Ashes talking points: Poor umpiring and how to stop Smith

England’s James Anderson looks dejected after Australia win the first Ashes Test. (Reuters)
Updated 07 August 2019

Ashes talking points: Poor umpiring and how to stop Smith

LONDON: Australia took an early lead in cricket’s oldest regular international series when they rallied from 122-8 in the first innings to win the first Ashes Test by a huge 251 runs against England on Monday.

The teams meet at Lord’s for the second of five Tests starting Aug. 14.

Here’s what we have learned so far:

Stopping Smith

England proved in the first Test in Birmingham that they can get Australia batting great Steve Smith out — but only when he’s in his 140s.

Man of the match Smith scored 144, which was more than half of Australia’s first-innings total 284, and 142 in the second innings. He became only the fifth Australian to record a century in both innings of an Ashes Test, and now has 25 test tons in only 65 matches.

To stand any chance of regaining the Ashes, England need to find some way of getting Smith out or, worst case, keep him in only double figures.

And if that doesn’t work, slow him down as it tries to get the rest of Australia out.

The former Australia captain admitted he had enjoyed “a dream comeback” as he marked his first Test in more than a year following suspension for his role in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.

Not out

Ashes Tests are intense encounters but fielders and batters from England and Australia appeared united in one thing: They didn’t trust the umpiring decisions.

Always a tough job, with leg-before-wicket decisions notoriously tricky, umpire Joel Wilson from Trinidad tied the Test match record for the most decisions overturned by the Decision Review System — eight.

Wilson gave Root out twice LBW in England’s second innings — both times reviewed by the England captain who was smiling during one of them, knowing that he was safe — before those calls proved incorrect.

Social media reaction was unforgiving. Former England captain Michael Vaughan tweeted: “When Joel Wilson gives you OUT .. You just review it .. #Fact.”

Too confident?

Can England hope that archrival Australia will get over-confident after gaining some revenge over the same opponents for its semifinal exit from the Cricket World Cup at Edgbaston last month?

No, according to Australia captain Tim Paine.

“We’re obviously happy to win the first Test. It’s a huge step in the right direction, but we’re certainly not satisfied with that,” Paine said. “It’s a big win for us, but they lost their premier bowler (James Anderson) so we’ve got to be realistic about it and that’s why it’s one test win and there’s four more huge games for us to go.”

After Anderson

England confirmed Tuesday that Anderson, their record Test-wicket taker, will miss the second Test with an injured right calf.

Anderson and out-of-form spinner Moeen Ali could make way for paceman Jofra Archer, if fit himself, and slow left-armer Jack Leach.

Under fire for including Anderson in the first Test — where he bowled only four overs — Root cautioned against making “too many emotional decisions” for the second Test, including batters, adding “we’ll sit down as a selection panel and pick a squad from there.”

Edgbaston tamed 

Edgbaston is seen as England’s most hostile venue for cricketing visitors with its raucous soccer-style atmosphere.

That continued in the first Test with Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft — the three Australians involved in the ball-tampering scandal against South Africa last year — singled out for endless jeers from the crowd.

England had won their last 11 matches in all formats at the Birmingham venue.

The Australians claimed their first triumph at Warwickshire’s ground since 2001 — the last time they won the Ashes urn on English soil.

Cannavaro’s Guangzhou end Kashima’s reign as Asian champions

Updated 2 min 35 sec ago

Cannavaro’s Guangzhou end Kashima’s reign as Asian champions

  • The Chinese giants reach the semifinals with a 1-1 draw in Japan

KASHIMA, JAPAN: World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro moved a step closer to AFC Champions League glory as his Guangzhou Evergrande side stunned Asian champions Kashima Antlers Wednesday on away goals to reach the semifinals.

The Chinese giants, who won the competition in 2013 and 2015, go through after drawing 1-1 in Japan following a goalless stalemate in Guangzhou three weeks ago.

Cannavaro, who lifted the 2006 World Cup as Italy’s captain, will be thanking his goalkeeper Zeng Cheng, who pulled off a string of world-class saves to keep his side in the match after they grabbed the crucial away goal before halftime.

A cagey start and mostly tepid first half from the two renowned attacking sides sparked into life when Anderson Talisca put the visitors ahead in the 40th minute.

The bleach-blond Brazilian midfielder rose highest to meet Huang Bowen’s corner on the right and head home unstoppably from close range.

Lacklustre Kashima had won their last six home games in the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League, keeping three clean sheets, and the goal served to wake the Japanese giants.

They laid siege to the Guangzhou goal after halftime and it took just six minutes of the second period to equalize.

Leo Silva’s speculative shot was deflected past the unlucky Zeng off another Brazilian, Serginho, who was credited with the goal.

Kashima needed to score again to keep their title defense alive and coach Go Oiwa threw on his dual attacking threat of Yuki Soma and Ayase Ueda with 20 minutes to go as he went all out in search of the winner.

It almost paid off immediately as Oeda started a smooth passing move that culminated in Serginho rattling the crossbar with a superb 20-yard left-foot curler that had Zeng for once stranded.

Kashima kept pressing and Guangzhou and Zeng desperately kept them at bay until a dramatic fourth and final minute of added time. With just 10 seconds remaining Leo Silva danced into the box on the left flank, cut back toward the penalty spot and beat Zeng with a right-foot shot only to see it blocked on the line by a sprawling defender.

It was hacked clear as the referee blew for full time and the Guangzhou players to a man collapsed to the turf in relief and a large contingent of traveling fans from the southern Chinese city danced in the stands.

They go through to a semifinal against fellow two-time champions Urawa Red Diamonds from Japan next month, with the winners meeting either Al-Sadd from Qatar or Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal in November’s two-legged final.