In what turned out to be a tense finale with last pair James Anderson and Monty Panesar at the wicket, England defied the Australian attack and secured a draw in the first Ashes test match.
The day did not start well. Kevin Pietersen left a straight one from Ben Hilfenhaus and got his off stump clattered back. Strauss thin edged a cut off Hauritz and Prior gloved a bouncing off-spinner from Hauritz to a diving Clarke at slip. Paul Collingwood showed all his grit, determination and bloody mindedness in his 74 which occupied 344 minutes. It might not have been pretty but batting in test cricket is about getting runs and occupying the crease, however ugly it might look.
Flintoff’s 26 occupied 89 minutes, Broad’s 14 61 and Swann’s 31 63. Swann in particular showed guts and character, taking a couple of hits from Siddle during his innings. Collingwood was the ninth wicket to fall, a rare attacking shot going to Mike Hussey. Panesar joined Anderson and for 71 balls they kept the Australian attack at bay.
Questions will be asked of Ricky Ponting’s tactics in giving the final overs to the spinners North and Hauritz instead of the worthy Hilfenhaus. Not taking out the tail is often a criticism levelled at England. Joy for Glamorgan CCC whose first test match lasted five days, didn’t produce a substandard pitch and who look good as an international venue.
Questions will be asked of England’s selection of Panesar ahead of Onions. They were outplayed for most of the match. Batsmen did not get in and get big, bowlers looked toothless for the most part.
The Australians may not have McGrath, Warne, Gilchrist and Hayden in their team but they still bat a long way down with experienced cricketers. Ponting’s 150 was a masterclass in technique. Katich’s 122 was a lesson in getting in, getting big and playing within one’s own limits. North’s 125 not out was a simple lesson in doing the basics right and accumulating. Brad Haddin’s 121 was careful accumulation at first followed by letting rip.
England need to up their game considerably to compete better than they have.
Lord’s is next.