England cruise to victory with a day to spare

England have taken a 1-0 in the 2015 Ashes after securing a 169 run victory in Cardiff. The Aussies had two days to chase down their target of 412, but a middle order collapse enabled England to wrap the game up with a day to spare. With rain forecast for tomorrow, the only real hope of Australia salvaging a result meant batting out the day, so finishing in such style was imperative for England.

Alastair Cook catches Brad Haddin at the second attempt

Alastair Cook catches Brad Haddin at the second attempt

Australia had an early let off, as Joe Root dropped Chris Rogers within the first few overs. Rogers couldn’t capitalise on his reprieve though, as he fell for just 10, edging Stuart Broad to Bell at slip. The umpires, amid a chorus of boos from home fans, decided to review the decision, before confirming that the opener had to walk.

David Warner and Steve Smith seemed to target Moeen Ali, taking their partnership past 50, but the Englishman had the last laugh, trapping Warner lbw just before lunch. Warner fell for 52, with the Australians 97-2 at lunch. However, all Aussie hopes of salvaging anything from the first test were obliterated as they lost five wickets for just 25 runs.

Steve Smith survived an appeal, as Root caught a ball that ricochetted off of the Aussie’s pads, not his bat. However, within the same over, he edged straight to Ian Bell, out for 33. Broad took his third wicket of the day, as Clarke hit straight to Ben Stokes at backward point for only 4. Mark Wood joined the party, forcing Adam Voges to edge behind for 1. In an attempt to restart the Aussie attack, Brad Haddin tried to go big against Moeen Ali, but only succeeded in picking out Alastair Cook, who made a wonderful high catch. Haddin’s dismissal left the Australian’s 122-6, needing 290 to win.

Mitchell Johnson offered Australia's only resistance scoring 77

Mitchell Johnson offered Australia’s only resistance scoring 77

Mitchell Johnson showed the batsman how it was done, posing the English bowlers a few problems as he found the boundary with both sixes and fours. But his partner Shane Watson fell lbw again, with Mark Wood dismissing him for just 19. Australia went in to tea at 162-7, the game well and truly out of sight.

Johnson continued to lead the resistance well, as he passed 50, and soon after his partnership with Mitchell Starc took Australia to 223-7. Joe Root broke through though, as Starc edged in to Cook’s chest, and fellow slip Adam Lyth dived to take the catch. The same combination of Root and Lyth prevented a Johnson century, as he swung wildly at a tempting ball, only to nick it to Lyth. Moeen Ali finished off the Australians in the next over, with Josh Hazlewood skying the ball to Joe Root, leaving the Aussies all out for 242.

Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali shared three wickets apiece, for 39 and 59 runs respectively, whilst Mark Wood (2-53) and Joe Root (2-28) also had success with the ball. Joe Root was named man of the match, following his scores of 134 and 60, and his two wickets today. The second test starts on Thursday at Lords.

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England in control despite wobble

England have two days to bowl out Australia, after setting them a target of 412 to win the first test. Despite this level of control, they did suffer a wobble, losing three wickets for just nine runs, giving Australia a slither of hope of taking the first test. Despite the mini-capitulation, Australia still require the third highest successful run chase in Test history to take the win, so only a shocking bowling display or rain should prevent an England victory.

England celebrate dismissing the Aussies for 308

England celebrate dismissing the Aussies for 308

Australia resumed on 264-5. England did get the early breakthrough, as Shane Watson was dismissed lbw by Stuart Broad. Nathan Lyon, who had been sent in as night watchman, fell in the next over, lbw to Mark Wood. Mitchell Johnson and Brad Haddin put up a mini-stand of 34, hitting seven fours between them. The final three wickets fell for just four runs, as Haddin (22) and Starc (0) fell to Anderson, either side of Mitchell Johnson (14) chipping straight to Gary Ballance off of Broad. Australia lose last five wickets for 43 runs, finishing on 308, 126 runs behind. Anderson stood out from the English bowlers, finishing 3-43, with Broad, Wood and Ali all taking two wickets each.

