As an Australian, it’s anticipated of me to predict a complete sweep of all Ashes series by Australia, which I indeed did this year too, assuming all matches would be closely fought. The nerve-wracking first Test victory at Edgbaston perfectly aligns with this prediction.
Regardless of my Australian allegiance, I appreciate England’s fearless and assertive gameplay, a trait I admire in all athletes.
In the last match at Birmingham, however, England may have slightly overstepped their aggression. Had they managed to seize a couple of wickets after their early declaration, their audacity would have been vindicated. Confidence is good, but it can easily transform into overconfidence.
The fascinating aspect of the Edgbaston match was the tactical play by both sides. Australia’s approach, while unfamiliar, proved fruitful in response to England’s strategies and the uncharacteristically flat pitch.
In my playing days, I was not particularly fond of defensive fielding setups. Yet, Australia’s plan was a reaction to England’s tactics, and their victory justified it.
Now, can Australia maintain this defensive plan throughout the series? It largely hinges on the conditions. England finds themselves in a conundrum where their batsmen prefer flat pitches for aggressive play, while their bowlers need more supportive conditions.
Increased pressure will be on England’s side as they step onto Lord’s, a loss here might remove any chances of their comeback in the series. This situation has led to England’s Ollie Robinson and Zak Crawley making confident statements in the media. This tactic is perfectly fine, provided you deliver on your predictions.
Australia’s current position in the series sets them up well to win the Ashes in England for the first time since 2001, a feat even captains like Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke couldn’t achieve.
Cummins’ exceptional performance in Edgbaston, both as a bowler and a lower-order batsman, made a crucial contribution to Australia’s win. It also set a perfect example of how a captain should lead.
Another notable performer at Edgbaston was Nathan Lyon, who is set to become the first bowler to play 100 consecutive Tests, an impressive testament to his dedication and impact.
Lyon is also the custodian of the team song, “Under The Southern Cross I Stand”, a tradition I greatly miss from my playing days.
For the upcoming match at Lord’s, Australia might rethink their team composition, especially considering the conditions that proved challenging for Scott Boland at Edgbaston. With England bringing in Josh Tongue in an all-pace attack, Australia might also consider including Mitchell Starc.
The last Ashes series recovery from a deficit was in 2005, a series I vividly remember. Had we won the closely fought second Test at Edgbaston, we would have secured the series.
Likewise, if Australia emerges victorious at Lord’s, it’s safe to say the Ashes are in the bag.
Glenn McGrath’s insights were gathered by BBC’s chief cricket writer, Stephan Shemilt.
Check out the Ashes: Glenn McGrath’s reflection on his 2005 injury at Edgbaston.