The Ashes: Australia win First Test
PUBLISHED: 07:59 27 November 2017
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England's 10-wicket defeat in the first Ashes Test was confirmed in little more than an hour as Australia knocked off the 56 runs still needed on the final morning at the Gabba.
David Warner (87 not out) and Cameron Bancroft (82 not out) took their opening stand to an unbroken 173, eclipsing the target England were able to set with more than two sessions to spare.
A decidedly one-sided outcome here was not an entirely true reflection of an opening contest which ebbed and flowed through the first two-and-a-half days.
Since then, however, Australia have been on an uncompromising victory surge thanks largely to their captain Steve Smith’s epic 141 not out as he near single-handedly hauled them into a first-innings lead of 26 runs.
Joe Root was unable to follow his opposite number’s example, falling to the very next ball after reaching a sterling half-century on the fourth morning in an England second innings which fell short of requirements.
The tourists were two down before they even managed to wipe out the minor arrears and although Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow also both hinted at some lasting resistance, no one was able to even approach a contribution to match Smith’s.
Australia were therefore left with a task which appeared from the outset almost certainly well within their reach, all the more so when their openers reached 114 without loss at stumps on the penultimate evening, each with an individual half-century under his belt.
England therefore returned with no realistic ambition of avoiding a 1-0 deficit at a ground where they have not won a Test since 1986/87.
There was still the possibility of a minor morale boost if they were able to nip out a late wicket or two.
It was not to be, though, as the combative Warner finished just short of following his captain to a 21st Test century.
Debutant Bancroft, meanwhile, kept his mind efficiently on the job too after making only five in his first Test innings, since when reports have surfaced that England have questioned their wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow about an alleged incident in which he ‘headbutted’ Bancroft at the very start of their tour in a Perth bar four weeks ago.
On the pitch, England have not managed to land a significant blow of any kind – physical or metaphorical – since Smith shut them out on Saturday.