England v Australia, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 1st day July 10, 2013

England turn up bearing gifts

Instead of sticking to first principles and patiently grinding out a match-defining total, England's batsmen misguidedly attempted to assert themselves
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Say what you like about England, they are marvellous hosts. Had they greeted each Australia bowler with a garland of flowers, a basket of fruit and an array of balloon animals, they could hardly have been more welcoming. Indeed, if each of their wickets had been wrapped in shiny paper and tied with a bow, they could not have made better gifts of them.

This was a wretched batting performance from England. It was a nervous, flimsy, foolish performance by a side too experienced to be excused for wilting in the spot light. While the identity of several of the players is different, it was a performance that evoked memories of England's capitulation in the final of the Champions Trophy. Then, as now, they froze under pressure.

The most galling aspect of this display was the self-inflicted nature of England's decline. Perhaps only two of the their wickets - that of Joe Root and, by a generous assessment, Ian Bell - could be credited more on good bowling than poor batting, with some of the dismissals - Matt Prior's and Graeme Swann's in particular - donated so ridiculously that they would have a good chance of gaining charitable status.

The root of England's decline was a combination of nerves and the spurious misunderstanding of what it means to play 'positive' cricket. For England on the first day at Trent Bridge, 'positive' cricket meant attempting to score quickly, attempting to hit boundaries and attempting to assert their authority in the most obvious, unsophisticated way.

So, instead of leaving the ball outside off stump, instead of waiting for the bowlers to stray into safe areas, instead of patiently grinding out a match-defining total, England sought the short-cut to success. They allowed their hubris and adrenalin to get the better of them and they chased deliveries that they would have been well advised to let go.

Even Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook, batsmen with a reputation for their attritional qualities, were drawn into flashing at balls well outside off stump. Even Kevin Pietersen, a man who has a well-earned reputation for thriving on the biggest stage, appeared to falter through nerves and guided a wide ball to slip and even Prior and Swann, men with a reputation of rebuilding all-but-lost causes, managed to steer short balls to fielders as if providing catching practice.

Trott's frustration upon his dismissal was palpable. He shaped to smash his stumps out of the ground but sensibly checked himself just in time but his frustration was easy to understand. Trott has now passed 27 in each one of his last 12 Test innings but, on nine of those occasions, he failed to pass 56. In short, he has built himself the foundations time after time and failed to capitalise upon it. A loss of concentration has been his downfall on most occasions. A batsman that built a reputation upon a compact technique and looked in the ripest of form, paid the price for being flash. He is, at present, too often trying to be something he is not.

It was not always aggression that cost England. Some of their batsmen were punished for faulty technique with Bell drawn into playing at a decent delivery, but one he might have left, and Jonny Bairstow bowled - as he was in both innings of the warm-up game in Chelmsford and now has been in five of his 12 completed Test innings - after attempting to whip a straight ball through midwicket.

There was no need for England's aggressive approach. Without the influence of poor weather, draws have become rare in England. The old Test disciplines - disciplines of patience and restraint and denial and stamina - have been all but forgotten amid new fashions to dominate, entertain and 'express' talent. The game may, on the surface, appear more entertaining, but it has also lost a certain dynamic that differentiated it from other formats. There was beauty, maybe not always an obvious but beauty nevertheless, in the steadfastness and defiance of Geoffrey Boycott and Chris Tavare. While the game has changed for the better in many ways, England would be well advised not to forget such qualities entirely.

England could have well done with a player of Nick Compton's old-fashioned virtues. The idea that you have to seize the initiative in Test cricket is a modern myth that has been perpetrated by the impatient and is shown up for its folly by the success of the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Hashim Amla and, in a different time, by Trott and Cook.

Positivity does not have to be expressed in boundaries. It can be expressed in a firm forward defensive, in a refusal to be tempted by deliveries away from the body and by an obvious determination to bat, not just for a session or a milestone, but for a day or more at a time. It was that quality that ground Australia into submission in 2010-11 and that quality England will need to rediscover if they are to prevail on this occasion.

There are some mitigating factors. While the winner of the toss had to bat first - this is a flat but unusually dry pitch that may deteriorate - the atmospheric conditions did provide some assistance to swing bowlers. Australia also bowled pretty well, using the crease cleverly and luring England into false strokes.

But England made life far too simple for the bowlers and Peter Siddle, in particular, can rarely have enjoyed a softer five-wicket haul.

