We Didn't Lose
What does it say though about the state of our cricket team that we are all celebrating a draw in the first Ashes test as if it was a great victory ? England really didn't deserve anything from the match, our batting was patchy and especially in the first innings we just gave wickets away.
Australia delivered a masterclass in patient and risk free run accumulation, and slowly but surely ground us out of the game. As out top order crumbled away I should imagine that many England supporters were feeling just the same as me, batting collapse, one nil down in the series, and you know who always wins the Ashes when Australia win the first test.
But no, with only a handful of runs on the board and two sessions still to survive, Paul Collingwood came to the crease and dropped anchor. For almost six hours Collingwood was the Black Knight, none shall pass his battle cry. At a run rate that only Geoffrey Boycott could get excited about, the Durham right hander set about salvaging the first test. He had some support from Swann and Flintoff, but when Colly finally fell to the bowling of Siddle it looked to be all over.
Cometh the hour, cometh Monty Panesar, and let us be honest, how many people can stand hand on heart and thought there was any real chance of Monty surviving fifteen overs ? I thought we were doomed. At the other end, Anderson is man who does not like getting out, stubborn, limpet like, the England pace bowler faced 53 balls for his 21 runs, gradually pushing the England score ahead of Australia. The stadium erupted every time Monty managed to avoid getting out, has anyone ever had such an ovation for playing a forward defensive stroke ?
With two overs to go the umpires seemed unsure of whether the test had been timed out, the crowd was roaring for the finish, but no, the umpires made Australia bowl one more over, and now it was over, England had survived, improbable as it seemed at lunchtime. Australia had snatched a draw from what seemed to be a definite winning position, and they trudged from the field with heads down, the England players celebrated like they had managed a great win.
It really was a great test match and has left the England players and fans on a high, but, we really need to play much better than that in the remaining four tests to have any chance at all of beating the old enemy.