Stuart Broad and Steve Smith ramp up trash talk in second Ashes Test | Ali Martin

England deliver new hard-nosed, opening day response to Australia sledging, but umpire Aleem Dar issues a warning

Different coloured ball, same old nonsense. The 2017-18 Ashes may have witnessed less than a week of cricket but when it comes to behaviour, the latest battle for the little urn is already shaping up as a race to the bottom.

The opening day in Adelaide, where a record-breaking 55,317 spectators flocked through the turnstiles for the first day-night men’s Test between Australia and England, should have been a celebration of the oldest rivalry in cricket getting a fresh twist under lights. Instead, it was a case of rinse and repeat from the back end of the Gabba Test and the fallout caused by the head-butt saga. The umpire, Aleem Dar, a passive soul, twice stepped in to remind the players that there are certain standards to be upheld and that the Rugby League World Cup final between the two countries was being staged 1,200 miles away.

England have clearly had enough of being on the receiving end of Australia’s on-field chuntering and what they believed was an orchestrated attempt to rev up Jonny Bairstow’s social faux-pas with Cameron Bancroft at the start of the tour. A new hard-nosed policy is in place, with the man they perceived to be laughing at them at the end of the first Test – Steve Smith – now the prime target.

After the wicket of David Warner, whose earlier homicidal call had led to Bancroft being run out and Stuart Broad pointedly stick his fingers in his ears towards the guilty party, the Australia captain strode out to the middle. Things appeared quiet at first but it did not take long before Broad was exchanging views with the right‑hander, who fired back in turn. Though hard to decipher the exact words, it was clear the pros and cons of Adelaide council’s mooted congestion charge was not the topic of debate.

Anderson, whose use of the word bullies in a pre-match column for the Telegraph had prompted Smith to remind him of his own partiality for a word or two, then got involved. Placing himself at a short mid-on while Smith was at the non-striker’s end, more eyeballing, posturing and general twaddle ensued before Dar once again had to act.

Did the tactic work? Certainly Smith seemed slightly unsettled at the crease. Having last week ground England into the Brisbane dirt with an unbeaten 141, he eventually perished on 40 when, having apparently sledged Craig Overton about his lack of pace, the debutant lit up the Zing bails with a ball that cannoned off pad and bat.

Though England were pretty boorish here, it must be said, perhaps Smith will now reconsider his assertion that the officials should decide where the line be drawn. Those words showed a leader out of touch with one of the oldest codes of the sport: namely the two captains are responsible for the tone in which a match is played.

But then maybe the spectators who had flocked down from the bustling cafes and bars (and massage establishments) of Hindley Street, and crossed the snaking footbridge over the river Torrens towards this giant multipurpose stadium, had parted with their cash for such a battle.

It is fair to say they did not quite receive the full day-night experience sold in the brochure. A near 20-degree drop from some punishing temperatures at the start of the week, and the showery clouds that kept sweeping across the ground and breaking up play, meant they were denied the balmy evening of salmon skies witnessed in the previous two years here.

The stands were thinner after the delayed dinner break than at any stage of the day, with the Village Green area to the back of the Chappell Stand swamped by the drinkers. A nd the cricket never quite crackled into life, however hard the players tried to antagonise each other, with the pink Kookaburra still not producing the most attractive cricket.

Nevertheless, this was a record gate for a cricket match here of 55,317, smashing Big Bash figures and the Test‑best 50,962 that turned up to watch day two of the Bodyline encounter in 1933. Australian rules football may have once brought more back in the day but not since the ground was converted from its quaint old the terracotta-roofed past life into a horse-shoed beast that, for all the modernisation, has still retained much of the history and charm.

It is something of an open secret that Adelaide Oval is likely to never again witness a daytime Test. The local cricket association is intent on becoming the spiritual home for the pink ball format, as the scene of its birth two years ago. On that occasion Australia and New Zealand reportedly split a million-dollar sweetener to act as the guinea pigs. This time around, from what we have seen thus far, you sense they would sooner set fire to the loot than see their opponent also benefit.


Ali Martin at the Adelaide Oval

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Stuart Broad delighted with Steve Smith’s frustration at England tactics
Steve Smith’s description of England’s bowling tactics as ‘pretty defensive’ met with a satisfied response from Stuart Broad

Ali Martin at the Gabba

25, Nov, 2017 @1:58 PM

Article image
England strive to solve Ashes puzzle with key pieces still missing | Vic Marks
The selectors pick their touring party to Australia this week, a task made tougher by losses of fitness and form among key contenders

Vic Marks

25, Sep, 2017 @7:00 AM

Article image
Mitchell Marsh makes his Ashes mark after coming through ‘bad place’ | Adam Collins
Australia’s Mitchell Marsh hits a third-day Ashes 181 not out against England in Perth but says during ‘my shoulder rehab I thought I wouldn’t get back’

Adam Collins at the Waca

16, Dec, 2017 @1:32 PM

Article image
England’s creeping dread materialises in day of Ashes flagellation at the Waca | Ali Martin
Flat is the word that summed up the bowlers as Australia highlighted what is required in these parts and what England so badly lack

Ali Martin at the Waca

16, Dec, 2017 @11:46 AM

Article image
England’s Paul Farbrace admits Steve Smith ‘stirring’ has valid basis
England’s assistant coach Paul Farbrace said remarks by Australia’s Steve Smith were a ‘a bit of stirring’ but conceded, ‘we don’t have bowlers bowling 90mph-plus in our set-up’

Ali Martin at the Waca

16, Dec, 2017 @1:12 PM

Article image
Australia dig in but England’s Craig Overton nabs Steve Smith
After Joe Root put Australia in on day one in Adelaide the hosts reached 209 for 4 at the close, with Usman Khawaja making 53, but England debutant Craig Overton dismissed Steve Smith for 40

Vic Marks at the Adelaide Oval

02, Dec, 2017 @11:59 AM

Article image
From Tyson to Warne the MCG has provided some classic Test performances | Simon Burnton
Since hosting the first ever cricket Test match in 1877 Melbourne has some great memories for England– and a few bad ones

Simon Burnton

24, Dec, 2017 @12:00 PM

Article image
Steve Smith was saying I was slow, it was nice to beat him for pace, says Overton
Craig Overton delighted at getting Steve Smith out for his debut Test wicket and revealed the on-field comments made it all the sweeter

Ali Martin at the Adelaide Oval

02, Dec, 2017 @1:52 PM

Article image
Recovering Stuart Broad has his sights set on key opening Ashes Test
England stalwart has resumed bowling and his research tells him that a lack of express pace may not cost his side in Australia

Andy Bull

16, Oct, 2021 @9:00 PM

Article image
Steve Smith: ‘I read everything. If I don’t agree I use it as motivation to do better’
In an extract from his exclusive interview for Wisden Cricket Monthly, Adam Collins speaks to Steve Smith about his journey from chilled Bondi surfie to the Australia captaincy and his hopes of one day joining the greats

Adam Collins

18, Nov, 2017 @7:00 PM