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Ashes 2022, Australia vs England, cricket scores, fifth Test at Hobart, day one, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Usman Khawaja, Talking Points


As Australia’s top-order crumbled on Friday afternoon at Bellerive Oval, Joe Root would have been breathing a sigh of relief.

The England captain had finally won the toss and made the bold call to send Australia in to bat first in the fifth and final Ashes Test.

Within 10 overs, Australia was reeling at 3-12 — a result surely beyond Root’s wildest dreams.

But over the following 40 overs, day one of the fifth Test reverted to a familiar script for England with each decisive stroke from Travis Head and Cameron Green, who made 101 and 74 respectively.

In the end, only rain was able to stop Australia from nearing a 300-run total on day one.

The hosts will now resume batting on day two at 6-241 with Alex Carey and Mitchell Starc at the crease.

These are the talking points from day one of the fifth Ashes Test.

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BOY WONDER SHOWS WHAT HE IS ABOUT

It was late last year Greg Chappell encouraged Australian selectors to back Cameron Green.

In the former player, coach and selector’s eyes, Green was the most prodigious talent since Ricky Ponting and he could prove to be a matchwinner against England.

“This is a serious player, this is a special player,” Chappell told The Australian ahead of last summer’s Test series against India. “He is the best young player I’ve seen since Ricky Ponting. He is our next superstar.

“I’ve been telling anyone who will listen for a couple of years now. I saw him a hit a couple of shots when he was 17 one day and it was obvious he was a batsman.

“You just have to pick him now before he breaks his back and he can’t play. My greatest fear about him is that everyone gets excited about his bowling and the kid can bowl, he is a rare talent there as well. But you know that if he bowls 20 to 30 overs a game for Western Australia he will break.”

Cameron Green drove the ball well against England on day one of the fifth Test in Hobart. Photo: Getty Images
Cameron Green drove the ball well against England on day one of the fifth Test in Hobart. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Against India, Green showed potential.

Green had his moments with the bat, with a half-century at the SCG the highlight, while he was steady with the ball and went wicketless.

Despite the speed clock registering a bowler hitting the 140k/ph mark, Green was kissing the wicket rather than hitting the deck hard and banging it in.

A wicket came early at the Gabba and ever since Green has not looked back with the ball.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan said the West Australian reminded him of his former ace Freddie Flintoff, but with the ball.

On Friday evening though we saw Green build on his second-innings half-century and score a stunning 74.

During his 109-ball stint at the crease, Green showed the world what he was capable of as he displayed the most fluent and compact innings of his Test career to date.

He stood tall, but he moved towards the ball and played a series of lovely shots off his pads while also playing through the cover-point region with authority.

“It looks like he’s a slow starter when he first walks out there,” Shane Warne observed.

“It looks like he wants to leave the ball. A little bit tentative to start but once he gets in, he plays some of these shots, the timing, the power was really, really good.

“He is just imposing himself on the opposition. He had a real presence about his batting. He brought up a good fifty. And we’ve always said it’s not about how many you get, it’s when you get them and this was a really important knock from Cameron Green there with Travis Head.”

Cameron Green was in fine touch against England at Blundstone Arena on January 14, 2022 in Hobart. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

That last line from Warne hit the nail on the head.

After Marnus Labuschagne knocked himself over, Australia was 4-83 when the 22-year-old joined Travis Head at the crease. The duo put on a fifth-wicket stand of 121, before Head’s leading edge just a ball after bringing up three figures.

Green eventually fell after receiving a working over from fast bowler Mark Wood.

Wood bowled a series of short balls that finally had Green uncertain of himself, before switching to around the wicket and coaxing the right-hander into going after a shot wide delivery and pick out Zak Crawley at the deep square boundary.

It was first class bowling from Wood and an all too rare piece of intelligent piece of tactics from England.

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Vaughan said oppositions would have taken notice of Green’s four-ball struggles and could target him with short-pitched deliveries going forward.

“I reckon he might have to face a few more bouncers going forward,” Vaughan said.

“I think that over will just send a message to other teams as well that maybe you can get Cameron Green with the short ball,” Vaughan said.

“He’s young enough and good enough to be able to overcome that and he’ll work it out. But he’ll probably have to duck and weave when he bats again.”

That he will most certainly.

But it was also one of the innings that Chappell’s vision was on full display.

HEAD STANDS UP IN MOMENT OF TRUTH

Following the SCG Test, Travis Head was asked for an assessment of his own form.

After appearing rather disinterested for the majority of the interview, the South Australian captain delivered his most engaging response for the question.

One line stood out being Head’s acceptance that he had not walked to the crease with the game on the line.

“I’ve been happy with how I’ve played,” Head said. “I think I’ve read the conditions well, and some of the conditions well and some of the conditions up and situation of the game well – and that’s what was asked of me at the start of the series.

Marnus slips in bizarre dismissal | 00:33

“I’m under no illusions that the boys at the top of the order have done a fantastic job to bat behind. Those boys have set an amazing platform over the first three Tests and I was able to capitalise on that over a few times.

“I knew from Adelaide it was going to be tough going to Melbourne and Sydney and I was bracing myself for an opportunity would arise that I needed to play a different way and that may be in Hobart. I know the opportunity will rise in the near future where I have to play a different way, but I’ve been happy with the way I’ve moved, the positive nature that I’ve played and when the game’s dictated what’s been needed, I’ve been able to sum it up well.

“It’s nice summing it up well, but also going out there and doing, I’ve been able to do it but I’ve been lucky enough to be in some nice positions to bat.”

On Friday, Head faced a challenge all right.

Mike Hussey believes Travis Head’s century in the fifth Test was better than his Gabba century. Photo: AFPSource: AFP

He came to the crease at 3-12 and looked comfortable and unflustered from the outset.