It does not matter that England partially redeemed themselves with the ball. That only goes to illustrate what an opportunity they missed with the bat against an attack that was plainly nervous and included a teenage debutant who, for all his abundant talent and athleticism, looks some way short of the quality required for this level at present and an allrounder who could manage only four overs before injury intervened. Had England shown a little more fight and resilience, they could be resuming their first innings on the second day against effectively a three-man attack.

As it is, England face an uncomfortable wait to see how Stuart Broad reacts to a blow on the shoulder sustained while batting. International cricket is a draining business and its participants, especially fast bowlers, are bound to experience the occasional injury. But Broad, of late, appears to be made of crystal and fairies' wings and is developing a reputation of being injured more often than he is fit. In a three-man pace attack, such attributes are unlikely to endear a player to selectors.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jmcilhinney on July 11, 2013, 3:30 GMT

    I agree that England looked to lack patience during their innings. Cook looked a bit uncomfortable and was doing his usual tentative step forward early in his innings and, amongst all the wayward stuff, Pattinson managed to get just enough deliveries in the right spot to let Cook do the rest. Trott looked to be playing the perfect innings by sticking to his strengths but also not wasting any opportunities until he played a shot that is undoubtedly beneath him. Matt Prior is a bit of a live-by-the-sword type but he probably could have waited a little longer to start swinging yesterday. The positive is that many batsmen looked comfortable for reasonable periods of time so, if they can convince themselves to play more patiently in the second innings, they could still set a challenging total, especially if the bowlers clean up Australia relatively quickly on day 2.

  • sixnout on July 11, 2013, 15:05 GMT

    My 2 Cents. The media has hyped up England so much so that they expected to turn up for the ashes and pocket the ashes 2013. I was watching the "Ashes - the greatest series (2005) video". just to read the reaction and one of the most oft repeated sentence was how the English were agressive and almost Australian. While you could see typical fast scoring batsmen like Treschothick, a young KP, enigmatic Freddie, a brute Harmisson and a in the zone Jones turned up together like the Avengers, the English would be better if they turned up and played dour cricket and then accelerated instead of trying to play like a Sehwag on steroids

  • on July 11, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    "There was beauty, maybe not always an obvious but beauty nevertheless, in the steadfastness and defiance of Geoffrey Boycott and Chris Tavare." In that case, I will always prefer to watch the brute force of David Gower... England batted badly but Australia, in my opinion, is still the underdog for the series. One Test win will not suddenly make them favorites and they will have to sustain this form over the whole series, which will be difficult against England, at least in this series...best of luck to both sides anyway!!

  • on July 11, 2013, 12:47 GMT

    Cyril_Knight. How wrong you are. Note the 14 run lead to Australia at lunch. And brusselslion - while we're analysing poor performance, if the last 90 minutes of play before lunch were the best that England's bowling attack can do, it probably will be a series win to Australian. Matt Ryan - yes, earning wickets will be the key difference between the teams in the series, and England's attack was found wanting when it was time to 'earn' a number 11's wicket. Finn was bowling rubbish, and what did your captain do about it - push the field back.

  • on July 11, 2013, 10:08 GMT

    Excellent piece. Apart from the wicket of Watson, who was (typically) similarly keen to play 'positive, imposing cricket', the difference yesterday was that the Aussie bowlers were given wickets, and England's earned them. This, I suspect will be a key difference in this series.

    I will refrain from harping on about how England seem completely incapable of starting a series well. Despite all the bluster about how this will be/has been addressed, nothing changes.

    It is true that solid defensive blocks and dismissive leaving are also positive, and these virtues were employed perfectly (especially by Cook) in Australia last time out - resulting in an historic win.

    As for Trott, I only hope the 'get on with it' brigade have not got inside that less than hirsute head of his.

  • on July 11, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    I agree 100% with your analysis. There was zero application from the England batters we said "here you are Peter Dibble, take our wickets" and he duly obliged, not through talent, but through perseverance. The rest of the Aussie attack didn't really click into gear. England's batsmen cannot continue to rely on the bowlers to bail them out. They won't do it in every match. More gumption and intelligence is needed. If England can rip out the Aussies today, they need to show a much improved performance with the bat to hammer the Aussies out of the game. The jury is out if they can do this.

  • H_Z_O on July 11, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    What a ridiculous article! Apart from Cook and Prior none of the wickets were truly "thrown" away. Root got a snorter, Trott was worked over with Siddle realising that bowling on his pads wasn't a good idea and going wider of off-stump was. Yes, that was probably a ball that normally wouldn't get the wicket (Siddle himself said so in his interview with Sky Sports) but Trott cracked under the pressure. Cook cracked a bit under pressure but it was less from the bowlers and more from the hype around England as favourites.

