Paine and Australia keeping their eyes on the grand prize after landing first Ashes blow

Press Association Sport 22:02 05/08/2019
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A resounding victory for Australia in the first Ashes Test.

Tim Paine insists Australia will remain grounded despite ending England’s stranglehold at Edgbaston after the tourists drew first blood in the 2019 Ashes with a 251-run win.

Steve Smith became only the fifth Australian to record a century in both innings of an Ashes Test as Australia set England a fanciful 398 for victory before Nathan Lyon rose to the occasion on the final day.

Australia’s premier off-spinner exploited helpful conditions to take six for 49 while paceman Pat Cummins claimed the remaining wickets as England were skittled for 146 on day five.

England had won their last 11 matches in all formats at the Birmingham venue while Australia claimed their first triumph at Warwickshire’s ground since 2001 – the last time they won the urn on English soil.

Asked if this was a statement victory, Australia captain Paine responded: “You’ve got to keep a lid on it. There’s still four Tests to go and we aren’t here to win the first Test at Edgbaston – we’re here to win the Ashes.

“We’ve been really clear on that for some time. We’re obviously happy to win the first Test. It’s a huge step in the right direction, but we’re certainly not satisfied with that.

“Tonight will be quite a different feel to most Test wins we’ve had.

“We’re over here to do something that a lot of teams from Australia have struggled to do. And we realise that if we can do it it will be spoken about for a hell of a long time, and that’s what is driving us.

“To come to England in these conditions is difficult for us as it is for England to go to Australia. There’s a big five weeks ahead of us.”

Smith’s superb innings of 144 and 142 marked a stunning return to the Test format for the former Australia captain after an absence of more than a year following a suspension for his role in the ball-tampering scandal.

Paine added: “He’s the best player in the world in Test cricket at the moment. He’s probably the best ever statistically, and while he’s at the crease I think our team’s got real confidence.

“Whilst Steve’s scoring runs and Nathan’s taking wickets, we’re a pretty dangerous cricket team and as I think you saw, the rest of us will grow with confidence the better those guys are going.”

Paine was mindful of James Anderson’s absence for the majority of the Test. England’s record wicket-taker was restricted to only four overs before going down with a calf complaint on the first morning.

He would not bowl again in the Specsavers series opener, which Paine admitted played into Australia’s hands.

Paine added: “It’s a big win for us, but they lost their premier bowler so we’ve got to be realistic about it and that’s why it’s one Test win and there’s four more huge games for us to go.”

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Brendon McCullum to retire from all forms of cricket after Global T20 Canada stint

Sport360 staff 21:48 05/08/2019
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McCullum will hang up his playing boots soon.

Former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum has announced his intentions to retire from all forms of cricket following the completion of his ongoing stint in the Global T20 Canada.

The 37-year-old stalwart has had a storied international career with the Black Caps whom he led to the final of the 2015 World Cup. McCullum’s last international appearance for New Zealand came in February, 2016 and the right-hander has been plying his trade in various T20 franchise leagues around the world ever since.

The swashbuckling wicketkeeper-batsman went on to make 101 Tests, 260 ODI and 71 T20I appearances over the course of his 14-year international career.

The New Zealander is currently representing the Toronto Nationals in the ongoing Global T20 Canada and was set to take part in the inaugural Euro T20 Slam later this month before changing his mind.

“It is with pride and satisfaction that I am today announcing my retirement from all forms of cricket following the completion of the GT20 in Canada,” the Kiwi said in a statement on his social media.

“I now won’t be playing in the Euro T20 Slam and I thank the organisers for their support and understanding of my decision.

“As much as I am proud of what I’ve achieved in my 20-year professional career – more than I ever could have dreamed of when I first entered the game – I have felt the drive to keep going harder to maintain in recent months.”

McCullum had earlier announced his retirement from the Big Bash League at the start of the year and had stated his desire to transition into a coaching role.

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Root says England won't make any 'emotional decisions' following Edgbaston loss to Australia

Press Association Sport 21:06 05/08/2019
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A crushing loss for Root and England at Edgbaston.

Joe Root insists England will “not make too many emotional decisions” after they crashed to a 251-run defeat against Australia at Edgbaston to fall 1-0 down in the 2019 Ashes.

England needed to bat out the final day to escape with a draw but Nathan Lyon’s six for 49 hastened their demise, all out for 146 before tea as Australia drew first blood in the Specsavers series.

Lyon’s efforts threw Moeen Ali’s ineffective contribution into harsh light, with England’s premier off-spinner offering neither a consistent threat nor control on day four as Australia were allowed to rack up a mammoth total.

Moeen’s place in the XI has come under scrutiny, with Jack Leach tipped to replace the Worcestershire all-rounder in the second Test at Lord’s next week, but England captain Root was tight-lipped about the situation.

Root said: “With Mo, you’ve got to remember how threatening he can be and what an asset he has been to this team in the past. Whenever he’s been written off before he generally comes back stronger, especially in English conditions.

“He’ll be a bit disappointed about how Sunday went and how this game’s gone but I’m sure he’ll dust himself down and make sure he’s in a good head space going into Lord’s.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re very clear about we approach the next game and not make too many emotional decisions. We’ll sit down as a selection panel and pick a squad from there.”

Root also defended the decision to field James Anderson after England’s record wicket-taker was restricted to four overs on the opening morning before suffering an injury to the same right calf that left him doubtful to feature in Birmingham.

Moeen had a disappointing Test.

Moeen had a disappointing Test.

His absence seemed decisive as England’s bowling options were limited thereafter, while his prognosis for the rest of the series remains unclear.

Asked if he regretted selecting Anderson, Root replied: “No, not at all. He passed every medical testing. He was fit to play.

“It’s one of those freak scenarios where he pulled up – because it’s the same calf, we’re not sure whether it’s a slightly different injury, we’ll have to wait to see what the scans say.

“But it’s an easy thing to look back on and say we’d have done things differently. It was a unanimous decision for him to play.

“Jimmy in those conditions, if he bowls 15 overs, things could have been very different in the first innings in general, it’s a different game completely.”

With Anderson unlikely to feature at the Home of Cricket, Jofra Archer has been heavily linked to make his Test bow.

Archer, England’s leading wicket-taker at the World Cup, will look to prove his own fitness in a Sussex Second XI fixture this week.

Root added: “With Jofra, we’re in a slightly different situation where he’ll have played a lot of cricket in between and we’ll have a clearer idea of where he’s at.”

Steve Smith was once again England’s nemesis, becoming only the fifth Australian to compile hundreds in either innings of an Ashes Test, with the hosts – as they had been in the 2017-18 series Down Under – seemingly powerless to stop the batsman.

Root said: “He’s got to start again when he gets to Lord’s. We’ve got to make sure that we make it very difficult for him to get in. When we get our chance early on, we’ve got to take it.”

Despite falling 1-0 down for the first time in a home Ashes series since 2005, Root was not unduly concerned, pointing out there were similar lows during their triumphant World Cup campaign.

He added: “Three days of this game we’ve pretty much controlled and been in charge of, barring an hour and a half. It’s easy to forget all of the good stuff we’ve done with a bowler down.

“It’s been frustrating the way it’s turned out but we’ve got to see it for what it is.

“Seeing emotionally how things changed throughout the World Cup is probably a good example to the group. Look at where things seemed to be after that Sri Lanka game, and where we finished up.”

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