Five days back when England and Australia were about to go head-to-head in the first test at Cardiff not many thought or gave a chance to England of winning and that too in this clinical fashion while finishing the game inside four days. Let’s take a closer look at why was England the more dominant side at Cardiff.
At the start of the season England cricket was again in the news for all the wrong reason, KP saga continued and then the coach got sacked. Series against the Kiwis though brought a sense of relief and excitement in the ranks but any ardent English supporter couldn’t have predicted this kind of turnaround. England were ready to play fearless cricket and ready to go down but not without putting up a bold fight. This change in their playing style was uncharacteristic and in many ways one of the reason they trumped the Aussies. Also low expectations from the media and the supporters also helped England as they were unfazed by what was said.
Alistair Cook has for long now faced unending criticism for his captaincy and rightly so. In the 5-0 trashing down under it was evident from the manner in which England went about things that the captain was indecisive and just played into the opposition’s hands. This was not the case in Cardiff as Cook was spot on with his bowling changes, especially his use of Moeen Ali. Cook also provided inspiration with some good slip catching and then taking a screamer to dismiss Brad Haddin. Though he was silent with the bat but his captaincy was impeccable and his mingling with the fans after the match was another heartening sight.
Aussie can face a long English summer
The first setback was in the form of Ryan Harris calling it a day without a ball being bowled in the match. Then it was the ineffectiveness of Mitchell Johnson in the 1st innings. Then it was Mitchell Starc who performed in patches but was pegged back by an ankle problem. Things looked better in the 2nd inning when they were 97 for 1 but then batting disappointed for the second time in the match. Australia haven’t excelled on English soil since the 2005 series an such a dismal start to the campaign is not what they could’ve imagined. Australia needs to bring in-form Mitchell March to replace the tentative and unconfident Shane Watson to provide a better option at No.6 to start with in Lord’s. it they lose the plot in the 2nd game it could turn out to be an agonizing summer.
Anything Root can’t do??
When Johnson and Starc delayed the inevitable late in the 4th day, Joe Root came on to remove the duo to round off a perfect game for him. A tally of 194 runs in the opening game which included a masterful 134 in the first innings has firmly put him as the leader of the English batting for this summer. The manner in which he displayed flawless footwork and technique while tearing apart Australian bowling after getting a life when he was dropped on 0 was a treat to watch. If he continues to play the kind of fearless and aggressive cricket he’s playing now then this Ashes will certainly be remembered as Root’s Ashes.
Bowlers too join the party
England have been in a constant search for a backup first change bowler and Mark Wood played the role to perfection as he picked up some crucial wickets to support Broad and Anderson. The England bowling seemed to be perfectly up to the task against a formidable Australian batting and easily out bowled their Aussie counterparts. The bowlers were equally good with the old ball as they were with the new. Moeen Ali also showed his utility as he provided the breakthroughs at crucial junctures of the game. The performances of bowlers augurs well for England for the remaining test matches.