A squad of twelve jetted into Adelaide to take on Papua New Guinea. We made just one change to the team following the humbling defeat at the hands of West Indies. Jake Ball, 12th man in LA, came into the XI at the expense of Mark Footitt. Spinner Jack Leach, who went wicketless against the Windies, kept his place.
Jake Ball (32 not out) and Jack Leach (11) put together a vital last wicket partnership of 48 in our first innings total of 212.
Our first innings was a familiar story of twenties, thirties and forties. Two run outs, including that of skipper Joe Root didn’t help our cause. Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow top scored with 42 and Jake Ball made a crucial 32 not out from number ten, ably supported by number eleven Jack Leach (11) in a heartening last wicket stand of 48.
Jake Ball, having belted 32 not out with the bat in our first innings, then recorded figures of 5-43 with the ball in PNG’s.
Ball was then the chief destroyer with the… ball, claiming excellent figures of 5-43 but PNG, in making 213, edged ahead by one run. They may have made more had Charles Amini not shockingly allowed himself to be run out to the very last ball of the day. In PNG’s second innings he would also be dismissed to the final ball of a session, playing an inexplicably expansive shot on the cusp of tea!
In our second innings, captain Joe Root lead from the front with 57 from just 44 deliveries.
In our second innings we lost both openers, Keaton Jennings (5) and Haseeb Hameed (10) early but Ben Duckett (29) and captain Joe Root (57) put on a match defining combination that totalled 65 before the former was run out. Not for the first time Duckett wasted a promising start in the Test arena. Bairstow (27) hit two huge sixes and Sam Curran (23) and Stuart Broad (39), in a partnership worth 54, bolstered our total to a competitive 249. That meant that PNG would need to make 248 to claim a famous victory.
Lega Siaka determinedly scored Papua New Guinea’s first ever half-century in Test match cricket.
Though we chipped away at the PNG batting line-up with regular wickets, composed opening batsman Lega Siaka stood firm, compiling his country’s first ever half-century in the Test arena.
It would be Jake Ball however, who for the second time in the match would cause panic amongst the PNG side. Despite the best efforts of our fielders to prevent him from claiming a ten-for, a catch was eventually held to take us to our first Test victory and Ball (5-48) to Man of the Match figures of 10-91. Ben Stokes also stepped up, finishing with match figures of 5-80. It was a tougher experience for spinner Jack Leach though, the Taunton twirler ended the match with analyses of 25-3-85-0. That’s now two wicketless Tests in a row for Leach and questions will have to be asked regarding his place in the team come the selection meeting ahead of our next Test outing. In truth he looked extremely inaffective with the ball. His support of Jake Ball in a last wicket stand of 48 in our first innings in a match that we won by just 44 runs should not be forgotten though.
On behalf of the team, I’d like to thank those fans that flew to Adelaide and indeed all our followers, after what has been a string of frustrating results. We look forward to finding some consistency now and providing our supporters with more positive results in the future.