Australia cruised to a crushing 10-wicket win over England to go one-up in the Ashes series in the opening Test at the Gabba on Monday, with captain Steve Smith praising his team's character. Openers David Warner and Cameron Bancroft added to England's agony by peeling off the required runs without the loss of a wicket before lunch on the final day. Warner finished unbeaten on 87 off 119 balls with newcomer Bancroft hitting the winning runs to remain 82 not out off 182 balls in Australia's 173 without loss. In the process, they broke an 87-year-old Test record for the all-time highest unbeaten opening partnership in a successful Test chase.
Cricketnext takes a look at 5 highlights in the first Ashes Test.
Newbies Shine; Big Names Fail for England
England's batting line-up was largely expected to be dependent on the likes of Alastair Cook, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow with new faces like Mark Stoneman, James Vince and Dawid Malan expected to support the big star cast. However, in the first innings, Stoneman, Vince and Malan registered fine half-centuries to help England reach 300. Cook and Root were both dismissed cheaply and couldn't contribute enough for the visitors. Though Root managed to score a fighting half-century in the second innings but that didn't prove to be enough as Australia chased down the target with relative ease. Going ahead, the pressure will be on Alastair Cook to provide a more solid start to England as he is one of the big names in the team. The likes of Stoneman, Vince and Malan will also hope to learn from this experience and look to make the most of their starts. All of them got a half-century but no one scored a big ton which is important in winning a Test match.
Lyon Backs His Talk With Impressive Performance
Nathan Lyon had said before the start of the series that Australia will look to end careers in the Ashes, a remark that had come under considerable criticism from players with former England wicket-keeper Matt Prior calling it 'laughable'. However, Lyon later said that he wanted to take the pressure off the likes of Paine, Bancroft. The spotlight was certainly on the off spinner and he lived up to his talk with a brilliant performance. First, his impressive fielding accounted for James Vince who was batting on 83 at the moment. Then, Lyon bowled the perfect line and length for the Gabba wicket, getting the ball to turn and also creating doubts in the minds of the English batsmen. He ended the game with figures of 5/145.
Captain Smith Leads From the Front
Joe Root might have disappointed with the bat but his counterpart Steve Smith led from the front and has certainly laid down the gauntlet going ahead. England tried everything, even bringing back the much maligned body line tactics to try and dismiss Smith. However, Smith showed great grit and had an answer for everything that the English threw at him. His unbeaten 141 was the key for Australia which helped them surpass England's first innings total. He batted beautifully with the tail and never lost composure despite constantly losing partners at the other end. He finally got some support from Pat Cummins who scored 41 and stitched together a 66-run partnership with his skipper. Even in the field Smith was a pro-active captain and didn't hesitate to make changes when things weren't going according to plan. He even bought himself to bowl when the situation demanded, something which we haven't seen him do much ever since taking over the captaincy.
'Wobblyline' Becomes Talking Point
If it's the Ashes then controversy can't be far away and something similar happened when Moeen Ali was given out stumped. Ali was batting well on 40 and along with Bairstow, leading a strong fight back from England. Against the run of play, he was given out stumped. Paine was the only one who appealed, as you expect from a wicket-keeper. None of the other Aussie fielder seemed to be as excited. Third umpire Chris Gaffeney used all the different angles available to him and it all came down to the thickness of the crease with umpire giving Ali out. Michael Clarke immediately said he felt it was a rather harsh decision. Others like Michael Vaughan agreed with the third umpire. ICC playing regulations set out the dimensions of the crease but there is no guidance as to the thickness of the lines. Ali though later played down the controversy saying that if he was the bowler, he would have wanted that to be given out. Though, in the context of the match, it was a game changing decision.
Bancroft Repays Selectors’ Faith
Cameron Bancroft's selection as opener over Matt Renshaw had raised a lot of doubts with many questioning the decision to introduce the youngster straight away into the Ashes. But it was a memorable debut for him, he scored an unbeaten 82 in the second innings as Australia comfortably chased down 173, which could have been a tricky target. His fielding at short leg too was impressive as he refused to be shaken and remarkably looked to catch a ferocious pull shot which hit him on the grill. Instead of being shaken by the blow, he was a tad disappointed to miss the catch. Even while batting, James Anderson threw the ball at Bancroft which went onto hit him in the mid-riff but the opener didn't even flinch. It might have been only one game but Bancroft has shown that he has the qualities to wear the baggy green for a long time to come.
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