Opta’s Francois Vainker gives us his views on the first test of the Ashes and looks at what is to come

Posted on 01.12.2017

Growing up with England on the receiving end of some thrashings in the 90s – staying up through the night listening to Test Match Special under the duvet as Michael Slater racked up yet another century, or England middle order collapses in the face of Warne and McGrath, the Ashes has always sparked a little more excitement and anticipation than any other series.

Having played with and against a number of those involved in the Ashes series during my time as a left arm spinner for Worcestershire’s 2nd XI and now working as Opta’s Commercial Manager, Cricket – this year’s series is no different.

The build-up has been as frenzied as ever and it was a relief when the talking stopped and the action finally got under way at the Gabba last week.

Despite an uncharacteristically slow pitch, the action was as fierce as we’ve come to expect between these two sides and it promises to be another thrilling Ashes series.

The 1st three days of the opening test were evenly poised. Despite what the Brisbane Courier would have you believe, England were marginally more aggressive in the 1st innings – attacking 25.3% of deliveries compared to Australia’s 20.2% and hitting 38 boundaries to Australia’s 37. Steven Smith’s outstanding innings and the team’s ability to survive 83 more balls gave Australia a crucial 26 run lead.

The 2nd innings was a different story. England, all out for 193, attacking just 14.2% of balls faced and with a 25% False Shot rate, setting Australia a target of 169 to take a 1-0 lead in the series – something Warner and Bancroft did with minimal fuss, each surviving 1 lbw appeal on their march to victory a 10-wicket win – and a 1-0 lead in the series.

Attention now turns to Adelaide and the first ever day/night Test in Ashes history, where England will be looking to repeat the success they had with the pink ball at Edgbaston earlier in the year against the West Indies.

Using Opta’s unparalleled granular data – we are the Official Data Partners to both the ECB and Cricket Australia – with our historic database, we’ve taken a closer look at the events that occurred in Brisbane and take a look forward to what we can expect in the second test at the Adelaide Oval.

You can download Opta’s programme here.