Ashes 2023, Day 1 Highlights, as it happened!

Ashes 2023
The Ashes Urn by danielgreef/Dan Source CC BY 2.0

England lost the first test of Ashes 2023 and everyone criticized the England side for Bazball. Most of them questioned England’s most successful playing style the Bazball and even said that a loss in this series could end the Bazball.

Therefore, England needed a good start on day 1 to conclude these discussions. England won the toss and chose to bowl first due to overcast conditions which was in favour of bowling and England wanted to take advantage of it. However, they were unable to capitalize on the advantage. Fielding was not up to the mark as there were dropped catches and no balls. Due to this, England could not build pressure and Australia got an excellent start. Warner played aggressively and Khwaja played a supporting role.

England got the first breakthrough when Australia’s score was 73 with the wicket of Usman Khawaja, and it was provided by Josh Tongue with that the lunch break was taken and soon after the break when play started there was a short interruption by rain, but play resumed quickly and immediately Josh Tongue provided the second breakthrough to England and the score was 96/2.

But, after two wickets Smith and Labuschagne steadied the innings which was also helped by many extras from England’s bowlers. During this time when Smith was batting on 32, he became the fastest to reach the 9000 runs milestone in terms of Test matches played (99), and second fastest in terms of innings taken (174), where Kumar Sangakkara kept his first place with 172 innings. The second session also belonged to Australia as they lost only 1 wicket and scored 117 runs. They ended the session with a score of 190/2.

Soon after the break, Robinson provided the much-needed 3rd wicket to England when Labuschagne got out for 47 and the score was 198/3, which also ended a 102-run partnership between Smith and Labuschagne. Then came Travis Head, and the pitch was not having any help for bowlers in the afternoon which started Australia’s dominance with a 118-run stand between Head and Smith from 18 overs at 6 RPO, where Head before getting out to Root after scoring blazing 77 off 73 balls as per his reputation and Smith also completed his 38th half-century and the score was 316/4. And, in the same over Joe Root took his second wicket when Green got out for a duck. This helped England bounce back into the game and the score was 316/5.

The first day saw Australia in a strong position, closing at 339/5 in 83 overs, with Alex Cary and Steve Smith batting. At the start of the day, it was expected from England to pick early wickets in the overcast conditions but the England bowlers wasted the advantage and to add to it both openers got dropped before the score reached 30, and then Steve Smith put up an amazing show of his talent and scored an unbeaten 85, 15 short of an eighth hundred in this country and 32nd overall. Warner also scored important 66 runs for Australia.

We could say it was not England’s day, but in reality, there was a lack of energy and strategy. Another highlight of the day was Jonny Bairstow carrying pitch invaders. The only positive thing for England was Joe Root picking up two wickets in an over in the final hour. This regained some hope among English fans.

Other highlights of the day were Josh Tongue on his Ashes debut picking the wicket of David Warner, and two 100+ partnerships for Australia.

Now, England needs to come back strong on the first session on day 2 to get back into the test. They are quite capable of doing it with their bowling side.

With the bowling line they have, England should come back with a plan on the second day to get out of Australia quickly. Otherwise, if Australia put up 450 or more, England would struggle to bounce back into the game.

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