By Stephen Giles
- England win the First Ashes Test match by 169 runs
- England 430 & 289
- Australia 308 & 242; Broad 3-39, Ali 3-59
CARDIFF, UK – Ashes underdogs England cruised to a 169-run victory over Australia in the first Ashes Test to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Needing an unlikely 412 to win, Australia quickly imploded by losing four quick wickets for nine runs either side of lunch before being bowled out for 242, inside four days.
Stuart Broad – who loves an Ashes battle, was once again England’s talisman, taking the key wickets of Chris Rogers, Steve Smith and Michael Clarke to leave the result in no doubt. Australia fought back valiantly towards the end, but Moeen Ali finished off proceedings with the wicket of Josh Hazelwood to give England the victory their enterprise so richly deserved.
In their pursuit, Australia were instantly up against it, thanks to early pressure from Jimmy Anderson and Broad, who repeatedly beat the outside edges of the Aussie batsman on numerous occasions.
When Rogers was given a reprieve after Joe Root clumsily dropped a catch in the third over off the bowling of Anderson, you sensed lady-luck was shining on Australia somewhat.
The crucial breakthrough arrived soon after however, Rogers edging a Broad ball to Ian Bell at second slip. Reluctant to walk, Rogers was correctly sent on his way after TV replays established the catch was good.
England’s tails were up; Alastair Cook changed his bowling and tossed the ball to Ali, replacing the dangerous Anderson. The captain’s decision promptly backfired, as it allowed David Warner and new-batsman Steve Smith to relieve the pressure of the situation, settle into their strides and bash 22 runs off two Ali overs.
It had all the hallmarks of a frustrating morning for Cook as Warner and Smith added 78 for the second wicket devoid of any alarms as the tourists fought back.
But as lunch loomed, Cook brought back Ali for one last over before the interval. Warner misread a straight one and was trapped lbw for 52 to give England the breakthrough they so needed.
After the interval, the floodgates well and truly opened, from 97 for two at lunch, Australia soon collapsed to 106-5. Broad grabbed the big wicket of Smith with a full-length delivery in the second over after lunch with Smith pushing gently into the clutches of Bell, who gratefully took the catch.
England’s powerful bowling and quick fielding were all over Australia at this stage, which culminated in rigorously drying up the Australian scoring, so when Broad tempted Clarke into a shot, his impulsiveness only succeeded in picking out Ben Stokes at backward point for another poor dismissal.
And so it continued. Adam Voges compounded his awful Ashes-debut by nibbling at another fierce Mark Wood delivery by edging it to Jos Buttler before Cook took a dazzling catch at the second attempt to end the plight of Brad Haddin. England had only bowled 33 overs, yet were within sight of the tail-enders.
Under-performing and out of form, Shane Watson came strolling out to bat. Cook instantly changed his field. A fantastic piece of captaincy from Cook who is visibly embracing the new style of attacking cricket brought around by new coach and Aussie, Trevor Bayliss. Three close catchers, two short mid-ons and one short mid-off were put in place, with the aim of piling the pressure on a guy clinging to his place in this Australian team.
The pressure told as he was once more trapped lbw to Wood for 19, with Australia rocking at 151-7, with a hefty 35 overs of the day still left to go.
The only resistance from the afternoon period came from the happy-go-lucky bat of Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc, contributing to a valiant 72 partnership when others above him failed. It was ended in comical fashion. Starc edged a Root ball which was fortunately deflected by Cook at gully into the direction of the oncoming Adam Lyth at slip, who was able to catch the ricochet and celebrate wildly.
Johnson’s fine innings of 77 concluded when he edged a drive to slip off Root. England were now on the verge of a famous victory. Ali took the final wicket with Root taking the catch, to finish with figures of 3-59.
An all-round enterprising and skilful performance from the hosts, 1-0 up in the series with the 2nd Test starting at Lords next week.
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) July 11, 2015
Official Investec Man of the Match: Joe Root