Aussies wrap up emphatic First Test victory

Australia completed an emphatic 277-run win in the opening Ashes Test after England's resistance crumbled in the first 21 overs of the final day at the Gabba.

Resuming 354 runs adrift on 293 for five, the tourists had hoped to build on the momentum gained from a 153-run fourth-wicket stand between Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen the previous day.

But Pietersen, who resumed eight runs short of his sixth Test century, was unable to add to his overnight score before falling to the fourth ball of the day as England slipped to 370 all out.

Australian seamer Brett Lee, charging in from the Stanley Street end, used the opening delivery as a loosener before taking the new ball and struck just three balls later to remove England's dangerman.

Attempting to clip the ball off his legs through mid-wicket, Pietersen failed to control the shot and hit the ball in the air for Damien Martyn to claim a catch at short mid-wicket.

His demise was a major blow to England's hopes of surviving until late afternoon, when thunderstorms were forecast to aid their hopes of emerging with an unlikely draw.

Wicketkeeper Geraint Jones also attempted to be positive and drove several boundaries during a 29-run stand with Ashley Giles which lifted England's morale after the early setback.

But after progressing to 33 in 48 balls, Jones played away from his body off the back foot and got an inside edge into his stumps off a Glenn McGrath delivery which kept a little low.

Giles also contributed a useful 23, to underline why England had preferred his superior batting ability to Monty Panesar, but fell to seamer Stuart Clark when he pushed forward and edged to Shane Warne at first slip.

Clark, possibly the Australian bowler must under threat for his place at next Friday's second Test at Adelaide because of their plans to recall Stuart MacGill and play two spinners, seemed intent on making life as difficult as possible for the selectors.

Having been man-of-the-series in South Africa earlier this year with 20 wickets in three Tests, Clark claimed his sixth wicket of the match six overs later when Matthew Hoggard fell in identical fashion by edging to Warne at slip.

He followed that by finishing off the innings two overs later when Steve Harmison holed out to McGrath in the deep after pulling Clark to finish with four for 72.

---

Andrew Flintoff is backing his beaten England side to rediscover the spirit of 2005 and bounce back from an opening Test defeat to mount a competitive Ashes challenge.

Just 14 months ago England responded to a crushing defeat by Australia at Lord's to rally magnificently and win the Ashes for the first time since 1986-7.

That same scenario faces the tourists once again after they slipped to a resounding 277-run defeat at the Gabba, slipping to 370 all out before lunch after resuming the final day 354 runs adrift on 293 for five.

It leaves England needing to recover quickly before the second Test starts at Adelaide on Friday, but captain Flintoff believes there is enough experience from 14 months ago to achieve that type of fightback.

"We're obviously disappointed we've gone 1-0 down, but there are some characters in that room and some really tough lads," claimed the Lancashire all-rounder.

"As disappointed as we are, we can't mope around and sit around thinking too much. We've got to learn from it, obviously, but there are four games to go.

"Some of us are in a position we've been in before - 1-0 down in an Ashes series with four to play - and we're going to take the positives that we can take out of this game going forward to Adelaide on Friday."

England's hopes of salvaging an unlikely draw were effectively ended after just four balls when Kevin Pietersen, who was unbeaten overnight on 92, clipped Brett Lee straight to Damien Martyn at short mid-wicket.

Geraint Jones also contributed 33, but with Stuart Clark claiming the last three wickets to claim a seven-wicket match haul, Australia's victory was never really in doubt.

"We're a young side, but we have been quick learners," said Flintoff.

"The lads do learn and adapt quickly, and between now and Adelaide we're going to have to.

"I thought the second-innings batting performance got better. Alastair Cook played well at the top of the order and the two lads in the middle scored runs. We'll have a chat and bounce ideas around but we're going to have to improve quickly and learn quickly."

Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who was named man of the match after scoring 196 in the first innings and an unbeaten 60 in the second, admitted the taste of victory was sweet after waiting 14 months for revenge.

"We've started this series very well," Ponting enthused. "From the first day right the way through the Test we've been in total control of the game and it's very satisfying.

"To have waited so long for this game to come around and train as hard as we have and get ourselves prepared, for it all to fall into place as it has been great."

Ponting, who expects the strained back he sustained during this match to improve sufficiently to allow him to play at Adelaide, added: "We've got to take a good look at what we've done well in this game and make sure we continue it during the series - you can't afford to take the foot off the accelerator whatsoever.

"It's a good opportunity for us all to sit back and think about the last series and think about the way we may have been thinking going into that second Test, and make sure we're better off this time around."

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