July 15, 2013England have beaten Australia in the first Investec Ashes test by 14 runs. This mere statement conceals a tale of intense drama as fortunes twisted one way and then the other throughout the five days of this exciting match. Set 311 runs to win in the final innings, Australia ended agonizingly short. Jimmy Anderson, with ten wickets in the game, including all four on the last day, was named man of the match.
After the match, Alastair Cook, praised his team before confessing that games like this are likely to make him lose his hair in the way of his three immediate predecessors as England captain. His counterpart Michael Clarke, ever gracious in defeat, admitted that the better team had won and acclaimed the individual performances of Anderson and England’s centurion Ian Bell.
At the start of the last day, Australia stood on 174-6 requiring another 137 runs for victory, with stalwart Brad Haddin and boy wonder Ashton Agar at the crease. The pair batted carefully for the first hour but began to unleash shots after England had taken the new ball. Haddin then lost Agar, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle – all to slip catches by Alastair Cook off Anderson. Enter number 11, James Pattinson who proceeded to bat with as much freedom and ability as Agar had done in the first innings as Australia counter attacked towards the target. Anderson bowled a marathon spell of 13 overs in the searing heat but, when he was rested, Haddin targeted Steven Finn in particular and a delayed lunch saw Australia requiring only another 20 runs.
The game was over soon afterwards when Haddin feathered a ball from Anderson to the keeper. England’s unconvincing appeal was turned down by Aleem Dar but, with reviews in the bag, Cook decided to call for the DRS, whereupon the decision was overturned, Australia’s 65 run last wicket partnership was at an end and England’s victory celebrations could begin. Relief, rather than joy, seemed to be the overriding emotion at the ground.
The match, played in intense heat throughout, was draining for both teams. They now head to Lord’s for the second test, which starts on 18 July. England may consider one change, with Tim Bresnan ready to replace Finn, who is suffering from loss of form and confidence. Australia will consider leaving out Ed Cowan, dismissed cheaply in both innings after playing two poor shots. As for the umpires, we will see the same team of three again as currently only four of the elite panel are eligible to stand in an England – Australia series. Expect more drama, controversy and another close match.
England 215 (Siddle 5-50) and 375 (Bell 109, Broad 65, Pietersen 64, Cook 50) beat Australia 280 (Agar 98, Hughes 81 not out, Smith 53, Anderson 5-85) and 296 (Haddin 71, Rogers 52, Anderson 5-73) by 14 runs.
The Scoop 15/07/13