Australia take Ashes lead with win at the Gabba

Australia duly wrapped up an emphatic win in the first Ashes Test but there's no need at all for England to panic - it's what generally happens at Brisbane.

The Aussies always play the Ashes opener at the Gabba on the basis that a team should always do what the opponents least want them to do. The atmosphere there has long-inspired the Aussies, not least against England, as evidenced by the fact that, last time England won an Ashes Test there, Bill Athey played an important innings.

That was 1986 when runs from Athey, Mike Gatting and Ian Botham, allied to wickets from Graham Dilley and John Emburey, earned Gatting's side a seven-wicket win. Since then, eight Ashes Tests have brought England two draws and six defeats, all by whopping margins - ten wickets twice, 381 runs, 277 runs, 384 runs and 184 runs.

Brisbane has become a traditional home of English strife. They won their first two Tests there, in 1933 and 1936. Since then, they have won just two of 19, losing 12.

"We came here fully confident that we could get a win, and for three days we were excellent."

Joe Root, England Captain

On not all of those occasions, though, have England gone on to lose the series, a fact which captain Joe Root no doubt had in mind when he mused, post-match, that: "We came here fully confident that we could get a win, and for three days we were excellent." True. It was anybody's game until its crucial third innings when the Brisbane Factor appeared to kick in.

England have some food for thought, for sure. Has the great force that is Alastair Cook started to wane? Does the bowling have enough depth to sustain pressure on the Aussie batting? Is it time to pitch Craig Overton, a largely unknown quantity for some of the Aussies, in for his debut?

But now the series moves on and the Brisbane Factor is finished. Root and his team will head for the second Test at Adelaide rightly feeling that they can hit straight back there. Some very wise judges predicted that this series, between two evenly-matched sides, would finish 2-2 or 3-2. Game on!

Well played Australia and especially Steve Smith who unfurled a truly match-winning innings which, in terms of composure and technical skill under pressure, ranks amongst the best played in modern times. He helped ensure that the Aussies took full advantage of the Brisbane Factor - and vindicated the decision to make the auld enemy start the series exactly where they least wanted. A sound strategy, that.

And where will the Aussies least want to start the next Ashes series in England in 2019? Fortress Edgbaston, of course!

International Cricket at Edgbaston

England will be back at Edgbaston next summer to take on Australia in an IT20 on Wednesday 27 June and India in the first Test Match of the Series from Wednesday 1 August 2018.

Tickets for both matches are selling extremely fast and we already have limited availability in certain areas of the stadium. Please visit www.edgbaston.com/tickets or call the Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 1902 to secure your seats for these matches.

Brian Halford

Club Journalist

Brian Halford, club journalist at Edgbaston, has covered the Bears since 2000.

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