Foreword by Seyon: This post marks the start of a series of posts focussing on the Ashes, they will be written by Tom (no we don’t have specific authors for specific things, I had planned that but I have been overruled). As the Ashes could potentially go on for a very long time the posts will be coming in every time a test finishes, meaning they will take a long time too. I’ll try and keep putting in some games or something in between them. Enjoy the post. Oh yeah, be warned these posts could be potentially very long (Tom is an enthusiastic writer and interested in cricket…).
Four years after England's dramatic victory over Australia at the Oval in London, the Ashes return to English soil in what's probably, for England, almost/as good a chance as we had in 2005. Brett Lee's out, Shane Warne's retired, and England have just returned from a convincing performance in the 20 20 World Cup in which we were unlucky not to go further. One hundred and twenty seven years since they started, Australia are still some way ahead of England with their overall victories. The number of times Australia have won it? No less than thirty one times. Such a small urn containing what's merely the ashes of a burnt piece of cricket equipment, most likely the stumps of the first ever match of the Ashes, causes so much importance in the cricketing world and, indeed, the sporting world as a whole.
With Andy Flower as coach and Andrew Strauss as Captain of Test match Cricket, the Ashes falling into this category, Michael Vaughan, the former England Ashes Captain, won't be raising the Ashes again. With the coach being different from the coach who led England to victory in 2005, the team itself is somewhat different. Monty Panesar, for instance, who's been a new figure on the England scene since the Ashes, will be involved. Familiar faces like Strauss, Collingwood, Flintoff and Pietersen, however, won't go missed in these Test matches, the first of which started today at 10 AM English time.
What, then, of the Australian team? With Shane Warne having retired and Brett Lee being injured, Australia have lost two of their most ferocious bowlers, two that'll be sorely missed. Australia's bowling prowess, however, extends past these two, as their seven wickets today showed. Ricky Ponting returning as Captain, his raising of the Ashes for Australia was more recent than that of England, after Australia won all the Test matches consecutively in the last Ashes, held in Australia in 2007. In the same position as England, Australia's coach is different for these Ashes; Tim Nielsen wasn't coach for the Australian Ashes victory in 2007. Alongside Ponting, such Australian crickets as Symonds return to English soil for these Ashes, also the first major cricket matches to ever be held in Wales.
So what, then, of today's happenings? The ground was dry and smooth, good for batting conditions, and England's victory in the toss saw them elect to bat first. Ending up, at the end of the day, with a convincing 336 runs for 7 wickets to follow into tomorrow. With Strauss and Cook opening the batting, Cook was the first wicket of this Ashes series, caught by Hussey for just ten runs. Failing to keep the shot down, Hussey's phenomenal catch saw Cook dismissed. Bopara, Cook's replacement, got to a solid 35 runs before being caught himself. The culprit this time? Hughes. Despite staying in longer, Strauss ended up with less, catching becoming an increasing problem as Clarke sent Strauss packing.
Mitchell Johnson, the Australian bowler, had England on 90 - 3 at one point, his bowling performancee inspiring Australia as they set their fielders deep at times before having multiple slips at others. Both Prior and Flintoff were bowled by Siddle, Flintoff deflecting Siddle's ball heading wide of the stumps onto his own wicket. In a somewhat cagey performance as the day increased, England showed solidarity with Pietersen and Collingwood exercising their much honed partnership, however Collingwood's dismissal saw England somewhat shaken. Broad and Anderson, both bowlers by trade, will carry on what's been a solid and reasonably confident batting performance for England, that hopefully won't see us lose all five Tests as we did in Australia. A scorecard for the day can be found here.
I await tomorrow's Test with interest, and I have good reason to feel confident.