Australia win first Ashes Test against England by nine wickets

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Marnus Labuschagne (L) hugs teammate Marcus Harris after Australia won the first Ashes Test match against England at the Gabba in Brisbane on Saturday. AFP

A new era of Australian cricket with fast bowler Pat Cummins leading the team and Alex Carey behind the stumps started with a familiar result for an Ashes Test at the Gabba.

Australia won the series opener by nine wickets on Saturday with 1 1/2 days to spare after Nathan Lyon picked up his 400th Test wicket and quickly added three more to dismantle England’s bid to save the first Test.

England resumed Day 4 at 220-2 and Lyon struck in the fourth over, triggering a collapse that netted eight wickets for 77 runs as the visiting team finished the match in a similar vein to how it started.

Ashes2 Nathan Lyon (C) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Dawid Malan. AFP

After restricting England’s second innings to 297, the Australians needed just 20 runs to clinch the match. They did it in 5.1 overs, for the loss of only makeshift opener Alex Carey (9), with Marcus Harris (9 not out) hitting a boundary to finish off.

Australia hasn’t lost a Test against England at the Gabba since 1986, and hasn’t lost an Ashes Test on home soil since 2010-11. Lyon triggered England’s demise when he dismissed Dawid Malan to end a 162-run third-wicket stand.

Carey, as well as moving up the order to open in the second innings because of David Warner’s forced relegation for not fielding on Day 3, took a record eight catches for a wicketkeeper on Test debut.

Ashes1 Marcus Harris (L) and Marnus Labuschagne walk off at the conclusion of the first Test match at the Gabba in Brisbane. AFP

Cummins was elevated to the captaincy — the first fast bowler since the 1950s to get the job — when Tim Paine quit last month following reports he’d been investigated four years by Cricket Australia for sending an inappropriate text message to a work colleague in Tasmania. Carey replaced Paine behind the stumps.

“Exceptionally proud,” Cummins said of the start, noting the big contributions from Lyon, Carey and Travis Head, who cemented his place in the batting lineup with 152 in Australia’s first innings total of 425.

After being dismissed for 147 in the first innings and surrendering a 278-run first-innings deficit, England revived some hope of challenging in the first Test when Malan and Joe Root defied the attack for almost two full sessions on Friday.

But the defiance didn’t extend long into Day 4, with Malan (82 from 195 balls) getting an inside edge from Lyon to Marnus Labuschagne at bat-pad. Lyon took his 399th wicket in January and had to wait almost 11 months for No.400 because the Australians didn’t play another Test in 2021 until this week.

Palyers-Australia Australian players walk off the field after dismissing England during day four of the first Test match at the Gabba. AFP

Root added only three runs to his overnight score, making it to 89 — his highest score in an Ashes Test Down Under — before his 165-ball knock ended when he was caught behind off allrounder Cameron Green.

Lyon dismissed Ollie Pope in the next over and, after Cummins squared up Ben Stokes (14) and Josh Hazlewood had Jos Buttler (23) caught behind, returned to collect two late wickets.

Lyon removed Ollie Robinson (8), inexplicably reverse sweeping to point, and bowled Mark Wood (6) before Green had Chris Woakes (16) caught behind to finished off England’s innings.

Some critics questioned Root’s decision to bat first after winning the toss in dark, overcast conditions on Day 1, and the selection panel’s call to omit veteran pace bowlers Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad from the XI.

“We have to be brave. We have to look to do things differently to previous tours,” he said. “The toss, it was the right decision, we just didn’t play well enough in the first innings.

“You can’t question the guys who were out there … (we) created so many chances, we just weren’t good enough to take them.”

A power outage at the broadcast compound cut the TV feed for at least 15 minutes on Saturday, and created another round of technology issues for the match officials.

On Day 1, the TV umpire wasn’t able to access ball-by-ball replays to review front-foot no-balls — and there were 12 that went uncalled in the first session.

On Days 2 and 3, the technology used to register “snicks” — light contact between bat and ball — wasn’t available in the Decision Review System, either.

Root said it had no real impact on the players on the field, but could understand if it was frustrating for fans. The five-match series moves to Adelaide, where a day-night test starts on Thursday.

 

Associated Press

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