitious plan of watching live coverage has failed. I must be getting old, but I chose sleep over cricket most nights. I have, however, found much pleasure in watching the day’s highlights, which conveniently leave out the boring bits. Awake and ready, I amused myself with a few observations:

  • A still of Mitchell Johnson in front of a poster saying, “Be brave and shave” is my mental image of the Adelaide Test. Brilliant. Internet search is not coming up with much, so maybe I just dreamt the whole thing? Entirely possible.
  • England’s Joe Root and Ben Stokes are both new players and only 22 years old. Watching the Australian fielders move in menacingly is enough to convince myself I would have never had the nerve to play real cricket. Well done to those two for keeping their cool and doing their thing. Seeing George Bailey get hit repeatedly and still grin says a lot about the Aussie spirit, too. Watching their fielding was fun. There, I said it. Fielding is fun.
  • Watching Clarke and Haddin bat on day two was a pleasure. Once they were in the swing, all their shots just… worked. Who ever said cricket was boring?
  • Bunnies. You learn something new every day. Delightfully weird.
  • Also, this never fails to amuse me. Steve Smith. He’s called STEVE SMITH.
  • And the sledging continues… Only in cricket would this cause so much outrage. They stare at each other! They mouth ugly words! FINE THEM ALL!!!

I’m off to get some sleep before the action continues in Perth on Friday. Meanwhile, feel free to ask questions! I’ll happily draw you diagrams of fielding positions or point you in the direction of questionable moustache photographs.


By Karo

Schnazzy East German translator and cricket obsessive residing in England. I have other qualities, too.

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