ASHES: England decimate Australia for 1-0 lead


July 11, 2015

Brief Scorecard: England 430 (Root 134, Moeen 77, Starc 5-114) and 289 (Bell 60, Root 60, Lyon 4-75) beat Australia 308 (Rogers 95, Anderson 3-43) and 242 (Johnson 77, Warner 52, Broad 3-39, Moeen 3-59) by 169 runs

July 11, 2015

Brief Scorecard: England 430 (Root 134, Moeen 77, Starc 5-114) and 289 (Bell 60, Root 60, Lyon 4-75) beat Australia 308 (Rogers 95, Anderson 3-43) and 242 (Johnson 77, Warner 52, Broad 3-39, Moeen 3-59) by 169 runs

England begin their celebrations, England v Australia, 1st Investec Ashes Test, Cardiff, 4th day, July 11, 2015

CARDIFF: It seemed like an exciting finish was in the offing at the halfway mark of this Test. But it turned blue, pale and cold rather alarmingly from Australia's point of view on Day 4 as England, who exhibited tremendous character and resolve, ran away victors by a memorable 169-run margin at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Saturday (July 11).

Along with a 1-0 lead taken in the most emphatic fashion possible, England also sent out a loud and clear message to Australia that it will take an effort of massive proportions to entertain thoughts of registering their first Ashes series win in England in 14 years.

England were fussy about their dietary demands during their tour of Australia in 2013-14, so much so, that a specially prepared catalog was approved by the team management before they flew out. All they did this time around was spell out the need to play aggressive cricket and not be intimidated by Australia’s short-ball tactics that proved so effective during the last Ashes series.

To Alastair Cook and England’s credit, they walked the talk and showed intent in every fine detail to bulldoze Australia’s famed batting line-up into submission in chase of 412.

Save David Warner’s half-century at the top and Mitchell Johnson's thrill-a-minute ride that resulted in 77 quick runs, there was hardly anything of note in the middle as the innings came to a grinding halt on 242 when Moeen Ali, quite fittingly, took the final wicket to finish with figures of 3 for 59 in 16.3 overs.

Even Johnson's knock did very little to mask the indecisiveness of the middle order on a surface that wasn't half as bad as the scorecard suggested. Expressing himself without a trace of worry, Johnson tonked the ball around to merely reduce the margin of victory.

Australia's fate was almost sealed in the post-lunch session where they lost three wickets in the first six overs. That it came on the back of Warner’s wicket shortly before lunch didn’t help matters either, as the reputed batting line-up crashed and burned under Stuart Broad’s mastery with the new ball.

Australia’s plan was to go for runs rather than just survive, and credit should go to Broad for creating opportunities out of nowhere in a sensational spell of swing bowling. Noticeable was his immaculate wrist position that snared Chris Rogers (10), out in the slips early, and left Steven Smith, the most improved and consistent batsman in the international circuit across formats over the last year, dumbfounded.

Smith (33), who was expected to do a bulk of the repair job after Warner’s wicket, wasn’t lucky this time around. A couple of edges in the first session rolled past the slip cordon, but his technique of going with hard hands consumed him immediately after the break as Broad had him poking at an away-going delivery with Ian Bell gleefully accepting the chance at second slip.

Broad then peppered Michael Clarke (4) with a few short balls before he was sucked into a false drive. Clarke, who kept hanging back, suddenly leaned forward and played half-heartedly to a full delivery that went off the splice to Ben Stokes at point, as elation turned into ecstasy. Australia had their backs to the wall at 106 for 4.

England didn’t relent, and Cook then introduced Mark Wood for his second spell of the morning to give Broad a breather and help Anderson change ends. The move would turn out to be a masterstroke as Adam Voges (1) nicked a delivery that shaped away ever so slightly, with Jos Buttler doing the rest behind the stumps.

Brad Haddin, who has averaged just 15 since the last Ashes series, walked out to plenty of chatter, something he’s regularly dished out to the opposition. Boos rang loud around the ground as he took strike. It got worse when a thin inside edge that perilously close to the off stump. Every minute of his existence at the crease was a struggle, and Cook’s decision to bring Moeen back in for a fresh spell immediately paid off, yet again.

Getting one to turn back in from the rough, Ali had Haddin (7) driving only for the ball to hit the inner half of the bat as Cook, throwing his hands up in a reflex action to stop the ball, juggled and pouched the lob off the second attempt at short midwicket. By then, Australia’s fate had almost been sealed.

Mitchell Starc supported Johnson briefly, but a wicket wasn’t too far away at any stage. Even the threat of rain on Sunday didn’t seem to matter anymore, as a festive home crowd had started celebrating the start of what could be a fascinating summer of cricket.

If Joe Root's magnificent first-innings century set things up, it was superbly topped off by the pacers, particularly Broad, who finished with 3 for 39. Ali's all-round effort and Cook's attacking weren't lost amidst the glittering performances either, as England kickstarted the Trevor Bayliss era with an emphatic statement of intent.

Courtesy: Wisden India