The Ashes is back, and Australia are relentless
The recently concluded second test was the first day night match in Ashes history.
The Ashes is back after two years and Australia leads England 2-0 in, arguably, the world’s most important and illustrious Test series.
Incredibly, after 136 years of test cricket between the two sides, the Ashes record is equal with 32 series wins each. This highlights the tightly contested nature of this series which makes one of sport’s finest rivalries.
The last time England were in Australia for The Ashes, they were swept aside and it resulted in their 3rd ever Ashes whitewash. But this time, England had a relatively new squad and a good Ashes record behind them. They had won 4 of the last 5 Ashes between the two sides. But none of those mattered as they failed to turn up to the occasion and Australia brushed them aside in Brisbane and won by 10 wickets.
Australia came into the series with not much recent test cricket and a young squad themselves. Their last outing in test cricket had been against Bangladesh in August where they drew 1-1. Expectations on them were high and they needed to start the series well and take command at home. They certainly did so, bouncing back from a good England start and taking control of the game from Day 2. They then finished it off in style, chasing 173 without losing a wicket to go 1 nil up in the series.
The second Ashes test of 2017 was the first day night test in the history of The Ashes. The modernization of one of cricket’s oldest rivalries was welcomed by fans and players alike. England needed to win this test to keep any hope of winning the Ashes alive. But at the end of day 5, the scorecard suggested something different.
Winning the toss, Joe Root sent Australia in to bat. It was a bold move away from home on a good batting pitch and it did not pay off. England bowlers failed to finish off the Australian innings after bowling 149 overs in the span of two days. Shaun Marsh scored a phenomenal hundred and Australia declared at 442-8 in their 6th session of batting. England in reply did not bat well and rolled over for 237.
Steven Smith, the Aussie skipper, could have made England follow-on and bat under lights on Day 3, but chose to rest his bowlers. This did not work out well, and the new Pink ball starting swinging under lights. At the end of Day 3, Australia were 4 down, and England had a sniff back into the game.
The next morning, England bowled even better and finished off Australia for 138. James Anderson completed his first 5 wicket haul in Australia. England batsman backed their bowlers and ended the day with a chance to chase down 354, their biggest ever chase in Test Cricket, at 176 for 4.
At the start of Day 5, England had hope of chasing down the target and squaring the series. Their captain was not out on 67, and was looking in good form. The Australian bowlers however, had other plans. Josh Hazelwood sunk English hopes by taking two wickets in his first two overs of the day, getting rid of Chris Woakes, and most importantly, Joe Root. Mitchell Starc cleaned up the rest, and in two hours England were all out on 233 and Australia were up 2 nil.
England’s fightback was courageous, but they had lost the test in the first 2 innings of the match, being outplayed in all three departments. Now they have a huge mountain to climb, and need to win all three matches of the series to retain the Ashes. The next match starts on December 14th in Perth, where England have only won once in 13 attempts.