Alastair Cook fell just before lunch for a disappointing 12, with Nathan Lyon taking a low catch. Gary Ballance fell just after lunch, caught behind off of Hazleworth for a duck, leaving England 22-2. Ian Bell began strongly, reminding his doubters of the form he showed in the last Ashes series at home. Adam Lyth hit the day’s first six, but just after a Bell single brought up the 50 partnership Lyth was dismissed for 37. Nathan Lyon was the man who took the wicket, with Lyth edging to a diving Clarke at slip.

Ian Bell brought up his 50 with a four before tea, with England going into the break on 160-3. But Bell fell for 60 soon after tea, bowled by Mitchell Johnson for his first wicket after a dismal first innings. Joe Root was also scoring freely, and brought up his fifty with a four, his twelfth 50 in his last 18 test matches. Josh Hazlewood ended Root’s hopes of a second consecutive century, bowling the Yorkshire man for 60.

England’s capitulation began as Jos Buttler gifted Australia his wicket for only 7, with Haddin catching his attempt a a reverse sweep. Ben Stokes was the next to fall, with an inside edge back on to the stumps from Mitchell Starc. Stuart Broad completed England’s wobble as he was caught well by Hazlewood from a complete slog, with England looking in danger of not pulling out a lead of 400.

Mark Wood made 32 from just 18 balls

Mark Wood made 32 from just 18 balls

But Mark Wood brought up that milestone, hitting an entertaining 32 from 18 balls, including 4 fours and 1 six. Moeen Ali was unable to repeat his first innings heroics, as he ambitiously swung at a loose ball, nicking behind for 15. James Anderson was bowled by Lyon as England were bowled out for 289, a lead of 411. Nathan Lyon finished 4-75, with two wickets a piece for Johnson, Starc and Hazlewood.

England should realistically see off Australia comfortably, perhaps even with a day to spare. However, if they fail to dismiss the Aussie openers in the morning session then some nerves could creep in.

England hold slight advantage on day 2

A fine batting display from Chris Rogers threatened to put Australia in control of the first test, but a lack of support from his fellow batsmen has potentially left visitors chasing the game. Moeen Ali stood out, scoring a strong 77 to banish memories of yesterday morning’s abysmal early collapse, before taking two wickets.

Moeen Ali scored 77 with the bat before taking two wickets

Moeen Ali scored 77 with the bat before taking two wickets

England resumed on 343-7, with Broad and Ali at the crease. Stuart Broad survived an early scare, with Johnson’s short ball ricochetting off of the batsman, and appeared to be caught by Adam Voges. Broad was given out, but an umpire review revealed the ball did hit the ground. Moeen Ali brought up his 50 with a fortuitous four, getting an inside edge which darted across the face of his stumps before reaching the boundary. Broad lost his wicket cheaply for 18, as he swung loosely at a Nathan Lyon delivery, nicking behind to Haddin.

Ali was the next to fall, as his impressive 77 from 88 balls was ended when he edged Starc’s delivery to Shane Watson at slip. Jimmy Anderson’s was the final wicket, with England finishing on 430, and Mitchell Starc ending up with a five-for. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Mitchell Johnson finished with the worst bowling figures for an Australian in England since 1985, with 0-111 from his 25 overs.

Broad could have had an early wicket, as Chris Rodgers was given out lbw. However, an Australian review revealed a nick from the bat. Anderson eventually made the breakthrough though, as David Warner edged his delivery to a diving Alastair Cook at slip, putting Australia on 52-1. Steve Smith looked to be carrying on his good form, until he chipped straight to Cook at mid-wicket for 33. Chris Rogers had really dug in and was looking good for a century, pushing Australia forward to 180 with Michael Clarke. But he fell agonisingly short of his ton as he became Mark Wood’s first Ashes victim, nicking behind to Jos Buttler for 95.

