We very nearly witnessed a two-day Test at Trent Bridge. Had bad light not intervened towards the end of day’s play, England could very well have gone for the last three wickets.
But Australia’s agony was delayed ahead of the inevitable passing of the Ashes to their rivals.
England have sparked a remarkable turnaround after going down in the Lord’s Test by 405 runs, a result which seemed like the end of the world for Alastair Cook’s team. The batting looked brittle and the pace bowling not potent enough. Times were desperate and England were cornered.
The one good thing about getting cornered is that you are forced to react and that too with purpose.
Half measures are thrown out of the window and that is one of the main reasons England find themselves in a commanding position in the Ashes.
They first got the most important factor going in their favour – the pitch.
After the Lord’s Test, it became clear Australia cannot be defeated on a flat surface as only their pace bowling can succeed on such a surface. But add a little spice to the wicket and then both teams are playing on the same level.
At Edgbaston, England bowlers, led by swing king James Anderson, ripped the heart out of Michael Clarke’s team by knocking the visitors out for 130.
They were themselves in a spot of bother in their first innings but once they got a lead, England didn’t look back.
The fourth Test has been even more incredible as despite Anderson’s absence, England have smashed the Aussies to pulp with Stuart Broad the wrecker in chief.
But it must be stated that even though England have been very good, Australia have been terrible.
To lose a Test in three days and almost lose another inside two is just not acceptable. Mitchell Johnson seems to have forgotten how to swing the ball and Josh Hazlewood has failed to either force the issue or even stem the flow of runs.
Australia’s batsmen have been poor, there is no doubt about it, but for their quicks to concede almost 400 on that Nottingham wicket is criminal.
Australia’s ineptitude has all-owed Cook to gain confidence. He looked fairly solid in the first inn-ings of the fourth Test, scoring 43, and though he dropped a chance at slip off David Warner, has looked in control of his emotions and his team on the field.
A big difference between the two sides that has emerged over the four Tests is that England have rallied behind their captain in unison.
Clarke, however, doesn’t seem to enjoy the unflinching support from all quarters and there seem to be quite a few individuals in Australian cricket just waiting for Steven Smith to take over the captaincy.
What England have done is keep it simple. In the last two Tests, they got a chance to bowl first on ‘seaming’ tracks and took the maximum possible advantage.
Their batsmen then put the team in a commanding situation.
They still have a few issues to fix in the batting department but England have done everything they have been asked to with clinical precision.
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