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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