    Pietersen was loose and probably could have left that but it was in the right area. Bell's wicket was the angle Siddle took on the crease, it was brilliant bowling and while Bell could have left it, the point of going wider on the crease is to trick the batsman into playing. Job done.

    Bairstow closed the face, but Starc bowls a mean yorker. Broad got worked over by some very good bouncers.

    Pattinson and Starc had some testing spells, Siddle was a threat throughout.

  • brusselslion on July 11, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    If that's the best that the Aussie quicks can offer then I don't think that England have too much to worry about, providing they engage their brains before taking guard. Root, Bell, KP (at a push) got decent balls. The rest gave their wickets away.

    As for this idea that the Aussies bowled to a plan and build pressure. Well, if the plan was to bowl 1/2 bad balls an over then it worked. England piled the pressure on themselves by playing 2020, not Test, cricket.

    Having said all that, I think that the Aussie attack could be pretty good and can do better then yesterday's showing.

    Yesterday was exciting but quality wise, it was a poor day's cricket.

    @disco_bob on (July 11, 2013, 6:32 GMT): Agree 100%

  • zoot364 on July 11, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    Looked to me like a typical nervy start to an important series - on both sides. The contrast with the England batting on the first day against NZ earlier this summer was interesting. Then they were far too cautious. I think Dobell does underestimate Australia's efforts. They may not have been perfect, but they were certainly working to clear plans for many of the batsman and have identified clear vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. All told it looks like a low scoring series so be wary if you have 4th day tickets.

  • AussieSam on July 11, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    @Bodders70: Well said, mate.

    Although this was clearly a bad performance by England's batsman, its not just root and bell that can say they were out due to good bowling. Australia's performance wasn't that amazing, most of the good bowling was only delivered by two members of the attack, Pattinson and Siddle, but as others have pointed out, i think probably all of the England batsmen fell according to the plan that the bowlers had set to get them out. It was obvious they were trying to get Trott out by playing wide outside off, that is probably the main reason he was so angry with himself, he fell into their trap... became impatient and wafted at one he shouldnt have, which also happened to be very well bowled too, and it wasnt out there by accident.

    Seems this lineup might not be as great as the barmy army would like to believe, here's a damning statistic from Rajah:

    "For the fifth time in six Tests in 2013, none of their top four batsmen got a half-century in the first inninings."

  • jmcilhinney on July 11, 2013, 3:30 GMT

    I agree that England looked to lack patience during their innings. Cook looked a bit uncomfortable and was doing his usual tentative step forward early in his innings and, amongst all the wayward stuff, Pattinson managed to get just enough deliveries in the right spot to let Cook do the rest. Trott looked to be playing the perfect innings by sticking to his strengths but also not wasting any opportunities until he played a shot that is undoubtedly beneath him. Matt Prior is a bit of a live-by-the-sword type but he probably could have waited a little longer to start swinging yesterday. The positive is that many batsmen looked comfortable for reasonable periods of time so, if they can convince themselves to play more patiently in the second innings, they could still set a challenging total, especially if the bowlers clean up Australia relatively quickly on day 2.

  • sixnout on July 11, 2013, 15:05 GMT

    My 2 Cents. The media has hyped up England so much so that they expected to turn up for the ashes and pocket the ashes 2013. I was watching the "Ashes - the greatest series (2005) video". just to read the reaction and one of the most oft repeated sentence was how the English were agressive and almost Australian. While you could see typical fast scoring batsmen like Treschothick, a young KP, enigmatic Freddie, a brute Harmisson and a in the zone Jones turned up together like the Avengers, the English would be better if they turned up and played dour cricket and then accelerated instead of trying to play like a Sehwag on steroids

  • on July 11, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    "There was beauty, maybe not always an obvious but beauty nevertheless, in the steadfastness and defiance of Geoffrey Boycott and Chris Tavare." In that case, I will always prefer to watch the brute force of David Gower... England batted badly but Australia, in my opinion, is still the underdog for the series. One Test win will not suddenly make them favorites and they will have to sustain this form over the whole series, which will be difficult against England, at least in this series...best of luck to both sides anyway!!

  • on July 11, 2013, 12:47 GMT

    Cyril_Knight. How wrong you are. Note the 14 run lead to Australia at lunch. And brusselslion - while we're analysing poor performance, if the last 90 minutes of play before lunch were the best that England's bowling attack can do, it probably will be a series win to Australian. Matt Ryan - yes, earning wickets will be the key difference between the teams in the series, and England's attack was found wanting when it was time to 'earn' a number 11's wicket. Finn was bowling rubbish, and what did your captain do about it - push the field back.

