‘Ashes’ England v Australia 1st Test at Edgbaston June 16-20

Neil Whitaker reports

Day 1

JOE ROOT hit an unbeaten 118 before England declared leaving them 20 minutes at the Aussies but the last time England declared their first innings with Root unbeaten on a century England lost the match.

Root twice premeditated a reverse slog/sweep for sixes the first was off Scott Boland and the second was off Pat Cummins on his way to his fourth Ashes century and his first since Trent Bridge in 2015.  His ton came from 145 balls with two sixes and seven fours.

Jonny Bairstow said: “Root is a fantastic cricketer and the way he manipulated the strike showed  how he soaked up pressure and put pressure back on the opposition.  Hopefully his century is the first of many this summer.”

The timing of the declaration must have been discussed at tea as Root hit Nathan Lyon for two sixes in the final over. Root drove Lyon but it went up in the air and kept going up and over the mid wicket boundary.  Later in the  over he smacked Lyon straight for another six.

Bairstow made a triumphant return to the England team by hitting 78 in a sixth wicket partnership of 121 in 23 overs with Root after England had lost two wickets for one run in eight balls.

Bairstow added: “I am delighted to be back in the team and at the big dance but I did have a few nerves. It’s different to when I made  my debut playing after I’ve been out of the game but there was also excitement. It will be a completely different challenge tomorrow and until both sides have batted you can’t put your finger on how the pitch plays. Only the captain and the coach knew about the declaration but it’s always hard to bat for 20 minutes, it could be a good ball or a rash shot that gets a wicket.”

It could have been a different story because Bairstow was hit on his pads first ball and the Aussies went up but umpire Erasmus was unmoved and eventually Cummins reviewed it but the replay showed it to be missing.

Bairstow played Lyon off his legs for a couple  to bring up his 38th test 50  from 58 balls with six fours.  Then he went down the pitch to Lyon and hit against the spin to the extra cover boundary. He liked going down the pitch to Lyon but it would prove to be his downfall.

Again he went down the pitch to Lyon and chipped him  to the mid wicket boundary to bring up the 100 partnership partnership with Root, their 11th Test century partnership. On 68 Bairstow flashed at Josh Hazelwood but the ball wouldn’t stick in Alex Carey’s glove as he dived to his right.

He went down   the pitch to Lyon once too often when he  missed the ball and was easily stumped by  Carey.

After winning the toss and deciding to bat Zak Crawley smashed the first ball of the Ashes from Cummins  the cover boundary and England raced to 20 in the third over. Crawley drove the final ball off the first hour from Scott Boland, to the extra cover boundary to take him to 35. Ben Duckett stabbed at Hazelwood and Carey took a low catch moving to his left.  Duckett  had a life off the previous ball when he got an inside which could have gone anywhere.

Ollie Pope used his feet to Lyon and drove him to the long off boundary. He played back to the next ball and was wrapped on the pads. Umpire Asha Raja turned down the appeals but Cummins reviewed it. The replay showed it had just pitched in line.

Crawley punched Cummins out to the covers for a single to bring up his 12th Test 50 from 56  balls with six fours. On the stroke of lunch the Aussies thought Crawley  had got a faint edge to Boland but umpire Marais Erasmus turned them down again Cummins reviewed it and the replay showed that the ball had glanced  Crawley’s glove.

Harry Brook went down the pitch to Lyon and lofted him over extra cover for his first boundary.  He repeated the shot to Boland but when he cut the next ball he was dropped by Travis Head who was late coming in from the third man boundary, Brook was on 24.

Lyon hit Brook on his pad and the bowl looped in the air, Brook as well as stumper Carey didn’t know where the ball was till the ball fell on the ground and spun on to the stumps.  Brook and Root added 51 in 11 overs and neither of them looked in any trouble until that freak dismissal.

Ben Stokes edged a drive off Hazelwood after no got movement but Stokes reviewed it and it was a clear edge.

Moeen Ali nearly gave a return catch to Cummins on one but the Aussie captain’s fingers were not long enough to hold on to the ball.  He danced down the pitch and smashed him for a one bounce four over the long on boundary for the biggest cheer of the day.  He pulled Cummins over the square leg boundary and all Head could do was wave it goodbye.