Alastair Cook dives to take

Alastair Cook dives to dismiss David Warner

Michael Clarke was the fourth to fall, as he drove straight back to Moeen Ali, who reacted quickly to take a smart catch, leaving the Aussies 207-4. Ben Stokes took a late wicket to put England in the driving seat, as Adam Voges played a loose shot to Anderson at cover for 31. Australia finished the day on 264-5, trailing by 166, with Shane Watson and night watchman Nathan Lyon at the crease. James Anderson’s economic bowling stood out, as he was rewarded with a wicket and six maidens from his 16 overs. Moeen Ali was also dangerous with the ball, taking 2-67.

England will feel that they hold a slender advantage after two days play, and taking the wickets of Watson and Haddin early on tomorrow will put the hosts firmly in control. With the exception of Chris Rogers, the Australian openers got in, but were unable to capitalise before getting out.

Root rescues England after openers collapse

Joe Root produced a superb century to keep the first test alive in Cardiff. England had found themselves at 43-3, but the partnership of Root and Gary Ballance revived English hopes. Josh Hazlewood stood out from the Australian bowlers, with figures of 3-70 from his 22 overs. The hosts will resume tomorrow on 343-7.

England won the toss and elected to bat in cloudy conditions. Adam Lyth was the first to fall, caught at slip by David Warner for 6 off the bowling of Hazlewood. Spinner Nathan Lyon was introduced in the tenth over, and this move was rewarded as Alastair Cook edged behind for 20. The day looked in danger of becoming embarrassing for England, as Ian Bell was trapped lbw for 1. Starc’s bowling almost was the downfall of Root as well, first with a muted lbw claim, and more noticeably when the Yorkshire man edged behind, only to be dropped by a diving Brad Haddin.

From this initial trouble, Root and Ballance began piling on the runs, with Root bringing up his 50 in 56 balls. Ballance finally fell lbw to Hazlewood for 63, with the fourth wicket partnership worth 153. Root brought up his century with a square drive for 4, off of just 118 balls. Mitchell Starc was the man to eventually dismiss Root, who edged to Shane Watson for 134. Ben Stokes reached his 50, but was bowled by Starc almost immediately, with England now 293-6. Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali took England past 300, with their 50 partnership coming in just 51 balls. Jos Buttler chipped straight to Mitchell Johnson at mid-on for 27, Hazlewood’s third wicket of the day.

Mitchell Starc shared the honours with Hazlewood, also taking three wickets. Mitchell Johnson had no such luck, with his 20 overs producing figures of 0-87. England will look to push past 400 tomorrow, maybe batting through to the afternoon before getting some early wickets before close of play. This is a situation which looked very unlikely for the hosts to be in at points today, so they must capitalise on this life-line.

England lift Ashes after 5th test draw

An entertaining final day of the Ashes ended bitterly as bad light stopped play with only 4 overs left. What’s worse is that England only needed 21 runs to win the series 4-0.

England began the day on 247-4, and looked more positive after the washout on day 4. Ryan Harris carried on his impressive form with the ball as he got Chris Woakes for 25, as Clarke caught him. Ian Bell fell next for 45, with Haddin catching him behind for James Faulkner’s first wicket of the game. Stuart Broad fell for 9, with Prior getting some much needed runs before falling to Faulkner for 47, caught on the boundary by Mitchell Starc. James Anderson threw his wicket away for 4 as his poor form with the bat continued, however Graeme Swann added and impressive 34, including five 4s and one 6. Faulkner bowled Swann, meaning England finished on 377, still 115 runs behind but managing to avoid the follow on.

