A remarkable Test Match at Edgbaston ended on Tuesday morning with Australia victors by 251 runs. That the visitors would claim such a comprehensive victory would have been unthinkable when they slumped to 8-122 on the first day after having won the toss and elected to bat.
In a triumphant return to Test Cricket, it was Steve Smith who helped the Aussies to a competitive total with a majestic 144. While the total of 284 was not enough for a lead, it meant that England were only able to manage a 90 run First Innings advantage.
When Cameron Bancroft and David Warner failed at the top of the order once again in the second innings, the hosts were once again in the ascendancy. However, valuable contributions from Travis Head and Usman Khawaja and a remarkable partnership between Smith and Matthew Wade saw England all but played out of the match on the fourth day.
There might have been a glimmer of hope for the hosts that a draw could be achieved when Pat Cummins and James Pattinson helped Australia to 397 run lead. Yet the same pitch that the hosts failed to extract any life from became a mine field on the final day of the match. Nathan Lyon the hero in the victory march taking six wickets, with Pat Cummins also helping himself to four.
Can’t get enough cricket? Be sure to check out our Five Things We Learned
After 12 months out of the game, Steve Smith came back to Test Cricket like he’d never been gone. A majestic century in the first innings kept Australia in the game before his follow up in the second innings set them up for victory.
The 30-year-old has an appetite for runs unrivalled in the modern era and has genuine claims to the ‘best since Bradman’ tag. Unless England can find a way to curb his run scoring, Smith looms as the decisive factor in Australia’s retention of The Ashes.
It took mountains and mountains of runs before the Australian Selectors turned to the 31-year-old Tasmanian which no doubt made his second innings century all the more sweeter. Nearly seven years after his second, Wade’s third Test ton couldn’t have been more timely as he combined with Steve Smith to take the match away from England on the fourth day.
While ‘The Goat’ might be beloved by fans and his team mates alike, his ability to bowl teams out on the final day was still in question as the fifth day loomed in Birmingham. He couldn’t have done much more to put those doubts to bed.
With commentators going to great lengths to explain that he mightn’t have too many tricks, Lyon made the ball talk on the final afternoon. The English bats had no answer with the tweaker taking six wickets and in doing so became the sixth Australian bowler to claim 350 Test scalps.
There is no kind way to say it, Aleem Dar and Joel Smith had shockers in the First Test. While DRS was able to save the day on a number of occasions, it isn’t designed to cope with the consistent inconsistency delivered by the men in charge.
After the events of Cape Town last year, the Australians were always going to receive a hard time in England on this tour. While we support the crowd’s right to chirp the Australians in the quest to earn their team an edge, the booing of Steve Smith on reaching both his centuries was distasteful.
Letters and Numbers Over Reactions
The era of names and numbers on players backs in Test Cricket is upon us and despite some ridiculous commentary on social media, it is here to stay. We love a good whinge as much as the next person but the complaints about this have been out of all proportion.