Moeen Ali became Carey’s second stumping victim when went down the pitch to Lyon and passed the bal to give Carey the stumping.  Only the second time since World War Two that there has been two stumpings in the first innings of an Ashes Test in England.

Hazelwood said: “Once Root got his we sensed that it would be coming.  The pitch was very slow but it will be interesting to see how it plays over the next few days but we would have taken to be batting near the end of the day at the start of the day.  We had to change our plans but we stuck to them. I knew I would be the day before yesterday, so it was nice to bowl 15 overs and get some miles in my legs.”

Before play started there was a minute’s silence for Barnaby Webber, Grace O'Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates who were murdered in Nottingham on Tuesday.

Day 2

THE comeback kid Usman Khawaja, who’s been dropped and recalled seven times by Australia,hit his first century in England in his eighth Test in England,in his fourth against England and his 15th Test century, 10 years after playing his first Ashes Test match in England.

His previous best Test score in England was 54 at Lord’s in 2013.  He reached his ton from 199 balls with two sixes, when he eased Ben Stokes to the third man boundary for one of his 12 fours.  As soon as he hit it he let out a yell, threw his bat over his head  and it fell on the field.  He said: “I don’t know why I did it, maybe it’s because it’s my third  Ashes tour and I’ve been dropped on two.  It’s nice to go out and score runs.  I am now confident in myself, what you see is what you get.  I am not perfect, I make mistakes.”

It was his seventh Test century in 18 Test matches since he was recalled at the start of last year. From the start of his innings he looked destined to reach his century today.  He took a liking to Moeen Ali by hitting both sixes off him, going  down the pitch to Moeen Ali and smashing him for a straight six.    His second six was the best shot of his innings when he danced down the pitch to  Moeen Ali for another straight six.  England thought the second new ball had done its work when Khawaja missed a straight ball on 112 and was bowled by Stuart Broad but the tv replay showed Broad had over stepped, it was the 13th no ball of the Australian innings.

With Travis Head, he added 81 in 21 overs at a time when the Australia innings could have collapsed after they had lost three wickets for 67 before lunch. After lunch Broad bowled leg theory to Head with a leg gully, short  leg,fine leg, square leg and a square leg on the boundary.  With this field everyone knew that Head would peppered with short balls and so he was. Head was hit on his elbow by Ollie Robinson.

Head miscued a chip of Moeen  Ali but it just cleared Stokes at mid on for another boundary. He  too hit a six Moeen Ali  when Head drove him for straight. Head took some revenge on Robinson by pulling him to the square leg boundary and guideding Robinson him through third man for three to bring up his 50.  But that was it for Head. the next over he drove Moeen Ali and Zak Crawley at mid wicket took the catch moving to his left.  They added 81 in 19 overs.  

Two balls later Cameron Green went down the pitch to Moeen Ali missed a classic off spinners ball but luckily for Green so did Jonny  Bairstow that proved to be an expensive miss for England as Green scored 38 and added 62 with Usman Khawaja.

Green worked Stokes off his legs to the fine leg boundary to bring up the 50 partnership.  He danced down the pitch to Moeen Ali, opened his shoulders for a six to bring up his 1,000 Test run.

Moeen Ali got his second wicket of the innings when he spun one in at Green and was bowled.  Usman Khawaja added: “The ball wasn’t turning much so it was easier to bat against the spinners in these conditions.”

Play on the second day was delayed by five minutes because of morning rain and the conditions were a complete contrast to Friday’s, the sun was gone and replaced by a grey sky. 

It took Australia 16 minutes to get their account moving when Usman Khawaja took leg bye off James Anderson, in the next over Usman Khawaja pulled Broad to the mid wicket boundary.

The pressure of not adding to his overnight score built on David Warner who  had a big slog at Broad and dragged on a wide ball. The 15th time that Broad has dismissed Warner.  After an age while waiting for a policeman to move past the sight screen Broad got on a hattrick when Marnus Labuschagne edged an outswinger  and Bairstow took the catch one handed.

Steve Smith got squared up by Stokes and was given out, Smith reviewed straight away as he thought it was high.  The replay showed it  to be clipping the bails. 

On 26 Alex Carey pushed  forward at Root and got a thin edge but Bairstow couldn’t take the catch.  He beautifully drove Broad straight to the long on boundary. Carey  reached his 50 when he edged Moeen Ali between Bairstow and Joe in Root at slip.

