Let’s start at the start. Exactly how short was Rory Burns’ innings?

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What is the start? Is the first ball the start? (Rory Burns bowled for 0.) Is the first session the start? (England 59-4.) The first innings? The first day? (England 147 all out.) Maybe the whole of the first Test match is the start. (Well at least there’s rain around.)

Despite notching a score that could, in another arena, be termed a ‘maximum’, it doesn’t feel like England got off to a particularly good start in this Ashes series.

Everything hung off that first ball when Rory Burns thumbed his nose at physics by somehow getting bowled behind his legs by a left-armer while seemingly standing in front of his stumps.

Impressively, this wasn’t even the first time this year that Burns has lost his wicket in the opening over of a five-Test series. We correctly suggested that the previous one screamed, “Don’t get your hopes up!” in a shrill unignorable voice. Perhaps he should start innings off at the other end.

To give some sense of how bad a start this was, it’s actually quite hard to find an online highlights package where the superimposed ‘play, pause, fast forward, rewind’ controls have auto-faded before Burns’ stumps are messed up.

As an opening batter, you should really aspire to outlast the video player controls overlay.

Australia clearly felt it had been a long spell of play though because upon the fall of the wicket, the subs immediately rushed out drinks with a tremendous sense of urgency.

This was quite something when you consider that at this point in the match, Mitchell Starc was the only player on either side to have actually made contact with the ball.

This moment was undoubtedly our Day 1 highlight. Tragically, the camera didn’t linger, but we counted at least five parched Aussies taking the opportunity for liquid refreshment. Starc was not among them.

Maybe they’re right. Maybe Burns was chronically dehydrated.

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23 comments

  1. On the plus side, strong start for England in the 2021/22 Ridiculous Ashes, although that early drinks thing might claw back a point for the Aussies

    1. We did consider doing a “live” series but figured (a) there are enough Ashes podcasts around right now and (b) we couldn’t be counted on to deliver episodes reliably.

      1. I think it needs the distance of time in order to appreciate the ridiculousness as opposed to the sheer horror

      2. Quite right, KC.

        Tragedy + Time = Comedy.

        My own timing last night was impeccable. Returned from a London Cricket Trust trustees meeting and dinner, just in time to see the toss. Busied myself with tooth-brushing and that sort of thing for a few minutes and lay down with a view to watching the first hour or so of play before the arms of Morpheus would no doubt get me. Woke to realise that I had missed the start of the match and the score had reached 11-2 (or as the Aussies say, 2-11). Stayed awake long enough to hear Joe Root’s dismissal and turn off the TV. Woke again once England were all out and it was raining.

        Timing + Tragedy = Comedy.

  2. I did wonder why the Aussies needed a drink after exactly one ball of the innings. I mean what the hell??

  3. This is good. As everyone knows, Ashes series are ruined by nervous expectation, fuelled by that peculiarly English cricket trait of flattering to deceive. 100/0, things moving smoothly, the. 198 all out. Aussies 32/3, then 323/3.

    In away series, we’ve been particularly good at timing this – things looking good when you go to sleep, all gone to buggery when you wake up.

    What Burns has done for us all is to remove any false expectations. So instead of embarrassment and crushing disappointment, we now only have to deal with embarrassment. And wine buying, we still have to deal with wine buying.

  4. Did anyone else notice that the leg bail flew up and hit Burns on the lid as it fell? You know it’s not your day when even physics is humiliating you.

  5. I’m afraid that is it for this test. I had a little bit of hope when I saw Oz 6 down with a lead of 85 odd, but the Head ton means there is no way back (if there ever was one in the first place).

  6. I have seen a lot of people stating that the last time England started a series in Australia well was 2010. A match where Australia had a first innings lead of 221. Its entirely possible that Australia could end their first innings here with a smaller lead, and yet this is being accepted as a terrible start.

    Obviously the chances of England putting on 500+ here are tiny (especially for one wicket), but then the number of people who predicted England scoring 517/1 dec. in the second innings 12 years ago would have been tiny as well.

    I don’t really know what point I’m making here, I’ve been convinced England are going to lose the series for ages so I’m not trying to claim the start as anything other than grim, but I do get annoyed by a certain type of cricket fan particularly when the Ashes roll around.

    1. We joke about the inevitability of catastrophe a lot, but nothing is truly inevitable and the fun is in seeing what actually happens.

      As an addendum to this, there is a real trend in the UK media to report every day as ‘another catastrophic day Down Under for England’. We get where they’re coming from, but there seems a strong tendency to see/present bad days as catastrophic days. It also brings to mind something we said the other day about Duncan Fletcher being astonished and horrified to hear an England player saying “here we go again” in response to a bad start to the 2002/03 series. Fletcher thought that mentality was beyond unproductive, but given everyone’s strong urge to link every event to everything that’s gone before, it must be a hard thing to avoid.

    2. …a certain type of cricket fan…

      Of the ones I’ve met, there are only two types. There is the Australian type, and there is the English type. The former have a single state of being during a series, and two states of being afterwards, depending on the result. These are Massive Confidence (during), and either bewilderment (having lost) or smug acceptance of the natural order of things (having won). The capitalisation of Massive Confidence is entirely deliberate, as it is a thing in itself.

      The latter are much more complex, having two states of being during a series. However, they only have one state after the series has ended. During the series these states are resignation (if losing) and panic (if winning). Afterwards, irrespective if the result, it is bewilderment.

      I’ve been convinced England are going to lose the series for ages.

      That still leaves open the possibility of you being English or Australian.

    1. 220 for 2, a 150+ partnership, this is the classic set-up. We’ll get past them with eight in hand, give them 250 to 300 to chase, put some pressure on. We might lose, but we’ll go down fighting.

      [Australia won by an innings and 12 runs.]

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