Steven Finn warned England they must land some telling blows on Australia tomorrow morning after bad light and rain denied them a final attack with the new ball in the First Test at The Gabba today.
Jimmy Anderson was about to charge in when, with the floodlights shining and the crowd booing, umpires Billy Doctrove and Aleem Dar ordered the teams off at 4.40pm. Heavy rain quickly followed and play was abandoned with Australia on 220 for five, 40 runs shy of England’s first innings total.
Finn took two for 61 from 15 overs on his Ashes debut, seeing off Simon Katich, spectacularly caught and bowled, and Michael Clarke. But he knows he and his team-mates must make the new ball count against Mike Hussey (81no) and Brad Haddin (22no) in the first hour of day three, when play will begin half an hour earlier at 9.30am (11.30pm GMT).
He said: “It will be nice to have the new ball tomorrow and we are looking forward to it. The game has ebbed and flowed. It was billed as a very even series before we came, and the way the wickets have fallen and the situation of the game suggests it will be like that.
“So tomorrow and in the rest of the series, we have to make sure we nail things home and take the opportunities when they come our way.”
England captain Andrew Strauss complained bitterly to Doctrove as the players were called off but their departure came immediately before a shower lasting 20 minutes. As 5pm was the latest play could restart, the ground staff decided they did not have enough time to repair the bowlers’ run-ups after the downpour, and play was officially called off at 4.45pm with 17 overs left to bowl. A spokesman for Cricket Australia said: “The umpires were concerned with the dampness around the bowlers’ run-ups at the Stanley Street End. The ground staff would have needed half an hour to get the ground playable.”
Wicketkeeper Haddin had provided sensible support for Hussey in their unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 77, and Strauss might reflect that the early conclusion will help his own team as much as the Aussies.
With only three seam bowlers in their attack and with Hussey playing superbly, a fresh start tomorrow could provide the tourists’ best chance.
Hussey’s place was under threat before this Test but his fluent knock justified the selectors’ faith.
The Aussie left-hander believes the outcome of the Test might hang on how well he and Haddin deal with the new ball. Hussey said: “The game is 50/50, and it will be interesting to see what happens in the first session tomorrow. It will be important for us to see off the new ball and it might be the pivotal point of the match. It might come down to those vital moments but we are right up for the battle.”
Meanwhile, England coach Andy Flower was not at The Gabba today as he had an operation to remove a melanoma on his right cheek.
The problem came to light only over the last two days, said the England and Wales Cricket Board.
A spokesman said: “The operation was successful and at this stage, he is expected to be fine. He may well be back on deck tomorrow, or most definitely the following day.”
Tom Collomosse is the cricket Correspondent for the Evening Standard.Reuse content