Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Australia dominated arch-rivals England to take a 1-0 lead in the five-Test series
Victory probably never tasted sweeter for Australia as left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Johnson helped his side draw first blood in the Ashes series with a five-wicket haul, which gave the baggy greens a convincing 381-run win over arch-rivals England in Brisbane.
Johnson was well supported by the rest of Australia’s bowling attack as England were bowled out for a dismal 179 to give the Australians a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Starting out the day on 24/2, England captain Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen converted their 14-run partnership into a 62-run partnership before Pietersen threw his wicket away on 26 by hitting a delivery from Johnson straight to the substitute fielder at deep backward square leg.
Cook and Ian Bell kept the runs flowing with a solid 58-run partnership, during which Cook brought up his half-century before Bell was caught behind off the bowling of Peter Siddle for 32.
With Australia having removed two of England’s most dangerous batsmen, storm clouds started to amass overhead and it was only a matter of time before the heavens parted and the players were walking off the pitch.
After a delay of approximately 90 minutes, play got underway once again.
The rain delay worked in favour of Australia as Cook was caught behind for 65 off the bowling of Nathan Lyon almost immediately after the break.
Cook’s brilliant knock of 65 came off 195 balls and included three boundaries.
Lyon struck again in his next over as wicketkeeper Matt Prior hit the ball straight to David Warner at leg slip to be dismissed for just six runs.
Things went from bad to worse for England as Stuart Broad edged a delivery from Johnson straight to Brad Haddin behind the stumps.
Just two deliveries later, Johnson claimed his third wicket as Graeme Swann edged the ball to Steve Smith, who took a fantastic diving catch at third slip.
With Australia just two wickets away from victory, the rain came down again and the umpires had no choice but to send the players back into the pavilion.
After a 40-minute delay, the sun emerged and the players were back out on the field.
Australia once again benefited from the rain delay as Chris Tremlett hit the ball straight to George Bailey at short leg to give Ryan Harris his second wicket of the innings.
Australia started celebrating prematurely in the very next over as Lyon messed up a simple run out opportunity as he knocked the bails off with his elbow before collecting the ball in his hands.
However, Johnson made up for Lyon’s mistake as he dismissed James Anderson caught and bowled.
Johnson immediately started the celebrations as Australia finally gained their first taste of retribution after being thrashed 3-0 in the last Ashes series.
England’s 381-run loss the their arch-rivals is the sixth-heaviest defeat they have suffered, in terms of runs, in Test cricket history.
Johnson registered his eighth five-wicket haul, while Harris and Lyon snapped up two wickets apiece and Siddle chipped in with one wicket as well.
Cook was extremely disappointed with his team’s performance, especially in the batting department, and said: “It’s been a tough couple of days for us. We got ourselves intro a really good position, credit to how Haddin and Johnson played but we thought we had done well. Got off to a poor start with the bat and it ran away from us.
“Australia put us under pressure. Johnson bowled well, that’s something we need to work on ahead of Adelaide. We’ve played him well in the past and that’s something we’ll have to look to do in the next game.
“When you only bat for 50 overs, the bowlers need time to rest in these conditions; we didn’t do that and they suffered a bit. It’s going to hurt us but there are plenty of characters in this side and we are going to fight back.”
Australia captain Michael Clarke was over the moon at having taken a 1-0 lead in the series and praised Johnson for his outstanding performance with the ball.
“Fantastic start, there were some fantastic individual performances, Mitchell Johnson in particular,” he said. “The Brisbane crowd have been great, all the boys are grateful and I really hope this bodes well for the summer.
“England will come back, it’s only one Test but I’m really pleased. We didn’t start too well with the bat but credit to the boys for coming back. England have shown they are a quality team and we have to do it again in the next match.”