England lost the first Ashes
England captain : ‘It shows we’re able to stand up to Australia’
Pat Cummins : ‘We now have belief we can win from anywhere’
Ben Stokes declared himself “devastated” and proud after England lost the first Ashes Test by two wickets at the end of a thrilling final day of wildly careering fortunes that captivated a near sell-out Edgbaston crowd.
“We are not a results-driven team, but we are absolutely devastated,” Stokes said. “The lads are in pieces up there”. But if that’s not attracting people to the game we love, then I don’t know what will. In terms of what we put into this week, taking the game on from ball one, it would have been easy to play it a bit safer but we did not do that, not one individual. “That’s something I’m very proud of.”
Though England were within sight of victory before Pat Cummins, the Australia captain, and Nathan Lyon put together an unbeaten partnership of 55 to change the course of the game, Stokes insisted that defeat was “not a psychological blow at all”.
“If you look at the way we’ve played over the last five days, compared with other recent Ashes series, it shows we’re able to stand up to Australia in the way we want to play,” he said. “There were so many questions coming into the series around whether we would be able to implement this style of play against that team, not just with the bat but with the ball against some unbelievable batsmen”. I think we’ve proved that we can.
“Losing sucks”. Any game you play in sport, you always want to be the winner. But not putting the result at the top of everything that we think about actually really helps us play free-spirited cricket. “When I think what it’s done for the series and the game, it’s hard to be too disappointed.”
Stokes described himself as “flying on caffeine” durant a marathon final session to which he contributed seven overs and the wicket of Usman Khawaja, an apparently key moment which he barely celebrated. “I had to keep myself pretty level,” he said. “All the lads were saying: ‘Are you all right?’ I just found myself in a moment within the game where I knew it wasn’t done.”
The England captain was involved in another potentially match-changing moment when he had a chance to dismiss Nathan Lyon with Australia still 36 runs from their target, but he dropped a difficult catch – a moment that reminded him of Lyon’s fumbled run‑out chance when England won a thriller at Headingley four years ago.
Cummins, echoing the words of Khawaja
“If I’d taken that catch we could have got Josh Hazlewood out first ball, or they could still have knocked the runs off, you never know,” he said. “You think back to Headingley, with Gaz [Lyon] dropping the ball. I drop that catch and he’s still out there at the end. It’s mad how things go round.”
Cummins, echoing the words of Khawaja – who was named man of the match – at the end of the game, declared it “the No 1 Test I’ve ever played in”. It was also Australia’s highest successful run chase in England since Don Bradman powered them to a then-record 404 at Headingley in 1948.
“I think it’s huge in [giving us] that belief to be able to win from anywhere, having that belief that anyone’s a match-winner,” Cummins said. “When you’re in the back yard playing as a kid, these are the moments you wish to be in – going out there and doing it in the middle of an Ashes series.”
Much has been made of the teams’ contrasting approach to the game, but Cummins said the game was all the better for them. “Both teams spoke about playing their own styles before the game and it is just one of the beauties of this series, that we have contrasting styles”. We both played to our strengths and you don’t know what style is necessarily better – but it makes for good entertainment.”
The former Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes England will be left questioning leur “Bazball” approach après defeat. “The interesting thing coming out of it for me is going to be which team has got the most questions to answer, and I think England do”. By no means am I saying England’s methods are wrong. I’ve loved watching them play. “This is a long game, and Australia’s method has stood up and worked.”
The first Test of the Ashes 2023 at Edgbaston in Birmingham turned out to be a nail-biting thriller, with the game going down to the final hour of Day 5 and Australia emerging victorious in the contest by a narrow margin of two wickets. The game kept the cricket enthusiasts on the edge of their seats throughout the five days and reached its conclusion in a classic manner despite rain playing spoilsport in the first half of the last day.
The stage was set on Day 1 itself, with England opting to bat first, winning the toss, and declaring their innings on a total of 393/8. Although the batting approach of the English side was questioned by many, they successfully restricted Australia seven runs behind their first innings total, i.e. on 386. However, England failed to set a big total and ended up giving Australia a target of 282 runs in their second innings.
In reply, Australia started well initially and looked good until England bowlers made a comeback and handed over a few quick setbacks to them. The sensational bowling display by the hosts at one point shifted the momentum completely in leur favour as they sent eight Aussie batters back to the pavilion with Australia still requiring over 55 more runs to win. Nevertheless, Australian skipper Pat Cummins (44), alongside Nathan Lyon (16), showed great grit and determination to take their team across the finish line and pull off a famous win. On the other hand, England’s effort went in vain, and they were left disheartened.
The loss once again raised questions on England’s baseball tactic, and their early declaration in the first innings was blamed for losing the Test. In the meantime, English captain Ben Stokes opened up about the defeat and expressed his views regarding the same.
Speaking about the loss at the post-match press conference, the skipper confessed that he and his team are absolutely devastated by the defeat. But he reckoned that he’s happy with the way they played and that the side would carry the same approach in the coming games
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