Australia are off to a dream start in the 2019 Ashes series, with a 251 run win over England at Edgbaston in the first test.
It’s a remarkable result, and is one of the better test comebacks of recent times, considering the Aussies found themselves at 8-122 during their first innings on day one.
The script was written for Steve Smith, and he delivered as he so often does, rescuing the Australian innings on his way to 144.
With the help of Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon, Australia scraped their way to 284 – which gave them a chance; whilst a calf injury to England bowler James Anderson was a huge blow to the hosts.
England were able to post a solid total of 374 in reply, largely thanks to a patient and maiden test ton from Rory Burns, along with half centuries from captain Joe Root and Ben Stokes.
Root was dismissed for 57, caught and bowled by Siddle, the challenge for England’s captain to convert half centuries into hundreds continues, he now has 42 fifties to go with 16 hundreds.
England would’ve felt like they should’ve posted more, with Australia responding on day three taking their last six wickets for under 100 runs.
It saw England hold a lead of 90 runs, and a challenge for an under pressure Australian batting line up, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft went cheaply again before Usman Khawaja and Smith steadied – before Khawaja fell for 40.
It was now up to Travis Head, who made 35 in the first innings to provide Smith with support from the other end and he did, as the pair put on 130 runs together and built a lead for the Aussies, Head got to his half century but couldn’t carry on it with it, falling for 51.
Smith continued to mesmerize the Edgbaston crowd, the further the test advanced the more the boos lessened, as he made his way to another century, the 25thof his career, his second for the test and joining an exclusive club of five players to have achieved the feat of twin centuries in an Ashes test, unbelievable.
Matthew Wade made only 1 in the first innings, but the second innings saw him show why he deserves another chance in the test arena.
Smith and Wade put on 126 together, with the latter reaching a test hundred of his own, his third in test cricket and first in over six years.
Tim Paine, James Pattinson and Pat Cummins ensured Australia’s lead reached almost 400, as they sent England back in late on day four requiring 398 to win – the only realistic outcomes an Australian win or a draw.
The Aussies were on top from the outset on day five, they had England four wickets down by lunch, including the key wicket of Joe Root, and there was really never any doubt that the Aussies would win from there.
Nathan Lyon was labelled as the man that had to bowl Australia to victory on the day five wicket and that came to fruition, Lyon took 6/49 whilst Pat Cummins was also outstanding with figures of 4/32.
The two of them were supported brilliantly by Siddle and Pattinson, who didn’t take a wicket in the second innings but definitely bowled well enough to deserve one.
Australia now have momentum early on in the series, which is so important as a travelling team, and England need to re-group after losing at a ground that had been labelled as a ‘fortress’.
The second test at England’s home of cricket, the Lord’s Cricket Ground, is only a week away.