  • on July 11, 2013, 10:08 GMT

    Excellent piece. Apart from the wicket of Watson, who was (typically) similarly keen to play 'positive, imposing cricket', the difference yesterday was that the Aussie bowlers were given wickets, and England's earned them. This, I suspect will be a key difference in this series.

    I will refrain from harping on about how England seem completely incapable of starting a series well. Despite all the bluster about how this will be/has been addressed, nothing changes.

    It is true that solid defensive blocks and dismissive leaving are also positive, and these virtues were employed perfectly (especially by Cook) in Australia last time out - resulting in an historic win.

    As for Trott, I only hope the 'get on with it' brigade have not got inside that less than hirsute head of his.

  • on July 11, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    I agree 100% with your analysis. There was zero application from the England batters we said "here you are Peter Dibble, take our wickets" and he duly obliged, not through talent, but through perseverance. The rest of the Aussie attack didn't really click into gear. England's batsmen cannot continue to rely on the bowlers to bail them out. They won't do it in every match. More gumption and intelligence is needed. If England can rip out the Aussies today, they need to show a much improved performance with the bat to hammer the Aussies out of the game. The jury is out if they can do this.

  • H_Z_O on July 11, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    What a ridiculous article! Apart from Cook and Prior none of the wickets were truly "thrown" away. Root got a snorter, Trott was worked over with Siddle realising that bowling on his pads wasn't a good idea and going wider of off-stump was. Yes, that was probably a ball that normally wouldn't get the wicket (Siddle himself said so in his interview with Sky Sports) but Trott cracked under the pressure. Cook cracked a bit under pressure but it was less from the bowlers and more from the hype around England as favourites.

    Pietersen was loose and probably could have left that but it was in the right area. Bell's wicket was the angle Siddle took on the crease, it was brilliant bowling and while Bell could have left it, the point of going wider on the crease is to trick the batsman into playing. Job done.

    Bairstow closed the face, but Starc bowls a mean yorker. Broad got worked over by some very good bouncers.

    Pattinson and Starc had some testing spells, Siddle was a threat throughout.

  • brusselslion on July 11, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    If that's the best that the Aussie quicks can offer then I don't think that England have too much to worry about, providing they engage their brains before taking guard. Root, Bell, KP (at a push) got decent balls. The rest gave their wickets away.

    As for this idea that the Aussies bowled to a plan and build pressure. Well, if the plan was to bowl 1/2 bad balls an over then it worked. England piled the pressure on themselves by playing 2020, not Test, cricket.

    Having said all that, I think that the Aussie attack could be pretty good and can do better then yesterday's showing.

    Yesterday was exciting but quality wise, it was a poor day's cricket.

    @disco_bob on (July 11, 2013, 6:32 GMT): Agree 100%

  • zoot364 on July 11, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    Looked to me like a typical nervy start to an important series - on both sides. The contrast with the England batting on the first day against NZ earlier this summer was interesting. Then they were far too cautious. I think Dobell does underestimate Australia's efforts. They may not have been perfect, but they were certainly working to clear plans for many of the batsman and have identified clear vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. All told it looks like a low scoring series so be wary if you have 4th day tickets.

  • AussieSam on July 11, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    @Bodders70: Well said, mate.

    Although this was clearly a bad performance by England's batsman, its not just root and bell that can say they were out due to good bowling. Australia's performance wasn't that amazing, most of the good bowling was only delivered by two members of the attack, Pattinson and Siddle, but as others have pointed out, i think probably all of the England batsmen fell according to the plan that the bowlers had set to get them out. It was obvious they were trying to get Trott out by playing wide outside off, that is probably the main reason he was so angry with himself, he fell into their trap... became impatient and wafted at one he shouldnt have, which also happened to be very well bowled too, and it wasnt out there by accident.

    Seems this lineup might not be as great as the barmy army would like to believe, here's a damning statistic from Rajah:

    "For the fifth time in six Tests in 2013, none of their top four batsmen got a half-century in the first inninings."

  • siltbreeze on July 11, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    This is not unfair on Australia's bowlers at all; they were erratic at best yesterday - some wicket-taking deliveries, but very inconsistent lines and far too many four balls. Dobell is quite right that most English wickets were gifted - for all the excitement it was not a high quality day of Test cricket.

  • Cyril_Knight on July 11, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    Dobell's analysis suits his cause. If you look at any innings the number of batsmen who get themselves out always outweighs those dismissed by fine bowling.

    There is no need to be so negative. England will take a First Innings lead and are 4/7 at best with bookmakers.

