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Blazing Bailey caught-out

George Bailey hits a six to score his maiden Test half-century - but crumbles soon after.

PT0M36S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ytqx 620 349

On an unseasonably chilly summer's day in Adelaide, England couldn't catch a cold and Australia could thank their lucky stars.

Michael Clarke's side were let off the hook after the visitors dropped three key chances - including a sitter in the dying stages of a delicately balanced first day - that would have left the hosts in deep trouble in the second Test.

Australia resume at 5-273 on Friday, with a stubborn Clarke holding the fort on 48 not out, but their ambitions of taking a 2-0 lead in the Ashes could have ended up in the dust of the Adelaide Oval drop-in had it not been for the butter-fingers of the England fieldsman.

Stuart Broad reacts to  a missed chance.

Stuart Broad reacts to a missed chance. Photo: Getty Images

The captain himself was put down when on 18, although Joe Root's diving effort at mid-wicket was by far the most difficult of the trio of opportunities.

England may rue their profligacy in not seizing upon the other two. First, George Bailey was dropped on 10 by the recalled Monty Panesar, with the Tasmanian going on to help restore Australia's wobbly first innings with an entertaining 53, his first Test half-century. Then, shortly before stumps, Michael Carberry failed to complete a simple, chest-high catch at backward point that would have sent Brad Haddin (7 not out) on his way cheaply.

Panesar, having earlier put down the return catch from Bailey, was the bowler again and could barely believe his eyes when Carberry let the straightforward chance fall to the recently laid Adelaide turf.

Alastair Cook goes after the ball as Steve Smith watches on.

Alastair Cook goes after the ball as Steve Smith watches on. Photo: Getty Images

“Particularly with first innings runs it could prove to be crucial,” said Australian opener Chris Rogers, who top scored with 72. “We still have to field well and catch them but those chances have helped us. To have Michael going out there tomorrow morning is massive for us.

"I think I was on the toilet (when Carberry dropped Haddin) but I saw the replay. Obviously it's a huge moment."

Carberry is renowned as an excellent fielder and was the most unlikely candidate to spill the beans.

Michael Clarke of Australia hits a boundary during day one of the Second Ashes Test Match. Click for more photos

Ashes 2013: Second Test Day 1 - Adelaide

Michael Clarke of Australia hits a boundary during day one of the Second Ashes Test Match. Photo: Getty

  • Michael Clarke of Australia hits a boundary during day one of the Second Ashes Test Match.
  • Alastair Cook of England dives for a ball hit by Michael Clarke of Australia.
  • Stuart Broad of England appeals unsuccessfully
  • Spectators enjoy the atmosphere during day one of the Second Ashes.
  • England's wicketkeeper Matt Prior (R) celebrates catching Australia's Steven Smith for six runs.
  • Australia's Michael Clarke (R) steers the ball past Englad's Ian Bell (L) during the first day.
  • Matt Prior  of England and Michael Clarke of Australia run into each other during day one of the Second Ashes.
  • England's wicketkeeper Matt Prior (C) is surrounded by teammates after catching Australia's Steven Smith.
  • Australia's batsman George Bailey bats during the first day of the second Ashes.
  • George Bailey of Australia raises his bat after scoring his half century.
  • Monty Panesar of England celebrates with teammates after dismissing Steve Smith of Australia.
  • Graeme Swann of England is congratulated by Alastair Cook, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad after catching George Bailey of Australia
  • Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad and Matt Prior of England appeal unsuccessfully for LBW against Brad Haddin of Australia.

"Obviously he's disappointed," said England spinner Graeme Swann, who bucked the trend to take a superb catch late in the day to finish off Bailey.

"Carbs has taken some unbelievable catches so no one is having a go at him at all. it's just one of those things. Sometimes they just don't stick. The important thing for us is to bounce back. We know if we turn up in the morning and take a couple of half-chances it will all go away."

Clarke, not for the first time, looms as Australia's most important asset in their quest to set a total of match-winning proportions on a flat Adelaide track.

He played responsibly after his team had blown a great start via a collapse that may have triggered some bad memories if they had not already been revived in Adelaide.

As Darren Lehmann was introduced to the stage at the annual South Australian Cricket Association pre-Test dinner this week there was video package played on the function room's big screen of the awful fourth day capitulation in Durham in August.

The events before tea in Adelaide on Thursday were nowhere near as dramatic or disastrous as that forgettable afternoon in England's north-east in August.

But cruising on the new drop-in deck at 1-155 Australia's habit of surrendering wickets in clumps reared its ugly head again, losing 2-0 in two overs as steady pair Shane Watson (51) and Rogers exited in successive overs and then 3-19 when Steve Smith (6) followed at the hands of Panesar soon afterwards. Before they knew it they had slumped to 4-174 and the monster first-innings total promised with the flip of a coin in the morning was in grave health.

It could have been worse if Bailey and Clarke had not been dropped. Fortunately, they overcame those nervous moments, stepping in to arrest fears of an Australian crash and burn.   

The Adelaide track was not dissimilar to the ones in India on which Bailey was prolific in the one-day series in India that earned him a Test call-up and he took the same approach with three sixes, two off Panesar and one off Stuart Broad.

In an innings in which he lived by the sword, it was appropriate that he might die by it. It took a top-shelf grab to seal his fate when he went after Broad again but Swann's outstretched palms at square-leg were up to the task.