Cricket: The Ashes: England mesmerised by shining Australian outfit

The Australians celebrate their first test victory (Source: ESPN Cricinfo/Getty Images)
The Australians celebrate their first test victory (Source: ESPN Cricinfo/Getty Images)

What was hyped as a dogged test match between two old enemies turned out to be the polar opposite; domination from Australia, and capitulation from England, on a terrific Gabba pitch.

Having come into the opening test with a batting line-up that had the critics wondering, Australia took the match by storm with an impressive 381 run win.

An important contribution from left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson, with both bat and ball, was instrumental in helping to set up Australia’s first Ashes win since Perth, 2010.

Desperate to make amends for the 3-0 series loss in July and August, Australia opted to bat first at the Gabba.  Stuart Broad, the destroyer at Trent Bridge, had England’s tails up after ploughing through Australia’s top six.  James Anderson, for a long time the leader of the England attack, did not have the same venom, taking two wickets in a backseat performance to Broad.

Enter the stoic and stubborn Brad Haddin.  Seemingly down and out at 5-100, the crucial partnership came between the vice captain and Johnson, who compiled a stand of 114 and saved Australia’s innings, putting a total of 295 on the board.  Then England catastrophically unravelled.

A combination of attacking bowling from Australia and dismal batting from England meant that by the end of day two, Australia were already piling on a second innings lead.

It was disappointing to see the likes of Jonathan Trott, the flamboyant Kevin Pietersen and obstinate Ian Bell go without much of a show.  Johnson may have at times been erratic with the ball, but when he wanted the prizes, he got them.

Reeling at a lethargic 8-91, a miniature fight back from Broad (32) meant England staggered to 136 in the first innings.  From then on, it was Australia’s game to lose.

Michael Clarke and David Warner ensured that there would be no doubt of the winner.  A captain’s knock of 113, along with 124 from Warner, pushed Australia’s lead to 560.

Day four, and there was not a cloud in the sky.  England on the ropes and Australia in the box seat meant that the test had turned itself on its head from day one, where the outcome could go either way.

Johnson was the ultimate aggressor, taking nine wickets for the match and flustering the English.  The support he received from the batsmen simply bolstered his work.

Time was on the side of the Englishmen, but the victory target was not.  Captain Cook provided most resistance with 65, but no-one else really found a spark, and England suffered at the hands of the relentless hosts.

At the end of day four, and an Australian triumph all but reached, tensions reached snapping point.  In what were a few heated words that seemingly stemmed from an earlier incident, Clarke’s statement to Anderson: “get ready for a broken f**king arm” certainly turned a few heads.

Sledging is not a new part of cricket or sport.  However, the manner in which those final moments were conducted caused a riveting test match to end on a sour note.

One side went for the kill; the other simply could not get their shields up to stop the barrage.  Queensland cricketer Chris Sabburg definitely will not forget the moment he assisted in dismissing Pietersen in England’s second innings.

Amidst all of the chaos, Australia battled to secure a win on several excellent performances.  The teams have more than a week to recover before Adelaide; during that time, there will be plenty of media missiles to avoid.


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