Australia collected a 251-run victory – and vital 1-0 series lead – over England before the tea interval on day five of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Monday.
Resuming on 13 without loss, and with the challenge of a 398-run target, England slipped to 146 all out. Spinner Nathan Lyon was the chief benefactor on a pitch primed for plenty of turn, while seamer Pat Cummins offset relatively low bounce with sharp pace.
Opener Jason Roy and captain Joe Root stifled the Australians’ threat briefly. Roy’s rash shot selection and a severe lack of staying power from England’s middle order, though, effectively turned the contest.
Middle-order quartet Joe Denly, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali shared a mere 22 runs. Stokes’ exit yielded Lyon’s 350th Test wicket amid characteristic jubilation from the tourists. Ali, meanwhile, perished to Lyon for a notable ninth time in Test-match cricket.
Lyon became the country’s fourth bowler – and first off-spinner – to take 350 in the longest format of the international game. Leg-spinner Shane Warne and seamers Glenn McGrath and Dennis Lillee took 708, 563 and 355, respectively.
An innings haul of 6-49 marked Lyon’s best against England, surpassing the 5-50 collected at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2013. A match tally of nine wickets, including three in the first innings, is also Lyon’s most against England. He had previously managed seven at Chester-le-Street six years ago.
The 2019 Ashes series opener will largely be remembered for twin centuries from former Australian captain Steven Smith. The Test was Smith’s first in almost a year, after the completion of a suspension for ball-tampering. The talented right-hander struck 144 and 142 and became the first cricketer since countryman Matthew Hayden to score two tons in an Ashes Test since 2002.
Lord’s in London will host the second Test, which will get under way on 14 August. Tests three, four and five will be played at Headingley in Leeds, Old Trafford in Manchester and The Oval in London, respectively.
England will likely replace the injured James Anderson with fast bowler Jofra Archer for the second Test, while Australia will be tempted to remain unchanged despite the availability of fast bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.
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