Overcast conditions and a bit of grass on the deck prompted New Zealand captain Jeremy Coney to bowl first in the first Test against Australia at Brisbane. Sir Richard Hadlee rolled Australia for 179. Hadlee’s figures were 23.4-4-52-9! Except a valiant 70 from Kepler Wessels, none of the Australian batsmen had an answer to Hadlee’s nagging line and incisive length.
The next day, Brisbane was blessed with a burst of sunshine. John Reid and Martin Crowe made the Australian bowlers toil hard. They posted 553 for and declared. Hadlee picked 6 in second Australia lost by an innings and 41 runs. New Zealand won their first ever Test series downunder.
The scenario was almost the same at Leeds.
Under the grey skies and on a spicy deck, Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad bundled out Australia for the same total yesterday.
Day 2 was bright and sunny like 1985 in Brisbane.
But this time around, the script would be written by the Australian pace attack.
Who’s Josh Hazlewood?
He is not on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Oh yes, in the age of social media, he is an alien. Does not talk much. No show-offs. No limelight. But you start to know him better when he runs in with the ball in his hand and hit that line-and-length relentlessly.
With the deck started to lose its life by the heat of the sun, England thought of grinding the Australian bowlers, but Hazlewood’s full-length deliveries, which nipped-back in and then moved late, left England in tatters. Poor shot selections from Ben Stokes and Joe Denly made things worse for England. They were all out for 67!
There would be no Brisbane 1985, but there had been havoc created by the silent assassin from Australia – who showed, neither the condition nor the deck matters if you keep your line and length right.
I witnessed one of the best spells ever bowled in the history of Ashes since I started following this traditional rivalry in 1990-91.