Hello everyone, and welcome to our over-by-over coverage of the first day of the fifth Ashes Test. Weather permitting, and it is rarely permitted in this part of Australia, starts at 3 pm local time in Hobart – it is 4 pm in the UK.
“We’re here to prepare for Tasmania’s biggest sporting event,” the state’s entertainment and sports minister said earlier this week. And really, there’s a lot to be excited about in the Apple aisle. This is the first Test match in the state in five years. This is the first Ashes Test in Tasmania. And this is Hobart’s first day/night test. The ball is pink. The pitch is greener than Bob Brown. The sky is capricious. There is much to look forward to.
The rest of the country, it must be said, has other concerns. Covid is rampant, supply chains are breaking down, the federal government is in disarray, and the national mood is bleak. Novak Djokovic’s smiling mug leads the news every night. A Test cricket match, dead rubber notwithstanding, is a welcome distraction from all that.
Injured and battered England team are looking to win their first Test in Australia since 2010-11. The fourth Test was completely submerged and the visitors will look to go a better way and recover from a tough month. Australia’s record in pink-ball home Tests is exceptional – nine Tests, nine wins. Speculators hold them as prohibitive favourites. For the rest of us, something like the last day in Sydney will be as good.