Ashes 2021-22: Analysis from Day 1 of the second Ashes Test at Adelaide Oval
Marnus Labuschagne will go to bed dreaming of a century after ending Day 1 on 95*. LACHLAN McKIRDY analyses the key statistics and storylines ahead of the second Ashes Test.
STUMPS: Australia 2-221 (Labuschagne 95*, Warner 95, Broad 1-34) after 89 overs
Marnus’ anxious wait: Marnus Labuschagne ended Day 1 on 95* after looking on track to score a brilliant century at Adelaide Oval.
Labuschagne was on 95* for 19 balls as he patiently waited for an opportunity to bring up triple figures underlights. It looked like the chance had passed him when he gifted an edge to Jos Buttler but the English wicketkeeper inexplicably put him down.
He will return on Day 2 in search of his sixth Test century. It would also be his second at Adelaide Oval after he scored 162 against Pakistan in 2019.
Labuschagne will be joined by Steve Smith who also survived a tricky night session with the pink ball to be 18* at stumps.
Bodyline’s back: England’s decision to turn to a short-ball barrage has been a questionable one under lights in Adelaide. Throughout the partnership of David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne, England regularly had three men back on the legside boundary. It didn’t work, albeit from one loose shot from Warner.
Then as the lights started to take affect, Joe Root was bowling more overs as England’s slow over rate jeopardised their chance of getting to bowl with the new ball in the third session.
According to CricViz, less than 15 of the 167 balls David Warner faced in his innings were likely to have hit the stumps. With Stuart Broad and James Anderson return meant to signify England’s revival this Ashes series, the tactic has seemed a bizarre one that plays against the strengths of their star duo.
Warner falls short: David Warner has been dismissed for the first time at Adelaide Oval between 50 and 100 after mistiming a cut shot straight to Stuart Broad at point on 95.
After narrowly missing out on a century at the Gabba (94), Warner got one run closer in Adelaide before departing to a shot he will look back on with disgust - a loose ball from ben Stokes that should have been put away.
Before this series, Warner had only been dismissed in the 90s once in Test cricket (97 against South Africa in Perth in 2017). He has now taken that tally to three after the last two Tests.
Regardless, Warner’s knock improved his impressive record at Adelaide Oval. He has increased his average at the venue to 81.42.
Passing the blazer around: Smith’s surprising return as captain in Adelaide, signified by the fact he was wearing Pat Cummins’ captaincy blazer during the toss, meant that Australia had three different captains in three consecutive Test matches.
It’s not actually the first time that feat has happened. ABC statistician Ric Finlay confirmed that between 1956-58, Ray Lindwall, Ian Johnson and Ian Craig captained Australia respectively in three consecutive matches.
It has also happened on four other occasions before that.
DINNER: Australia 1-129 (Warner 65*, Labuschagne 53*, Broad 1-27) after 53 overs
Marnus’ milestone: Marnus Labuschagne became the fourth fastest player, by innings, to bring up 2,000 runs in Test match cricket.
Labuschagne’s knock in Adelaide was just his 34th at Test level, putting him above Doug Walters and Brian Lara who both brought up the milestone in 35 innings.
Don Bradman is well out in front after bringing up 2,000 runs in 22 innings. While the West Indies’ George Headley (32), England’s Herbert Sutcliffe (33) and Mike Hussey (33) are the only other three batters ahead of Labuschagne.
Record stand: David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne have followed on from their century stand in Brisbane by bringing up another 100-run partnership in Adelaide. It is the sixth time the pair has brought up a century partnership in Test cricket.
For partnerships in Test cricket, Warner and Labuschagne currently average 104.45. Of all Australian pairs to bat together five or more times in Tests, that ranks them the fourth-best of all-time. Two of the three pairs above them feature Sir Donald Bradman.
- Bradman and Ponsford - 128.40 across 10 innings
- Barnes and Bradman - 124.00 across eight innings
- Harvey and Loxton - 113.00 across five innings
Warner’s Resolve: David Warner’s tactic against this England attack has been very clear - wait to capitalise on any bad deliveries. Despite troubling the Australian opener early, very quickly England have resorted to bowling short and attempting to rattle the 35-year-old who came into the Test under an injury cloud.
