The Ashes 2015 – First Test, Day 4: Australia rooted, England stoked

In life there are always three occurrences that you can rely on to happen; the sun rising at the start of the day, the sun setting at the end of the day and James Anderson getting a brand new Duke to swing a proverbial mile.

All three of these situations played out in front of many excited and perhaps intoxicated British supporters as their team rollicked home in what was a stamping yet surprising Test match victory.

The day started in similar fashion to the previous two days, with the unexpected and rarely sighted Wales sun rising high above Sophia Gardens and drowning its many patrons in glowing sunshine as Rogers and Warner trotted out onto the field to complete the impossible.

With 412 runs needed to propel them to an unlikely and record-breaking win, Anderson and Broad kicked off proceedings with the same sharpness and accuracy that they displayed in the first innings, as Rogers marvelled at Anderson’s swing while Warner completely missed Broad’s fizzing deliveries.

Somehow Warner stayed in, even though he continued to swing and miss most of Broad’s deliveries like a number eleven batsman, as he looked to be desperately out of form. The plucky Rogers edged along, counting his blessings after a crucial drop from Root, with the out stretched Yorkshireman allowing the ball to slip from between his two hands.

Fortunately for England, the old-timer didn’t make them pay, as a veering Broad delivery caused Rogers to spoon a catch to Bell in the slip cordon. After that, Warner seemed to partner well with the exuberant Smith, as the two young hot shots dashed away. Warner finally started connecting with the middle of his chunky Gray Nicholls Kaboom bat, with Smith plundering on in an entertaining and disorienting manner.

The pair of youngsters in the top ten batsmen in the world kept the runs ticking over, as they approached the lunch break with the score just short of 100. Warner had just made his half century, a trying innings if anything for the normally flowing shot maker. But he fell on the stroke of lunch, with Ali being brought on to bowl the last over and delivering a vital wicket.

Suddenly the Aussies had gone from being on the front foot in a gigantic run chase to slipping behind, as they had all of a sudden dropped back to 2-97. Captain Clarke trudged back out to the middle after lunch, with the captain and his understudy having to produce blinders of innings to thwart the regimented and tactful English bowling.

The resistance couldn’t be done, as the firm brick wall that Smith and Warner worked so hard on erecting just before lunch came crumbling down like the big bad wolf had unleashed on it, with Smith falling to Broad the first over back for a solid yet unsatisfactory 33. The terrific ball that Broad dished up fuelled him on, as Clarke was removed in a soft manner just four overs later.

From 1-97 to 4-106, the pain continued as the old in age but new in experience Voges falling to Wood for 1, with the pacier bowlers of the English attack doing some incredible damage to what was a steadfast batting order.

Haddin and Watson then combined for what had to be a match winning partnership, as both players had mountains of pressure on them to succeed in the Test. The understudies behind the scenes must have been licking their chops though, with Haddin falling to Ali and a ripper Cook catch for 7, while Watson snuck along like a snail before being removed by Wood for 19 in an all but familiar fashion.

The injured Starc and frustrated Johnson then stayed solid in defence after the tea break, with the Pom pace bowlers just waiting for a wicket like a lion does when it spots a slow-moving piece of prey. Starc was the first to go, with the hungry pace bowlers having to be kept at bay by a boring and taciturn Root, as the part-time off spinner finished off his superb batting in the match by collecting both of the left arm pace bowlers for 17 and 77 respectively.

With the score being 9-242, the only question left on the cricketing world’s lips was when this match would end, as there seemed to be no hope of a fifth day. Finally Hazlewood decided to go along with the general consensus, as Root topped off a superb match with the match winning catch off the improved Ali’s off spinners.

Surprisingly, the Aussies were all out for 242, with the Poms winning by a deafening 169 run margin. Root dutifully claimed the man of the match award, although Ali would have been second in the line for the gong.

The repercussions seem enormous, as the win mirrors Australia’s blitzkrieg in Brisbane 2013. There are now many queries about the Australia team following the second Test at Lord’s on Thursday. Will Watson and Haddin be replaced? Can Johnson start firing? Will Starc be fit and available? Can they adjust to the absurd and foreign English conditions? Will the Aussies provide a stronger resistance to the English bowlers?

All of these questions will be answered soon, as the Aussies need to regroup fast. How huge of an impact is the loss of Harris now?

Comments

  1. E.regnans says:

    Good stuff Sean.
    If the cricketers had shown your application across four days, we might have seen a fifth (or saved the game as the rain tumbles down in Cardiff).
    Reading that again now helps me to re-live the absurd events of last night and be assured it actually transpired. As it happened, it all had about it the sheen of fiction to my eyes.
    But no.

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