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Oval's demolition crew raise the entertainment bar to new high

Ed Cowan's maiden century at the Gabba was one for old-fashioned opening batsmen's values. At what's left of the Adelaide Oval, David Warner, Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey took the game into different, more dangerous waters.

After all, if more batsmen bludgeon the ball and humiliate the bowlers as Warner, Clarke and Hussey did yesterday - particularly during an afternoon session when Australia smashed an obscene 178 runs from 26 overs - the bar will be raised to ridiculous heights. Eventually, people might even expect Test cricket to be entertaining.

That is the thin end of the wedge. But even those who would not normally condone the use of Warner's cross-batted swipes in a slaughterhouse were taken by his chutzpah. Warner, we had assumed, was a Test match comet. On Thursday, he proved again you can be on fire without flaming out.

It was not so much the trademark audacity of Warner's shots that astonished. It was the circumstances under which he launched an attack that would inspire Australia's incredible fightback. The critics were sharpening their knives. The rest of the top order was in the sheds. Yet Warner batted as if his only worry was filling out the missing patches in his Movember soup-strainer.

Even with your financial future assured by the T20 paymasters, it takes some courage - not to mention the eye of a gold medal winning archer - to keep swinging with abandon as the wickets tumble about you. Yes, it was caveman cricket. But, given the results, Australia might do worse than Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble at three and four - positions had became problematical with Australia 3-55.

Nine's production has, so far, been first class. However, a camera trained on Shane Watson after his replacement Rob Quiney made a duck would have been useful. A slight smirk? A full-blown grin? Surely, Watson's face would have betrayed just a hint of schadenfreude - although, hopefully, nothing so vigorous as to cause Australia's china cup in a bull ring to dislocate his jaw.


ABC Grandstand marked Quiney's dismissal by asking listeners whether the Victorian should be given another chance in Perth. Which, under the circumstances, was like asking if Brynne Edelsten should be given another reality TV show. The poor bloke does get a second dig.

Ricky Ponting was quite literally brought to his knees by a wicked away dipper from Jacques Kallis that honed in on his off-stump. It was an ungainly moment that made you wonder if, rising 38, Ponting's eye and reflexes had failed him. Even if the man who produced the ripping delivery was himself 37.

However, it was not long before Kallis's body acted its age and he pulled up short suffering a muscle strain. New regulations mean Kallis will not be permitted the use of a runner. Although, at his advanced years, surely a walking frame should be allowed.

Already, the South African attack was in disarray with Vernon Philander unable get out of bed due to a sore back. Later, Dale Steyn's hamstring strain left the visitors with just three specialist bowlers. Two if you don't count leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who with figures of 0-159 became the first Test bowler to prompt a sympathetic reappraisal of John Howard's action.

None of which detracted from the brilliance of Clarke, who is batting with the relentless inevitability of an Ian Chappell anecdote. On and on he goes, with no end in sight. So effortlessly that Hussey's century was merely a marvellous afterthought.

The fixture for next summer's Ashes series was released at lunch. No doubt, news of Clarke's imperious form will raise English eyebrows. Although, despite their struggles in India, at least England's South Africans are fitter than South Africa's.

Traditionalists bemoan the AFL-inspired architectural vandalism of Adelaide Oval. But it proved something of a blessing for the jaundiced viewer. Mercifully, the usual relentless references to the beautiful/picturesque/historic Adelaide Oval were replaced by the amusing sight of construction workers searching for balls slogged into the scaffolding.

This inspired the tweet of the summer so far: ''Bloody hell, half the Adelaide Oval is flattened,'' tweeted @halftracker. ''Dan Christian did more damage than I thought.''



Twitter- @rdhinds