Australia Beats England By Two Wickets In Thrilling First Test

Australia secured victory in the first Ashes Test after a nail-biting contest went deep into the final day at Edgbaston.

After four days of fluctuating action, the start was delayed due to rain with Australia needing 174 runs to win and England chasing seven wickets.

On a slow-burning day, Usman Khawaja (65) dug in for a watchful vigil after being not out overnight with the hosts dismissing a resolute Scott Boland for 20 as the wickets continued to fall.

Travis Head (16), Cameron Green (28), and Khawaja himself fell at crucial moments before Alex Carey (20) chipped one back to Joe Root leaving the Australian batters needing 54 runs for victory with just the bowlers left.

Nathan Lyon (16*) joined Pat Cummins (44*) at the crease. They weathered bouncers, yorkers, and the new ball, adding 55 runs for the ninth wicket and saw Australia home by the smallest of margins.

England suffer heartbreak but the thrilling Edgbaston Test shows the magic of the Ashes
It almost happened in slow motion. Pat Cummins sprinted off for a half-lap of honor around the square, the ball trickled over the boundary, and Australia drew first blood in the Ashes with the narrowest two-wicket victory.

Some Ashes Tests take on an almost mythological status. England’s two-run victory at Edgbaston in 2005 was one of them, the Headingley Test in 2019 was another. People remember where they were, and for those lucky enough to have tickets, they are treasured and displayed.

Edgbaston 2023, as it may be known in the future, was perfectly poised to become one of those famous nail-biting conclusions, and unfortunately for England in the evening session, the balance just tipped in favor of Australia, and a 55-run partnership between Cummins and Nathan Lyon was enough for the tourists to chase down the required 281 to win.

Australia defeat England by two wickets to win the first Ashes Test
More from Ben Stokes: “I am very proud to take it to the end of day five. It was a rollercoaster with ups and downs and a game we will never forget. We just want to be part of some great moments. Hopefully, we can attract people to the Ashes, in England and Australia, for the remaining four games.

“A loss is a loss. We stuck to our guns on how we would operate and carried on from the last series we played. We are going to continue to keep coming at Australia and if we end up on the wrong result but they go down to the wire like this I don’t mind.

“Who knows how it could have worked out with the declaration? Joe Root and Jimmy Anderson might have just got out anyway. I thought Mo came back into his first Test match and put himself through the pain barrier superbly.

“Joe with the bat got us on a roll and gave us momentum. 280 runs is a lot so you have to give credit to Australia. It’s going to be a great series. The efforts and energies of the seamers to put big shifts in.”

Player of the match, Australia batter Usman Khawaja: “When you’re playing and you’re in, you’re fine but when you’re watching up there – I can only imagine how the fans felt.

“That was an unbelievable game. I watched Edgbaston 2005 on TV as a kid, I stayed up late.

“I was there was Stokesy played that unbelievable inning at Headingley in the last Ashes but this has definitely got to be one of my favorite Test matches I’ve ever played in.

“I couldn’t really watch it [the final partnership] with the guys, there was too much nervous energy out the front so I watched it in the changing room with delayed vision.

“But I could hear everything that was going on. Marnus came in and said, ‘You cannot move!’ So I had to stay there. Only habits die hard.”
Reaction from Australia captain Pat Cummins: “Both teams spoke a lot about playing your own style. And that’s the beauty of this series. Two contrasting styles, playing to our strengths, and that made for great entertainment.”

“He [Usman Khawaja] showed incredible composure in both innings. He didn’t get caught up in anything. He has been a class player the last few years and I’m really happy for him.

“The plan was for everyone to bat at their own pace Having had a good first innings he had a good feel for the wicket but everyone chipped in.

“He’s [Nathan Lyon] huge. You just put him down one end and forget about him. He takes key wickets. He is an absolute superstar. He just calmly goes about his work. A captain’s dream.”

England captain Ben Stokes to BBC Test Match Special: “Unbelievable. That’s why you play it. I think in terms of everything we have spoken about constantly for a long period of time. It came down to the end of today. Everyone was on the edge of their seat.

“We are not a results-driven team. We are, of course, absolutely devastated. The lads are in pieces up there. But if that’s not attracting people to the game we love then I don’t know what will.

“You have never won a game until you have won it. It was still massively in the balance. We had to come up with different ideas, keep changing things. And it just comes down to small margins in the end. A few chances go our way, there were a few drops as well. But we have four matches to go.

“I thought that was a time to pounce [when declaring in the first innings]. I am not going to change the way I have gone about my cricket because it is the Ashes. Who knows we could have got an extra 40 runs or lost two wickets in two balls. I am not a captain who gets by on what-ifs.

“We were in control of most of the game and managed to produce a result. Obviously, we wanted to be on top. We are devastated but that’s sport. It is great and an emotional rollercoaster.”

Australia opener Usman Khawaja has been named player of the match. He scored 206 runs in the match and helped his team get over the line with a watchful 65 in the final innings.

England bowler James Anderson to BBC Test Match Special: “We are gutted not to get over the line but over the next few days when we look back at what we have done we can be really proud. We have tried to dominate from ball one.

“The declaration was really positive. We fought and fought on a really placid pitch. But credit to Australia they were just to good for us.

“There’s areas we can improve. There always is and in tight games those chances do get put in the spotlight. But we will let it soak in, get over the disappointment and look at the positives.

“We have played some great cricket. We have had five sold out days and everyone has gone home happy. Both sets of fans can go home saying they have been to one of the great Test matches.”

Australia bowler Josh Hazlewood to BBC Test Match Special: “It was a long hour. I was just sitting in the back of the room watching.

“When Carey got out we probably thought that was it but Patty (Pat Cummins) is a class batter. An outstanding effort.

“It was an amazing game of cricket. It is still a long series but it is a big swing. The first game is always important.”