England coach Trevor Bayliss does not regret his side’s decision to bowl first after Australia had batted for more than five sessions and declared on 442 for 8 just after the dinner break on the second day at Adelaide Oval on Sunday (December 3).
Only 21 times in the last ten years have England captains won the toss and bowled in Test cricket and England have won just six of those matches. More generally, only eight teams before this match had won the toss and bowled at Adelaide Oval in 133 years and only one team, the Windies in 1982, have won after doing so.
Conditions for this match – a day-night affair with a pink ball – are obviously different to most of the games played previously at the ground so history can probably be discounted. The teams who have batted first in the two day-night Tests at the ground to date – New Zealand in 2015 and South Africa last year – both lost which is perhaps more relevant to Joe Root’s decision.
Bayliss said he was happy with the choice to bowl first but admitted England’s bowlers hadn’t got things right with the first new ball. “One of our challenges is taking wickets on flatter wickets so Joe wanted to give our guys the best opportunity to take 20 wickets,” he said. “It was a decision that wasn’t taken lightly. For us to win games, we’ve got to take 20 wickets and Joe thought that was our best opportunity, to bowl first on a fresh wicket.
“On the whole, I thought we were pretty good. The first morning, we were probably a little bit short on the whole. The first rain break came and we had a bit of a chat about it and I thought the next couple of sessions, we bowled pretty well. We didn’t have a whole lot of luck but that’s the game of cricket. On another day, another two of three nicks might have had us in a different position.”
England took just eight wickets in 149 overs of bowling and allowed Australia to recover from 209 for 5 to post a score of over 400. Shaun Marsh, who Bayliss described as a “quality player”, made 126 not out and was ably supported by Tim Paine (57) and Pat Cummins (44) to put Australia firmly in control.It is the second time England have allowed Australia to escape from a tricky position. In the first innings in Brisbane, the home side were 209 for 7, but managed to score over 300 and take a first innings lead.