After 100 balls faced, 24 of Warner’s 36 runs had come from boundaries - which have become more free-flowing as the second session progressed.
It is also only the 39th time in 161 Test innings that Warner has faced 100 balls or more in a Test match knock.
His strike rate after 100 balls was 36.00 in Adelaide. It is his lowest strike rate in comparison to all the other innings where he has faced 100 balls or more. Of course, it’s likely Warner will begin to accelerate his innings and look to become more aggressive.
There are only two other times where Warner has finished an innings with 100 balls or more and finished with a strike rate below 40.
- 86 (227) v England in Melbourne in 2017 - SR: 37.88
- 50 (136) v West Indies in Roseau in 2012 - SR: 36.76
TEA BREAK: Australia 1-45 (Warner 20*, Labuschagne 16*, Broad 1-17) after 25 overs.
Into the record books: David Warner has overtaken David Boon (7,422) to jump into the top 10 run scorers for Australia in the history of Test cricket.
Warner started the day on 7,405 runs and despite some early wobbles, began to look more comfortable as England’s bowling tactics became a little bit disjointed. It was clear the short ball would be a tactic for England as they looked to target the ribst that left Warner under an injury cloud.
Patient Warner: David Warner took 20 balls to get off the mark at Adelaide Oval. Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson were absolutely relentless with their line and length to start the match and Warner struggled to get away. He faced one LBW shout early to Broad but while he didn’t necessarily look comfortable, he navigated his way through the new ball.
The 20 balls to get off the mark is the longest it has taken him to get off zero in his Test career.
The go-slow approach was one adopted by the other Australian batters as they opted to be patient to England’s new-ball attack. Their total of 1-11 after ten overs was the slowest they have started a Test since the Boxing Day Test in 1997.
Harris’ disappointing England record continues: Despite amassing plenty of runs at first-class level, Marcus Harris continues to underperform at Test level and in particular, in matches against England. The opener was out for three after a quite brilliant catch from Jos Buttler behind the stumps.
His average against England in five Tests now sits at 9.12 with only 73 runs across nine innings. Of players who have opened the batting in five or more Ashes Tests, he now has the lowest average of all-time.
Of all batters (batting at seven or higher in the order) to play five or more Ashes Tests, he has the second lowest average of all time (Australia’s Bill Howell has the record with an average of 2.80 across five innings between 1899 and 1903).
Time will tell whether Harris is afforded the chance to find his feet at Test level, but England’s bowlers will continue to bowl around the wicket to him for as long as they have the opportunity.
Brilliant Broad: Across the first half an hour in Adelaide, there was only one scoring shot from the Australian pair of David Warner and Marcus Harris. Harris’ glance through mid-wicket for three was the only thing that troubled the scorers early on as Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson produced dot ball after dot ball.
The pressure looked like it had paid off when the umpire raised his finger to send Harris on his way after Broad thumped one into his pads. However, a successful review gave Harris another life.
He didn’t last long, Broad taking his wicket the next over after a superb catch from Jos Buttler behind the stumps, diving to his right.
No brainer to bat first: Steve Smith’s first big decision as Test captain to bat first in Adelaide was a simple one. After winning the toss he opted to bat first which has been a fruitful decision in Adelaide.
The average first innings score in Adelaide since 2000 is 428.
However, since the start of Adelaide hosting the pink-ball Test, only two times has the team that batted first gone on to win the match (both Australia in 2017 and 2019). The average first innings score has also dropped to 347 since the introduction of day-night Tests in Adelaide.
But the major benefit of batting first in Adelaide is being able to, hopefully, dictate the flow of play and control when your team bats - avoiding the twilight and night periods as much as possible.
Teams: Steve Smith has won the toss on his return to the Australian Test captaincy and has opted to bat in brilliant conditions in Adelaide.
Australia - David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith (c), Travis Head (vc), Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Michael Neser, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Jhye Richardson
England - Haseeb Hameed, Rory Burns, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson
Smith dons the blazer: Steve Smith will captain Australia for the 35th time in Test cricket when he walks out for the toss at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday. Smith has replaced Pat Cummins who has been deemed a close contact by the South Australian government and has to isolate for seven days.
