The first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge was closer than many people expected. Before the series began, everyone felt that England would roll over the Aussies without much trouble considering that many pundits opined this to be the weakest Aussie squad to take part in the Ashes in decades. In this context, Australia should not be too upset about their defeat since they ran the much stronger English outfit rather close. Had a couple of close calls gone their way, and with better application, the Aussies could even had clinched the opening Test.
A loss is a loss no doubt, but Australia would do well to look at the positives they got out of the defeat at Nottingham. Their bowling in the first innings was top class, which took England by surprise and put them on the back foot very early on. Peter Siddle was brilliant on the opening day, and set up the Test nicely for his side. It is a pity that the others could not capitalise on the excellent start Siddle gave Australia. James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc also gave great support to Siddle in their first innings, and it was their combined effort that put England on the mat.
While batting, Australia were in all sorts of strife in their first innings, but discovered a sensational new hero in Ashton Agar, who broke all number eleven records with his smashing knock. Of course, Agar must not get carried away with his massive initial success. He must remember the fact that he is primarily in the team for his bowling. Agar did not have to do much in the first innings with the ball, and was reasonable in the second essay, also chipping in with a couple of wickets. But, he must be on guard since he has replaced a senior spinner like Nathan Lyon and hence should keep improving.
Agar’s knock must be viewed as a feel good factor in the Aussie camp as must the success of some other batsmen. Phillip Hughes demonstrated plenty of gusto, batting out for nearly four hours in the first innings even as wicket kept falling around him. The transition from the top to the lower order wouldn’t have been easy for Jacques, but through his performance he showed that he is ready to take on the challenge. Half centuries by Steven Smith and Chris Rogers in the match were also handy, but they need to carry on to bigger scores. They can take a leaf out of Brad Haddin’s book.
The main cause for worry in the Aussie line up is the lack of experience in both the departments, which is why they would need their seniors to be extra good. This means long vigils by Michael Clarke and Shane Watson. If they can come to the party, Australia will do significantly better. A bit more consistency from the likes of Starc and Pattinson would also help. In spite of the loss at Trent Bridge, all is not lost for Australia. What they need to do is pick up the pieces and put them in order.
--By A Cricket Analyst