Initial Hobart Ashes test concludes in three days

By Peter Argent (at Bellerive Oval – Blundstone Arena)

Finishing the 2021-22 series in emphatic style, the Australian’s delieved yet another killer blow in a one-sided series, in the inaugural Ashes test match on the Apple Isle.

The wicket was green and looked more like an English track, than you would traditionally see in Australia.

After English skipper Joe Root won the toss and chose correctly to bowl, for the first time in the series the visitors took the early ascendancy.

When Man of the Match, Travis Head entered the match, the Australian’s were reeling at 3/12, just 10 overs into the game.

Against the odds his extraordinary and aggressive innings, changed the course of the match.

He made a brilliant 101 from just 113 balls faced on a deck that was seaming around everywhere.

Along the way he dispatched 12 boundaries and had an exceptional strike rate of 89.38.

Head found a valuable ally in all-rounder Cameron Green and their fourth wicket association of 121 was the only century partnership in the test.

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With some handy cameos from the tail, including three sixes in 31 runs from Nathan Lyon – who some thought must have played as a bat in this game – Australia scrambled passed 303.

English 35-year-old opening bowling stalwart Stuart Broad was the most successful of the trundlers with 3/39 from 24.4 overs, while Mark Wood claimed three expensive scalps as well.

The England reply started horribly, with reinstated opener Rory Burns run out for a duck and Zac Crawley brilliantly caught by Head of the bowling of Australian captain Patrick Cummins.

At this point England were 2/29.

Dawid Millan and Root started a mini revival, but wickets fell a regular intervals and England were bowled out for 188.

Wicket-keeper Sam Billings, called into the English squad from the Big Bash competition for his first test showed some resistance, making 29, while bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes top scored batting at number eight, making 36.

Skipper Cummins led the way with 4/45 from 14.4 overs, while Mitchell Starc – a pink ball specialist, who has stated previously he prefers bowling with the red ball – claimed 3/53.

Before the end of day two Australia were back at the batting crease and England had given themselves a chance of dragging themselves back into the contest and regaining some honour, having Australia 3/37 overnight, with Scott Boland used as a night-watchman, instead of Lyon.

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Like day two, day three started half an hour early and wickets tumbled regularly in the two and a half hour opening session.

Australia fell to 6-63 before Green and keeper in his first series Alex Carey made a mini revival.

They moved the score to 7/112 and a small ninth-wicket stand between Carey and captain Cummins ensured the hosts passed 150.

Carey made an enterprising 49 (should have been 50 if Patrick Cummins took singles that were on offer) and Australia were dismissed for 155, giving them a 270-run lead.

Firebrand Mark Wood was outstanding with the ball in this innings, collecting the impressive figures of 6/37 from 16.3 overs, while Broad in his Australian swansong, secured three scalps.

Although the English batting performances had been modest at best across the series, this was a gettable target with some grit and determination.

After openers Burns and Crawley navigated the English to 0/68 just before the tea interval and it looked like the English were finally going to make a contest of it.

The baby of the Aussie team Cameron Green changed that, collected the first vital break through, bowling Burns for 26.

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In the night session, the English displayed minimal resistance and Australia waltzed to a clear 146 run victory.

Captain Cummins, the bowling star of the final three tests, only the fourth Indigenous test cricketer in national history Scott Boland and Green all claimed three wickets in this collapse.

At the post match presentations Cummins lifted the crystal urn in triumph and after Travis Head added a player of the series honour to his pair of “Man of the Match” performances, the Aussies celebrated a 4-0 victory into the morning hours.

Footnote: Peter Argent’s analysis of all the Australian test players during the 2021-22 Ashes series will feature in Saturday’s Barrier Truth.

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