Smith has a fantastic individual record when captaining Australia. His batting average sky rockets to 70.36 (up from 61.39) when he is captain. He has also scored 15 of his 27 Test centuries when captain of Australia.
However, Adelaide Oval is one venue where he hasn’t always performed as strongly when captain. In three matches, he only averages 35.33 with a high score of 59.
Smith has won 18 of his 34 matches as Test captain (53 per cent), including all three played at Adelaide Oval.
Neser to debut: As a result of Cummins’ abrupt withdrawal from the Australian team, Michael Neser is set to make his long-awaited debut as the 462nd man to play Test cricket for Australia.
Across his first-class career, Neser averages 24.47 with the ball and has been waiting in the wings for Australia with over 15 appearances as a 12th man for his country.
His bowling averages blows out a bit to 33.25 in first-class matches at Adelaide Oval with best figures of 4-32.
Warner pushes through the pain: It was clear for all to see in the Adelaide nets that David Warner has been severely hampered by the rib injury he sustained in Brisbane. He was struggling to play his pull shot with full ferocity yet has been named to play in the second Test of the series.
It’s easy to see why Warner loves playing in Adelaide. Behind the WACA, Adelaide Oval is Warner’s second-best ground in Australia in terms of average (80.38) and was of course the scene for his record-breaking 335* against Pakistan. He has also scored four Test centuries at the ground, the equal most of any venue throughout his career, and has the best conversion rate of turning 50s into 100s. The only time he hasn’t is the 83* he finished with against England in 2013 when Australia declared.
After missing last year’s Adelaide Test through injury, mastering the pink ball under lights remains a somewhat surprising question mark over Warner’s record in the City of Churches. While his last innings was the 335* against Pakistan, take that knock out and his batting average with the pink ball in Adelaide plummets to 25.83.
Adelaide spin? Groundsman Damien Hough said earlier this week that it would be a “mistake” if England did not play a spinner in the second Test. After Jack Leach’s maligned performance in Brisbane, there has been a push for England to launch a full-pace attack of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson and Chris Woakes, with Ben Stokes and Joe Root’s part-timers as additional options.
Beyond Nathan Lyon’s record at the ground, the numbers certainly support the idea of pace being preferential in Adelaide. Since 2010, pace bowlers have had the 13 best bowling averages at the ground. That includes a lot of touring bowlers, including Woakes (24.00) and Anderson (24.26). The best figures by a touring spinner are from Ravichandran Ashwin who has an average of 30.43 with 16 wickets across his three Tests in Adelaide.
But it’s not just the pacers that benefit from the pink ball in Adelaide, spinners get a nice boost as well. Ashwin’s average in India’s 2020 day-night Test was 14.20 after he took five wickets. Lyon’s average with the pink ball also improves his average in Adelaide (from 26.94 to 25.78). Whether England has faith in Leach to be able to replicate those numbers remains to be seen.
New Zealand’s Mitch Santner is the best point of comparison for England as the only other left-arm spinner to bowl with the pink ball in Adelaide. In 2015, he took two wickets at an average of 31, admittedly his first exposure to a day-night Test, up from his career bowling average of 45.63.
Forget the Gabba: There’s no doubt England’s nine-wicket defeat at the Gabba was disappointing, but it’s important for them to put that aside and focus on the rest of the series. Since 1980, they’ve only won a single match up in Brisbane and it has contributed to their poor start in tours.
The stats certainly read better in Adelaide. While they’ve only won two matches at Adelaide Oval since 1980, England still typically turn in improved performances whenever they visit. Since 1980, England’s players average more with the bat in Adelaide (32.54) than they do at any other venue in Australia. Adelaide Oval was also the scene for the closest match in the most recent Ashes series in Australia, Australia winning by 120 runs in a series that was comfortably won 4-0 by the hosts.
In the famous 2010-11 series that England won in Australia, it was also the scene of the visitors first win of that tour. An innings and 71 run victory paved the way for wins in Melbourne and Sydney by an innings as well. That triumph in 2010 came on the back of a Kevin Pietersen’s remarkable double century and seven wickets in the match from Graeme Swann.