Of all the bitter memories of the Adelaide Oval among English cricketers few can bear larger grudges than Jimmy Anderson. The very mention of its beauty might have induced a queasy feeling in the pit of the stomach.
It was at the ground four years ago that Anderson was assaulted by Australia's batsmen during a trip around the country on which he was routinely mauled. Perhaps the relentless offensive reached its zenith in the second Test when he conceded four runs an over and ultimately had the winning runs hit off him in one of English cricket's most deflating losses.
In the first Test of this series, Anderson began his carefully designed mission of vengeance. By the end of the first day of the second Test it was going so swimmingly – from late swinging ball to equally potent if slightly less articulate verbal thrusts – that Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain headed across the outfield to have a heated word with his English counterpart, Andrew Strauss. It did not look as if Ponting was congratulating England on a wonderful performance of disciplined bowling and fielding, though you never know.
Anderson now looks so in control of affairs that his influence on this series threatens to be profound. How different this magnificent ground looked the last time he played a Test on it. St Peter's Cathedral, the classical neo-gothic building overlooking it, may as well have been a concrete multistorey car park in Anderson's mind, the grassy knolls on which spectators gather for one of this city's great social occasions mere slag heaps. He put all this behind him yesterday in what, considering not only the history but the lovely batting surface on which he was operating, was an immaculate fast bowling exhibition. At The Gabba last week he had produced something similar on the third morning in one of the finest of all wicketless spells by an England bowler in Australia.
Not yesterday when he fully deserved his 4 for 51 and might easily have had better. It was one of the great first days for recent England teams anywhere in this country. Not only was it blessed with a dream beginning but that was also followed by some outstanding cricket from the tourists which was patient, efficient and ruthless. Australia, as they say, were under the pump and they knew it. They were bowled out for 245 when 445 might have been a minimum objective.
Only Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin, the Australian heroes of Brisbane, repulsed the English forces for long but it was nowhere near long enough. When Ponting won the toss for the home side on a brutally hot day, he presumably imagined batting until just before or just after tea on the second day, depending on how much torture he wanted to inflict on his opponents.
A revision of his schedule was necessary after precisely 13 balls by which time Australia had lost three wickets including those of their captain and vice-captain. This catastrophic turn of events (or glorious to England fans packed into the newly redeveloped ground) was sparked by an improbable run-out from the fourth ball of the match.
Simon Katich had yet to face when his partner, Shane Watson, rushed through for a single as the ball went to square leg. If Katich reacted slowly it was still a reckless run and Jonathan Trott took aim and threw down the one stump he could see.
Anticipation swelled in the crowd's collective breast as Ponting came to the crease. He had made a statement with a rapid fifty on the final afternoon at Brisbane, he was ready to go. Ponting was drawn into the shot as Anderson pitched one perfectly. When it moved devilishly late he could do nothing about edging it to second slip where Graeme Swann took a low catch to his left, which he made look deceptively straightforward. Michael Clarke had time, just, to show he was out of form before he, too, edged Anderson to second slip.
"I'm a much different bowler from the one that came out here four years ago," said Anderson. "I'm much more experienced and have gradually got better. It's nice to bowl well out here but I didn't think I had anything to prove to anyone."
There have been worse starts by Australia but not for 60 years when they fell to 0 for 3, also against England (and went on to win). But that was on old-fashioned sticky wicket, uncovered while rain fell and then boundlessly untrustworthy when the sun came out. This was a typical Adelaide strip, granting some slight favours to bowlers for about five minutes in the morning before withdrawing them with bad grace and letting batsmen dominate.
It was a huge inconvenience when Anderson missed a return catch from Hussey on three (and that would have been 12 for 4) but England were not distracted. They bowled full and straight at first and were careful to make batsmen hit down the ground.
From the Cathedral End for most of the day came Swann. He did not make the mistake of dropping short as he had at Brisbane in the first Test last week and, disarmingly accurate, was every bit as effective as Anderson.
Anderson and Swann, close pals off the pitch, have just appeared together in the latest edition of Swann's amusing video diary of the tour. Anderson steals the show with a charmingly camp cameo and if he stole it again yesterday, camp was not the first description that came to mind as he roared in and snarled.
Hussey played Swann with the aplomb he displayed in Brisbane but this time had to use his feet to come down the pitch and was offered nothing short of note. His resourceful innings was ended on the verge of his second hundred of the series when Swann, in his 26th over of the day, persuaded one to bite and take the outside of the bat. It was the key wicket and England wasted no time in scything their way through a frail lower order.
There was an over to bowl at England at the end and as the players walked off, Ponting strode 30 yards to have an animated word with Strauss, possibly about Anderson's repeated barbs at Haddin. Nobody was sure, nobody was saying but England did not appear to care a jot.
Second Test, Adelaide Oval (second day of five): England trail Australia by 190 runs with nine first-innings wickets remaining
Australia won toss (updated at 1am on second day)
Australia First Innings
S Watson c Pietersen b Anderson;51
94 balls 7 fours 1 six
S Katich run out (Trott);0
*R Ponting c Swann b Anderson;0
M Clarke c Swann b Anderson;2
M Hussey c Collingwood b Swann;93
183 balls 8 fours
M North c Prior b Finn;26
93 balls 4 fours
†B Haddin c Finn b Broad;56
95 balls 2 fours 1 six
R Harris lbw b Swann;0
X Doherty run out (Strauss);6
19 balls 1 four
P Siddle c Cook b Anderson;3
D Bollinger not out;0
Extras (lb 6, w 1, nb 1);8
Total (85.5 overs);245
Fall: 1-0 (Katich), 2-0 (Ponting), 3-2 (Clarke), 4-96 (Watson), 5-156 (North), 6-207 (Hussey), 7-207 (Harris), 8-226 (Doherty), 9-243 (Siddle), 10-245 (Haddin).
Bowling: J Anderson 19-4-51-4 (7-1-18-2, 5-1-13-1, 4-1-7-0, 3-1-13-1), S Broad 18.5-6-39-1 (4-1-12-0, 5-1-12-0, 4-2-6-0, 3-1-4-0, 2.5-1-5-1), S Finn 16-1-71-1 (w1, nb1) (4-0-26-0, 2-0-9-0, 3-1-10-1, 7-0-26-0), G Swann 29-2-70-2 (23-2-58-0, 6-0-12-2), P Collingwood 3-0-8-0 (one spell).
First-day progress: 50 in 14.1 overs, Lunch 94-3 (S Watson 50, M Hussey 36, 27 overs), 100 in 30.1 overs, 150 in 52.5 overs, Tea 159-5 (M Hussey 71, B Haddin 2, 57 overs), 200 in 70.4 overs. Watson: 50 82 balls, 7 fours, 1 six; Hussey: 50 95 balls, 5 fours; Haddin: 50 88 balls, 3 fours, 1 six.
England First Innings
*A Strauss b Bollinger;1
A Cook not out;14
J Trott not out;32
Extras (lb 1);1
Total (1 wkt, 14 overs);55
To bat: K P Pietersen, P D Collingwood, I R Bell, †M J Prior, G P Swann, S C J Broad, J M Anderson, S T Finn.
Bowling: R Harris 6-3-14-0; DE Bollinger 5-0-16-1; P Siddle 3-0-17-0.
Umpires M Erasmus (SA) & A L Hill (NZ).