Usman Khawaja added: “I hope Carey carries tomorrow and gets a big score.”

England’s fielding coach Paul Collingwood said: “It’s been a frustrating day, it was a good day of Test cricket and we were only half an inch away from taking all the wickets today.  We are in a magnificent position in the game, that wicket isn’t going to get any better.  

The Aussies played really well and Usman Khawaja played fantastically well.  We’ll regroup overnight, recharge and we’ll come back tomorrow and get those last five wickets.”

Day 3

ONLY 33.3 overs were possible on the third day before rain forced the abandonment of play with England 35 ahead with eight wickets left.

Without adding to his overnight score of 52, Alex Carey  got an inside edge to  the fourth ball of the day from James Anderson but Jonny Bairstow couldn’t hold on to the chance moving to his right. But England got the breakthrough five overs later when Anderson took the fielders out of the equation when he angled one in at Carey and bowled him.  With Usman Khawaja he added 118 in 31 overs.

Carey said: “It’s nice to have two wickets down overnight. We would have liked to have more but hopefully we can build on that momentum tomorrow.  Taking those two early wickets gave us an opportunity to bring our field in. Hopefully spin can play an important role for us tomorrow. Scott Boland felt that he could take a wicket with every ball. At the moment the match is evenly poised and the ball is moving and it’s pretty exciting.”

Aussie captain Pat Cummins dispatched Moeen Ali for two sixes in three balls. The first was a full toss which he thrashed over  mid wicket but the second was a much better shot,it was straighter and it brought up the Aussies 350.  He hit another six when he pulled Stuart Broad over square leg.

The Australia innings was over when they  lost four wickets for 14 in  23 balls.  Ben Stokes played mind games with  the Aussies.  In the middle of a Broad over  he changed the field to Cummins and had six men on the onside with Stokes under the helmet at short leg. At the other end Usman Khawaja was faced with six fielders in front of him in a semicircle.  He must have expected a short ball but Robinson fired in a Yorker which uprooted his off stump.

Khawaja faced 321 balls, the longest innings by an Aussie opener in terms of balls faced since Matthew Elliott in 1997.  His 141 included three sixes and 14 fours. Ollie Robinson said: “Ben Stokes said to me ‘go for a yorker’ and Khawaja came down the pitch to me and played a different shot to what he had been playing and made Stokes look like a genius.”

Nathan Lyon got under a pull off Robinson and hit the ball straight down Ben Duckett’s throat on the square leg boundary.  Boland fended off a short ball from Broad to Ollie Pope at silly point.  Cummins was the last out when he hooked Robinson and  Stokes coming in from the deep square leg boundary took the catch.

Robinson added: “It was pleasing to wrap up their tail this morning to give us some momentum. We felt that bowling full to their tail would give us the best chance of taking wickets. We feel that after Cummins they have three number 11’s.”

Needing an early breakthrough  Lyon was brought into the attack after five overs but rain stopped play at 2.14 for 76 minutes. The break worked for the Aussies because they came out with an attacking mindset.  After eight minutes back the Aussies got a breakthrough when, with black clouds gathering, Duckett jabbed at a wide ball from Cummins and Cameron Green took a great low catch moving to his left.  The umpires weren’t sure it had carried so they reviewed it and Duckett was on his way back to the hutch.

Carey added: “Green is an outstanding young cricketer whether it’s bowling,fielding or batting.  He continues to grow and he’s pulled three amazing catches this tour and is unbelievable at third slip.

Three balls later Zak Crawley pushed at Boland and Carey took the catch.  Crawley did umpire Marais Erasmus work for him and walked.  After 20 minutes the rain came back and off went the players.

Robinson added: “We still want to be positive in our batting but we lost two wickets.  If the umpires say that the ground is fit to play they play.  We would like 90 overs to bowl at them and the pitch is spinning a bit more and hopefully when we bowl we can make inroads early on.”
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Day 4

THE first Ashes Test match at Edgbaston is on a knife edge with both team in with a chance of winning it, Australia need another 174 more runs and England seven more wickets

Nathan Lyon said: “It wasn’t a great 40 minutes losing David Warne, Marnus Labuschagne and Stephen  Smith but I am confident that our boys can do it, it’s been a hell of a start to a series.” At 61 without loss needing 281 Australia were in no trouble then they lost David Warner, Marnus Labuschange and Stephen Smith as the fell to 89 for three.