    I think the pitch and conditions were difficult. Rather than play back and wait for the edge, England were positive and lost some wickets due to this (Trott, Cook). But 98-2 at lunch was a very good score. If Australia had batted first they may well have been for under 100!

  • CutHis_ArminHalf on July 11, 2013, 8:40 GMT

    Cooks dismissal was classic cook.

    That is the exact weakness bowlers used to always expose. He had mostly put that problem to bed but I guess sometimes it creeps back in.

  • Bodders70 on July 11, 2013, 8:18 GMT

    I think this is very unfair to the Australian bowlers who stuck to plans and were rewarded. Pitch it full to Cook, as shown by New Zealand. He's got more confident in attacking the full ball now due to having faced so many so a nice tempting drive ball and a nick is on the cards. Root likes to play it late on the back foot, so again full balls will reap their reward. Trott, contrary to what seems to be accepted opinion, is usually out flashing at a wide (or outside off stump) ball. Teams have learnt not to feed his strengths by attempting for LBW once he's set and he now has to be more judicious in his shot selection (he does have a good cover drive). Pietersen is always vulnerable and jittery early, Bell is out of form but tends to nick full balls. Bairstow has the technical flaw against straight balls, Prior will go for wide deliveries (though that one I do count as fortunate). All in all, a good bowling performance.

  • TheBigBoodha on July 11, 2013, 8:07 GMT

    @venkatesh018 "George's article hits all the right notes. Australia's bowling apart from Siddle and Pattinson was nowhere near Test standards."

    Thanks for the laugh. If this is the case, England must be a pretty bad team to get bowled out for little more than 200 by them.

  • on July 11, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    It is just the rustiness of batters on the first day (of first test). Some of them played a lot of one day cricket recently and they will adjust quickly. Not to worry. :-)

  • TheBigBoodha on July 11, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    @ hhillbumper, strange comments. How have AUS traveled recently overseas? You mean you only want to count the India series, right, as you'd have to go back about three years before that to find a series AUS lost overseas? As for this claim that "all we are ever hearing is how great the Australian attack is", perhaps you'd like to cite some people or articles. Off the top of my head the only reference I can think of is a comment by Arthur about a month ago, and I read the cricket pages every day. So much for "all we ever hear...".

  • on July 11, 2013, 8:02 GMT

    @Suraj Ramnath - you are mistaking Pattinson with Bird. No one ever claimed Pattinson to be a similar bowler to McGrath.

  • Rahul_78 on July 11, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    The article seems to be written in anger as English batsmen's failed to deliver on day 1. It is always assumed that England are the new Australia and they need to turn up on day 1 and score 450 runs for loss of not many. But that is not the case. The big stage nerves and pressure of expectations seem to have got to England. The English A plan seemed to be to catch the Aussie attack by scruff of its neck and decide the outcome of the series on day 1. But when plan A failed the English batsmen failed to fall on plan B. It is alright to show intent but you need to be little sensible at times. Swann is coming out of injury and Broad and Bresnan are fickle with their fitness. If Anderson cant last for 10 grueling tests England will pay big time for their batsmens mistake. Remember that Aussie 1st innings is not over and Starc, Siddle and Agar can BAT. It is going to be interesting day of cricket.

  • on July 11, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    Pattinson looked such different a bowler against India last summer and now he is not looking that good a bowler! I guess he just got overconfident after people started saying that he is the 2nd McGrath. He is nowhere close to Glen McGrath. He has got a good height but somehow doesn't seem to hit the right lengths consistently and that's what McGrath did his entire career...

  • PanGlupek on July 11, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    "It was not always aggression that cost England. Some of their batsmen were punished for faulty technique with Bell drawn into playing at a decent delivery, but one he might have left"

    Think that says more about shot selection than it does about technique, George. But otherwise I agree, and England seem to do it more than most - get a lot of starts, but nobody carrying on. Aus seem to have done the same thing though this game - nerves, or just determination to get one over on the oppo, I'd imagine...

  • on July 11, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    Nice try taking the credit from the Aussie bowlers... face it, Siddle and co out smarted the English batsman and had them fishing outside off like it was cod opening... The bowlers won the mental battle and beat them fair and square

  • on July 11, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    I completely disagree. Both sets of bowlers were able to produce superb deliveries that either took wickets or, more importantly, undermined the confidence of the batsmen. Fours were on offer and the batsmen, rightly, took advantage - look at the percentage of boundaries to the total. The batsmen knew, on that track and in that atmosphere, the end could come at any moment. I do not blame the batsmen - they were not careless and lacking concentration. These were (and still are) prime bowling conditions - no bowler is trying to beat the speed gun, they are all trying to exploit the conditions, and are doing well. This article belittles Siddle's efforts and is indicative of a journalist who doesn't really understand the game.

