Skipper's blog

England storm into the lead in the Ashes

Australia's plans in disarray as injuries compound a heavy defeat for Australia.

When Joe Root took a steepling catch to dismiss Josh Hazlewood, the Swalec Stadium and a million living rooms around England erupted in joy. The much vaunted Australian team had been humbled. Even Mitchell Johnson's defiant 77 couldn't disguise the scale of this defeat nor the gulf in performance between the two teams.

With Ryan Harris out of the equation and Mitchell Starc's ankle unlikely to last the whole series, Mitchell Johnson remains Australia's main hope in dismissing England cheaply enough to square the series.

The 33 year old Queenslander's ferocious pace and aggression was nullified by a slow, feather-bed pitch in Cardiff and it would seem that England's groundsmen will play a crucial role throughout the summer in the hosts attempts to win back the Ashes.

What of England? Can they repeat this form at Lords? There is no reason to suggest they won't. Other than Root's first innings century England played efficient, positive but straightforward cricket. They stuck to their bowling plans and took their catches. They simply defended when they had to and attacked when they could.

Perhaps the most illuminating aspect of the First Test was Cook giving Clarke a masterclass in captaincy. Cook is a captain transformed. He has emerged from his cocoon of caution and has galvanised the team into a formidable cricketing force. If Australia don't improve and improve fast, by the end of the Lords Test the Ashes will be slipping from their grasp.

Can England win the Ashes?



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