12 Jul 2015

England win Ashes opener

5:55 am on 12 July 2015

England have beaten Australia by 169 runs and with a day to spare in the opening Ashes cricket test in Cardiff.

Set an improbable 412 to win Australia was dimissed for 242 with pace bowler Stuart Broad and spiner Moeen Ali taking three wickets each on a detoriating Sophia Gardens pitch.

"It's a start. It's a long series, it would be nice if it was a one-match series," joked England captain Alastair Cook.

"We are going to have to play well for a long period of time but I am fully confident the guys are up to it."

England, having drawn their last two series against West Indies and New Zealand and with question marks over Cook's captaincy, were given little hope by many of troubling Australia who thrashed their old rivals 5-0 in 2013-14.

But in new coach Trevor Bayliss' first match in charge, England produced an energised performance epitomised by their team spirit.

Australia, outplayed for much of the first three days, collapsed from 97 for one in their second innings.

England's Joe Root was named man of the match.

England's Joe Root was named man of the match. Photo: Photosport

England will head to Lord's for the second test on Thursday knowing that of the last 17 Ashes series, the team that has eventually lifted the urn has won the opening test 15 times.

David Warner's dismissal by Moeen for 52 in the last over before lunch proved the key and gave England a timely momentum boost.

A revved-up Broad removed Steve Smith (33) and Michael Clarke (4) and when Mark Wood sent back Adam Voges (1), a reeling Australia had lost four wickets for nine runs in 36 balls.

Brad Haddin (7) also perished, slog-sweeping to mid-wicket, and when Shane Watson went lbw for the 29th time in tests, Australia's last hope of clinging on disappeared.

With the threat of rain on the final day, England were hungry for wickets and Broad's fine opening spell set the tone for the session.

The Ashes Urn

The Ashes Urn Photo: Photosport

He removed Chris Rogers (10), after he was dropped on four, and repeatedly troubled Warner who battled to a half-century and threatened to cut loose until he was trapped lbw by Moeen.

Australia were deflated, England elated and the steady fall of wickets, each departing batsman greeted by huge cheers, left the tourists with plenty to ponder with a short turnaround before the second test.

"We tried to play our natural game," said Australian skipper Michael Clarke.

"Some guys played positive, others backed their defence a little more. Whatever we tried didn't work today."