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A dream start for Australia, problems mount up for England

We take a look at the views from Australia and England after the conclusion of the first Ashes Test.

NEWS
27 Nov 2017, 11:17 IST
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SmithCook - Cropped
Steve Smith and Alastair Cook

Australia eventually completed a comfortable win in the first Ashes Test against England and they had captain Steve Smith to thank.

The tourists did expose the batting worries Australia had heading into the series, but England's concerns are far greater.

After the hosts took a 1-0 series lead, we take a look at the views from both nations.

 

Dejan Kalinic with the view from Australia:

Winning the opening Test of an Ashes series by 10 wickets is just about the perfect start.

That was the case for Australia and, while the result may have flattered the hosts, it was just the start they needed at their Gabba fortress.

The Test was far tighter than the final result suggests, but the way David Warner and debutant Cameron Bancroft scored with relative ease to reach a target of 170 without loss in the fourth innings may have been the biggest blow Australia could have delivered.

It could have been so different. England collapsed twice, losing 56-6 and 40-5, giving up what may have otherwise been a first-innings lead and later a more challenging target.

Some of Australia's batting woes were exposed as they fell to 76-4, and it was again the captain, Steve Smith, who delivered a superb century in trying circumstances. That runs also came from Shaun Marsh, under pressure at number six, and Pat Cummins, while England's lower-order faltered miserably, was a boost.

Cummins also stepped up with the ball, but it was Nathan Lyon's performance that will truly lift the hosts. The off-spinner finished with five wickets but it could, and should, have probably been more. With four left-handers in England's top six – they may reconsider Moeen Ali at six – Lyon could have a fun series.

England were dismissed for 302 and 195 with Australia's star duo Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood not at their best, and the tourists' struggles against the short ball will likely see them exposed further as the series goes on.

However, if a slow Gabba pitch did not already play into England's hands, a pink ball in Adelaide will, but the pressure is already on the holders.

 

Christopher Devine with the view from England:

A 10-wicket defeat at the Gabba will have many England supporters fearing another Ashes whitewash on Australian soil.

The first Test was certainly no walk in the park for Steve Smith's side, who had to battle incredibly hard over the opening two days just to remain on level terms.

At 127-1 and 246-4 in their first innings, England appeared on course to post a total in the region of 400 and it was particularly encouraging that the bulk of their runs came from three players – Mark Stoneman, James Vince and Dawid Malan – who had been targeted as likely weak links ahead of the series.

After the tourists had collapsed to 302 all out, Australia then found themselves in peril at 76-4 and 209-7 as James Anderson and Stuart Broad once again showed their class.

Yet despite all this, England were ultimately well beaten, their inability to press home an apparent advantage contrasting sharply with Australia's ruthless march to victory.

And while Joe Root and his squad can take positives from Brisbane, the concerns are already mounting up.

In the continued absence of star all-rounder Ben Stokes, two areas appear particularly problematic – a lack of support for Anderson and Broad with the ball and a tail seemingly unable to handle the pace and hostility of Australia's bowlers. 

Should the selectors opt to make a change, the alternative options do not exactly inspire confidence.

The poor form of England's record run-scorer, Alastair Cook, will also be a huge worry for Root, while the media storm surrounding Jonny Bairstow is an unwanted distraction at best.

A strong start to the second Test in Adelaide, which begins on Saturday, now appears vital.

England need to regain some momentum … and fast.

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