The Ashes has begun! On a green Gabba pitch on a cloudy, relatively cool day, Joe Root won the toss and…chose to bat, because that’s what you do in Test cricket. About 8 hours later, England were all out for 147, including a first-ball-of-the-series duck for Rory Burns delivered by Mitchell Starc. Millions of UK viewers turned off their TVs and went to bed after that debacle, and they missed all the other debacles of England’s first innings. Then the hosts, led by Travis Head’s 152, put 425 on the board in response as lunch began on Day 3. But! After lunch, England have fought back, with captain Root among the runs and enjoying a 159* partnership with Dawid Malan. England trails by 58 runs and only down two wickets as play closed. A draw at least is still very much in the cards for England, which they would surely take after the opening innings. The Gabba has been known to be brutal for batting on the final day, so Root’s conventional choice may turn out be a winning one.
Sydney Sixers opened BBL11 with a complete thrashing of Melbourne Stars, racing to 213/4 and then holding Stars to 61 all out. Last year’s Player of the Tournament, Josh Phillipe, was everywhere in this one, top-scoring 83 and making two catches and effecting a stumping. Sixers won their other game by 14 runs over Hobart and are top of the table. Brisbane Heat lost both their early games and are at the bottom.
Central Districts won their opener in the Men’s Super Smash chasing down 184 against Otago and then beat Wellington by 14 runs. They followed this with a blowout loss in Christchurch to Canterbury. Such is T20 cricket. CD still leads the table at 2-1. On the women’s side, Wellington looks unbeatable, with two huge wins against Canterbury and Central Districts. Otago is also 2-0, though, with wins over Central and Northern, setting up what should be a good matchup on December 28th at beautiful Queenstown Oval.
USA and Ireland are meeting in Lauderhill, FL in two T20Is and three ODIs starting on December 22nd. I’ll have to switch from the 1st USA-IRE ODI to Day 2 of the Boxing Day Test on December 26th. Rough duty.