Head summed up that against the moving ball, his best method of survival was to attack.

With the exception of one skied pull shot, Head was in control as he drove with authority and dispatched the short ball.

Mike Hussey rated the century better than his rapid-fire 151 at the Gabba, which cemented his spot in the side and, more importantly, put Australia on track for a first Test victory.

“We can compare, he made a brilliant 150 up at the Gabba and he’s made a magnificent 101 here, which was the better innings,” Hussey asked.

“In my mind, this is the better innings than the one at the Gabba and the reason why I say that is he came in up at the Gabba after Labuschagne and Warner had done a lot of hard work and he could come later when the bowlers were tired and the pitch had flattened out a bit and he could play in that aggressive nature.

“But today, Australia were 3-12, the ball was nipping around everywhere and he still had the courage to come out and play with such an aggressive mindset.”

ENGLAND BLOW GOLDEN CHANCE

Some factors were out of England’s control on Friday night, such as Ollie Robinson having to be pulled from the attack with Ben Stokes already off bowling duties, or Travis Head’s freakish appetite for runs.

But the cold hard facts are that Australia was on its knees at 3-12, and ended the night’s play somehow in total control of the fifth and final Ashes Test.

If the Sydney Test was a small restoration of pride, then the series finale shaped as England’s golden chance to inflict some hurt on the Australians, and leave them with a sour taste in their mouth.

Better yet, in conditions with a far greater resemblance to those in the UK than the Australian mainland, it was England’s chance to finally win a Test in down under again.

After 10 overs, England was in dreamland. Australia was 3-12. David Warner didn’t score. Nor did Steve Smith. Twin century-maker in Sydney, Usman Khawaja, had missed out with just six on the scoreboard.

Marnus Labuschagne and Head landed some counter-punches, but even then Australia went into the big break at 4-85 with the former comically dismissed by Stuart Broad.

And now, Australia is in control at 6-241.

Pressure relieved for Australia. Back to the summer-long nightmare for England.

As for how Australia was let off the hook; it didn’t help England’s cause that Robinson was forced from the attack midway through the first session when the score was 3-30.

Over the next three overs, Mark Wood was hit for 26 runs and Chris Woakes a further nine as the Test match was turned into a one-dayer by Head and Labuschagne, who realised to stand still in the conditions was to be a sitting duck.

England’s bowling, however, went from being impeccable to being too short, too loose, while its fielding was sloppy, leading to Joe Root becoming visibly angered during a 15-run over from Wood.

“Joe Root is not happy,” Brendon Julian said in Fox Cricket commentary. “Boundaries, singles, easy runs. He knows that first innings runs are crucial in this one.”

Mark Waugh added: “They’ve just bowled too many loose balls. Yes, Australia have batted well but there’s been too many nothing deliveries back of a length and half-volleys.”

Legendary quick Brett Lee said that the drastic turnaround was both down to Australia’s positive mindset, and England’s straying quicks.

“I think that with that pressure Travis Head brought with that mindset … he’s put all the onus back on the England bowlers and I just think it’s put them under a lot of pressure,” Lee said.

“Their lengths, I guess have been horrible in the past 20 overs. The first 10 overs were outstanding. Absolutely impeccable line and length. The last bit has been worrying signs for England.”

England will also be left wondering if it should have given one more Test to veteran quick James Anderson.

While Anderson has had a quiet series, it’s not hard to imagine Anderson running amok in Hobart to have the Australians out cheaply.

Anderson has a day-night Test record of 17 wickets at 19.76 and an economy rate of 2.16.

Meanwhile, Woakes was hit for 1-50 from 12 overs on Friday, and Wood 1.79 from just 11.3 overs.

HAVE AUSTRALIA’S SELECTORS COMPLICATED THINGS?

Before the fifth Test, Usman Khawaja was just about Australia’s most popular cricketer.

Even a song was written about him by music royalty, with Paul Kelly hitting the waves with a song in the wake of his twin centuries.

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Ultimately, Khawaja’s form proved too strong to ignore and someone had to be dislodged after Travis Head was picked to return.

Marcus Harris was the unlucky man despite Pat Cummins saying they were “happy” with how the left-hander was progressing. Try telling that to Harris, whose Test career is at crossroads.

Khawaja was promoted to open the batting alongside childhood mate David Warner.

On the surface the decision seemed fair given he averaged 96 from a handful of occasions opening the batting at Test cricket.

But despite Cummins saying Khawaja could bat anywhere in the top six, it has been almost four years since the 35-year-old has opened the batting and he has found a home at second-drop for Queensland.

Usman Khawaja departed early in Hobart after twin centuries in Sydney. Photo: AFPSource: AFP

Despite Australia failing to find a long-term partner for Warner at the top of the order, selectors went away from Harris and backed Khawaja off the back of his stellar comeback to Test cricket last week.

Khawaja missed out, edging a good length ball to second slip where Zak Crawley took a comfortable catch.

“It was always going to be tough,” former Australian star and selector Mark Waugh said.

“Coming off two hundreds in Sydney, it’s hard to keep it up at that level. I think mentally it would have taken a bit out of Usman Khawaja as well and then he’s got to come and open the batting on a green top.

“He didn’t do too much wrong there, I don’t think he could have let it go. From the angle Broad was bowling he had to play at it, so that’s just cricket in very bowling friendly conditions.”

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Waugh was not wrong.

The conditions were tailor made for bowling and England’s new ball bowlers delivered the goods.

But Australia might have made a situation more complicated for themselves by elevating Khawaja.

At 35, Khawaja is not a long-term solution at the top of the order and Warner is the same age.

Even if he succeeds, it means they will likely have to promote two new openers at some point given Warner’s age profile too.

Australia need only look at England’s struggles to recognise the importance of being patient with their openers.



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