Ashes 2015: Trevor Bayliss warns England to be wary of wounded Aussies after fairytale start

'They will be hurting,' says England coach

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The Independent Online

In looking to a potentially glorious future, England may care to glance briefly back at the past. The exhilarating victory in Cardiff which has given them an improbable lead in the Ashes series should not for a moment be underestimated.

The time it takes for a Mitchell Johnson bouncer to be propelled from one end to the other even on a slow pitch (sorry, Mitch) is quite enough to examine all the caveats. It was as complete a performance of the Test cricketing arts as England have demonstrated in years, perhaps since their win at Adelaide in 2010 and it deserves comparison with the collective team display which persisted throughout the epic 2005 summer.

The encouragement to be gleaned (when only two months ago most members of the sporting fraternity were seriously considering turning to needlepoint to avoid the car crash of another drubbing by Australia) is obvious. In the first Investec Test of five, England were better at batting, bowling and fielding.

As a result they lead 1-0, having bowled out their opponents in their second innings for 242 on the fourth day to secure victory by 169 runs. England are a team rejuvenated and transformed. It feels like a fairytale; ugly ducklings becoming swans.

But hold hard here. Australia began as huge favourites for a reason. They are the No 2 Test side in the world and fancy themselves as No 1; they beat England 5-0 last time out and have a genuinely daunting bowling attack which will not continue to be neutered, possibly starting with the second Test at Lord’s on Thursday.

“They will be hurting,” said England’s coach, Trevor Bayliss. “They don’t like losing. Any international cricketer doesn’t.” Bayliss, being an Australian himself, should know exactly how they feel.

“They have a proud record and losing will mean they come out in the next game trying to prove a point and trying to make up for their performance in this match. There were enough of their batters who got starts to show they are not far off making some big scores. We are going to have to be on our game to win more matches from now.”

Australia have won an Ashes series in England on 15 occasions, four of them consecutively between 1989 and 2001. Three times they have come from behind after losing the first Test – in 1909, 1930 and 1997. Jack Hobbs played for England in the first two of those victories, though even he was not around for the third.

These are important precedents and although England may counter that they have gone on to clinch the Ashes eight times after winning the opening match, that does not diminish the tourists’ threat. In 1909, they won the next two and stayed ahead; the 1930 trip was the first coming of Don Bradman.

Perhaps the closest comparison is the most recent. In 1997, Australia arrived as hot favourites with a squad containing two or three of the best players in the world. Underprepared, they lost the first Test after being bowled out for 118 in their first innings. That was as far as it went for England, perpetually under the cosh in the next four matches.

With only four days between matches (and it would have been three but for the rapid rate of progress in Cardiff), Australia have to act quickly. They seem prepared to change the team and they simply have to come to terms with the conditions on offer.

Any fool knows that Sophia Gardens tends to throw up slow old seamers, where both batsmen and bowlers have to be prepared to work diligently to garner full reward. But Australia seemed to be surprised by what was on offer and were off the pace for most of the match. If they bring in new men so early in the piece, it will show that they must have been in two minds in the first place, never a good sign.

The most vulnerable player is Shane Watson, lbw in both innings and an all-rounder who never seems enthused by the bowling element of the job. Not far behind him is the wicketkeeper, Brad  Haddin, who appears to have had the spring removed from his heels.

Darren Lehmann, Australia’s coach, said: “We’ll certainly look at the wicket and work out the best XI to win in those conditions and if it means making changes, we’ll make changes. That won’t be an issue for the selection panel. It’s going to be a  tight call heading into the second Test.”

He offered a veiled suggestion that Watson might have to make way for Mitchell Marsh, more than 10 years Watson’s junior. “At the end of the day you don’t want to be getting out lbw all the time and you want to make more runs,” Lehmann said. “Shane would be disappointed, so are we.

“It’s one of those things where you have to find a way and that’s something we probably didn’t do as a batting group, not just Shane. We can’t control what just happened, what we can do is learn from it and make the right decisions going forward – that is selection and also the way we play.”

Australia also have a concern over the left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc, who bowled latterly at Cardiff with a sore right ankle which  forced him to limp at the end of his follow-through. Although the medics are optimistic, Lehmann insisted he would have to be 100 per cent fit.

Lehmann and Australia’s captain, Michael Clarke, must shoulder some of the blame for the team’s faulty strategy. Perhaps, if only perhaps, overestimating their strengths, they were determined to display their attacking credentials, particularly with the bat, and it brought them only trouble.

They came to despatch England spinner Moeen Ali into the River Taff and although he took some punishment, he also took big wickets in both innings. Australia have to be much more rigorous in calculating the rate of exchange.

Set 412 to win over two days, Australia survived precariously but stalwartly in the morning and then subsided in the afternoon when England’s bowlers earned their proper reward for earlier efforts. Joe Root with 194 runs and two wickets was man of the match and took the winning catch. He enshrines this new England. There is work still to do.


The captains

By common consent, Michael Clarke is among the world’s most astute captains, with a rare tactical instinct. Yet for almost the whole match, Alastair Cook, who has been constantly maligned, outshone him. Cook’s field placings were purposeful and his men, not least Cook himself, responded. His bowling changes were also based on a definite policy.

The wicketkeepers

In the engine room of every team in the field lies the wicketkeeper. Jos Buttler showed what he was, a 24-year-old firecracker with verve and athleticism – without being the finished article. And Brad Haddin showed what he was, a 37-year-old veteran with his best days gone. Haddin is ferocious competitor but he looked spent and dropped the most important chance of the match to reprieve Joe Root.

The bowlers

Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad were exemplary, as incisive as they have ever been, using their extensive knowledge of pitch and the Dukes ball to precision. By comparison, Australia’s speed merchants posed only intermittent threat and while there is much more to come from that direction, England have sent out an early warning that they will not be easily dominated this time.

The batsmen

It is true that England got lucky. Had Root been out on nought in the first innings, as he should have been, today’s pieces might have been very different. But that is the game and all in all England, batting properly all the way to eight, were intelligent and practical. Ian Bell’s return to form is probably significant and Moeen Ali is a luxury at eight. Australia need a long hard look at themselves.

The reaction

England now have to be prepared for a huge response by their opponents, who will be smarting, angry and embarrassed. They will ramp up the intensity and the sledging, and England must keep their nerve if the pitch has any carry. Caution has to be combined with audacity.