A batting collapse by England in the first innings, unsavoury comments both on and off the field, and the sad departure from Australia of batsman Jonathan Trott with a stress related illness – and that is just the First Test match. Whatever next is the question many people will be asking for the remainder of this current Ashes series, but when the teams meet again in Adelaide on 4th December, maybe the cricket might take centre stage.
The events of the last few days have certainly shared a few headlines yet the opening day of the First Test suggested that it may be more of the same from the summer Ashes series. Having taken 8 wickets in restricting Australia to less than 300 runs, it appeared that England were assuming early control in their quest to retain the ashes. When Jonathan Trott was dismissed for 10 runs, with the score at 55-2 in their first innings, the course of the match changed.
Kevin Pietersen joined Michael Carberry at the crease but events in the England changing room thereafter may have contributed to England’s sudden demise. No other cricketer in that room apart from Stuart Broad managed to score double figures and one wonders if Trott’s deep-rooted problems surfaced significantly at that point with team morale and concentration suffering as a consequence.
The England players just did not perform from that moment onwards and the Australians confidence gathered momentum as the match progressed and they will be anticipating the Second Test with relish.
However, it would be inappropriate to blame the English loss on the mental problems of Trott as there were some quite polished displays by the Aussies. Both Michael Clarke and David Warner scored centuries in their second innings albeit against some fairly moderate bowling.
A charge of moderate bowling can certainly not be levelled at Mitchell Johnson who claimed 9 wickets with a mixture of pace and accuracy. He is already beginning to show qualities which were missing in the Aussie attack when he was overlooked for the summer series earlier this year.
For the English selectors, they must now decide upon a replacement for Trott at number three or whoever rises in the order to accommodate a batsman at five or six. Most importantly they must concentrate on the cricket and will probably be happy to return to the crease after the recent controversial off-field activities.
Everybody will wish Jonathan Trott well as he battles against his personal problems but the emphasis must now centre upon competitive cricket with England in need of regaining the initiative from an Australian team playing with renewed purpose.