At the start of the Ashes last month, not many would have bet on Australia being 2-0 following the second Test at Adelaide. But, such has been Australia’s dominance that it looks highly unlikely now that England would be able to retain the Ashes. Unlike previewed, Australia have been the better of the two sides, and have deservedly taken the lead in the series. In contrast to the huge gap between the first and second Test, there are only a few days left before the Perth Test kicks off, and England would have to do something spectacular to turnaround their fortunes.
While overall, Australia were the better of the two sides at Adelaide as well, one man once again made a significant difference. Mitchell Johnson, who destroyed England at Brisbane, once again got under the skin of the Englishmen. His fiery spell in England’s first innings set up the match for Australia. He got the crucial early breakthrough dismissing Alastair Cook and then blew away the middle and lower order with some breathtaking bowling. The Englishmen did not have any answer as to how to deal with the left-arm seamer, and his performance all but sealed the game in Australia’s favour.
Even as Johnson was the man who made victory possible, Australia would be pleased that a lot of other players also put their hands up at Adelaide. Michael Clarke came up with a captain’s knock. His hundred along with that of the in-form Brad Haddin’s put the Aussies on top in the first innings. While both Clarke and Haddin were brilliant, they were well supported by half-centuries from Chris Rogers, Shane Watson and George Bailey. Although Ryan Harris’ half-century came after Australia were totally in command, his brutal assault dented them severely.
After England capitulated in their first innings, David Warner added to the visitors’ woes with a scintillating second innings knock that ensured Australia recovered from their early hiccups. The victory was crucial for Australia in the sense that, unlike in the first Test, the other pacemen played a bigger role in their side’s win. Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle put their hands up on the final day of the Adelaide Test, picking up all the four wickets to fall with some aggressive bowling, as Johnson was happy to back them up for a change. The Aussie skipper would have been pleased with the efforts of Harris and Siddle, which negated England’s fight back on day four.
England would have been mighty disappointed with their batting performance once again. Only two of their batsmen got half-centuries in the first innings. They fared better with three of them crossing the fifty mark in the second essay, but you don’t win Tests when you batsmen don’t make hundreds. Joe Root showed character in the second innings and Matt Prior hit some form, but England would need to do a lot better at Perth to stay in the series. Also, they need to take their chances. They had a brief opportunity to get on top of the Aussies after they lost a few quick wickets, but blew the chance, and never got another.
--By A Cricket Analyst