The 2015 Ashes series swung England’s way in the Third test at Edgbaston following an emphatic 8 wicket victory in under three days.
Australia’s kryptonite over the past decade has been the swinging ball and so it proved again at a venue fast becoming a graveyard for the Baggy Greens.
Jimmy Anderson destroyed Australia on the first morning, who crashed to 136 all out in just 36.4 overs. It was almost as if the teams swapped uniforms again this test. While Anderson bowled well to finish up with 6/47, a lot of his wickets were due to particularly poor batting, in particular from Steve Smith, Adam Voges and Mitchell Marsh.
The test was all but over, with England right on top from there.
Every time Australia looked to be getting back in the game England pulled out a good partnership, such as the 87 run stand between Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali to take the first innings lead to al most 150, or a big wicket, such as Phil Nevill in the 2nd innings just as Nevill and Mitchell Starc were building what could have been an uncomfortable lead to chase.
Pivotal moments – England, and Anderson in particular, thrive off the back of early wickets and the shot of confidence this brings, particularly in home swing-friendly conditions. In his second over he trapped David Warner in front. Warner sensing this, made what looked like a desperate review which was overruled. What happened after that is documented above. Contrast this to the start the Australians got off to at Lords and you see just how pivotal this moment was.
This confidence shifted to Steve Finn, who looked a completely different bowler to what we have seen in the past. His delivery to bowl Michael Clarke in the first innings displayed his class, although a top order batsman in form should have been able to keep it out. More on Clarke later.
The injury to Anderson in the 2nd innings might be a turning point in the series. If Mark Wood comes back in, Australia will go into the last two tests with confidence they can see out the openers and cash in after that, which is exactly what they should have done on the first morning at Edgbaston.
1. The selection of Peter Nevill – proved to be the right selection. Nevill’s second innings was full of grit and fight that was sadly lacking from most of the other batsman and his keeping was again top notch. There is talk of team disharmony over the sacking of Brad Haddin but this is the right selection for the long-term future.
2. Clarke’s future – Aussie skipper Michael Clarke looks like he is done. His footwork has gone and he looks to have lost the will to fight with the bat. Clarke has carried a great burden in the past 12 months with injury, the World Cup and the loss of his mate Phillip Hughes. This may have taken too much of a toll and we may be seeing the last of this fine batsman and captain.
3. Bell back in form – Ian Bell’s move back up to No. 3 worked a treat for England. He scored twin half-centuries and looked to be back to his old self, ominously for Australia.
What will Australia do now – go away and lick their wounds, teach the batsman some resilience, fight and how to play swing bowling. Show them how Chris Rogers went about his first innings and Nevill his second innings.
The bowlers need to bowl a consistent line and not give away an easy boundary every over or two.
Voges has run out of chances and must be replaced by Shaun Marsh. Mitchell Marsh didn’t do himself any favours in this match, while Peter Siddle must come under consideration.
What England do now – work out how they replace Anderson and how to gain consistency in their play. They are in the box seat now to win the series.
Only one team in Ashes history has come from 2-1 or worse down to win a series, the 1936/37 Australians.
They had a fair batsman at No. 3 though.