Hussey good, Clarke bad: Columns of conviction

It was a tough, old-fashioned day with England fighting back, which seems to have rattled the Aussie press as much as their team’s middle order.

‘Aussies bitten on their Achilles heel’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘Pup goes with a whimper’
… said the Aussie super-site but rotated this headline with
‘Dominant Hussey silences critics’
…. so not all bad, then.

Jim Morton of the Aussie Associated Press, much like the England bowlers, tucked into North, Clarke and Ponting.
‘Australia’s Achilles heel – their fragile middle-order – was exposed again as England’s bowlers swung the tourists back into the topsy-turvy first Ashes Test at the Gabba. Plagued by momentum-turning batting collapses over the past two years, Australia’s batsmen were again struck down.’

Peter Roebuck in The Age agreed.
‘With Clarke struggling, Simon Katich hobbling and Marcus North failing, the selectors have plenty to think about … Bowling also requires a settled mind. In that regard England has an advantage. On previous tours its bowlers have fallen apart. Now the quartet remained aggressive.’

On the Herald Sun, it was all about the anger and the injury.
‘Furious England players were reluctant to leave the field as Hussey played rock to Clarke’s crock. Hussey drove with conviction and pulled with aplomb … Ponting’s deputy, however, was clearly in a world of discomfort, scratching around for nine runs off 50 balls. Mis-fields on the opening day had already sounded the alarm bells. He’s operating at less than maximum velocity and Australia cannot afford passengers.’

Ben Dorries back at the Courier Mail looked at the wider significance for Hussey.
‘Mike Hussey saved his career and his country but last night revealed how he said a silent prayer in the crazy first-ball moment where it all could have gone so wrong [where a nick fell short of slip]… “It just goes to show how much the game is a fine line. A foot more and I would have been gone for a first-ball duck.” … Test selectors may have had three big wins with the selections of Peter Siddle, Hussey and even Xavier Doherty but they must have been last night wishing they had given Usman Khawaja his first Test cap and left Clarke on the physiotherapist’s table.’

Phil Lutton in the Sydney Morning Herald summed up the day in ‘25 words or less’ (sic).
‘Australia barks but fails to bite. Barely a whimper from Pup and Punter. Swann dives, Huss pulls Australia out of impending doom.’
And casts an eye over the crowd …
‘A mid-afternoon Mexican wave and beach ball volleyball session was quickly suppressed by the Gabba fun patrol. None of that at the cricket please. At least a quality beer snake was constructed outside of one of the media boxes.’

And finally, Roebuck was at his best, writing about the previous day, this time in the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘Siddle did more than enter the record books – he upheld a great tradition. At its best, Ashes cricket has always pitted fiery fast bowlers against brave batsmen. In these exchanges the game drops all affectations and becomes a raw, sometimes brutal, confrontation between bat and ball. It is sport stripped naked. It is also its truest voice.’

‘Sledger’ writes a regular media column in The Wisden Cricketer each month

Read more on the Ashes:

Sam Collins’ first day – session-by-session
Alan Tyers: Ashes cliché drinking game
Lawrence Booth: 10 Ashes things to look forward to
Daniel Brigham: Are England good enough?
Jrod: Bored by the fake fight
Sam Collins: Cycling to the Ashes – the end of the road
Sam Collins: Australia in need of Ashes inspiration
Benj Moorehead: it all seems too good for England
Sam Collins: the temptations of tours

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