  • hhillbumper on July 11, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    mitty 2. I take your point to a degree but the last away series England lost was in Pakistan. Since then we have drawn or won our away series. How have Aus travelled recently.

    you talk about English media blowing smoke but all we have heard recently is how this is the greatest attack ever? So where does the hyperbole come from

    Lets face facts it was an undisciplined performance and England need to bat better

  • Harlequin. on July 11, 2013, 6:38 GMT

    @mitty2 - love that comment! It is funny that whenever England fail to live up to expectations they get labelled as complacent. I think it is far more likely that they crumble under the pressure of that expectation. They perform much better as underdogs - the Eng/SA series was expected to be even, look how that turned out. We were expected to get hammered in India, yet won quite comfortably. Having played for Zimbabwe, I'm not sure Flower knows too much about going into a series as favourites!!

  • disco_bob on July 11, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    It seems that short form cricket is having too much influence. Everyone wants to be the hero who saves the match. The real heroes are knocks like Faf's holding out for a famous and improbable draw. That's Test cricket at it's best. At least Clarke done by genuine unplayable delivery so he would not be affected by his duck. Siddle bowled with great intelligence.

  • on July 11, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    Wow this article is perhaps the most critical one I would have ever read on this website! First day of a big series - some nerves are got to be around! Agreed that it wasn't the best batting display you could hope to see, but give credit where its due. The article seems to suggest that England have played soft cricket. Well, its test cricket. They have 4 more days to set it right! What if Aussies fold up for a 2 figure total today? Will the author still curse poor batsmanship? Or would he attempt to give some credit to bowlers? :)

  • venkatesh018 on July 11, 2013, 4:46 GMT

    George's article hits all the right notes. Australia's bowling apart from Siddle and Pattinson was nowhere near Test standards. England's total was well below par. Ashton Agar at least as of now, looks very ordinary and it was an insane decision to drop Lyon on a dry pitch.

  • on July 11, 2013, 4:12 GMT

    @Steve Hamilton, I agree with your assessment that this article seriously and deliberately under-values the sustained pressure that Australian bowlers put on the English batsmen. Siddle bowled well. Full-stop. Yes, the English top-order threw their wickets away, but give credit where its due. Having said that, I'm quite surprised that you find the commentary unnerving. Do you expect Nasser Hussain & co. to wax eloquent and eulogise the Aussies? Please, I remember the starkly biased commentary from Lawry, Chappel and the rest when the English were having their collective behinds whooped in the last decade and half. So, the boot is on the other foot now. Live with it, I say!

  • jmcilhinney on July 11, 2013, 3:33 GMT

    I think that it's a little harsh to criticise Broad for this injury, although he has had is share in the recent past. This time he got hit awkwardly by a good bouncer. Hopefully it's just a bruise and he'll be alright with some ice and rest overnight. If it's more than that then England could be in serious trouble unless Anderson and/or Finn have a blinder. Apart from making it hard to win this game, the extra workload on Anderson and Finn in particular may come back to bite England later in the series.

  • on July 11, 2013, 3:15 GMT

    Ashes day 1 - no more citi moment of success or DLF maximum. Test cricket at its very best. Sky commentary top class.Gower touch of class like his batting. more to come.

  • Beertjie on July 11, 2013, 2:21 GMT

    An excellent article with most of which I am in agreement except the words that there was "beauty nevertheless, in the steadfastness and defiance of Geoffrey Boycott and Chris Tavare." Like Hell! Anyway, I expect England to get at least 100 more in their second innings but Australia just might chase down 200+ and win on the 4th day if they can reach 300. Clarke will play Swann well, as should Smith, Haddin etc. Anderson won't be able to repeat that freakish dismissal, and England's attack is a bowler short: I would have picked Bresnan. It all depends upon the Aus first innings. They need to show the famed grit and bat down to #11. Praying for clear skies to set up a repeat of the'81 result at TB.

  • bobagorof on July 11, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    "Had England shown a little more fight and resilience, they could be resuming their first innings on the second day against effectively a three-man attack".

    Sure, Watson is unlikely to bowl again in this match, but it's a big leap to suggest that Agar won't get through a few overs just because he didn't take a wicket in his first 7 overs, on the first day, on debut, when the pacemen were doing the damage. England (and the writer) should be much more worried about their own attack, which really will be down to three men if Broad isn't able to recover. How many overs will Joe Root get through? Much less than Agar, I'd suggest - unless England collapse a second time.

