Ashes 2015: First test analysis

Updated: July 13, 2015

Wednesday 8th July saw the Ashes 2015 kick off, from a rather overcast Cardiff.


Australia were coming into this Ashes series full of confidence after their outstanding performances prior to this test series, in which cricket fanatics everywhere were actually surprised with the levels of cricket the Aussies were playing.


England on the other hand were struggling. Off the field incidents involving the ‘upstairs’ of the ECB and a new head coach in the name of former Australian cricketer and Sri Lankan coach Trevor Bayliss, all added to what already was a rollercoaster of a summer for everyone associated with English Cricket. With the Ashes just round the corner, England were anything but the team that everyone remembered from the past few years, and were the underdogs with the bookmakers.


Now, saying all that, this First Test was always going to be an interesting matchup from whichever slant you had on the game. From an Australian point of view, they had to keep up the hard work and formidable form from previous matches and build on their dismal away form. On the other hand, from an English point of view, we needed to prove a point and we needed to prove it quickly. Social Media had been very negative ever since New Zealand came to town and played us in ODI’s and T20’s, and many fans were disgruntled in the way English cricket has been heading. Proving people wrong had started, and by gosh did we.


Breakdown of the 1st test:

England’s first innings:

England won the toss and chose to bat first. Now, many people believed this was a poor decision from Alistair Cook because the weather forecast didn’t make for good reading, with rain expected on that morning/early afternoon. As well as this, the pitch was a bowler-friendly one. With it being dry, this meant the ball had a chance of moving around as the game progressed, with cracks having the potential to appear.


England made a shaky start on 43-3. Cook’s decision looked to have backfired, with debutant Adam Lyth going cheaply to Josh Hazlewood followed by the two quick wickets of himself and Ian Bell, with spinner Nathan Lyon and fast bowler Mitchell Starc taking a wicket apiece respectively.


Things started to perk up for England. The sinking ship that was England top order was suddenly stabilised by young Joe Root and Gary Ballance, who made timing the ball look so easy. They were the key men for England’s middle order coming in at number three and five. Picking up the run rate and taking control on the game was vital; both batters did exactly that. Gary Ballance departed on a respectable 61 from 149 balls, with the score now at 196-4. Meanwhile Joe Root was still at the crease going strong…


“ROOOOOOOOOOOT”. Need I say anymore? Joe Root reaches his century, hitting 17 fours in the process. Unbelievable performance from the man, and no, he wasn’t done there. He and England continued to frustrate the Australian attack, until Mitchell Starc came back into the attack. The big man took his wicket with England on a very competitive score of 280-5, followed by bowling Ben Stokes for 52. England were now on 293-6.


Tail-end. Could Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad and company continue where Root had left off? You bet. Moeen made a crucial 77, and Buttler was able to contribute a very nice 27 off 34 balls, helping England to reach a final total of 430 all out.


Australian bowling figures. Mitchell Starc was the main man for Australia taking 5-114 off 24.1 overs with 4 maidens. Josh Hazlewood took 3-83 off 23 overs with 8 maidens, and spinner Nathan Lyon picking up figures of 2-69 off 20 overs with 4 maidens.


Australia’s First innings:

Australia had a mountain to climb going into day two, but did get off to a very solid start with Chris Rodgers taking the attack straight to James Anderson alongside other batsman David Warner. Australia were 26-0 at lunch on Day Two.


Breakthrough for England. It looked as if Australia wouldn’t lose a wicket at the rate they were going, however James Anderson changed that and took the wicket of Warner for 17, with the score now at 52-1. Warner had only spent just over an hour at the crease, so this was a crucial wicket to take just before Warner started getting into his stride.


Wickets continued as Day Two progressed. Australia reached a very good total of 207-4, losing Chris Rodgers for an outstanding 95 and Captain Michael Clarke who was caught and bowled by Moeen Ali for 38. Australia then plummeted from 207-4 to 265-7, with all three middle order batsmen going for less than 35 (Voges 31, Watson 30, and Lyon 6).


The Tail-end’s resistance was only prolonging the inevitable. Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson were both trying to add on as many runs as possible to chance down England score, however this didn’t happen with Haddin going cheaply to a superb delivery from James Anderson, edging to wicket-keeper Jos Buttler with the score at 304-8. Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc both departed soon after and Australia were bowled out for 308.


Second innings analysis:

From then on, it was England’s game to lose. They piled on the pressure on the third day by adding 289 to the already big lead they had built up from the first innings. At this point, Australia required 412 runs to win the First Test at Cardiff; it was unlikely to happen and fortunately from an England point of view, our bowlers did the job.


The Aussies however, just like their first innings, started off well and were looking content on 97-1, but this is as good as it got for the team down-under. They lost both David Warner and Steve Smith either side of lunch on Day Four and two quick wickets after lunch was the icing on the cake for England.


Stuart Broad and Mark Wood were on fire at this point, and continued to torment the Australian middle-order, and it was Wood who took the prize wicket of big hitter Shane Watson for 19, LBW.


At this point England had the game wrapped up, and Joe Root and Moeen Ali made sure of the victory just before and after tea, by taking the final four wickets between them- two wickets apiece.


Overall Verdict:

England were exceptional, with both bat and ball. Australia simply didn’t have the answers to the way England played and Alistair Cook got his tactics and field positioning’s spot on throughout the four days of play.


Australia will need to improve drastically in all areas before the Second Test which starts on July 16th at Lords, to even have a chance of avenging this defeat. To make matters worse for the tourists, they have fitness doubts over Mitchell Starc who seemed to pick up an ankle injury midway through the test, and is a doubt for the upcoming test.


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