Australia has just wrapped up a massive first test victory at the Gabba in a final (fourth) day that had it all: wickets, rain and angst between the players. This was a result that no one expected: as Australian fans we hoped for it, indeed the religious among us prayed for it, but we never expected it would happend. This was not just a win: this was a destruction of an opponent who had rejoiced in holding the upper hand. England did not win a session of the game from the final session of day one until the close of play today.
For Australia, much credit must go to the captain and coach: every plan they put in place worked and players who had been under pressure, real or imagined in the press, like Warner, Johnson and Lyon all played a massive part in what was the most quintessential of team victories.
For England, there is a real sense from having watched this game closely that under pressure they unravelled. I mentioned the infighting seen yesterday and again and again we have seen in this test match wickets of English batters fall to injudicious shot selection to balls they did not need to play or did not need to play in the air. This is a team that bested Australia 3-0 only months ago and yet today, and the last 3 days, they have looked out matched and out of sorts.
Absent injuries (or some Howard / Invers inspired stupidity) the Australian team will be the same for the Adelaide test match as it was for this one and rightly so. The English have some obvious question marks in their team at the moment: Jonathan Trott is out of form and out of sorts, Graeme Swann has lost his edge and was out bowled by Nathan Lyon in this game and the third fast bowler position is a massive worry for them. That last issue is one likely to see a change but the others will stay the same.
It has been mentioned to me by many this week that Australia looked united and came into this game with an intent to make a statement. The outmuscled and out manned a much more fancied line up and with that they won over a subdued crowd that became a roaring mass on Friday afternoon. I have been a monumental critic of Cricket Australia in advance of this series and that criticism remains but boy did the team get the job done on the field.
Aside from today’s crowd which was disappointing to say the least the crowd numbers for the first three days were outstanding and those numbers were without the phalanx of Barmy Army members who will arrive for the Adelaide test match. The Gabba Test as the first test of the summer is a tradition worth keeping, not only because Australia is unbeatable there, but because traditions continue to matter whether Cricket Australia believes so or not.
Next up for the English is a trial game in Alice Springs: personally I hope that the weather is around 40 degrees for the whole time the game is underway. The Australian’s will enjoy a day off tomorrow and then start planning for Adelaide. One thing is certain: we have only seen four days out of a, now, potential 24 days of cricket in this series so there is a long way to go before the Urn is returned to Australian hands. So for now, lets bask in this win, but from tomorrow lets, players, fans and pundits, all get back to the task of winning back the biggest prize in cricket: now is not a time for complacency and ego but a time to keep the eyes of the main prize.
Bring on Adelaide!