In an attempt to win the match, Michael Clarke shook up his batting order to extend the Australian lead whilst still giving them enough time to bowl England out. It was a bold decision, and it looked to backfire as Australia found themselves 67-4. Much to the crowd’s delight, David Warner fell first for 12, with Anderson diving to his right to take a one-handed catch off of his own bowling. Shane Watson fell next, with Pieterson catching him for 26 from Swann’s bowling. Shortly after, Stuart Broad got Brad Haddin for a duck, with Matt Prior catching him behind. Matt Prior caught James Faulkner, as he edged Broad behind for 22. Steve Smith was next to fall, chipping Stuart Broad to Graeme Swann on the boundary for 7. The Aussies fell to 85-6 after Broad knocked out Harris’ leg stump for just 1. At tea, Clarke declared on 101-6, giving England a chase of 227 runs from 44 overs.

England started positively; however they suffered a setback as Root was caught behind 11 for from Harris. Cook and Trott built a 64 partnership before the captain fell for 34, lbw to Faulkner. Trott’s good innings was bettered by Kevin Pieterson, who hit 10 fours on his way to 62. David Warner caught Pieterson on the boundary, with Harris’ bowling again undoing the English batsmen. Trott was next to go, falling lbw for 59 despite a review to Faulkner. Ian Bell was next to fall, as he tried to hit the ball back through Starc, only for the bowler to run him out. This was the last action of the series, as the umpires led the players off with England needing 21 off of 4 overs. The match was drawn; however England will be content with a 3-0 series victory.

Man of the match was Shane Watson for his 176 in the first innings, and the Man of the Series was Ian Bell for his 3 important centuries.

Pedestrian England fail to impress

England made slow and tedious progress on the 3rd day at the Oval. It was clear from the off that England were playing for the draw, with a run rate of just above 2 an over. Alistair Cook survived an lbw appeal, as the ball pitched outside leg stump. Some good Australian bowling baited Cook in to lashing out at a wide ball, nicking it behind to the diving Haddin. Not long after reaching a leisurely 50 partnership with Trott, Joe Root appeared to lose his head, sweeping a ball from Nathan Lyon up in the air, giving Watson a simple catch, with Root falling for 68. Jonathon Trott was next to fall, going lbw to Starc for 40 after a review, as he was initially given not out. Pieterson survived an lbw review on the way to his 2nd slowest test 50 in his career. Pieterson didn’t make any more runs, as he swung out and nicked it back to Watson. Ian Bell and Chris Woakes batted out the rest of the day, with England finishing on a pedestrian 247-4.

Smith ton keeps Australia on top

England’s decision to play 2 spinners came back to bite them, as the seamers struggled against the Australian middle and lower order. Rain delayed play until 2:30, making the pitch more suitable for seamers. Resuming on 307-4, night-watchman Siddle stuck around for longer than expected, until Jimmy Anderson finally broke through, bowling Siddle for 23. With Smith and Haddin at the crease, England were desperate for a wicket, as shown by a wasted review, with Anderson’s ball brushing the trouser of Haddin before carrying to Prior. The desperation was even more evident as Cook called Jonathan Trott in to the attack, as Broad and Anderson looked tired with England’s attack relying on them. Steve Smith made his first test 100 in some style, hitting Trott for 6. Part-time bowler Trott broke the 65 partnership though, as he bowled Haddin for 30, with the batsmen inside-edging it on to his own stumps. After tea England pressed on with 3 wickets in an hour. Chris Woakes got his first wicket for England, with Trott taking a brilliant sliding catch on the boundary from Faulkner for 23. Graeme Swann bowled his first ball of the day, 3 hours in to play, and got Mitchell Starc out for 13. Ryan Harris came in to make a quick-fire 33, including two 6s, before he spooned a Jimmy Anderson ball up in the air, and Anderson turned and caught Harris about 20 yards out from the wicket. Australia declared straight after this wicket, finishing on 492-9d.

England came in to bat for the last hour or so, looking to preserve the openers’ wickets until tomorrow morning. Cook survived an lbw appeal on 15, as the ball was going wide of the stumps. Root and Cook started positively, ending on 32 without loss.