Monday, 13 July 2009


First Ashes Test, Cardiff (Day Five): England 435 & 252-9 drew with Australia 674-6 declared

If anyone was victorious in the first Ashes test, it was England.

From the first ball of the last day in Cardiff, the odds were stacked against the home team, and after being reduced to 70-5 around midday with 70 overs to go, the Aussies must have thought the series lead was theirs.

However, despite needing 169 runs just to draw level, a certain Paul Collingwood yet again took centre stage, yet again determined to show his team-mates how not to give your wicket away.

Stuart Broad (14) and Graeme Swann (31) stemmed the Aussie tide temporarily, partnering Collingwood and simply playing for time.

But as Collingwood trudged off after spending nearly six hours at the crease, he - like the rest of the country - still must have thought his knock of 74 wasn't enough to save the match.

Cue England's next two heroes: James Anderson and Monty Panesar who were left to keep out the Aussies for 40 minutes. It should never have come down to this.

As the end drew closer, my father's mood from dejection to hope to elation mirrored that of the capacity crowd in Wales as the two tail-enders blocked and played straight ball after ball - managing to edge ahead of Australia in the process. This was significant as it would have forced the Aussies to bat if they bowled England out, which effectively bringing the close of play forward by 10 minutes.

So when Ricky Ponting saw the clock edge past 1640 BST, he shook the hands of the two batsmen signalling a draw, Sophia Gardens erupted and Andrew Strauss could breathe again.

Match Scorecard (BBC Sport)

Despite one of the most epic draws in the history of English Cricket, there are several issues for the team to ponder over before the 2nd Test begins at Lord's on Thursday...

- The openers have to perform and not rely on the middle and lower order to get England out of a batting mess. In terms of expectation and performance, the scorecard was turned on its head.

- As well as getting the runs, the batsmen have to be much more obdurate and not give their wicket away to the Aussies - let them get us out without playing wild shots (e.g. - Pietersen deciding to sweep a Nathan Hauritz delivery miles outside the off stump that would have been called a wide).

- Get them out! England only picked up six Australian wickets in the whole of the first test before they declared on 674. It will be hard to win a test, let alone regain the Ashes if this continues.

- Selection changes? Batsmen like Owais Shah may expect a chance following a poor display at the top of the order while Stephen Harmison could be recalled to add power to the bowling attack. Andrew Flintoff is also an injury worry.

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