Stuart Broad said: “It’s set up to  be fantastic day tomorrow, tonight the crowd will be going home saying they have had their money’s worth today. We are delighted to have got rid off Warner,Labuschange and Smith. I thought Australia won the first hour of the final session and we won the second hour.  Now we have to wait and see what the weather will bring tomorrow.  It’s quite an hard pitch to get the ball away.  It’s been an exciting start to the series.”

Australia’s chase got off to a  fantastic start hitting 10 off the first over thanks to an edge from Usman Khawaja which went in between Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root at first slip with the pair motionless.  After that Usman Khawaja and David Warner were rarely troubled until Warner edged Ollie Robinson to Bairstow.

 Labuschange on a king pair,survived the first ball, he got off the pair when he comfortably reversed swept Moeen Ali to the third man boundary. He made it to 13 when he pushed at Stuart Broad and edged him to Bairstow.

England got the big wicket they wanted before the close  when Smith got a big outside edge to a  drive off Broad and Bairstow made no mistake.  With 15 minutes to go Australia sent Scott Boland in as night watchman.

Lyon added: “Boland has done an incredible job, I am pleased for him  and it’s something he should be pleased of.”

It wasn’t a conventional start to the day’s play in an Ashes match when Joe Root reversed scooped Boland over Alex Carey’s head for a six and reversed scooped the next ball over Cameron Green at slip, after he tried and missed reverse scooping the first ball of the morning.  

Root and Ollie Pope blitzed the Aussie attack for 33 in three overs. Pope caressed Pat Cummins to the third man boundary but after 32 minutes he was bowled by an inswinging  yorker from Cummins.

Harry Brook down the pitch to Lyon and drove him inside out to the extra cover boundary. He brought the 50 partnership up with his Yorkshire teammate off 47 balls when he drove Josh Hazelwood to the extra cover boundary.  In the next over Lyon broke the partnership when he cramped Root up for space as he walked past the ball to give Carey an easy stumping.  That was the first time that Root has been stumped in his Test career. His 46  came from 55 balls with five fours and a six.  

Lyon said: “I am so impressed with Carey, he will always willing stand up to the stumps and he’s been unbelievable with the gloves.”

Brook also missed out on a 50 when he fell four short as he pulled Lyon to mid wicket where Labuschagne took a good low catch moving to his right.

The Aussies thought they had Ben Stokes on five leg before for five to Lyon and reviewed it.   Ultra edge showed a squiggly line but the bat was away from the ball but would have missed.

After lunch Stokes hammered Cummins to mid wicket boundary and late cut  the next ball to the third man boundary. On 33 he reversed swept Lyon to Boland at short third man but Stokes was unmoved and the replay showed Stokes hit it into the ground.  Cummins bowled to Stokes with five men on the boundary.

In the final over before lunch Josh Hazelwood wrapped Bairstow on the pads on  he was given out,  Bairstow reviewed it more in hope  than expectation and after an age the replay showed it to be missing.

Bairstow flashed Cummins past Smith at slip to the third man boundary to take England’s lead past 200.  On 20, he reversed swept Lyon and missed the ball, Lyon pleaded with umpire Erasmus waving his hands in the to give him out. Eventually Marais Erasmus did but  Bairstow reviewed it and the umpire was right.

Stokes became the third England player to fall in the 40’s when Cummins nipped one back at him and umpire Ashan Razagivd him out. Stokes reviewed it but he knew he was out and the replay showed it to be umpires call.

On five Robinson fended off Hazelwood and Labuschange at short leg leapt for the ball,caught it but the TV replay showed he had grassed it.  Two balls later Moeen Ali feathered Hazelwood off his hips and Carey took a great catch going to his right.

With a 236 lead  with two wickets left England needed the last two wickets to get as many as they could and then did their job adding another 43 in 12 runs.  Smith made a great effort to dismiss Broad before he had scored when Broad fended Hazelwood off his legs. Smith at leg slip leapt to his right and caught the ball but as he fell his momentum knocked the ball out off his hand.   Broad  had another slice of luck when he reversed swept Lyon and was given out leg before.  Broad reviewed it and the replay showed he had gloved it.

