✍️ Kaustubh Thakur
🗓️ June 22, 2023
Usman Khawaja batted on all 5 days as Australia win the thrilling 1st Test at the Ashes 2023
Australia has managed to counter Bazball in the perfect way to win a thrilling match at Edgbaston. The visitors won the 1st Test at Edgbaston by just 2 wickets. This Ashes series is possibly one of the most anticipated series in recent times. In many ways, this Ashes is like a clash of cultures as both sides have a very different approach. England has come in with their ‘Bazball’ style where they play an aggressive brand of cricket with maximum risk. Australia on the other hand stuck to their more traditional style but at the same time, they countered England’s style with unusual tactics, especially with their field settings. The match was one of the most thrilling ones in recent times and it was a perfect way to start the 2023 Ashes.
Usman Khawaja led the charge and batted on all 5 days:
After England scored 393 on day 1, Australia needed someone to anchor the innings. Usman Khawaja did just that in the 1st innings by scoring 141 off 321 balls. He was very patient throughout his innings and managed to hold on to the end. The southpaw wasn’t poking at anything outside the off stump and any time the ball was even slightly short he brought out the grounded pull shot. In the 2nd innings, it was similar as Khawaja scored 65 off 197. His innings were sort of statements that a classic Test match innings are still pretty useful.
Bazball is on full display throughout:
Ever since Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum took charge of the England team they have been playing fearless and high-risk cricket. The one question mark about that was whether they would do it in a high-pressure Ashes series. Ben Stokes before the series boldly said that he will always play aggressive cricket to produce a result even if it meant losing the game. England managed to apply that on the very first ball of the match and the series as Zak Crawley smashed Pat Cummins through extra cover.
The big moment in the game was at the end of day 1. England was scoring at a rate of 5.02 per over with Joe Root leading the line. The home side was 393/8 when Ben Stokes surprisingly decided to declare. The reason was to make Australia bat for 20 minutes before stumps on day one. The decision backfired because if England continued to bat they could’ve batted Australia out of the game. Joe Root was cruising on 118 while Ollie Robinson was looking reasonably comfortable. The hosts could’ve added around 50 runs which would put them firmly in control. The other reason why it didn’t make sense is that England wasn’t too far ahead and the conditions were pretty decent to bat on.
With the field settings, Ben Stokes again tried a couple of new things. Stuart Broad was bowling at full throttle as he dismissed David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne on back-to-back balls. Steve Smith came out for the hat-trick ball and Stokes had not one but two leg slips. Against Usman Khawaja, he had 6 catchers close in front of the batter hoping that he played a shot in the air. The whole style has brought a bit of freshness to Test cricket and Ben Stokes has already said that despite losing he would continue to come hard at the Aussies.
Captain Cummins’ heroic innings to seal the victory:
Apart from being Australia’s best bowler in the 2nd innings picking up 4 wickets, Cummins stood tall with the bat. He came in when England was well in front and showed his skills as a batter. He scored 44 off 73 balls and along with Nathan Lyon took Australia over the line. England’s decision to not take the new ball straightaway was a surprising one. Even when they did take it, James Anderson was not brought into the attack. Stokes decided to give it to Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson as Anderson was below average in the match.
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