by Rex Clementine
There were unreal scenes at Edgbaston on Sunday as Australia snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. When the eighth Australian wicket fell with the tourists still needing 52 runs, England appeared to have secured a 1-0 lead in the five-match series. But an unbroken stand for the ninth wicket between Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon saw the Aussies over the line.
Fast forward to 2005, when under similar circumstances, Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz added 59 runs for the last wicket at the same ground but Australia fell two runs short. Man of the Match Andrew Flintoff consoling a crest-fallen Brett Lee, the not out batsman remains one of the iconic images of the sport. The result would prove decisive on that occasion as England regained the Ashes after 16 years.
England’s new brand of cricket and aggression is going to win them lot more matches and occasionally there will be the failure like in Edgbaston. There’ll be a lot of criticism on Ben Stokes that his aggressive style of play has cost the team early lead in the series. But that kind of criticism England captain should take with a pinch of salt.
These are two teams that are playing contrasting styles. England is all positivity ranking up 393 runs in 78 overs on day one, which is over five runs an over. Then with world’s number one ranked batter Joe Root in the middle on 118 comes the declaration.
Any other team would have tried and piled up something in the region of 450, but not Ben Stoke. Most captains would want to ensure that if they can’t win the Test match at least draw it. Stokes plays by a different set of rules and that’s why it’s exciting to watch.
Pat Cummins Aussies are happy to grind it out going just three runs per over. It is these contrasting styles that makes cricket exciting to watch. If Edgbaston was any indication, we are in for a cracking series.
Australia have not won a Test series in England since 2001. That’s a record they need to rectify. They did come so close a couple of times but the margins that decided the series were too slim like in 2005 and 2019.
The form of David Warner remains a concern and Australia probably erred by not picking Mitchell Starc in their attack. Their bowling was one dimensional and the left-arm variation of Starc is a must moving forward.
England’s attack delivers around the same speed and maybe it’s time they brought in the express pace of Mark Wood.
Johnny Bairstow made some costly blunders behind the stumps. England perhaps need to hand over the gloves to best wicketkeeper in the country – Ben Foakes. It is unlikely they will go in that direction for Bairstow is far more accomplished batter than Foakes. But there’s room for both players in the side with Bairstow playing as a specialist batsman.