England Draw First Blood

ENGLAND (430 a/o & 289 a/o) BEAT AUSTRALIA (308 a/o & 242 a/o) by 169 runs.

After four days of top quality cricket, England come out on top in a match they never really seemed like losing. England won the toss and decided to bat in uncertain conditions. This decision looked to work out for Australia after England where reduced to 43/3 early on, and almost lost another when Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin dropped Joe Root on 0. This mistake came back to bite them, as Root went on to score 134 before Mitchell Starc finally got him out when he edged it to Shane Watson. Half centuries from Ben Stokes and Gary Ballance, along with a wonderful 77 by Moeen Ali gave England a great score on a pitch that was unpredictable.  Mitchell Starc was the pick of the Australian bowlers taking 5/114, with Mitchell Johnson taking no wickets and conceding 111 runs in the first innings. As I said in my preview of the Ashes, Johnson usually struggles when the pitch doesn’t suit him and his threat is nullified.

Records tumbled in the Australian innings- some good (Chris Rodgers became the joint record holder for the most consecutive 50+ scored with 7) and some bad (Rodgers has the record for most 50+ scored without reaching 100).  It was also was the first time EVER in Test cricket history that batsmen 3,4,5 and 6 all scored between 30 and 40 runs in an innings (Smith 33, Clarke 38, Voges 31 and Watson 30) and the rest of the batting order got low scores . There was no real standout bowler in the England team this innings as all five of them did their jobs well, leaving England with a 122 run lead.

When England batted again on day three the pitch was going a lot more for the bowlers, so any runs that England added were vital as it would be far more tricky to score. This was proven when Ballance, who batted well for his 61 in the first innings, got out for 0 after Cook was dismissed for 17.  Lyth batted well for his 37, but once again Joe Root added another half century to his brilliant international record before Josh Hazelwood sent him packing for 60.  Ian Bell relieved some of the pressure on himself by scoring a well-made 60, and Stokes (42) and Mark Wood played a wonderful cameo finishing with 32 off of 18 deliveries. Spin was becoming a key factor now as Nathan Lyon took 4/75 and his 150th test wicket.

Australia, needing 412 to win, didn’t start off well, losing Rodgers for 10. However, Warner and Smith battled on until David Warner was out LBW to Moeen three balls before lunch (97/2). A horrible collapse then ensued after the break. Australia lost their next 3 wickets for 9 runs (106/5) and Haddin not long after (122/6) Shane Watson then put up some resistance before being caught LBW to Wood for 19 (Watson has been out LBW in 26% of his test dismissals, which has to be one of the highest in cricket). The two Mitchells put on a strong 82 before Starc fell victim to Root and Jonson followed soon after. Moeen Ali finished with the wicket of Nathan Lyon to leave him with innings figures of 3/59. Australia all out for 242 and England winning the first Ashes test in Cardiff by 169 runs. Now the show moves onto the home of cricket, Lords, on Thursday the 16th of July.

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