Talking Points from the first Ashes Test


After England convincingly beat a poor Australia outfit, Elizabeth Ammon picks out a handful of talking points from the first Ashes Test in Cardiff.

1) Joe Root is the real deal

We often get carried away when an English cricketer has some success. We're desperate to brand them the new Gower, Botham or Flintoff. We use the word genius and legend too often. But in Joe Root's case, it might be the case that England have a player who will, in the future, go on to the list alongside Botham, Gower, Gooch.

He's special. Very special. Players go through wonderful runs of form, and at some point Root will fail but he is the embodiment of this new England side.

Even if, and this looks a lot less likely than a few days ago, England don't win the Ashes, Root will be the face of the Ashes 2015. It isn't just the runs he scores, often it gets England out of a hole.

It isn't just that he was instrumental in this win; isn't just his cheeky smile and his tangible joy at being in an England shirt; It's the whole package.

When Cook was off the field for half an hour after being struck in the Miss Marples, Root took over the captaincy and as we saw him in conversation with Jos Buttler about tactics we got a glimpse of England's near future – an exciting, confident, fun team with Root at the helm.

Not that Cook captained this Test badly – far from it – but he will stop being captain at some point in the next year or two and then this will be Root's team.

2) It's time to put Shane Watson out of his misery

I've always thought that Shane Watson is unfairly maligned. He is. You don't get to play for Australia on nearly 300 occasions without being a very good cricketer and I'm not advocating sending him, Animal Farm style, to the glue factory.

But he's struggling. This was the 29th time he's been out LBW. He's struggling. He was certainly picked for this Test based on past reputation rather than recent form or his place would have gone to Mitchell Marsh.

In his 57 ball innings today you could see him almost painfully telling himself to play straight. But that front pad of his seems to defy physics. It's there even when he's desperately trying to keep it out of the way.

It's got to the point where it's gone beyond being merely an amusing thing and to the point where it is a genuine problem that keeping sending him out to the middle isn't going to solve.

Australia need an injection of something different for the next Test and it seems likely Watson will be one of the casualties.

3) Mitchell Johnson has no plan B

From the very first ball which saw a fast Mitchell Johnson delivery bounce twice before getting to the wicket-keeper, you could see the frustration. The moribund pitch soaked up everything in Johnson's armoury.

Without pace and bounce, Johnson is half the bowler and he was unable to find any plan B. Unable or unwilling to adjust his lengths, his line and his approach Johnson took only two wickets going for a whopping 180 runs from 41 overs.

With his threat completely nullified, Johnson's mental toughness was found lacking. He got visibly irritated and as the irritation increased, his potency decreased.

Too early to write him off but he's going to have to find a way on English pitches when simply hitting the deck at 90mph isn't going to cut it.

Yes he batted superbly and during his innings of 77, there were clear signs of Johnson the fighter. Victory was a long long way off but he wasn't going down without a bit of a fight.

But Australia need their talismanic bowler to be taking wickets. They need him to be scaring England and if he can't do it with sheer pace, he's going to have to find some other way.

4) Some players just take to International cricket like the proverbial duck going into the H2O – Mark Wood is one of those players

Four months ago only county cricket aficionados had heard of Mark Wood although plenty in county cricket, including his Durham captain Paul Collingwood, had been telling people he has got something.

Now he is one of the well-loved players in this new look England side. It's been a while since England have had someone to fill the role of third seamer who looks to be such a perfect match for the role and such a fantastic personality for fans to get behind.

Wood's skiddy pace and ability to get a bit of bounce too gives Alastair Cook something a bit different to turn to and perfectly complements Anderson's mastery of swing and Broad's potency when he gets the length right.  

More than that though, Wood manages to balance being a bit of a light-hearted joker with thinking deeply about his own game, how to develop, how to take wickets.  

He's a fairly straightforward North East guy, he loves his cricket, and he clearly is absolutely beyond thrilled to be part of the England team but also has his feet firmly planted on the ground.

And to add to all that he's pretty good wielding the willow too. Expect him to have an impact on this series.

Elizabeth Ammon