That’s it for your Ashes summer in Cardiff. A 169-run victory in the Investec Test match, followed by a dramatic 5-run win in the NatWest IT20 – we could not ask for more. Well done England and thank you everybody for your support this summer!
Alastair Cook wore a grin as wide as the Severn Bridge as his players leave South Wales after securing a famous victory.
Cook’s England produced an aggressive display with both bat and ball to take a surprise lead in the Investec Ashes series, rounding off a 169-run win on the fourth evening.
Joe Root starred with the bat, hitting 134 in the first innings to pick up the Man of the Match award but Cook lauded the team performance, singling out the five-pronged bowling attack for taking 20 wickets on a surface that appeared favourable for batting
“It was a brilliant performance,” said Cook. “This Test could not have gone any better and we will enjoy tonight. Joe Root was fantastic and the bowlers were superb.”
After suffering a whitewash defeat in the 2013/14 series down under, Cook and his team were quick to banish the ghosts of that series with a sensational victory in front of four capacity crowds at The SSE SWALEC.
Cook added: “Everyone was talking about what’s gone on in the past, but this is a different side. We had to look forward. We always took the attacking option in this game.”
England will hope to use the victory as a springboard for further success in this series, as the players move on to Lord’s for the second Test next week.
England wrapped up a near-perfect performance to go one-nil up in the Ashes series amid wild celebrations at The SSE SWALEC.
If anyone had doubted Alastair Cook’s men’s credentials in this series, they most certainly are not doing so now. Impressive displays from a number of players: Ian Bell, Gary Ballance, Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood and the standout performer Joe Root, ensured a 169-run victory going into the second Test at Lord’s.
Root led from the front with the bat, scoring a match-defining 134 in the first innings to help England compile 430 after winning the toss. Many onlookers believed that was a mere par score on a pitch that appeared flat and dry, but England’s subsequent bowling performance on days two and three suggested otherwise.
Restricting Australia to 264/5 after an evenly-fought second day, England would have been content. But that contentment turned into delight when their seamers ran through the Australian tail on the third morning, to give the hosts a 122-run first innings lead. Chris Rogers’ 95 was an innings of genuine quality but the lack of other contributions hampered Michael Clarke’s side throughout the game.
On a pitch that made it difficult for batsmen to stay in and bat long – six Aussie batsmen were out in the 30s – England simply had to build on their lead and make it impossible, or at least improbable, for the tourists to win batting last. Bell and Root both scored attractive half-centuries to put England in a virtually unassailable position late on day three.
But Ashes Tests are rarely easy. Back came Australia through their potent pace attack, which was nullified by a pitch that did not suit them. Mitchell Johnson will have his moments with the ball in this series, that’s for sure, but he did not fire in Cardiff. Yet his colleagues restricted England to 289 all out in their second innings, however a target of 412 to win always appeared out of Australia’s grasp.
England knew the fourth day was about taking crucial wickets at crucial times. And that’s what they did, thanks first to Stuart Broad whose 3/39 was even better than it sounds; then Moeen Ali and Joe Root proved off-spin is still an effective weapon in a Test match fourth innings.
Australia slumped from 97/1 to 122/6 in their chase, a collapse that effectively ended any hopes they harboured of winning or saving the match. Johnson battled and bludgeoned his way to 77 to delay English (and Welsh) celebrations, but Cook’s men were not going to be denied.
Root dismissed the tail-end pair of Johnson and Starc, who had put on 72 for the eighth wicket, then the young Yorkshireman took the catch off Ali to seal the win and spark incredible celebrations in the crowd. Moeen was the bowler, finishing with five wickets in the match to add to his first innings 77.
The hero was Root though and he deservedly picked up the Man of the Match award. His knock in the first innings paved the way for the win. The 24-year-old played high-tempo, aggressive cricket which rubbed off on his teammates and England clinched a precious Ashes win, their first since 2013 and first ever on Welsh soil.
A dream afternoon session sent England to the verge of a famous Ashes victory – their first on Welsh soil – as Australian wickets tumbled in Cardiff.
Stuart Broad was the leader of the attack, taking the precious wickets of Australian powerhouses Steve Smith and Michael Clarke, before Mark Wood and Moeen Ali got in the act, taking two wickets each to make the tourists suffer.
Smith departed immediately after lunch when he edged to Ian Bell at slip, before Clarke lofted on to Ben Stokes. Then, Adam Voges nicked behind to Buttler off Wood and captain Alastair Cook snaffled Brad Haddin at the second attempt when the wicketkeeper smacked one straight to mid-wicket.
Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson attempted to rebuild – Australia had gone from 97/1 to 122/6 – but the visitors’ misery was worsened when Watson was trapped LBW by Wood. He did review the decision to no avail and Australia went in at tea 162/7 to leave England tasting victory.
Australia make a steady start to their chase of 412 to win, before a Moeen Ali wicket on the brink of lunch made it a decent session for England.
Chris Rogers was caught at second slip by Ian Bell in the first half hour, Stuart Broad reaping the rewards of a fine opening spell from the Cathedral Road end.
Steve Smith joined David Warner and the pair made use of a Cardiff pitch that appears unlikely to deteriorate, the latter plundering a losoe Moeen Ali over for 17 runs. But Moeen had the last laugh when he trapped Warner LBW for a brisk 52.
Earlier, Broad and James Anderson threatened the off stumps of the two left-handers and the Lancastrian almost had Warner caught at third slip but Joe Root could not cling on.
Broad did get a breakthrough when Rogers nicked off to Bell, but his departure was delayed over uncertainty whether the ball was carried – before Rogers was prompty sent on his way for 10.
Smith and Warner’s partnership of 78 spread tension throughout the ground, relieved only by Ali’s breakthrough.
On what may turn out to be the final day of a thrilling test match at The SSE SWALEC, one player from either side may make the difference. With the Cardiff pitch deteriorating and the Aussies looking to make inroads into an imposing fourth innings target, the battle between these two men may be pivotal to the outcome of the day.
Derided by some for being a “part-time” spinner, Ali’s place in the team appeared under threat before the series, particularly after Adil Rashid’s impressive displays in the ODI series versus New Zealand. But the Worcestershire man keeps coming back. He took the prize wickets of Smith and Michael Clarke in the first innings and will surely play a vital role in securingthe 10 wickets England need in final innings.
MOEEN IN NUMBERS:
33 – number of Test wickets.
1 – wicket taken by Moeen on debut.
3.62 – his Test economy rate (Aus scored at 3.63 in their first innings.
The new No 1 batsman in the world looked all of a tizz in the first innings, thanks to Ali who won the first of many duels this summer. Smith has an impeccable record since his flight up the order, completing an unlikely journey from fringe leg-spinner to frontline batsman. So he cannot be underestimated by England. Smith will most likely look to attack Ali, which may bring English fielders into the game.
SMITH IN NUMBERS:
9 – number of Test hundreds.
8 – the number Steve batted at on his Test debut, in 2010.
56.23 – Smith’s Test average.
See you if you spot yourself in yesterday’s crowd, as a jam-packed SSE SWALEC saw a thrilling day of cricket.