The Ashes 2023: Why Australia won the 1st Test of the Ashes

We are certain that this could be the best Ashes series since 2005. Australia won at Edgbaston in a match that ebbed and flowed and lived up to its billing, taking an important 1-0 series lead heading into the second Test at Lord’s. Contrary to Kevin Pietersen’s assertion, Pat Cummins took 4/63 and scored 44* to dominate the second half of the game.

Only once in the twenty-first century has a team come back from a 1-0 deficit to win an Ashes series. It was, interestingly, the England team from 2005. Given how close the first Test of this series was, no one can rule out an English comeback in what looks to be an all-time classic.

Ben Stokes and England, on the other hand, will need to take some key lessons from the Edgbaston Test, as a 2-0 series deficit at Lord’s is pretty much lights out. We have found a few reasons why Australia has won this first Test.

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1. England’s declaration allowed Australia to be off the hook

Nobody can deny that this England team provides excellent talking points for Test cricket. Their strategy in Pakistan last year, where they won 3-0 on three highways, demonstrates their mentality. Furthermore, their ability to score so quickly almost always provides them with enough time to win matches.

The Ashes 2023

The Ashes 2023

However, their declaration at 393/8 on the first evening absolved Australia. They put one foot on the throat and slightly lifted it. It’s a decision that would have relieved Pat Cummins and his team as a bigger score beckoned, with the visitors looking stumped after a long day on the pitch.

If England had won, the decision would have been deemed brave and bold. But England’s best player, Joe Root, was on a rampage, and Australia didn’t have many answers. His masterclass ended on 118, while Ollie Robinson looked unconcerned in his 31-ball stay. Before Stokes called them in, the pair had added 43 runs in 7.2 overs, leaving everyone wondering what England might have ended up with.

Sure, both David Warner and Usman Khawaja had poor records in England prior to the Test, so taking a shot at them makes sense. However, because the surface was flat, only four overs were possible.

Furthermore, rain was forecast throughout the Test, so the declaration gave England more time to push for a victory. Given how well Root and Robinson were playing, a total of 450 was not out of the question. Furthermore, the scoring rate meant that England would not have needed to bat much longer to get those extra crucial runs.

2. The incredible Usman Khawaja

Usman Khawaja was the Man of the Match for this first Test match, and he deserved it. Without Khawaja’s battling century in the first innings, Australia would not have had a match to win. The visitors were reduced to 67/3 after Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne were both dismissed, and they were reduced to 148/4 after Travis Head miscued one to midwicket.

Khawaja was tall. In the first inning, his 321-ball 141 helped Australia equalise with England. It certainly didn’t deserve the send-off he received from Ollie Robinson, but Khawaja came out on top in the end.

His second-inning vigil of 65 at a strike rate of 32.99 was criticised. However, he held an end and allowed Australia to accumulate wickets towards the target. He was dismissed 72 runs short of the target, but his efforts gave his team a genuine chance to win.

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3. Pat Cummins’ standing up

Pat Cummins’ captaincy tactics are debatable. His strategy of sitting back and waiting for England to make mistakes is fraught with danger. However, there is no disagreement about Cummins as a player. He stood tall in the second-innings, taking crucial second innings wickets, including the dangerous Ben Stokes, before displaying ice in his veins for his unbeaten 44* to seal victory.

4. England’s squad selection

England released their starting lineup 48 hours before the game. Ben Foakes, widely regarded as the best wicketkeeper in the world, was controversially left out of the squad entirely. Jonny Bairstow was asked to put on the gloves despite his lack of cricket experience.

Bairstow’s decision backfired, as he missed crucial chances throughout the Test, costing England dearly.

Also, with Moeen Ali selected as the specialist spinner, England’s bowling attack appeared to be a little light. Moeen had not bowled in a Test match since 2021, and it showed when he got a nasty blister on his finger after an extended spell on day two. As a result, on the final day, England had to rely on Joe Root’s offspin for impact, with the three seam bowlers working hard to extract movement on a docile pitch.

5. Decision to keep Joe Root bowling on the fifth evening

Cummins took advantage of England’s decision to delay taking the new ball during his 44-ball inning. Yes, Joe Root had just dismissed Alex Carey, but against the offspinner rather than Broad and Anderson with the new ball in fading light, Australia’s best chance of scoring runs was.

Australia eventually won against the new ball, but not before Cummins swung the momentum in the 83rd over. The Australian captain scored 14 runs, including two sixes, to reduce the target to under 50.

England let Cummins and Lyon score 25 off 25 balls before taking the new ball in a mad dash to take the final two wickets. Cummins eventually sealed the win after a few close misses.

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6. Scott Boland and Nathan Lyon’s crucial contributions

After the first inning, Australia has three number 11s after Pat Cummins, according to Ollie Robinson. Nathan Lyon and Scott Boland took it personally. In Australia’s second innings, they combined for 36 crucial runs, both looking assured in difficult circumstances.

Boland took over as nightwatchman after the legendary Steve Smith was fired late on the fourth evening. He held his own, scoring 32 runs alongside Khawaja. Lyon walked to the crease with 55 seconds remaining, but he showed steel nerves with his shot over midfield on the highlight.

The Lord’s Test, which begins on June 28, has now taken centre stage. It will be interesting to see how each team responds after an all-time classic Ashes match, with England needing to bounce back at the home of cricket.

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