  • RustyRules68 on July 11, 2013, 1:34 GMT

    Give credit where credit is due. Fair enough, England batted poorly but Australia bowled a good line and length after lunch and put England under a bit of pressure. Can't just blame the whole England side for their demise because Australia competed better than what was expected.

  • Mitty2 on July 11, 2013, 1:25 GMT

    Let me guess, it's complacency, right? England are world beaters, and are just complacent in an Ashes series, yeah, right.

    England are for too inconsistent to be labelled a good side (same can be said about everyone barring SA) when you consider the tremendous feats of the last ashes and the Indian series but also the hammerings at the hand of Pakistan and SA and the average away performances against mediocre opposition in SL and NZ. You saw it against NZ, tight bowling was all that was required to get the English batsmen out - with all batsmen getting starts but only a select few making centuries (one who made two isn't even the squad), but of course that was blamed arrogantly on complacency. That's why we don't need the likes of MJ and starc in our bowling line up - we need economical and consistent bowlers, and instea of starc, you'd have bird. Also another reason why copeland should be in the squad.

  • Chris_Howard on July 11, 2013, 0:54 GMT

    And this is why I still think England will win the series. Their batsmen got themselves out. We know from Brisbane a couple of years back how Cook responds to that. I think once the English bats apply themselves, the Aussies will struggle.

    Like in the warm up games, the Aussies had very limited success with the new ball.

    Once England ensure they stop relaxing after the new ball loses its shine, the Aussies will be in trouble.

  • JB77 on July 11, 2013, 0:44 GMT

    'But England made life far too simple for the bowlers and Peter Siddle, in particular, can rarely have enjoyed a softer five-wicket haul.' That's unfair on Siddle and more than a little patronising of the Aus team - a theme that is pretty apparent across most of today's articles after reading them in one sitting. A bit more balance thanks Cricinfo - I realise England are favourites, but they aren't a flawless team. Also - is there a directive from the editors that requires the word 'hubris' to be used in every article published on Cricinfo? Seriously guys, get a thesaurus!

  • ScottStevo on July 10, 2013, 23:05 GMT

    Seems Australia were keen to repay those gifts in kind with Watson trying too hard to clatter a rank half volley and Cowan ridiculously throwing his bat at a nothing ball he should definitely have left. Felt sorry for Rogers too. His and Broad's lbw and subsequent reviews highlighting a glaringly obvious fault with the implementation of the DRS system. It perfectly demonstrated why there are many out there, who aren't against using technology, however, have grief with the way in which it's applied. Nonetheless, this article perfectly demonstrates Englands most obvious weakness - no English can come to the conclusion that England aren't playing badly and being complacent, it's that they're not actually that good, and haven't been for 18-20 months. They've got talent, no doubt, but their results and ranking tell a different story, one that few seem able to admit, or even consider as a possibility! Fortunately for them, the Aus batting line up only post over 200 every other innings!

  • on July 10, 2013, 22:33 GMT

    That's very harsh on Ashton Agar. He has a relaxed, repeatable action capable of generating turn, bounce and dip. The fact that he was nervous on Test debut, in the first Test of the biggest series of them all should excuse the fact that he produced on average one loose ball per over. I tip him to bowl much better in the second dig.

  • disco_bob on July 10, 2013, 22:18 GMT

    Right on the money. If this 1st day is any indication, we might be shaping up for plenty of surprises, twists and intriguing turns of events, but we won't come close to the classic heroics of 2005

  • on July 10, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    So George. All out for 215 had nothing to do with the bowling team at all. Poor shot selection, poor technique and favorable bowling weather are clearly to blame. It would be awful if you were to give anything but fleeting credit to the bowlers - "can rarely have enjoyed a softer five-wicket haul". For Australians watching the Ashes series on television, it seems as if we will have to put up with a heavily biased tongue-in-cheek all England commentary team (except for Michael Holding). and then we get this dross. Enough already please.

  • on July 10, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    So George. All out for 215 had nothing to do with the bowling team at all. Poor shot selection, poor technique and favorable bowling weather are clearly to blame. It would be awful if you were to give anything but fleeting credit to the bowlers - "can rarely have enjoyed a softer five-wicket haul". For Australians watching the Ashes series on television, it seems as if we will have to put up with a heavily biased tongue-in-cheek all England commentary team (except for Michael Holding). and then we get this dross. Enough already please.

