With a two-wicket victory at Edgbaston, Australia prevailed on a nail-biting final day to deliver the Ashes 2023′ opening blow.
As the first match of the current ICC World Test Championship cycle came to a close, Pat Cummins played a memorable captain’s knock to lead his team to a storied triumph in the dusk of Birmingham.
When Cummins entered the fray, England appeared to be the favorites, but the captain added 18 runs with Alex Carey before participating crucially in the match-winning stand with Nathan Lyon as the first Ashes 2023 contest came down to the wire.
The winning runs were scored by Cummins, who finished on 44* and was embraced by the unbeaten Lyon (16*).
Rain shortened the day’s play by washing out the entire first session. Australia resumed on 107/3 and all outcomes were still conceivable when play finally began on an overcast afternoon.
Usman Khawaja and Scott Boland made England struggle to make an early breakthrough when they needed 174 to win before Stuart Broad persuaded the nightwatchman to give him the edge. Boland’s test score of 20 was his best result to date.
With the help of Travis Head, Australia managed to pass some short-pitched bowling.
However, Joe Root took a crisp catch at first slip after Moeen Ali, who had been having finger pain all day, bowled a fantastic delivery to tie Head up in knots.
At tea, the tourists were in a good position with five wickets down. However, there was some optimism for England when Cameron Green’s 66-ball stand came to an end when he sliced an Ollie Robinson pitch onto his stumps to leave for 28.
And in the same way, Khawaja’s resolute 65 off 197 balls came to an end when he was out by a slower ball bowled by England captain Stokes.
With Australia still needing 54 runs to win, England chose to wait before taking the new ball, and the move paid off handsomely when part-time spinner Joe Root clung to a crisp caught and bowled opportunity (his third such challenging opportunity). Alex Carey was then dismissed for 20.
As England made every effort to secure the final wickets they required, tension was at an all-time high. However, Cummins and Lyon maintained their composure to secure a renowned victory.
With four Tests left, the victory gives Australia a 1-0 series lead. The second Test will begin at Lord’s on the following Wednesday.
And the outcome is the first of the new World Test Championship cycle, with defending champions Australia scoring at the very first opportunity.