It is a circus tent that will be erected over the center square, so that the track preparations can continue as the rain falls. This is more akin to Manchester or Leeds than Brisbane in November. Southeast Queensland has always had its share of thunderstorms, but the recent flood has caused fans of Noah to rush to the woodworks. The bottom line in Woolloongabba is that the track will most likely be underprepared – meaning that ground staff will not have enough time to cut, roll, water, dry, cut, roll, water, roll and do it all over again within an environment , they can control. Test sites at Gabba do not usually start the first morning with grassy, green glows that Sheffield Shield batmen have been known to scrub.
The match is scheduled for five days with a view to testing all skill types. Any hometown advantage would possibly be canceled by Joe Root, who calls correctly, sends Australia to the batting fold and then uses Jimmy Anderson’s and Stuart Broads’ expertise on the top shelf to reject Australia cheaply. On the other hand, if Australia wins the draw, the opposite may be true. The coin toss should not be a middle factor, let alone a significant factor in deciding a test match, but when conditions are skewed, the best team does not necessarily come out on top, and these two teams are roughly equal. Pat Cummins’ most significant action may well come before the first ball is thrown.
Winning the first test in this series is worth more than one. In addition to a series lead, the psychology of the remaining tests, which are to be compressed to six weeks, will change dramatically. The out-of-game distractions will amplify for the losers, while the winners can play with freedom of thought and intention. The losers will question themselves about team balance and the legitimacy of peripheral performers.
Anderson would have written in the first test as the best opportunity to use his swing skills in a heavy atmosphere. A bit of swing and sway, and lots of carry from the edges, is just the cocktail to shoot the Australian percussion, and it looks like his wish will be fulfilled with high humidity and more rain on the way. Anderson’s record on hard, dry pitches is not flattering, so England will want value from their best bowler, and Brisbane are shaping up nicely for him.
Neither side has had the preparation they wanted, so that puts them right on that score, but that could all change when Joe Root calls Wednesday morning. Captains can come up with different formulas or superstitions to call heads or tails, but I have never known a captain who practiced calling other than on Anzac Day. The time may have come. The Ashes may depend on it as the home court advantage diminishes via the unpredictable weather phenomena and virus blockades.
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