“10 Things We Learnt From the First Ashes Test”

  1. Winning the toss – and batting first – is crucial

At 8/122 on day one Tim Paine probably thought batting first was a bad idea. He probably wasn’t feeling much better about it when England got 374 – a lead of 90 – but, as the old saying goes, ‘runs on the board’ and batting last is always tough on a wearing and turning pitch. As the saying goes you win the toss ten times, nine times you bat the tenth you think about bowling, but you bat anyway.

2. Steve Smith is seriously good.

Hmm… 144 & 142 in his comeback Test. Like him or hate him, he can bat. A special request here to the English fans – keep booing Smith, it’s working. 

Tweet of the Test: When the stump mike was buzzing: “Why don’t you ask Smith, he stood next to it for long enough.”

3. Technology is a good thing in cricket

Too many umpiring errors to go into, with eight reversed decisions in total to equal the Test record. Possibly the worst display of umpiring in recent Test history but imagine what a joke it would have been without the DRS. Let’s hope Joel Wilson can put this behind him. He’s due to stand again in the Third Test.

4. England have some middle order issues.

The Denly-Buttler-Stokes-Bairstow-Ali middle order is like a Violet Crumble; looks great but – as the name suggests – crumbles easily. Just 109 runs at 10.9 for the Test is not good enough, especially coming off the collapses against Ireland. Surely Moheen Ali must go but the big question is will England’s selectors keep the faith with Buttler and Denly?

5.  Jimmy Anderson may have played his last test for England

Great servant for England with 575 Test wickets but, at 37, and with the talented Jofra Archer waiting in the wings, it’s hard to see how Jimmy can get fit in time – remember the last Test starts on September 12 – then force his way back into the team. 

6.  The English media will turn on the team

The English media savaged the team with headlines like “On Their Knees” and “Sm-Ashed”. Jason Roy’s dismissal was ‘brainless’… “…the worst shot ever by and English Test batsman.” Even coach Andrew Strauss got blamed for ignoring Test cricket for four years. One good day, though, and they’ll be the greatest side in history again. 

7. Do Australia play Mitchell Starc at Lords?

There’s a view that the slope at Lords will help the left-handed Starc. But do you change a winning team? And who gets dropped? Pattinson or Siddle? Tough calls, but the selectors were prepared to make a tough call dropping Starc in the first place. His selection might hinge on a tour match this weekend.

8. Cameron Bancroft?

Head, Wade, Smith and Khawaja all got runs, David Warner has runs in the bank, but Bancroft is on thin ice. The question is how long do the selectors give him to adjust back to Test cricket after his 12-month ban for ball tampering before Harris gets tapped on the shoulder?

9. David Warner has a sense of humour, who knew?

There were boos, songs and an atmosphere of winding up the Aussies about ‘Sandpapergate’ throughout the Test. Steve Smith let his bat do the talking but David Warner emerged as the unlikely crowd anti-hero. Emptying his pockets to the jeering masses might just have been the highlight of the Test.

10. Beware of stray cricket balls!!!

England’s 2005 players were honoured during this test – why I don’t know – but the 2005 comparisons areominous. Australia won the First Test by 239 runs at Lords then Glenn McGrath trod on a ball before play in the Second Test. We lost both the Tests he didn’t play in that series so, with the Poms trying to “Summon the Spirit of 2005” – can we just keep the bowlers away from any stray cricket balls. 

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