I had expected Australia to be leading 1-0 after 2 tests, instead they are down 0-1 to an England side playing very well indeed. England now only needs one win in the remaining three matches to retain the Ashes.
Australia started well in Brisbane after bowling out England on the first day for 260. The series was off to a dramatic start when captain Strauss was out in the very first over for a duck. Later in the day England were at 4/197 when Peter Siddle struck with a hat-trick on his birthday, the 11th by an Australian. He finished with 6 wickets. Australia in their first innings were in trouble at 5/143 before a partnership of 307 between Hussey (195) and Haddin (136) saw them amass a first innings lead of 221. Then it was England’s turn to fight back again as they made the game a safe draw declaring at 1/517 including a partnership of 329 between opener Cook (235*) and Trott (135*). Strauss was the lowest scorer for his side in both innings, but managed 110 second time around!
In the second test, Australia could not have had a worse start, losing 3 wickets for 2 runs in the first 13 balls of the game! They never recovered as they were bowled out for 245, thanks largely to Anderson’s 4/51. In Adelaide a first innings score of 500 is closer to par! Hussey again top scored with 93 as he and Haddin again had to rescue Australia. Then it was England’s turn to show how to bat. The Aussie bowlers were highly ineffective on a great batting track as England scored 5d/630. Cook scored 148 and Pietersen a sensational 227. Australia with a deficit of 375 could only manage 304 in reply after losing their last 5 wickets for 18 on a pitch finally offering some assistance for the bowlers. Swann bowled beautifully taking 5/91. Hence England won by an innings and 71 runs, taking 20 wickets while only losing 5 of their own for the match. It was one of the most devastating performances by an away team in Australia that I can recall.
Here are a few interesting statistical highlights coming out of the first two tests.
– At one point Australia took only 3 wickets in 17 hours of play spread over the two tests.
– Of the 9 Australians to have taken hat-tricks (two did it twice), remarkably 7 of them have been Victorians: Trumble (twice), T J Matthews (a hat-trick in each innings!), Kline, M G Hughes, Fleming, Warne (just 2 months after Fleming’s) and now Siddle. Glenn McGrath and Fred Spofforth had the other two, the latter represented Victoria six years after achieving the first hat-trick in test cricket. There was only one Australian hat-trick between 1912 and 1988 (Kline’s in 1958).
– Alastair Cook is the youngest player other than Sachin Tendulkar to have 15 test centuries to his name. More information about that here. Here is a list of the players who have played the most test matches before the age of 26. Cook will add one more to his current total if he plays in Perth.
|Player (team)||# tests before 26th birthday|
|SR Tendulkar (India)||68|
|N Kapil Dev (India)||66|
|AN Cook (Eng)||62|
|RR Sarwan (WI)||61|
|DL Vettori (NZ)||59|
|RJ Shastri (India)||58|
|AB de Villiers (SA)||57|
|MV Boucher (SA)||56|
|Harbhajan Singh (India)||56|
|Mohammad Ashraful (Ban)||55|
|GC Smith (ICC/SA)||54|
|Saleem Malik (Pak)||52|
|JH Kallis (SA)||52|
|Javed Miandad (Pak)||52|
|CH Gayle (WI)||52|
Cook currently has 4814 runs while Tendulkar had 5177 when he turned 26. It will be interesting to see where they both end up!
– Still on Cook, he scored 383 runs before finally being dismissed (235* + 148). This is the most by an Englishman, beating Wally Hammond’s record of 365 (336* + 29). The all-time record is 497 by Tendulkar. Cook also spent 1058 minutes at the crease before being dismissed (5th most by anyone). The record there is 1513 by Shivnarine Chanderpaul. His double century was the first scored by a visiting batsman in Brisbane. It was also the highest score by an Englishman anywhere since Gooch’s 333 way back in 1990.
– A total of 35 double centuries have been scored against Australia in test cricket. Of these, only Brian Lara’s 277 in Sydney and 226 in Adelaide were scored more rapidly than Pietersen’s 227. The full list of double centuries is here and more info is at the rec.sport.cricket newsgroup here. Surprisingly few double centuries have been scored by Englishmen in Ashes tests. Prior to this series, the only ones since WW2 were by Barrington, Gower, Hussain and Collingwood. Only Foster, Hammond and Collingwood had done so in Australia. After Bradman’s time (he alone scored 8!) the Aussies to have scored double centuries in Ashes tests are Morris, Simpson (twice), Cowper, Stackpole, Border, Taylor and Langer. In recent times it has happened once a decade for each side.
– The Gabba test was only the second time that two 300 run partnerships have occurred in the one match. This previous occasion was between India and Pakistan in Lahore in January 2006, a game in which 8 wickets for 1089 runs were scored. In total there have been 79 triple hundred stands in test cricket, of which 38 have happened since 1999.
– The 329 was England’s highest partnership for any wicket in Australia.
– Jonathon Trott averages 100.5 against Australia in 3 tests (402 runs in 5 innings).
– So far no number 8 batsman has scored a run in the series. In the first test Broad made a first ball duck during Siddle’s hat-trick, Johnson was out for a 19-ball duck, and then in the second test Harris had a king pair (i.e. faced a solitary ball in each innings).
– Australia has now played 5 tests without a win, their last coming against Pakistan in England earlier this year. The last time this happened was 22 years ago against Pakistan (away) and the West Indies (at home). During the mid 1980s they had 14 tests without a win.
– England’s second innings at the Gabba was the first time in test cricket that at least three batsmen played and all scored centuries, i.e. the lowest scorer also made a century.
– Prior to the Cook/Strauss stand of 188 at the Gabba, the previous highest opening stand by England at Brisbane was only 114. The similar record for the second wicket was then extended from 134 to 329.
A big part of Australia’s fall from the number one position has been the decreased ability of individuals to convert 50s to 100s. In the first two tests of this series for example Australians have scored 2 100s and 8 50s, while England have 5 100s and 4 50s. There is more about that in a recent Cricinfo article here. Another aspect has been that batting collapses have occurred more frequently, and their opposition has been let off the hook on more than one occasion. I shall provide some instances of that in a future post.