England orchestrated a dramatic start to the second Test against Australia today. After losing the toss and anticipating a long day in the field on a pitch as flat as a World Cup bid, the tourists reduced their opponents to 2 for 3 by the third over.
The victims included the captain, Ricky Ponting, who went first ball, and the vice-captain, Michael Clarke, whose hesitant innings lasted six balls. But the decline was started in the first over when opener Simon Katich was run out without facing a ball.
Shane Watson prodded a ball from Jimmy Anderson to square leg and set off for a risky signal. Jonathan Trott, fielded, lined up the throw and hit the only stump he had to aim at. Katich, who was slow to react, did not bother to wait for a slow motion replay to determine his fate.
In came Ponting and out went Ponting. He pushed hard at a perfect late outswinger from Anderson, edged and was pouched well by Graeme Swann darting low to his left at second slip. Clarke's innings was unsettling: in successive balls from Stuart Broad he flashed and was then beaten outside off stump.
It could not go on like this and in Anderson's next over he, too, edged a peach of a ball and was caught by Swann at second slip, this time barely moving. Australia had not experienced a worse start to an innings since being 0 for 3 against England at Brisbane 60 years ago (when they eventually declared at 30 for 7 on a sticky wicket and won by 70 runs).
The plight might have become worse still had a review of an lbw appeal against Watson found in England's favour. But the ball was clearly going over the top. But Anderson could, perhaps should have removed Hussey with the score at 12. The batsman clipped a ball low in the air to the left of Anderson, who could not quite react quickly enough, the ball bouncing out.
Australia made two changes to the team which were kept in the field for two days at Brisbane in the first Test. After much speculation in Australia, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus were both dropped from an under-performing bowling attack, though the accurate plugger Hilfenhaus could consider himself unfortunate. Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris replaced them. England were unchanged.
Such a sensational beginning could hardly be sustained on such a benign surface and although England's bowlers kept to a full length, allowing the ball to swing, it also permitted the batsmen to drive. Both Watson and Hussey, who rescued Australia's innings in Brisbane, seized on anything of full length and took Australia to the relative safety of 50 for 3.
The on pitch incident deflected attention from the tourists' off pitch concerns. Kevin Pietersen was again in trouble after a piece of Twitter twittery. Pietersen, who has form in these things having reacted badly to being dropped in the summer, had registered his unhappiness with the Adelaide groundstaff for failing to cover the practice nets on Wednesday. England were embarrassed but said it had not breached their Twitter guidelines."