Warner, Bancroft pile on Gabba misery for England

BRISBANE: Australia’s Cameron Bancroft ducks under a bouncer during an Ashes cricket Test between England and Australia in Brisbane, Australia, yesterday.— AP

BRISBANE: A record-breaking opening partnership between David Warner and Cameron Bancroft cemented a crushing 10-wicket victory for Australia yesterday, leaving England with pressing issues to resolve to salvage the Ashes series. Warner and newcomer Bancroft got the required runs in a 173-run opening stand to smash an 87-year-old record for the all-time highest unbeaten opening partnership in a successful Test chase. Warner finished unbeaten on 87 off 119 balls with Bancroft hitting the winning boundary to remain 82 not out from 182 deliveries.

It was the seventh time Australia had vanquished England by 10 wickets in the Ashes and leaves the home side unbeaten at their Gabba fortress in 29 years. “The first Test of an Ashes is very important, there was a bit of pressure but I’m really pleased with how we played,” Australian skipper Steve Smith said. “The way we pulled it back to win from the position we were in, it’s extremely pleasing. I’m proud of the way the boys fought.” The Australians only needed 56 runs on the final morning go one up after England imploded on Sunday’s fourth day, leaving captain Joe Root with issues to resolve ahead of Saturday’s first-ever Ashes day-night second Test in Adelaide.

“I think the most important thing is we stay strong and tight as a group of players and that we continue to keep doing the hard work that we have done throughout the whole trip,” Root said. “For three days, we played some excellent cricket. Unfortunately, when we got into good positions, we didn’t quite capitalise on it.” Much of the post-match reaction centred on Bancroft allegedly being headbutted by England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow in a latenight altercation in Perth last month, which only came to light on Sunday.

Both parties worked to play it down Monday with Bancroft saying it was a “weird” and “random” greeting instead of a traditional hand-shake, while Bairstow said there was nothing malicious about it and “no animosity” between the pair. It was Warner’s 25th Test fifty and ninth in the Ashes, while Bancroft posted his first halfcentury in only his second Test innings. “Great to get a win with the guys. I know everyone’s really excited and hopefully we can carry this momentum forward,” Bancroft said. Warner said it was heartening to get the win without losing a wicket. “That’s what we cherish, coming out being disciplined to try and get the job done as best as possible,” he said.

England’s doleful defeat was played to the background sounds of the travelling Barmy Army supporters singing ‘We’ll Take the (Ashes) Urn Home’ in the sparselypopulated ground. It was an attritional battle between the traditional rivals over the first three days of the Test, raising England’s hopes of a first win at the Gabba in just over three decades. But man-of-the-match Smith’s Testdefining unbeaten 141 over eight-and-a-half hours gave Australia a 26-run innings lead and Josh Hazlewood’s two late wickets on Saturday swung the momentum firmly Australia’s way. England were subsequently knocked over for 195 off 71.4 overs, losing their last six wickets for 82, to set Australia an unthreatening target to chase down in the remaining four sessions of play. England have now not won in Brisbane in 31 years, a stretch of eight Ashes Tests. Looking ahead to Adelaide, Smith said: “This team has the potential to do some really good things. “The Adelaide wicket might bring some of the bowlers into the game a little bit but, having said that, it’s probably one of the quickest wickets in the country at night,” he added. “We saw how effective our bowlers could be when this wicket quickened up a little bit, so that’s exciting.” —AFP