Ashes 2021-22: Analysis from Day 2 of the second Ashes Test at Adelaide Oval

Australia has made two big breakthroughs with Michael Neser getting a debut Test wicket as Australia took control of the second Test. LACHLAN McKIRDY analyses the key statistics from Day 2.

STUMPS: England 2-17 (Hameed 6, Root 5*, Neser 1-4) after 8.4 overs trail Australia by 456 runs

Neser’s perfect debut: After waiting over two years to finally get a taste of Test cricket, Michael Neser only needed two balls to pick up his first Test wicket. After Haseeb Hameed pulled out as Neser ran in for his first delivery he then found the edge with his first legal delivery. Next ball, Hameed played a bizarre shot to spoon an easy catch to Mitchell Starc at mid-on.

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Starc strikes: Mitchell Starc has struck early again, removing Rory Burns with just his seventh ball of the innings. After an expensive first over, Starc got his line and length spot on to grab his first wicket of the match with the first ball of his second over.

It improves Starc’s average with the pink ball to 18.61 as he shows just how lethal he is bowling under lights.

For Rory Burns, it continues his dismal tour after Starc got him first ball in Brisbane. He only survived three balls in Adelaide with his Test average now sitting at 30.87. Away from home, his average is 27.16.

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SECOND ASHES TESTS: Live scores, commentary, statistics

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Neser’s cameo: Michael Neser has madea bright start to his Test career by blasting England’s attack around in a 24-ball cameo. Neser finished with 35 including five boundaries and a six as England pushed all but one of their fielders to the boundary. It was clear captain Joe Root was simply waiting for Australia to declare with no intent to take the wickets of Australia’s tail.

Neser’s 35 puts him in the top 10 scores for Australian’s debuting at No.9 (niche, we know!).

His Test average of 35 puts him above England’s Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler.

Mitchell Starc also chipped in with a run-a-ball 39 while Jhye Richardson blasted one huge six over mid-wicket.

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90+ and out: With David Warner (95) and Steve Smith (93) both out in the 90s, their inability to convert their half-century into a hundred is probably eating away at the pair as they sit in the changerooms. And it is a pretty rare feat what they’ve achieved.

It’s only the second time in the history of the Ashes that two players in the same innings have been out in the 90s. The other time was England’s fourth innings at the Gabba in 2006 where Paul Collingwood (96) and Kevin Pietersen (92) both fell short of the milestone.

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DINNER: Australia 7-390 (Labuschagne 103, Warner 95, Smith 93, Anderson 2-51, Stokes 2-88) after 140.4 overs

Smith falls short: Steve Smith has fallen short of a century in Adelaide after Jimmy Anderson trapped him on the pads for 93 just before the short break. It’s only the fourth time Smith has been out in the 90s in his Test career. The last time was when he was dismissed for 92 at Lord’s in the first innings of the 2019 Ashes - famously after being forced from the ground after being struck by a Jofra Archer bouncer.

It means Smith just missed out on his 12th century against England, a record that would have put him only behind Bradman in terms of Ashes centuries.

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Carey’s arrival: In just his third Test innings, Alex Carey has relished batting in front of a home crowd and has brought up his maiden half-century. He played his innings with plenty of control and partnered beautifull with Steve Smith as Australia pushed the lead towards 400.

Carey obviously knows Adelaide Oval well having played the majority of his first-class cricket at the venue. However, his first-class record for the Redbacks hasn’t been great at home. In 20 innings, he has only averaged 27.63 and has only passed 50 on three occasions.

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Smith continues England love-affair: Steve Smith loves playing against England. That’s been made clear. But his position in history is becoming imposing to say the least.

In Tests between Australia and England, Smith has the seventh-most runs in history. He passed England’s Wally Hammond (2,852 runs) during his innings on Day 2.

England’s Geoff Boycott is the next man for Smith to knock off the list. Boycott has 2,945 runs in Ashes Test with Smith less than 50 runs away from moving into sixth-place all-time.

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Root rolling the arm over: For just the third time in his career, Joe Root has bowled more 20 overs or more in a single innings. With England opting for an all-pace attack, they were always going to rely on their captain’s part-timers to get through their overs. Especially with their poor over rate early on Day 1, Root bowled more overs than anyone would have expected - including in the first session of the match.

Surprisingly the two other times where Root has bowled 20+ overs, it was in partnership with another spinner (Moeen Ali in 2016 and Dom Bess in 2020).

