Although England are 2-0 up in The Ashes, there have been many occasions during the series when the hosts have been under the pump. However, unlike Australia who have allowed the Englishmen to get away numerous times, Alastair Cook’s men have fought back from tough situations and have reversed the pressure on the Aussies. This is has been the main difference between the two teams over the last two Tests, and the key reason why it seems like the current Ashes is all but over. Australia’s domination definitely looks like a thing of the past.
Right from day one at Lord’s, England displayed their affinity to recover from tense situations. The hosts had lost their top three inside the first six overs on the opening day. However, instead of wilting under pressure they came back strongly courtesy the sedate partnership between Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott. Under the circumstances, Bell’s century was precious even as Trott’s half-century gave them a platform to recover. Under pressure, Jonny Bairstow also came up with an impressive half-century, which ensured England recovered well enough after the early disaster. Australia fought back well late in the day, but England weren’t done yet.
Australia would have been hoping to clean up the England tail early on the second day, but Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann added some highly useful runs down the order. Apart from the fact that England’s last pair combined to gather some crucial runs, their alliance also psychologically impacted the Aussies. Their batsmen would have been waiting for their turn to bat, but that just kept getting delayed as Broad and Swann carried on their partnership for longer. The additional runs that the last two England batsmen added only multiplied Australia’s woes in the end.
Although England put up a competitive score in the first innings, it was their exceptional first-innings bowling that won them the Test. While everyone from the England bowling line-up was among the wickets, Swann’s performance was extra-special. He exposed the weaknesses in the Aussie batting, picking up five wickets in quick succession as Australia’s challenge petered out pretty soon. Even as Swann was excellent, the other bowlers also chipped in very well. Bresnan supported him by picking key wickets to maintain the pressure on the Aussies. Anderson and Broad picked up a wicket each, but crucially did not allow the runs to flow.
By the time England batted a second time round, they were clearly in the driver’s seat. Still, they needed to post a big score to be on the safer side. As always, Australia showed some mettle at the top, grabbing a few quick wickets. Joe Root, however, came up with a marathon innings to sink the Aussies. Root has showed he possessed the qualities to play the long knocks, but at Lord’s he delivered to capability. Root’s innings put Australia out of the game, and he also showed his all-round prowess by taking out Australia’s set batsman in the second innings. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Joe’s brilliance ‘root’ed out Michael Clarke’s men.
--By A Cricket Analyst