Saturday 21 April 2018

Anderson-inspired England edge gripping first Ashes Test

James Anderson celebrates after bowling Peter Siddle
James Anderson celebrates after bowling Peter Siddle

David Clough

James Anderson secured victory for England by 14 runs in the first Investec Ashes Test in a gripping encounter against Australia at Trent Bridge.

Tireless Anderson (five for 73) bowled 13 successive overs on an agonising final morning, his burst of three wickets for six runs helping to give him 10 in the match.

But in the end it needed yet another DRS referral, in this epic contest dominated by them, to ensure England's pace lynchpin ended the late heroics of Brad Haddin (71) in a 10th-wicket stand of 65 with James Pattinson as Australia were bowled out for 296 just after lunch.

There were unmistakeable echoes of Edgbaston 2005 - when England famously prevailed by just two runs in similar circumstances - by the time Anderson had Haddin caught behind off an inside edge after Aleem Dar had initially given the Australia wicketkeeper not out.

Anderson's accomplice this morning, after almost an hour had elapsed with no joy - and plenty of concern for any Englishmen in a sold-out crowd - was Alastair Cook, with three catches at first slip.

It was only right that captain should properly reward his pace lynchpin, after asking near superhuman efforts of him from the Radcliffe Road end.

It was with the third ball of his eighth over that Anderson struck for the first time today when he had Ashton Agar flashing the first catch to slip, to end a stubborn and increasingly threatening seventh-wicket stand of 43 with Haddin.

Then, in a second consecutive wicket maiden, Mitchell Starc went for only a single when Cook again provided the safe hands for a similar dismissal off another expansive outside-edge.

Cook needed two opportunities to see off Peter Siddle the same way, dropping the Australia number 10 on 10 but taking an even better catch diving two-handed away to his right to put England within one wicket of their 1-0 lead in this Investec series.

That, however, was a mere preface of what was to follow when Pattinson joined Haddin with a highly-improbable 80 runs still needed and England by contrast banking on just one more mistake from the last pair. Instead, it was home errors which kept the tension climbing into the afternoon, as Haddin's wicket might twice have ended the match in England's favour before lunch.

First, a Jonny Bairstow direct hit from cover would have run the Australian wicketkeeper out for 61, with 39 runs still needed; then three runs later Steven Finn, whose two overs cost 24 today, was unable to hold a tough diving chance on the deep square-leg boundary from a Haddin sweep at Graeme Swann.

Survival had been the only obvious intent from Agar and Haddin, when play began on an initially cloudy morning which required the use of floodlights. They duly came through more than half-an-hour against the old ball, before England decided - two overs after it was available - it was time to take the new one.

The tourists had mustered only 17 runs in 11 overs to add to their overnight score, and England were still strong favourites.

But as the skies brightened, Haddin judged the hardness of the ball could work to his advantage as well as England's on a slow, worn pitch.

Cook deployed Anderson in unaccustomed mode with wicketkeeper Matt Prior standing up.

The seamer still had enough energy to continue with the new ball but had Haddin coming at him by then - lofted shots over cover bringing him a two and then a boundary in the same over.

Even as partners seemed surely to be running out at the other end, when Anderson eventually had to have a breather, Haddin cashed in to pass a defiant 115-ball 50 with a rush of boundaries off Finn.

He kept the outcome of this remarkable match uncertain till the last.

When the end did come, it was in the most fitting if slightly awkward circumstances that Haddin had to go via DRS, after a series of contentious decisions - principally involving Dar and third umpire Marais Erasmus - underpinned so many of the thrills and spills here.

Alastair Cook heaped praise on "outstanding" James Anderson after the fast bowler guided England to a nailbiting 14-run win over Australia in the Investec Ashes Test against Australia at Trent Bridge.

Anderson showed admirable stamina as he bowled 13 successive overs on the final morning, his burst of three wickets for six runs helping to give him 10 in the match.

His final wicket was in keeping with a match littered with twists, turns and controversy, with a DRS referral needed before Brad Haddin (71) was ruled to have got a slight edge to Matt Prior behind the stumps.

"Australia fought incredibly hard and a lot of credit to them for the way those guys batted today, but we just hung in there incredibly well," Cook said at the post-match presentation.

"Jimmy was outstanding. He always wants one more over - I think 13 was probably quite a lot in that first hour!"

Asked if there was an over-reliance on Anderson, Cook said: "No, not at all. He's a world-class bowler and you sometimes use him in these situations when you know there's a timeframe. He had an amazing rhythm in this game.

"But [Stuart] Broad and [Steven] Finn have done outstandingly well for us over a huge amount of time, but it just happened to be Jimmy's day and Jimmy's game. Sometimes it happens like that."

Ian Bell's second-innings 109 also came in for praise from the skipper.

"It was a real innings of character, determination and skill," he said.

Press Association

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