Sunday 12 July 2015

Ashes 2015 1st Test, Cardiff

The tale of these 4 innings will report a convincing win for the hosts against all the odds handed to them at the start of play.
England won by 169 runs - (full scorecard here)

Australia bring with them a swaggering confidence and a bravado that is unique within the sport, contrasting with the approach of the rest of cricket, which is a cautious modesty and respect for cricket as master of fate.
England has been utterly dominated in the 06/7 and 13/14 tours of Australia, losing all 10 test matches played. England managed to buck this trend between '09 and '13, by losing only 2 out of 15 tests during that time.
Australia do not take, or forget, defeat very well. They go down with a swagger, and return with that same swagger, belligerence and optimism.

The clamour, in the cricket media both home and down under, to pick the remaining flesh from the Australian carcass, is, in my opinion, a little hasty. The result is the result and over two innings any fortune either way tends to balance out. Some pundits may point out that the luck only evens itself out over an entire series.
Australia had a chance to take the scoreless wicket of England's most prolific batsman, Joe Root, in the first innings, and squandered it. Whether this counts as bad luck or simply a lack of skill, remains in the hands of the viewer. The viewer would then search for reasons for that bad luck. Perhaps the Aussies started the test with complacency. This is quickly quoshed when you note that, at the moment that chance went begging, Australia had already obliterated England's opening line up, to 43 for 3.

Australia may well have earned the right to be complacent in preparation for this latest Ashes series. After all, England failed to put up resistance during the most recent 0-5 reverse on Australian soil.
And with a resurgent England side that contains both talent and solidarity, the England victory at Cardiff will probably go down as the result of nonchalant Australia taking their recuperated hosts too lightly.
England has shuffled the pack and given chances to several players in recent months. There have been huge question marks over all of the top 4 batsmen, and rightly so, justified by their performances on the first innings scoreboard. Captain Cook's runs will be essential to a winning series for England. And in recent tests with New Zealand, Ballance and Bell have struggled to make a big impact.
Perhaps reassuringly for England is the confidence of the new blood with bat. The middle order of Stokes, Buttler and Moeen offer insurance for the fragile openers, as back up for the blossoming Joe Root.
If England's top 4 can start firing, then this would be disastrous for Australia.
England would be wise to focus on their own game in the short time ahead, and simply hope that Australian squad cannot recover from the inevitable meltdown that will follow this defeat. What can be certain, is that Australian cricketers do not enjoy losing, and they will move heaven and earth to put this first defeat right.
But, determined as they are, Australia will be unlikely to prosper unless they adapt to these lush, slow English wickets which offer less bounce than their pitches down under. Progress is not, therefore, a question of attitude, but one of technical skill. This England is not lacking in its own sense of bravado, and is technically ahead in respect of preparing for the conditions of play.
England should expect an Australian backlash from this victory in the second test, at Lords. But with the Australian squad morale teetering on the edge, and with their home media questioning the ability of half the side, a certain pressure will mount upon their shoulders in the build up. Not that they aren't used to high expectations. Its normal for Australian cricketers.
Huge stakes fall on the imminent second test. Heroes needed, once again.

Thursday, July 16-20, 2015 -  at Lord's, London
England v Australia

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