Bowled Over – First Ashes Test Review – By Luqman Liaqat

Australia inflicted a humiliating 381-run defeat on England in the First Ashes test at Brisbane as Mitchell Johnson blew their rather fragile batting-line up away.

Having to face an uphill task of needing 561 runs to win, or realistically forcing the test match into the final day England detached from 142-4 to 179-all out.

Only captain Alistair Cook showed some resistance with 65 as his team lost four wickets for nine runs in a disastrous afternoon session at the Gabba.

Poor shot selection cost Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior but Johnson was deadly as he closed the match with figures 9-103.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat first Australia struggled in the opening moments of the 2013/14 Ashes. It was Stuart Broad, set up as a villain by the local media, who created the first talking point as he quietened the boisterous Gabba crowd when Chris Rodgers was caught at gully from a delivery that climbed off the pitch.

Opener Warner and Shane Watson settled the Aussies nerves for the next hour before Broad struck again capturing Watson (22) with a neat catch at second clip from Graeme Swann.

Lunch provide some respite for the hosts, but once the cricket commenced it was the same story for them as captain Michael Clarke (1) found Ian Bell at short leg and Warner (49) slapped a short one straight to Pietersen reducing the score to 83-4.

Broad was at his very best as he sent George Bailey packing on his Test debut and Steven Smith (31) who flourished for a short time then became Chris Tremlett’s first scalp leaving the Australian falling apart at 132-6.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the hosts because Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson put together a 114-run stand. Haddin reached his half-century off 100 balls and Johnson jointed him by lofting two sixes off Swann.

Run came quickly before Broad fought back clean bowling Johnson (64) to the relief of England and James Anderson picked up another one before the end as Australia closed on 273-8.

Calamity struck early on day two as Haddin was run out six short from a deserved Ashes ton and Broad picked up his fifth victim of Ryan Harris who played behind to the wicketkeeper. The media villain then polished off the Australian innings with the final wicket as he walked off with figures of 6-81.

A total of 295 appeared below par on a batting pitch, but it all changed when Cook (13) fell to Harris and Johnson had Trott (10) caught down the leg-side.

Pietersen on his 100th Test survived a dropped caught and bowled chance but after only 27 runs were scored after lunch his luck ran out when he thumped the ball straight to Bailey.

Michael Carberry (40) fought with admirable poise on his return in the Test arena but Nathan Lyon tied him down before Johnson roughed him up by coming around the wickets.

Bell fended one to Smith and then Prior went the very next ball falling to the combination of Lyon (2-17) and Smith leaving England teetering on 87-6.

Broad survived Lyon hat-trick ball before Swann fell for duck to a nasty delivery from Johnson (4-61) as he claimed a fourth scalp. Although Broad (32) and Tremlett (10) put a brief halt to the carnage, England were bundled out 136.

Before the close of the second day, Australia ensured their lead was expanded from the 159 after the England first innings to a strong 224 as Warner (45) and Rodgers (13) settled in at 65-0.

The three lions restored some hope on day three as Broad and Tremlett (3-69) struck early to remove Rodgers and Watson leaving the score 75-2.

Despite the early strikes the English bowling department couldn’t match the aggression and pace of Harris and Johnson.  Warner and Clarke put on 158 for the third wicket, Clarke assaulted the bowlers with brutal force including a six over long-on.

In the middle session, Swann’s three overs went for 38 bringing their 150 run stand before Warner welcomed Broad back into the attack with another mighty six and he fell soon after for 124.

Clarke used his feet brilliantly to Swann and reached his 100 with a controlled drive as the Gabba rose in delight. Swann (2-135) finally had some success when Clarke (113) was bowled coming down the track as Australia reached tea 299-5 (lead of 458).

Haddin (53) and Johnson (39 not out) continued from where they left off in the first innings, smashing the new ball all around the park as Clarke called for the declaration at 401-7 giving England a mammoth target of 561.

The tourists could not even last an hour before the close as first Carberry (0), then Trott (9) followed him off Johnson leaving the score reading a miserable 24-2 at the close of day three.

In the morning, Pietersen put on 52 with Cook before hooking Johnson straight to the substitute fielder at fine leg.

Bell came out and ensured England went to lunch only three down at 98-3, however his support for Cook ended on 32 when he was dismissed by Siddle.

From that moment it went all wrong for the batting line-up, Cook (65) edged behind to Haddin off Lyon. Prior only made four before Johnson sent Broad and Swann back in space of three balls as the tourist slumped to 151-8.

Tremlett hung around for 40 odd deliveries before popping Harris to short leg and Johnson (5-42) finished  things off by taking a simple caught and bowled from Anderson.

Joe Root stayed high and dry on 26, a brief cameo which gave some comfort to the visiting supporters.

However, this match was completely dominated by Australia and now the tour continues for England with a warm-up fixture against Chairman’s XI before coming face to face with Johnson and co again on 4 December in Adelaide for the Second Ashes test.

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