After hitting Lyon straight for a couple, Robinson chipped the next ball to Green at long on 20 yards in from the boundary. With Broad they added 27 vital runs in seven overs.  The England innings was over when James Anderson glanced Cummins off his legs and Cummins took a good one handed catch tumbling to his left.

Day 5

AUSTRALIA Captain Pat Cummins guided his side home with an unbeaten 44 as they beat England by two wickets  and shared in a ninth wicket partnership of 55 in 12 overs with Nathan Lyon with 4.3 overs left.

Cummins said: “It’s great to get the series off with a win, I thought we could do it when we got the target down to 16,but from the first session of the match it has been 50/50. It’s more nervous being in the dressing room because on the field you can control things but Lyon has practiced batting a lot at home.  When we bowled them out yesterday I thought that 280 was getable.  The dressing room is pretty happy now we’re one nil up because a lot of the guys played at Headingley and today’s result is pretty satisfying.  Away Tests are always hard to win.”

When Cummins came to the crease at the fall of the seventh wicket Australia were still 72 shy of their target.  But the Aussies were set on their way by Usman Khawaja who hit 65 before he was seventh out.

Usman Khawaja batted like a wall and looked to be batting for a draw but maybe he should have rotated the strike a bit more but the Aussies won’t care after their victory.  He became the 13th player   to bat on all five days of a Test and the first since Kim Hughes did it in the Centenary Test at Lord’s in 198

Cameron Green and Usman Khawaja looked to be taking the game away from England.  James Anderson bowled to Green with a semi circle of fielders but Green and  Usman Khawaja kept the board moving with singles then Green drove Anderson straight to the mid off boundary through the gap left by Stuart Broad at wide mid off and Anderson. As the pair edged towards tea their confidence grew  and after tea  they looked to increase their run rate.  Just when you thought England were out of it Ollie Robinson broke the partnership one short of 50 when Green tried to dab him  to third man but he dragged back. The partnership defied England for 19 overs.

Alex Carey joined Usman Khawaja and showed more intent by pulling  a short ball from Moeen Ali to the mid wicket boundary, only the second boundary in 18 overs, to bring up the Australian 200.  England thought they had Carey leg before to Joe Root but umpire Maraius Erasmus was unmoved.  England reviewed it and the replay showed it to be missing.  Without adding to his score Carey blasted the ball straight back to Root but it burst through his hands.

In his second over Ben Stokes got the wicket of Usman Khawaja who played on to a slower ball.  His 65 came from 197 balls with seven fours with only one today.

With the new ball available Stokes declined to take it  and continued with Root and it paid off when Root took a brilliant return catch to get rid of Carey despite fumbling with it.

Cummins smashed Root for a straight six followed  two balls later  by another six, that over should have prompted Stokes to take the new but he didn’t. Still with the old ball Lyon pulled Broad to  Stokes at mid wicket but as he fell the ball fell out of his grasp.  Stokes said: “It was in my hand but when I came in for it I couldn’t pick it up because it’s a hard seeing ground.” Cummins got a couple and another boundary to take the target down to 30.

Three overs later they took the new ball  with Australia needing 27 more runs  to win  with two  wickets standing. Lyon flicked Broad to mid on boundary to take the target down to single figures.  Cummins hit the winning runs when he guided Robinson to third man boundary.

Stokes added: “I feel disappointed and devastated  that we lost but it’s set up a great series  and  I couldn’t be prouder of the way that the players have played over the last five days.  The game went down to the wire and they got over it.  Full credit to Cummins and Lyon.  I declared on the first day because no opening batter likes to bat for 20 minutes.”

Play got underway at 2.15, because of heavy overnight rain, with the overs in the day reduced to 52 plus 15 in the final hour.  Scott Boland did more than his job defying England for another 35 minutes before he got over confident trying to drive a full length ball but edged it to Jonny Bairstow.

Broad bowled to Travis Head with a five four offside field with no slip.  Robinson bowled to Usman Khawaja with a similar field  as on Sunday with a semi circle of thee close fielders on the offside and a mid off as  they restricted Australia to 11 runs from 13 overs in the first hour.  Head top edged the first ball after the drinks break just wide off  Bairstow for the first boundary of the day.  

Head pulled Moeen Ali to the mid wicket boundary with disdain. Four balls later Moeen Ali got one  to bounce and turn at Head and Root took a comfortable slip catch, the first slip catch of the match.


June 17, 2023 1:34 pm

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