Ben Jones analyses day one at the SCG.
HIP TO PLAY SQUARE
England’s captain found qualified success on Day 1 at Sydney, as he dominated the Australian bowlers and moved ever closer to his first century of the series, before falling late in the day to Starc. Partly, Root’s improvement can be attributed to increased overall control, evidenced by his only offering one play-and-miss all day. However, perhaps more importantly it can be attributed to him responding to the specific challenge of the day by targeting his favourite areas with more intensity. Just 20% of deliveries from the seamers to Root have been short, and so Root adjusted his “hot-zone” from square on the leg-side to square on the off-side. His ability to strike at 83 through point/cover-point allowed him to punish the seamers whenever their excellent lines and lengths were lost.
VINCE FRUSTRATES AGAIN
The tale of James Vince is becomingly alarmingly repetitive. Yet again, he got in and looked classy, at home in Test cricket, before nicking off to an innocuous delivery, departing before he’d had chance to make real inroads into the match. What was particularly galling today was that he faced 37 deliveries from the Australian seamers today, but not one pitched wider outside the off-stump than the ball from Cummins which dismissed him.
Yet many will argue that Vince was right to attack the ball which dismissed him. Indeed, in our ball-tracking database, batsman facing seamer deliveries within 10cm of the one which got Vince average 72.40, scoring at 5.43rpo. The ball was there to attack, but given how poor Vince’s execution has been in this series, some would argue that more restraint was needed. He’s an enigma who invites attention, but he may not have a Test career to debate if he doesn’t make runs in the second innings.
STARC’S PACE DOWN….
The appeal of reintroducing the series lethal leading wicket-taker, especially after the stalemate in Melbourne, is clearly substantial. Yet all signs points to Australia having brought Mitchell Starc back too soon. His average speed on Day 1 of 140.38kph is his slowest of any Test this series, but what was particularly demonstrative was how his speeds decreased throughout the day. His first spell was delivered at 142.53kph; his second at 140.90kph; his third at 136.98kph; and whilst his final spell of the day was sent down at 142.27kph, England scored at 7rpo as they accelerated towards the close.
…BUT ENDS THE DAY ON TOP
His pace may have been down throughout the day, but the threat of Starc is always that he can find one magic ball in his armoury. The ball prior to Root’s dismissal was 140kph, and swung 3° back into him – no delivery swung more on Day 1. The following delivery only swung 0.5° but was 4kph faster, even the well-set England captain disorientated by the sudden surge in pace and lateral movement, and he couldn’t keep Starc out. The end was opened up, and Hazlewood pounced to further Australia’s advantage – their WinViz rose from 27% to 51% in just 10 deliveries – and Starc’s incredible value to this Australian juggernaut was proved once again.
Ben Jones is an analyst at CricViz.