On the first day of the first Ashes Test, James Vince made what Reese described to us as ‘a daddy 30’.
No-one expected Vince to make 83 and what’s so marvellous about that is that it undermines a number of pre-series certainties to leave us all watching a nice, unpredictable sporting event.
The gist of it is this: if Vince can score runs against this attack then either he’s better than everyone thought or Australia’s fearsome pace attack is slightly less fearsome than we’d been led to believe.
Let’s go for a little from Column A and a little from Column B.
Vince was solid. We know this because having got up just in time to see Mark Stoneman dismissed (literally the first ball we saw) we then got to hear the commentators talking about what we’d missed at great length. England’s subsequent mediocrity then inspired us to spend a great deal of time dwelling on what had preceded it. (Ashes Tests can be very personally vindictive in what they present to part-time viewers on the opposite side of the world – we’re not inclined to calculate our own personal ‘cricket viewed’ mini scorecard.)
On the plus side, we did get to see Australia’s four-man attack at the end of the day, allowing us to gauge the impact of one whole day of Test cricket on them.
As relentlessly aggressive pace attacks go, they seemed to spend an awful lot of time pressuring England by cutting off the runs. As we all know, ‘good cricket’ and ‘attacking cricket’ are one and the same thing, so this defensive cricket was therefore impressively attacking.
Pace-wise, they were all utterly unspectacular. Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins hovered just below the 90mph threshold above which we’re finally willing to deem a bowler ‘fast’. Josh Hazlewood opted for Jimmy Anderson pace and everyone pretended it was quicker because he’s younger and Australian.
An alternative take on the day is that the pitch is shunting the play runwards, in which case James Vince is the same and Australia’s bowlers are amazing because they’ve dismissed Alastair Cook and Joe Root for almost nothing.