5 things we understood after the first Ashes Test
The first Ashes test was contrary to a majority of the expectations. People expected Australia to continue their reign of dominance after a commanding win in the Caribbean. But what followed ahead in Cardiff amazed everyone. England, charged up by the arrival of their new coach displayed a spirit of sheer resilience which was just too good for the Australians. Even after reducing England to 43-3 in the first innings, Australia let the initiative slip as Joe Root flourished.
With the first test going to England, the tides have turned completely. Going into Lord’s, England have the upper hand as Lord’s off late has been a happy hunting ground for them. They defeated New Zealand there and the Australians lost won a test against England at the Mecca of cricket since 2005. The game at Cardiff was an ideal advertisement for test cricket as it had all the elements needed for a thrilling game.
In this article, we have a look at the 5 things which we understood after watching the first Ashes test –
1. Australia vulnerable away from home:
Australia in the recent years have struggled overseas. It is true that they defeated West Indies and South Africa away from home, but that surely doesn’t paint the entire portrait. The conditions of South Africa and Australia are quite similar as the wickets in both the nations have a lot of bounce. As a matter of fact, the Kookaburra ball is used in South Africa as well as Australia. Thus, the only difference for Australia while playing in South Africa is the crowd support. Defeating a deflated West Indies holds negligible significance these days for sure. But, when it comes to conquering test matches overseas in ALIEN conditions, Australia truly struggle. They were whitewashed in UAE and India. Their record in England is pretty dismal as well. Australia have not won a test series in England since James Anderson made his debut.
2. Even the best of batsmen can struggle in England:
Before the series began, Stuart Broad had said that Steve Smith batting at 3 was a blessing in disguise for England. Post the first test, Broad just ensured that he can brag about his pre series prediction. England has not been a happy hunting ground for several mighty talented batsmen. In 2014, it was Indian superstar Virat Kohli, who was all at sea in England. Kohli endured a patch in England which he would not have even dreamt of! And before that tour to England, Kohli had amassed tons in South Africa and New Zealand. This time around, it could well be Steve Smith! Smith was the number one ranked batsman but in Cardiff, he realized that rankings don’t matter one bit. Against the swinging ball, Smith looked uncomfortable as Broad got the better of him in the second innings. Smith needs to do something urgently, before he too faces a horrid patch as Kohli.
3. Watson might have played his last test for Australia:
Selecting Shane Watson ahead of the in form Mitchell Marsh was always going to be a gamble, in which the probability of finding success was minimal. That is how exactly things panned out! Watson seemed to be bossed while batting. He was in absolutely no shape to face the likes of Anderson and Broad. Technically, Watson does not possess the skills to excel with the bat in test matches. That was made evident by Stuart Broad and Mark Wood as Watson was plumb LBW in both the innings. His front leg doesn’t seem to move an inch against the swinging ball. It wouldn’t be surprising if Watson is axed once and for all.
4. Contribution of all rounders is an essential part:
Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali have been the trump cards for England. The contribution of an all rounder is highly influential in the outcome of a game. If even one all rounder has a memorable game, then the side can easily emerge victorious. But England, had two all rounders in their arsenal and both had great games. Stokes and Ali just made it evident that the presence of all rounders is quite essential to derive success. Stokes and Ali both made quick half centuries in the first innings and those were incredibly priceless runs. Ali in the first innings, dismissed Australia’s best players of spin – Clarke and Smith. In the second innings, Ali dismissed the free flowing Warner and that was that.
5. Aggression is the way forward for England:
The value of a changed environment in the dressing room is critical to the team’s success. The current England side seemed to be suffocated when they were under the coaching of Peter Moores. However, the removal of Moores has done wonders! The English now, look far more authoritative in their game and get there on the field with a much clearer mindset. Cook, probably for the first time in his captaincy career was aggressive, and that further motivated his pacers to deliver the goods. It would be no understatement that England are at their best when they play an aggressive brand of cricket. With the second test at Lord’s, expect England to be far more aggressive.
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