Australia's dramatic two-wicket win in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston on Tuesday ensured a hugely-anticipated series got off to a thrilling start as skipper Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon's unbroken stand of 55 turned the tables on England. England were running away with the match but the Aussies showed their mentality and also proved why they are the ICC 2021-23 World Test Championship winners.
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Much of the talk before this series was about how World Test champions Australia would face England's aggressive 'Bazball' style. They did it in Birmingham by staying true to their own game. No one more so than Usman Khawaja, who spent over 13 hours at the crease while compiling scores of 141, his first Ashes hundred in England, and a mature inning of 65. He also created history in the Ashes. The Australian opener became the first Aussie since 1980 to bat on all five days of a Test match. This remarkable feat holds by only 13 players in Test cricket's rich history.
"He showed composure in both innings, playing at his own pace, playing his own method. He didn't get caught up in anything else," said Cummins of the left-handed opener.
Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, despite making a run-a-ball 78 in England's first innings, also dropped a few catches and missed a stumping after the hosts decided to omit Ben Foakes, arguably a better gloveman, but not as good a batsman. Meanwhile, Australia's Alex Carey had an excellent match behind the stumps and also made useful runs.
Lyon's batting heroics may be the headline act from his performance at Edgbaston, but by then he had already starred in his primary role of off-spinner with a match haul of 8-229. He may have conceded more runs than he would have liked but Lyon picked up some crucial wickets. Lyon was appearing in his 99th consecutive match at this level and ended the game just five shy of 500 Test wickets.