1st Test, Trent Bridge
Result: England won by 14 runs
In the end, a test match that combined riveting human error with combative competitiveness, came down to cricket’s most controversial technology/system since Duckworth-Lewis.
A match that begun with England as favorites ended with two teams fighting for their lives- a new cricket fan would be forgiven for wondering if this was the deciding match of the series. The last wicket, that of a fighting Brad Haddin, was decided by- what else but DRS (Decision Review System), which brought the highly questioned Hot Spot technology back into the limelight.
Despite some grave umpiring errors by Aleem Dar, and the motivation behind having a technology like DRS in the game when it comes down to pure strategy- this test match managed to rise beyond the sinking suspicion that test cricket is nothing but one big poker game.
An Ashes series is, more or less, competitive- especially over the last decade (with exception of the 5-0 whitewash down under). Alastair Cook, for the first time, led England in an Ashes test- and just about managed to scrape through as the winners of the first test at Trent Bridge. While they were expected to thoroughly dominate the Aussies like they did Down Under for a 1-3 win in 2011, England were jolted from their slumber with a mighty Australian bowling effort- and a last wicket partnership that totaled more than 220 runs over two innings. First it was Ashton Agar and Hughes with record-breaking rearguard action, then it was Pattinson and Haddin with an almost-glorious effort marred by an anti-climax that exposed Clarke’s daft strategic use of the DRS through the test.
Alastair Cook (6/10)
His second-innings batting effort was priceless once again, steadying the England ship after two early wickets and putting some fight into that top order. His leadership though, remained questionable, especially with his inability to spur his team into breaking two successive last-wicket partnerships.
Joe Root (4/10)
Not much by way of England’s new opener- except for the fact that he kept Warner out of a frail Aussie top order.
J. Trott (5/10)
Stood tall in England’s first innings with a solid 48, but fell prey to the complexities of DRS for a first-ball duck when his team needed him the most in the second innings.
K. Pieterson (6.5/10)
As usual, there was a KP special behind every famous England test victory. His 2nd innings half century laid the foundation for rearguard action and brought England back into the game.
Ian Bell (9/10)
His most important century took England from tottering no-hopers to favorites in the second innings, giving them a substantial lead and putting some fight back into their hearts.
J. Bairstow (6/10)
Looked good in the first innings, the only fluent England batsman- but failed to hang on too long in the second innings. His fielding was below par.
M Prior (6/10)
Solid behind the wicket, and a good second innings 30- England’s crisis man was reliable as ever.
Stuart Broad (6/10)
Technically England’s most important all-rounder in the test, but marks cut for his lack of spirit and his less-than-attractive tendency to play the opposition instead of playing the game.
G. Swann (5/10)
A below average effort by his high standards- despite 4 important wickets. Looked out of sorts with his loop and pace in the second innings- making the bowling rely heavily on Anderson instead.
Steve Finn (3/10)
Cook didn’t trust Finn too much in the second innings after his wayward first innings effort. Looked lost in the field too, and could be replaced by Bresnan in the next test.
James Anderson (10/10)
The world’s most skillful bowler made up for his teammates’ below-par effort with a one-man show of swing and seam that stole the match away from the Aussies. If it was any other team but England, the Aussies might have pulled through in the end.
Shane Watson (6.5/10)
Showed resolve with the ball with his unbelievable economy rate and rate of maidens, and scared England with the bat with a quick half-century in the chase. Should have hung on.
C. Rogers (6/10)
Played well in the chase, giving Aussies belief and a great start before a mini-collapse.
E. Cowan (4/10)
Looked lost at no. 3, but remains their only hope to hold the innings together at the top. Clarke should bat at 3, with Cowan to open. Rogers could come lower.
M. Clarke (4/10)
A rare bad test with the bat, and his use of DRS is questionable. Managed to spur on his team in the field though, and controlled his anger during the Broad incident.
S. Smith (7/10)
Started the fightback in the first innings and is turning into their best fielder and middle-order hope with his busy batting.
P. Hughes (6/10)
Showed resolve and technique in the first innings as one half of the record partnership. Failed to his old nemesis- spin- in the second without a clue. Has a lot to work on, back to square one for now.
B. Haddin (6/10)
Looked shaky behind the stumps but showed the famous Aussie grit with the bat, almost taking them to a famous victory until he was undone by Hotspot.
P. Siddle (8/10)
Purely on effort, Australia’s most important player by far. His attitude is more important than his relentless energy and skills.
M. Starc (6/10)
5 wickets in the game, but struggled after the double breakthrough in the second innings. Should have done more with the bat, considering his talent.
J. Pattinson (7/10)
5 wickets in the test and an invaluable assured stay in the second innings, turning the match into a classic for the ages.
A. Agar (9/10)
Would have liked to have more of an impact with the ball, but his 98 will stand out as the moment of the summer, for almost setting up the series for his country. Fresh blood, oodles of talent.