Australia roar back to level Ashes as England suffers humiliating defeat

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2015-7-20 23:08:03

The Ashes are now a contest, after ­Australia smashed England by 405 runs in the second Test Sunday. After losing the first Test, Australia came into this match with a vengeance and the result was nothing short of a slaughter. Now England will be feeling what the Australians must have after the first Test.

Frankly, some of the English ­cricketers would not be blamed for quaking a bit in their shoes as they anticipate the rest of the series. The last Ashes ­series ended with a 5-0 whitewash in Australia in 2014 with fast bowler ­Mitchell Johnson the spearhead of an ­intimidating bowling unit that dominated the English batsmen. After a ­below-par first Test in this series, Johnson picked up six wickets in the second one and looks to be back to his previous best. Johnson is backed up by Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, who both seem to be in frightening form as well.

The first Test saw England win in Cardiff by 169 runs. Most observers did not expect England to match up with the Australians, much less beat them, but the quality of the win swayed a few ­observers into thinking that England could win the series.

However, the pitch at Cardiff had been prepared to impede Australia's formidable bowlers, being extremely dry so that Johnson and company ­labored without much success as England ­batted first. At Lord's, the Aussies batted first and it was the turn of the English bowlers to be frustrated as they picked up only one wicket on the first day. The pitches at the other grounds will also not be as favorable to England as the Cardiff one, so they should forget about relying on slow pitches.

England face serious questions about being able to handle the fast bowling from Johnson and company. Just as Australia made two big changes after the first Test, replacing Shane Watson and veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin for debutants Mitchell Marsh and Peter Nevill, England may have to do something similar. A few of their batsmen looked worrying in the second Test, in particular opener Adam Lyth, Ian Bell and Gary Ballance who have not been prolific in their last several Tests. The problem is there are not many English options in terms of alternative players.

But just as Australia were able to turn it around, so can England. Perhaps overconfidence had something to do with coming into the second Test but England will certainly not have that issue for the next Test.

The author is a Beijing-based freelance writer.

Posted in: Extra Time

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