Rain and weather played their role in proceedings on the first day of the Fourth Test at the SCG as both Australia and England endured a frustrating on again, off again day in Sydney.
Pat Cummins won the toss and chose to bat on a green SCG wicket. After a delayed start, Australia’s batters settled in and at times, raced along at a quick run rate before England clawed back late with a couple of big quick wickets.
Here are the moments that mattered on Day 1 at the SCG.
Stop start morning session as openers make steady start
It wouldn’t be a Sydney Test without some intervention from the weather and it was quick to make an appearance on Day One at the SCG.
After overnight rain and persistent drizzle in the morning, the start of play was delayed, as it was in Melbourne by 30 minutes with the skies clearing for Pat Cummins to win the toss and choose to bat. Play began until, after 4.3 overs the players were being called off for rain.
The covers went on, then off, then on then off again as the skies cleared and play got back underway, with Warner and Harris continuing their watchful start in overcast condition. Punishing anything short or overpitched in a probing opening spell by veteran seamers Stuart Broad and James Anderson.
But the resumption was short-lived. Only 8 overs were completed before the players were pulled off again for rain as an early lunch was taken.
Crawley levels up from missed chance as Broad gets Warner again
Despite the stop-start morning, both Australian batters were looking increasingly set and comfortable when play resumed after lunch. With Mark Wood bowling fast from one end and Ben Stokes banging it in on a short length at the other, both were trying to create chances for England to make the first incision.
Stokes found the outside edge of David Warner in the 18th over which flew just past the reach of Zak Crawley at second slip and raced away to the boundary for four. Replays showed that Crawley could have completed the catch had he reacted quicker and moved his feet slightly to his right having just evaded him.
Warner followed up two balls later by crunching a cover drive to the fence and looking in ominous touch on his home ground. The opening pair notched their third 50 run opening stand and second in consecutive innings before his arch-nemesis Stuart Broad came back on to bowl at the Randwick end.
A probing opening over beating the bat, Broad found Warner’s outside edge which was held by Crawley at second slip.
It was the 13th time that Broad had claimed Warner’s wicket in Test cricket and a nice redemptive moment for Crawley who was able to help England make the key breakthrough before rain halted play yet again.
Runs flow for Australia after restart
Play finally got back underway for the evening session at the SCG under floodlights and gloomy-looking skies but with clear conditions and plenty of overs remaining, the Australian batters wasted no time getting back into their work.
Marcus Harris and Marnus Labuschagne resumed for Australia and started ticking the scoreboard along.
Along with a handful of wides off a delivery that went sailing above Jos Buttler’s head from Mark Wood, Australia added 40 runs in just over 40 minutes after the resumption with both batters getting set nicely.
The pair brought up their 50 run partnership as the score passed 100 in the 34th over, with England gifting 19 sundries as part of the first 100 runs.
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Anderson breakthrough sparks double strike for England drag their way back
With the game meandering along, Joe Root turned to the old reliable comfort blanket that is James Anderson to help bring about a wicket and change momentum for England. Halfway through another miserly spell, He obliged when he found the outside of Marcus Harris’ bat which was held by Joe Root at first slip. Dismissing the left-hander for 38 having looked increasingly comfortable.
The wicket brought Steve Smith to the crease to partner Labuschagne and Root immediately turned to Mark Wood and put him on from the Randwick end replacing Jack Leach. The one bowler who has dismissed both batters this series and on occasion looked to have troubled the duo with his extra pace.
The move paid dividends almost straight away. After being driven down the ground first ball of his spell for four, Wood found the outside edge of Labuschagne again, which was held by Buttler behind the stumps, dismissing Australia’s number three and the world number one Test Match batter for 28. His second consecutive knock under 47 in the first innings since he was substituted in at Lords.
England was much more dangerous with the ball following the drinks break and the change of ball in the evening session. Producing more seam movement and looking more and more dangerous and likely to take more wickets.
Warm welcome return for Khawaja on old stomping ground
Despite all the disruptions at the SCG on Day 1, the crowd saved their biggest and loudest cheer for the returning Usman Khawaja. Replacing Travis Head in the playing XI who came down with a bout of COVID, Khawaja returned the Australian Test side for the first time since 2019. On the same ground, he made his Test debut 10 years earlier.
He was clapped all the way to centre as he was welcomed back to the Test arena with open arms from the 25,078 strong crowd at the SCG.
After receiving a bouncer first ball back from Mark Wood, Khawaja would have to wait till his 13th delivery faced to get off the mark, which he did so by clattering a pull shot away to the boundary for four. Again, the reception was loud as Khawaja was back among the runs in Test match cricket.
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