The two other times where Root has bowled 20 or more overs in an innings were:

- 0-54 off 20 overs v South Africa in Cape Town in 2016

- 4-87 off 29 overs v South Africa in Port Elizabeth in 2020

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TEA: Australia 5-302 (Labuschagne 103, Warner 95, Smith 55*, Stokes 2-70) after 116 runs

Smith takes it up a gear: Steve Smith has notched his first half-century of the series, bringing up his half-century off 135 balls in Adelaide. It hasn’t been the most convincing innings from the returned captain but his resilience to leave the ball is a testament to the patience he has shown.

It’s the 59th time that Steve Smith has passed 50 in an innings, equivalent to 41.8 per cent of his Test match innings.

His record against England when notching a half-century is remarkable. He currently has an average of 151.25 against England once he passes 50 and in the 20 previous times he has brought up a half-century against England, he has scored a century on 11 occasions.

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Day-Night specialist: Marnus Labuschagne has brought up his sixth Test century at Adelaide Oval after a nervous period in the 90s that saw him on 95* overnight. Jimmy Anderson troubled him early on Day 2, but eventually he guided a ball past the cordon and brought up triple figures with a boundary.

That is now Labuschagne’s third century in day-night cricket, showing his affinity for batting against the pink ball. It’s the most of any play in Test cricket. Only one other player has scored two centuries in day-night cricket, Pakistan’s Asad Shafiq.

Of Labuschagne’s five previous Test centuries, he has never finished with a strike rate below 52. When he brought up his century on Day 2, his strike rate was sitting at 35.17.

Just to rub salt into the wounds, Ollie Robinson drew Labuschagne’s edge with his first ball of the morning. However, replays showed that like Ben Stokes in Brisbane, Robinson had overstepped.

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England’s disappointing 2021: While Joe Root has thrived in 2021 with the most runs by an Englishman in a calendar year, the same can’t be said for England. Heading into Adelaide, England had only won four of their 13 Tests this year. Three of those came within the first five weeks of the year against Sri Lanka and India.

England have also only won two of their last 12 Test matches against Australia (both during the 2019 home Ashes series). In Australia, the record becomes even worse. The last match they won down under was the SCG Test in 2011. They have gone without a win in the 11 Test matches on Australian soil since. A poor start to Day 2 and that streak could extend to 12.

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Marnus’ chance to capitalise: Marnus Labuschagne was gifted two lives by Jos Buttler on Day 1. The Aussie No.3 was walking towards the dressing room before he realised Buttler had grassed a chance he usually would have taken in his sleep. After spending 19 balls stuck on 95*, Labuschagne will be hopeful a restful night has him primed to bring up his sixth Test century.

While Labuschagne brought up a number of personal milestones on Day 1, including 2,000 Test runs, it should be worth noting his formidable record at Adelaide Oval. Sitting on 95*, Labuschagne now has an average of 103.33 at the ground - comfortably the best of any ground he has played Test cricket at. He is also approaching his second Test century at the venue, the Gabba is the only other place he has scored two or more centuries.

England adopted a short-ball tactic when bowling to Labuschagne and David Warner and it was clear to see how quickly they adapted. Warner commented after play how easy it was for them to judge the length and leave balls they knew were going to go over the stumps. Both batters also gave themselves room and scored heavily on the legside. A quick look at Labuschagne’s wagon wheel and 65 per cent of his runs were scored on the leg-side. Expect him to target that side again if England persist with the tactic.

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State of play: Australia will enter Adelaide Oval on Day 2 in a commanding position after dominating England in the first day of the second Ashes Test.

Marnus Labuschagne (95*) and Steve Smith (18*) will start the morning fresh, while David Warner was dismissed in the final session for 95 – only the third time in his Test career he has been out in the 90s.

England gambled with a four-pace attack and it didn’t pay off with the pink-ball not doing much throughout the day, even when it got to the twilight and night session. Having two set batters helped Australia handle any of the challenges Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson presented.

The one concern for Australia will be Marcus Harris (3) who fell early in the first session after a fantastic grab by Jos Buttler. Harris will be under pressure to perform in the second innings for Australia with his Test average now sitting at 23.15 and Usman Khawaja waiting in the wings.

England needs early wickets on Day 2 if they’re any chance of saving the Test match. If Australia can get through the first hour unscathed, it will give them the opportunity of dictating the match and sending England into bat in the toughest conditions under lights. The temperature is set to hit upwards of 35 degrees in Adelaide on Friday so it could be a long day in the field for England.

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STUMPS DAY 1: Australia 2-221 (Labuschagne 95*, Warner 95, Broad 1-34) after 89 overs.

Lachlan McKirdy
Lachlan McKirdyContent producer

Lachlan McKirdy is a content producer for CODE Sports who focuses on Cricket, NRL and the Olympic sports. Lachlan has a passion for storytelling and enjoys sharing the incredible stories of athletes performing on the domestic and international stage.

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