Cam Green went more than 45 overs — close to the length of an entire one-day innings — before his first Test breakthrough.
But now that he’s got an appetite for wickets, watch out.
Green made it four scalps in his next 19 overs after the initial drought, prising out England skipper Joe Root with his most important delivery yet.
It was just reward for the Subi-Floreat product after an enterprising spell which posed plenty of questions for Root and Dawid Malan after they had started the day in fine fashion.
Green implored Root to play at a ball he perhaps needn’t have, with a probing line and length rewarded to help the Aussies trigger a middle-order collapse.
The 22-year-old later returned to form a crucial bowling partnership with Nathan Lyon, and would have had the wicket of Ollie Robinson if not for a Mitchell Starc drop.
But he got his revenge by removing Ben Stokes as the allrounder looked to tee off late in the innings, giving him the figures he deserved of 2-24 from 10 threatening overs.
England’s go-to guys
Malan and Root are being called upon to do some seriously heavy lifting in England’s batting order.
Sure, they had the benefit of great conditions to start day three — “This is definitely the easiest we’ve seen batting in this Test match so far,” Seven’s Ricky Ponting observed within the opening half hour — but cashed in with an almost chanceless opening session to help momentarily breathe life into the Test.
Malan in particular mixed aggression with stoicism in his 157-ball knock of 80, showing once again his ability to be unfazed through long patches in testing Aussie conditions.
The first session marked the third time in the past two Ashes series here that England have batted through a two-hour block without losing a wicket — and Malan has been at the crease for all three of them.
Now the rest of the batting line-up needs to come along for the ride.
Usman’s fashion statement
Usman Khawaja is waiting in the wings for his chance this Ashes series.
Able to open or bat down the order, Khawaja could fill a variety of roles if called upon. And on Saturday, it he was used as the substitute fielder.
Khawaja jumped at the chance and couldn’t wipe the grin off his face, even donning both his baggy green and white floppy hat to look the part.
Maybe the fashion statement will catch on.
Smith’s sharp hands
Jos Buttler, you might want to take note.
Steve Smith doesn’t wear a pair of wicketkeeping gloves, but he put the fumbly England gloveman to shame.
Smith pouched three catches amid the first four wickets to fall in the tourists’ first dig, with his take to remove Malan the highlight.
An attempted cut off Starc rocketed toward the stand-in skipper at an awkward height, with Smith having to quickly shift his hands from fingers-down to fingers-up position and take it cleanly.
It once again highlighted the difference in attention to detail and skill execution between the two side across the first seven days of the series, with the Aussies gladly accepting most of their chances and a sluggish England labouring in the field.
The ball lives on!
Who doesn’t love a beach ball at the cricket? Security at Adelaide Oval it seems.
Fans were disappointed late in the day as an Adelaide Oval staff member took possession of the inflatable toy that had made its way through the crowd.
But when her offsider attempted to help, a comedy of errors led to the ball making a quick getaway back into the jubilant crowd.
Beach ball – 1
Butter-finger staff – 0
It’s hard, and somewhat unfair, to be critical of a man who has reeled off seven 50s in seven straight Tests in Australia.
But Root would be the first to admit — by his own lofty standards — that he’d be disappointed he hasn’t been able to turn one of them into a three-figure score.
Root’s edge to a probing Green ball to bring about his demise for 62 marked another important contribution, but also continued his run of falling short of a maiden century Down Under.
The England skipper now owns eight 50+ scores without a ton in Australia, tying the record with compatriots Nasser Hussain and Thomas Hayward for the most all-time.
The good? Root took his 2021 run tally to a whopping 1606 runs, leapfrogging greats Sachin Tendulkar (1562 in 2010) and Michael Clarke (1595 in 2012) to jump into the top four for runs in a calendar year.
With as many as three innings still to come in the next fortnight, the world’s top-ranked batsman can track down Graeme Smith (1656 in 2008), Viv Richards (1710 in 1976) and Mohammad Yousuf (1788 in 2006).
“There’s nothing worse than being run out in a Test match,” commentator Ricky Ponting said.
Marcus Harris and David Warner were cruising, closing in on the best opening partnership for Australia in an Ashes since the 2017 Boxing Day Test where the home side reached 1/51 when disaster struck.
Harris took off for a single before hesitating as Warner came rushing down the wicket.
It ended with both players stranded at one end with Warner the man to go.
“Well, that’s disastrous for Australia and for David Warner…The ball goes behind square, just, so it’s the non-striker’s call. David Warner started, then stopped, then went back and Harris actually beat him to the bowler’s end,” Ponting lamented.
“Yeah, Warner’s called it for sure, you can see him put the head down and go. Horrible mix up.”
Starc may be Australia’s biggest pace weapon with skipper Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood both missing the Adelaide Test.
But that doesn’t mean he’s immune to a little reprimand here and then.
Starc was verbally warned for encroaching on the pitch early on day three.
And before tea, the official warning came.
Five-time Umpire of the Year Simon Taufel said the pitch was a protected area to avoid unnecessary damage.
“Normally on the first occasion, if the bowler responds and they’re out of there for a little while, then that’s really mission accomplished,” he said on 7.
“If they’re back in there again, the umpire may give another ‘friendly’ (caution), then if they don’t come out of there, then we go down that route of really overt first official caution where everybody gets the message and the captain actually has to probably have a word to his bowler.”
Consider yourself warned, Mitchell.