The manner in which England capitulated at Lord’s, there would have been plenty of headaches for them as they headed into the Edgbaston Test. But, the case proved to be quite the opposite. They not only dominated the third Test, but also defeated the Aussies inside three days. England were given a massive advantage as Australia decided to bat first on a bowler-friendly surface. But, at the same time, it must be said that their bowlers made great use of the conditions, and completely bamboozled the visitors.
The England bowlers did not look in any sort of form at all at Lord’s. But, at Birmingham, aided by the conditions, they were firmly on top. James Anderson was ragged in the earlier matches. However, he bowled with vigour on the first morning of the third Test. And, it was his performance that put England in a highly commanding position from where they could not lose the Test. Unfortunately, Anderson got injured during the course of the match, and has been ruled out of the fourth Test. While it did not hurt England at Edgbaston, it is definitely a big blow for them as they prepare ahead.
While Anderson was brilliant, England’s biggest gain from the win in the third Test was the return to form of Steven Finn. The fast bowler has had an up and down time in recent international outings, and had to even been dropped. Starting with the World Cup, he had a few very poor outings. Against that backdrop, he was under immense pressure to deliver in the third Test. Australia have had the better of him in recent times, but Finn came up with a wonderful second-innings bowling effort to keep England on top.
England’s batting also showed signs on improvement in the third Test. Like Finn, Ian Bell was also under pressure to deliver. With Gary Ballance out of the side, Bell was back up to the number three position, which he is very fond of. Going into the Test with only a solitary fifty in the series, and possibly his place in the eleven on the line, Bell batted with resolve.. He got to a fluent fifty in the first innings, and although he played a poor shot to get out, Bell made amends, taking England to a win on day three.
More positives for England emerged in the form of another doughty knock from Moeen Ali, who is proving to be a good lower order bat apart from a useful off-spinner. Stuart Broad also featured in an improved batting show. The major issue for England now is the form of their openers Alastair Cook and Adam Lyth. The latter in particular has had a disappointing series, and England might be considering other options for the next Test. Cook, on the other hand, should be expected to improve, but England would be keen to get everything in order.
--By A Cricket Analyst