It has taken a solid three days to recover from possibly the most incredible comeback in recent Test match cricket. The Ashes is shaping up to be one of the most exciting series’ since the 2005 spectacular with England bouncing back from a 400+ run loss to a win in just three days.
Just as Ricky Ponting had made the mistake of putting England in to bat, Michael Clarke apparently made the mistake of making England bowl.
It was a much more exciting pitch than any the Australians had faced so far, an English pitch with truly English conditions. England’s win in Cardiff was a surprise but their loss at Lords was not. The lifeless pitch at Lords was disappointing. It was a sign that they did not believe in their bowlers. A sign that they weren’t comfortable even at home, playing to their own strengths. It seemed from then that the Ashes had been decided.
Then came the Edgbaston test, with the barmy army’s trumpeter a grassy pitch and Jimmy Anderson. It was the perfect first day for England. Only one Australian batsman scored 20+. It was almost as poor a performance as England’s final stand at Lords. Australia were five down before they had reached 100, and there was no Brad Haddin to come and save the day. They were bowled out for a measly 136 in 37 overs with Jimmy Anderson picking up six wickets. Aptly labelled ‘king of swing’, Jimmy blew open the game for England. By the end of the first day, England had almost reached Australia’s score only three wickets down. Regardless of the result, there was going to be one here.
England went on with the help of Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad to pick up a lead of 145. The Australian bowlers caused less problems for the home side, some of the wickets were just given away, (such freedom in the Ashes for England is a rarity).
Once again though, Australia appeared to be out of their depth. As though this were the first Test again. They looked desperate and anxious to pick up a lead. It was only day two, they were already into their second innings and once again the wickets started to tumble. 2-72, 3-76… 5-92. Australia were in trouble with a real possibility of losing the test within two days. This time however, it was Steven Finn who was taking on the Aussies. The man who was ruled out as an Ashes option a few years ago had made a sensational return to the game. He outpaced Mitchell Johnson and picked up the second six-for of the match. It was a refreshing change for England, (especially once Jimmy was taken off from injury) to see what their attack will be post-jimmy era. A mild stand from Peter Nevill and Mitchell Starc allowed Australia to pick up a lead but another half century from Ian Bell who had finally found some form guided England home.
England will severely feel the absence of Jimmy at Trent Bridge. Could this be their Glenn McGrath of the series? It will be a real test for Stuart Broad to spearhead the attack and bring the fight to Australia and win back the Ashes.