  • disco_bob on July 10, 2013, 22:18 GMT

    Right on the money. If this 1st day is any indication, we might be shaping up for plenty of surprises, twists and intriguing turns of events, but we won't come close to the classic heroics of 2005

  • on July 10, 2013, 22:33 GMT

    That's very harsh on Ashton Agar. He has a relaxed, repeatable action capable of generating turn, bounce and dip. The fact that he was nervous on Test debut, in the first Test of the biggest series of them all should excuse the fact that he produced on average one loose ball per over. I tip him to bowl much better in the second dig.

  • ScottStevo on July 10, 2013, 23:05 GMT

    Seems Australia were keen to repay those gifts in kind with Watson trying too hard to clatter a rank half volley and Cowan ridiculously throwing his bat at a nothing ball he should definitely have left. Felt sorry for Rogers too. His and Broad's lbw and subsequent reviews highlighting a glaringly obvious fault with the implementation of the DRS system. It perfectly demonstrated why there are many out there, who aren't against using technology, however, have grief with the way in which it's applied. Nonetheless, this article perfectly demonstrates Englands most obvious weakness - no English can come to the conclusion that England aren't playing badly and being complacent, it's that they're not actually that good, and haven't been for 18-20 months. They've got talent, no doubt, but their results and ranking tell a different story, one that few seem able to admit, or even consider as a possibility! Fortunately for them, the Aus batting line up only post over 200 every other innings!

  • JB77 on July 11, 2013, 0:44 GMT

    'But England made life far too simple for the bowlers and Peter Siddle, in particular, can rarely have enjoyed a softer five-wicket haul.' That's unfair on Siddle and more than a little patronising of the Aus team - a theme that is pretty apparent across most of today's articles after reading them in one sitting. A bit more balance thanks Cricinfo - I realise England are favourites, but they aren't a flawless team. Also - is there a directive from the editors that requires the word 'hubris' to be used in every article published on Cricinfo? Seriously guys, get a thesaurus!

  • Chris_Howard on July 11, 2013, 0:54 GMT

    And this is why I still think England will win the series. Their batsmen got themselves out. We know from Brisbane a couple of years back how Cook responds to that. I think once the English bats apply themselves, the Aussies will struggle.

    Like in the warm up games, the Aussies had very limited success with the new ball.

    Once England ensure they stop relaxing after the new ball loses its shine, the Aussies will be in trouble.

  • Mitty2 on July 11, 2013, 1:25 GMT

    Let me guess, it's complacency, right? England are world beaters, and are just complacent in an Ashes series, yeah, right.

    England are for too inconsistent to be labelled a good side (same can be said about everyone barring SA) when you consider the tremendous feats of the last ashes and the Indian series but also the hammerings at the hand of Pakistan and SA and the average away performances against mediocre opposition in SL and NZ. You saw it against NZ, tight bowling was all that was required to get the English batsmen out - with all batsmen getting starts but only a select few making centuries (one who made two isn't even the squad), but of course that was blamed arrogantly on complacency. That's why we don't need the likes of MJ and starc in our bowling line up - we need economical and consistent bowlers, and instea of starc, you'd have bird. Also another reason why copeland should be in the squad.

  • RustyRules68 on July 11, 2013, 1:34 GMT

    Give credit where credit is due. Fair enough, England batted poorly but Australia bowled a good line and length after lunch and put England under a bit of pressure. Can't just blame the whole England side for their demise because Australia competed better than what was expected.

  • bobagorof on July 11, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    "Had England shown a little more fight and resilience, they could be resuming their first innings on the second day against effectively a three-man attack".

    Sure, Watson is unlikely to bowl again in this match, but it's a big leap to suggest that Agar won't get through a few overs just because he didn't take a wicket in his first 7 overs, on the first day, on debut, when the pacemen were doing the damage. England (and the writer) should be much more worried about their own attack, which really will be down to three men if Broad isn't able to recover. How many overs will Joe Root get through? Much less than Agar, I'd suggest - unless England collapse a second time.

  • Beertjie on July 11, 2013, 2:21 GMT

    An excellent article with most of which I am in agreement except the words that there was "beauty nevertheless, in the steadfastness and defiance of Geoffrey Boycott and Chris Tavare." Like Hell! Anyway, I expect England to get at least 100 more in their second innings but Australia just might chase down 200+ and win on the 4th day if they can reach 300. Clarke will play Swann well, as should Smith, Haddin etc. Anderson won't be able to repeat that freakish dismissal, and England's attack is a bowler short: I would have picked Bresnan. It all depends upon the Aus first innings. They need to show the famed grit and bat down to #11. Praying for clear skies to set up a repeat of the'81 result at TB.