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After the horror that was Day 4 of the 2nd Ashes Test at Lords I headed to Birmingham with a level of trepidation. It was highly unlikely that we’d see a repeat of England capitulating in an afternoon, but could they bounce back from a record defeat?

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With the chance to pick my days I opted for the first 2 at Edgbaston, with the thought that Birmingham isn’t that far from the North and rugby league giving me the chance to combine the 2 sports.

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I’d inadvertently booked myself a ticket in the Hollies Stand for Day 1 – the stand favoured by the Barmy Army! Now, as much as they add atmosphere and amusement to the day I’m not a fan of being covered in beer or having my view blocked. I called the stadium and they very kindly moved me to the Temporary Stand without charging me the additional cost.

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Having never been to the stadium before I chose to pay to park both days – the cost at £15 a day felt a bit steep but the car park was very easy to find and conveniently placed with a short walk to the ground.

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I arrived in plenty of time, having decided to stay in Bromsgrove, outside of Birmingham, I was sure it was well placed for the drive in, and that proved to be the case. The stadium wasn’t well sign posted and it was hard to find someone to help when I arrived, but I found my way to my seat in the end.

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It turned out that my view was much better than the one I’d picked which was a result! I met a lovely lady – Billie, who was at her first cricket match – what a game to go to as a first experience! We sat together and had the company or Alex and Nick who were from the Wirral. Alex (Nolan) had been a British Junior Champion at Archery, having 6 British records and 2 England Gold Medals to his name! He is also a rugby league fan, what chance in Birmingham! They were both great company – and I have to say thanks again for the cuppa!

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The weather forecast promised cloud and rain and it certainly delivered that throughout the day.

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The 2 captains came to the wicket and again Michael Clarke won the toss; there’s an expectation for this series that the team winning the toss will win the match – so that was a big blow! Michael Clarke elected to vat as he did at Lords – would we see the same superb batting display by his team?

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Chris Rogers and David Warner opened the batting – Rogers had retired ‘hurt’ at Lords, going down very suddenly early in the day, it was a huge concern that he was back at the crease so quickly. In spite of the fact that the Australian camp are adamant that his symptoms have not been caused by concussion it’s hard to see past that.

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England had made one well publicised change to their line up, with Gary Ballance taking the brunt of the criticism for a whole team failure and being dropped – Jonny Bairstow a fellow Yorkshireman replaced him.

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I was surprised, yet pleased to see the towering figure of Steven Finn in the field in place of Mark Wood, that change I hadn’t heard of. He’d been treated very badly in Australia in 2013, with his action being messed about with, he saw no Ashes play at all! In this ‘New England’ set up it would be interesting to see ow he responded.

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And so to the cricket – this is looking more like a match report, but it just has to be done for this match – Day 2 is likely to read the same.

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Jimmy Anderson with no wickets to his name at Lords made an early break through when he took the wicket of Warner, a loud appeal for LBW was rewarded by a prompt lift of the finger, Warner reviewed but to no avail. Australia were 7 for 1, not the best of starts.

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With the best batsman in the world coming in at 3 that shouldn’t have been an issue, however Steve Smith had faced only 18 balls before Alastair Cook in the slips took a great catch from the bowling of Finn! Cue ecstasy for the lively crowd at Edgbaston – was it going to be another day of jumping out of our seats as it had been in Cardiff?

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Michael Clarke a man under a lot of pressure as a batsman was next up – he was also the next to fall. I’d judge that the number of times we see stumps flying as a player is clean bowled is becoming a fairly rare sight; however on his 10th ball Clarke was despatched by Finn, bails flying! Clarke had made 10 and Australia were on 34 for 3!

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This was all very reminiscent of Lords but rather than despair it of course brought ecstasy for the home fans. Adam Voges who hasn’t fired yet in the Ashes wasn’t to make his mark again – Anderson added to his tally as Buttler caught Voges for 16. 77 for 4!

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The theme continued as England demolished the Australian batting line up, Jimmy Anderson took 6 for 47 a superb response to the criticism he faced after a dry spell at Lords.

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Chris Rogers battled through as he saw wicket after wicket fall, he scored 52 before he was deemed to be LBW from the bowling of Stuart Broad. He was the only batsman to pass 20. Australia were all out for an amazing 136! Lots of !!! here because it really was !!! who would have thought England could respond in such a way after such a huge defeat!

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I’m getting very near to my self imposed total of 1000 words so won’t write too much about the start of the English innings (I say now).

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Adam Lyth – given another chance, and Alastair Cook opened the batting for England. Lyth hasn’t managed a decent score in his test career so far and could be considered lucky to be in the team; unfortunately he failed again, scoring only 10 runs before being caught by Voges from the bowling of Josh Hazlewood. England were 19 for 1 – were we going to see another England collapse?

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Ian Bell joined Cook, playing on his home ground Bell was also in need of runs having had a torrid time in recent seasons. He and Cook took the score to 76 before Cook fell to an amazing catch by Voges from the bowling of Nathan Lyon; it could be argued it was a shot Cook didn’t need to make, but he was unlucky with the catch.

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The ever popular Joe Root was next up, he and Bell looked solid at the crease. However, there seems to be something about the slower bowler that makes batsmen want to go for the big shot – Ian Bell threw his wicket away trying to hit Lyon out of the ground, the ball didn’t carry and he was caught by David Warner to the delight of the Australians. A decent 53 to his name he’d helped take England to 132 for 3.

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One more run was added before rain stopped play yet again, it was close to the end of the day so proceedings were halted with England a mere 3 runs behind the Australians.

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An exhilarating day of cricket – at least if you’re English! Lots of happy people left the ground; very randomly I ended up with 4 of them in my car! I was cheekily asked for a lift to the station, having said no, one of the guys got into my car! He was charming and funny and got his fellow fans a lift to New Street – doubled my journey but a good deed done.

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A few facts

  • Cost of Ticket          £66.00
  • Cost of Parking       £15.00
  • Ladies Loos – plenty of them, clean, wobbly seats, no queues!  Unlike the men

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