I don’t think anyone predicted Australia to win that test from the start, let alone when Australia were 3/35 and 8/122. Even after a Steve Smith masterclass got us all the way to 284, after England got a 90 run lead and we were reduced to 2/27 after dual failures to Bancroft and Warner, then to 3/75 after Khawaja got out, we were talking about a lead of 100, not 397.
Even then, it looked like England might draw it, but the pressure, not the pitch, caused their demise, with a little help from Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins. I am still in shock that we won that. I can’t remember any batsman ever doing that much by himself to win a match. Perhaps VVS Laxman against Australia in 2001. But this was huge. It’s one of the very best test match batting efforts of all-time. That it came in his return test after a year-long ban and with people calling him a cheater was incredible.
Five Things We Learned:
(1) Jimmy Anderson shouldn’t have played
The 37 year old insisted he was fit, after coming back from injury, but, like Dale Steyn for South Africa in the World Cup, he was lying. Given the depth of England’s bowling stocks, and the fact that Sam Curran, the man of the match in their last test against Ireland just a week prior, was missing, it seems to have been far too big a risk. Jofra Archer also could have played.
(2) Cameron Bancroft should not play test cricket
Didn’t we learn our lessons from 2018 when this guy just kept on failing, and then cheated to try to keep his spot? It’s a choice of Bancroft or Warner as they clearly can’t play together, and I dare say that Warner is easily the winner.
(3) Steve Smith is one of the very best
Most people, when faced with a scoreline of 8/122, would just give up on the innings and hope that they can do better in the second dig, but not Smith. He batted well enough with Travis Head, but far better with Siddle and Lyon, reaching 144, and then backed it up with 142 in the second innings after Australia were 2 down for 27 and then 3 for 75, still 15 runs behind. He took Australia from a predicted 100 run lead to an incredible 397 run lead, and a declaration of all things.
(4) England need some new batsmen, and quickly
They were a batting powerhouse in the World Cup but in tests they were all terrible, bar Joe Root. Even Rory Burns scoring his first ever test century and batting on all 5 days was not enough to really lift them. They bat a long way down, and would have batted lower had they went in with Sam Curran instead of Jimmy Anderson, but they need some batsmen who can bat long. Who that is, I don’t know, but whoever they are should probably play in the 2nd test, perhaps at the expense of Joe Denly.
(5) Edgbaston isn’t that much of a fortress against Australia
Australia have a pretty good record at Edgbaston, and, but for bad umpiring in 2005, they would have won 3 of their last 4 at the venue. It’s good for England overall but it’s also good for Australia. Perhaps it was the wrong venue for the 1st test. But, then again, had Jimmy Anderson not been injured, England may well have won.