The Ashes 2013-14

1st Test, Brisbane

England haven’t traditionally been strong starters for a decade, even when they reached the top of the test rankings. Their miraculous 1-2 win in India last year too included a first test hiding at Ahmedabad before turning the tables in Mumbai and Kolkata. 
 
A 3-0 win in the 2013 Ashes at Home involved one of the greatest tests ever played- the first test match where Pattinson, Agar and Haddin almost handed the home team a shock defeat- a comeback that defied all comebacks. A first test loss in Sri Lanka was also followed by a win to level the series. 
 
 
England came to Australia with great confidence, winning the last 3 Ashes series consecutively. Broad was jeered, Root targeted and Trott sledged. The overall atmosphere Down Under turned play-hostile, but it was believed that this English team would be too strong to turn over. They won 3-1 here last time, after all. 
 
The first test at Brisbane threw up a bigger surprise than West Indies finally beating India at something. 
 
Australia thrashed England by 381 runs. A defeat is fine, but the margin of defeat has proved that this young Aussie team has, in fact, used the India tour to their advantage by learning a lot from their narrow ODI defeats. For one, Mitchell Johnson has carried on from where he left off in IPL 2013- where he finished as the top wicket taker. Apart from Rohit Sharma, he seems to have turned a corner in his erratic career- especially after he was lampooned during the last Ashes Down Under. 
 
Johnson finished the game with 9 fiery fast-bowling wickets to his name- destroying the brittle English batting line-up not once but twice in three days. His batsmen helped his cause by showing up, with under-fire Warner and always-on-fire Clarke slamming crucial second innings centuries. Overall though, it was an absolutely ridiculously mediocre performance by the Poms- who came to Brisbane all guns blazing and brimming with confidence and playful quotes. 
 
In the end, Jonathan Trott became the third English player in recent years to retire from a tour due to a stress-related illness after Trescothick and Yardley. This could be the biggest loss to England since the KP debacle- Trott was their most consistent batsman before 2013, and one of the main reasons behind their ascendance in tests. Swann was butchered, Bell beaten, Prior and KP exposed. Cook was taken unaware by a rampaging Aussie team at home- and they won’t forget this hiding for years to come. 
 
The rest of the series could be a different story- with England expected to fight back strongly. The Poms, though, have a lot to think about. One doubts that England will ring in the changes for the second test, because they have the most suitable team for the conditions- all of who decided to fail at the same time. 
 

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