Cricket

The Ashes 2019 – Smith stars in First Test as England collapse again

Steve Smith returned to Test cricket in sensational style – hitting a century in both Australian innings to help the Aussies win the First Test of the five match 2019 Ashes series.

For England, the taste of defeat will be all the more bitter, having taken a grip of the game initially. They tore through the Australian batting line up in the first innings – having them on their knees at 122/8 – and then had a 90 run lead going into the second innings. But the Aussies dominated the game from that moment on, and won comfortably in the end – with England having many issues to ponder.

It was the first time England had lost an Ashes Test at Edgbaston since 2001 – and the win, giving Australia a 1-0 lead, is the first time the Aussies have lead an Ashes series in England since 2005.

Whilst Steve Smith took the plaudits – rightly – with the bat, and a man of the match performance (above), there were many heroes for Australia who stepped up when it mattered. Nathan Lyon was superb – taking nine wickets in the match and showing what a class act with the ball he is. His pace bowling counterparts – Siddle, Cummins and Pattinson – were equally as good – bowling to a plan and blunting the English batting. Even Rory Burns’ magnificent maiden century in the first innings was riddled with plays and misses, edges and chances. The Edgbaston pitch was not a shocker – but the Australian bowlers found more out of it than the English attack.

But equally as important for Australia, Smith was given support with the willow when it mattered. With Aussie batsmen failing all around him, Smith stood calm – and at the afore mentioned 122/8, was joined by Peter Siddle, who played a huge part in the Australian fightback. Siddle lasted 85 balls and contributed 44 in a stand of 88 frustrating runs for England before falling to Moeen Ali. Smith then unleashed his full array on shots, adding another 74 for the last wicket with Lyon and taking their total to a respectable 284.

Then, in the second innings, the English lead had been wiped out for the loss of three wickets and the balance of the game was still with the home nation, before Travis Head (130 run partnership) and Matthew Wade (126 run partnership) stayed with Smith as he reached another century. England’s bowlers – without Jimmy Anderson – simply had little answer to Smith who batted with freedom and clear enjoyment as he ripped the game from the English clutches.

The Australian tail wagged hard and captain Tim Paine had the luxury of declaring their second innings on 487/7 – meaning England would need to bat for a full day plus 7 overs to eke out a draw – a win virtually impossible now.

But the suspected frailties of the England batting line up were proved to be very – sadly – true, as England were bowled out for 146 in just 52.3 overs – only Chris Woakes managing over 30 runs, with Lyon (above) and Cummins sharing all ten English wickets to give Australia the win by a crushing 251 runs.

England – whilst buoyed by the innings of Burns, will be very much concerned by the failure of their middle order. World Cup heroes Stokes, Bairstow and Buttler contributed just 76 runs between them – Stokes hitting 50 of those in the first innings. Add Moeen Ali’s combined 4 runs into the equation and it reads a sad total of 80/8. Whilst England have been superb in the ODI version of the game, questions are being asked whether they can convert their form into the longer version – do they have the temperament and discipline, if not technique, for crease occupation – much more important than a flurry of boundaries and then dismissal. Moeen Ali’s place looks under huge threat – he looks a man with no confidence at the moment with bat or ball – and having seen the damage Lyon did – there was little evidence – the odd ball apart – that Ali could deliver the same control, pressure – or wickets. All that – and then the loss of Jimmy Anderson (above) – a superb test bowler who bowled four exemplary overs – three maidens and just one run conceded – before departing not to come back at all. He must be a huge doubt for Lords in just over a week – and maybe the Ashes series full stop. Was his selection merited or a little desperate, considering the injury issues to Jofra Archer – and is he now ready to step up and fill the huge shoes apparently vacated by the best test bowler England have produced in recent times?

Problems indeed for England – but for Australia, everything is very, very rosy indeed – and they will be frothing at the mouth for the Lords test to start on Wednesday August 14th.

ASHES FIRST TEST – MATCH SUMMARY

  • Australia 1st Innings : 284 all out (Smith 144, Siddle 44, Head 35)
  • England Bowling : Broad 5/86, Woakes 3/58
  • England 1st Innings : 374 all out (Burns 133, Root 57, Stokes 50)
  • Australia Bowling : Cummins 3/84, Lyon 3/112
  • Australia 2nd Innings : 487/7d (Smith 142, Wade 110, Head 51, Pattinson 47no)
  • England Bowling : Stokes 3/85, Ali 2/130
  • England 2nd Innings : 146 all out (Woakes 37, Roy 28, Root 28)
  • Australia Bowling : Lyon 6/49, Cummins 4/32
  • Result : Australia won by 251 runs
  • Man of the Match : Steve Smith (Australia)
  • Venue : Edgbaston, Birmingham, England
  • Date : Thursday August 1 to Monday August 5, 2019