0The Ashes urnOne-nil to the Aussies — game on

So the first test is over, and Aus­tralia main­tained their long record of suc­cess at the Gabba to no great sur­prise here. So, what pos­it­ives can we take from it?

Well let’s start with the most import­ant, a moment that may be swiftly be for­got­ten by the main­stream press, but should be held up as what crick­et is all about. On the 3rd anniversary of the death of Phil­lip Hughes, Cap­tain Root took a fast deliv­ery straight into the side of his hel­met. All the talk from before the series about “end­ing careers” was imme­di­ately demon­strated to be just that — talk, as the Aus­sies imme­di­ately went to make sure Root was OK. The media may love to push for sound­bites, and try to talk up a war before­hand, but when it comes down to busi­ness the play­ers have the utmost respect for one anoth­er, and when it really mat­ters, in the heat of battle, there was no hes­it­a­tion to ensure a fel­low play­er was ok. It was good to see.

What about the res­ult for Eng­land, can they take any pos­it­ives from it? Of course it isn’t good to lose by 10 wick­ets, but it’s easy to make bat­ting look easy in a 4th innings with a low total to chase. If the tar­get had been 100–150 runs high­er Aus­tralia would have felt score­board pres­sure and the res­ult may well have been very dif­fer­ent. Some com­ment­at­ors are already ask­ing how Eng­land are going to take 20 wick­ets — well they took 10 for just over 300 without any prob­lem in the first innings, so per­haps some slightly longer memor­ies are required. The res­ult really reflec­ted the pos­i­tion after both teams had bat­ted once — the key dif­fer­ence was 1 of the 4 world class bats­men made a big hun­dred, and his side went on to win. Had Root been the one to make 150 in the first innings, and Smith only a 50, Eng­land would have been look­ing at a lead of 200, a pos­i­tion from which they would almost cer­tainly have won.

More good news was that Eng­land com­peted well for the first 3 and a half days, des­pite a dis­ap­point­ing lack of runs from their top bat­ters Cook and Root. The new lads did bet­ter than many had feared, with Stone­man, Vince and Malan all passing 50 in the first innings. Some pun­dits made a big deal of the Eng­land “tail” only mak­ing a few runs in the first innings but Moeen made runs in both innings, Broad man­aged 20 against fast bouncy bowl­ing (bet­ter than he’s usu­ally man­aged in recent years) and Bair­stow made a decent 42 in the second innings. No-one looked over-awed or intim­id­ated by the situ­ation as some play­ers have in pre­vi­ous series down under.

So to level things up and keep the series com­pet­it­ive Eng­land need to win the second test at Adelaide, as they did by an innings in 2010. Onwards and upwards!

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