5 things we learned from the first Ashes Test

Where do England go from here?

By Press Association Published: 6 August 2019 - 1.40pm


Cricket Features

England crashed to a 251-run defeat in the first Specsavers Test against Australia.

Here, PA looks at some of the key things the home side can take away from the opening game of the series.

Smith is the key

It seems obvious after events at Edgbaston, where Steve Smith settled the game in his side’s favour with impeccable centuries in each innings, but it was not a certainty beforehand. After all, the former Australia captain had not played a Test match in the 16 months since the ball-tampering scandal and was not at his dominant best during the World Cup. The 30-year-old is now set up as one of the central figures of the series and nothing can be spared – in off-field planning or on-field perspiration – to lessen his impact.

The class of 2005 remain the inspiration

Michael Vaughan, left, lifted the urn after going 1-0 down.
Michael Vaughan, left, lifted the urn after going 1-0 down (Chris Young/PA)

The World Cup final’s glorious return to free-to-air television, and the ensuing sense of cricket fever that followed, led many to draw comparisons with the unforgettable summer of 2005. Back then England pulled off a long-awaited Ashes win in a series rated by many as the best ever, but they had to come from behind to do so after kicking off with a loss. If the current generation want the feelgood factor of 14 years ago they will have to show the same strength in adversity.

Need for speed

Jofra Archer's fastest ball of the World Cup

Jofra Archer is all but certain to come in for the injured James Anderson at Lord’s and with him comes a much-needed shot of express pace. He routinely operated above 90mph in the World Cup campaign and bowled the joint fastest delivery of the tournament. That represents a real point of difference compared with the attack on duty in the first Test and could unsettle the visiting batsmen. If Archer proves successful the similarly rapid Olly Stone is also on hand.

Selectors might need to account for burnout

England's World Cup winners might be doing too much this summer.
England’s World Cup winners might be doing too much this summer (Nick Potts/PA)

Everyone involved has been keen to dispel the notion of tired minds and bodies among those who lifted the World Cup trophy for the first time just over three weeks ago. Frankly, that is not plausible. More than half of the team selected at Edgbaston played significant roles in the draining campaign that ended with the most frantic finish imaginable. They have given everything already and with four Tests in less than six weeks the hard decision may need to be made to rotate some of the key men. Asking more every time might prove harmful in the long term.

Top order talent still required

Jason Roy struggled at opener against Australia.
Jason Roy struggled at opener against Australia (Nick Potts/PA)

Rory Burns gritted his teeth for a hard-working maiden century and will rightly get an extended run in the side as a result. His opening partner Jason Roy, on the other hand, has yet to prove he has the resolve to thrive at the head of the innings in the five-day format. A wonderful ball-striker, he might be better suited to life in the middle order. Joe Denly, meanwhile, looks a class below the required level. England are crying out for solid, technically sound performers to emerge from county cricket and any that do could find themselves on the fast-track to an Ashes cap.