Ashes 2013-14: Three talking points as Australia win first Test

Ashes 2013-14: Joel Lamy takes a look at three talking points as Australia win the first Test by an emphatic 381 runs in Brisbane

By Joel Lamy

England battered

Ever since England reduced Australia to 132-6 in the afternoon session of the first day, they have been bullied by the hosts. To lose by 381 runs from that position inside four days on an excellent batting wicket is troubling. They might not play the most exciting cricket, but England are tough to beat and should not have been humiliated like this. The bowlers got hit around the park in the second innings and the batsmen succumbed to the pace of Mitchell Johnson and the rest of the Australian attack. Even the (unfairly) maligned Nathan Lyon enjoyed much better match-figures than Graeme Swann. Brisbane might be Australia’s fortress, but to see England take a beating like this when they were seen as such clear favourites for the series is worrying. It’s the sort of defeat Andrew Flintoff, Nasser Hussain and Alec Stewart – three of the last four touring captains Down Under – would recognise. Surely England cannot be as bad in the next Test.

Captain Cook offers resistance

If there was any English batsmen you would put money on to put up resistance, it would be Alastair Cook. He averages 57.87 in the second innings of oversees Tests, a figure which includes eight hundreds. To put that in perspective, out of all cricketers who have ever played 20 Tests away from home, Cook’s average in the second innings is the sixth best. That includes match-saving knocks at Brisbane (235*) and Dunedin (116) as well as 176 at Ahmedabad last winter which nearly defied India. His 65 here – which ended second ball after a hail storm – was composed and hinted at better things to come for the rest of the series. Cook will reach his 100th Test at Perth, a figure which Kevin Pietersen reached here. The two are a complete contrast and compared to Cook’s 57.87, Pietersen’s average under the same criteria is 31.72 with one century. Including home Tests, it is 38.38 with five centuries. Pietersen may be a player of great innings, but Cook is the more reliable.

Let’s keep perspective

This was Australia’s first win in 10 Tests and England’s first defeat in 14, going back a year. Brisbane is Australia’s strong-hold, yielding no loss in 25 years. England haven’t won the first Test of an oversees series outside of Bangladesh since 2004 and their record in the second Test of each oversees series since Andy Flower took charge reads: played seven, won four, drawn two and lost one. The victories were all by massive margins against top nations and the only defeat came chasing 145 to win. The last time they played at Adelaide, they won by an innings and 71 runs and even in their haunting loss there in the 2006/7 series, they managed 551/6. All these stats should give some perspective to this harrowing defeat. They cannot explain England’s capitulation or how they deal with a fiery Johnson, but it does suggest judgement on this side should wait for at least another couple of weeks. Who knows, Jonathan Trott could hit a double hundred, England could win by an innings and Michael Clarke’s back might go. So let’s not panic just yet.

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