Ashes: Australia takes perfect day-night record to Adelaide

PTI, Dec 15, 2021, 11:16 AM IST

Image credit: Getty Images

Adelaide: While there are question marks over opener David Warner’s fitness for the second match of the Ashes series, there are no doubts about Australia’s superiority in day-night Tests.

They’re a perfect eight from eight as they go into the pink-ball test against England beginning Thursday at the Adelaide Oval.

Warner had a few reprieves on his way to scoring 94 runs in the series-opener at the Gabba in Brisbane, where Australia beat England by nine wickets.

But after taking two hits in the ribs while batting, Warner didn’t field for Australia in England’s second innings. He still appeared to be in discomfort while batting in practice at Adelaide.

The net session came after his teammate Travis Head, who cemented his spot as Australia’s No. 5 by scoring 152 in Brisbane, predicted Warner would play in the second Test.

”I flew home with him a couple of days ago. His family came into Adelaide, which was nice,” Head told Australian Associated Press. ”And he felt like he was in a good space. Obviously, he was a little bit sore . . . so I think for him it was just rest. I think he’s ready to go.”

At least one change to the test lineup is certain for Australia, with right-arm paceman Jhye Richardson likely to return for the first time in almost three seasons to replace the injured Josh Hazlewood. While Australia’s record in day-night matches is perfect, England has just one win in four attempts. The win came in its first day-nighter at home against West Indies in 2017.

England will get two chances with the pink ball in this series — the fifth Test in Hobart, which was moved from Perth because of COVID-19 restrictions in Western Australia, will also be a day-nighter.

Going into Adelaide, allrounder Ben Stokes allayed concerns about the knee injury that hampered his bowling at Brisbane last week, after coming through a nets session.

The 30-year-old Stokes bowled just 12 overs at the Gabba, his first test match since March, and was in obvious discomfort during his latter spells after appearing to jar his left knee while chasing a ball to the boundary.

But he was back to full pace Tuesday, where he bowled for an hour.

”We will find out over the next couple of days,” England captain Root said. ”He obviously had a bit of a jar in his knee in the last game. Hopefully, it’s something he’s shaken off now, and he can get back to full intensity and all options are on the table. We will have to manage that and see where we are at.”

All options mean veteran pace bowlers Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad are back in the selection mix after being omitted for the first Test at the Gabba. Both were reported to be fit, but England went for a different combination with a view to rotating its attack depending on conditions throughout the five-Test series.

The 39-year-old Anderson, who claimed his first five-wicket haul in Australia in the corresponding day-night test four years ago, bowled for 40 minutes in the nets Tuesday.

Root, meanwhile, said being docked test championship points because of slow over rates during the Brisbane test hurts more than all the England players losing their entire match fee.

England was fined and lost five World Test Championship points after being deemed to be five overs behind the required rate at the Gabba, even with time allowances for rain, wickets, injuries, and pitch invasions have taken into account.

”When we’re that far behind the over rate, you have got to take it (sanctions),” Root said. ”But we have to be quicker, we all know that.” Under the International Cricket Council’s format, 12 points are awarded for a Test win, four for a draw, and six for a tie.

”When you play longer series like we do generally within the test championship — we generally play three, four, five-match series — losing chunks of points like that can really hurt you,” Root said.

It hurts more when it comes to the difficulty of earning points away from home. England has lost 10 of its last 11 tests in Australia and has not won a match Down Under since a victorious tour of 2010-11. England was swept 5-0 in 2013-14 and lost 4-0, with one match drawn, in 2017-18.

And to make matters more difficult, no England team has recovered to win an Ashes series in Australia after losing the first test since captain Len Hutton’s squad in 1954-55.

In that series, which featured six-day Tests — with a rest day included — five-hour match days and eight-ball overs, England lost the first Test at the Gabba by whopping innings and 154 runs but recovered to win the series 3-1 to retain the Ashes.

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