|First LV= Insurance Ashes Test, Edgbaston (day five of five)|
|England 393-8 dec (Root 118*; Lyon 4-149) & 273 (Root 46, Brook 46; Cummins 4-63, Lyon 4-80)|
|Australia 386 (Khawaja 141, Broad 3-68, Robinson 3-55) & 282-8 (Khawaja 65, Cummins 44*)|
|Australia won by two wickets|
Australia somehow prevailed in one of the all-time great Ashes Tests to beat England by two wickets and take a 1-0 lead in the series.
On an unbearably tense final day of another Edgbaston classic, ninth-wicket pair Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon added an unbroken 55 to defy the raucous crowd and get Australia to their target of 281.
In doing so, they exacted revenge for Australia’s famous two-run defeat on this ground 18 years ago, when the tailenders just fell short of reaching a target of 282.
Cummins, with 44 not out, and Lyon’s unbeaten 16 took Australia to their narrowest Ashes win in terms of wickets since 1907.
England looked to be surging towards victory when captain Ben Stokes produced a magical slower ball to bowl Usman Khawaja for 65 and Joe Root held a stunning return catch off Alex Carey.
But as a breathless match entered its final hour, Cummins and Lyon swung the bat at England’s short-ball plan to inch Australia closer.
Stokes almost dismissed Lyon with a flying catch for the ages when 37 were still needed, the skipper losing control of the ball as he dived backwards at square leg.
The target ticked down, the evening drew in. With three runs required and less than five overs remaining, Cummins deflected Ollie Robinson towards third man, a diving Harry Brook fumbled and Australia had an incredible victory.
A series that has already lived up to the hype continues with the second Test at Lord’s on 28 June.
Australia prevail in another Edgbaston epic
This was not just an homage to the epic contest on the same ground 18 years ago, but the perfect opening to the most anticipated Ashes series in a generation.
From the moment Zak Crawley crunched the first ball of the series for four, this Test had everything: England’s daring first-day declaration, Root’s attempted reverse-ramp off Cummins from the first ball of day four and the fascinating clash of style between the two teams.
But none of that could match the nerve-shredding drama of the final hour, played out in front of a buoyant crowd that had earlier waited until 14:15 BST for rain to pass and play to begin.
England have been involved in some thrilling Tests since Stokes took charge, but none with the stakes as high as this. In truth, they wasted chances throughout, but have shown enough quality, endeavour and bravery to suggest they have what it takes to get back into the series.
For Australia, the narrow win just about vindicates their cautious approach to combatting England’s Bazballers. It was fitting that captain Cummins, the architect of the safety-first plan, played the vital role on the final day.
This was magnificent sporting theatre, whetting the appetite for the rest of the series and for the Test between England and Australia’s women, which begins at Trent Bridge on Thursday.
Cummins and Lyon get revenge 18 years in the making
In 2005, Australia arrived on the fourth morning needing 107 with only two wickets remaining and almost got them thanks to the efforts of their last three batters – Shane Warne, Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz.
From a position almost as hopeless, Cummins and Lyon launched their own rescue mission and this time got Australia over the line.
The tourists had been almost inert for most of the day. At 107-3 overnight, they did not shift from a neutral gear. Khawaja, who made a century in the first innings, added only 31 runs from 116 balls and looked immovable.
Stokes somehow conjured the slower ball from his fragile body and Root held on to Carey to make England favourites, but fearsome competitors Cummins and Lyon refused to yield.
Root had already failed to cling on to a low caught-and-bowled chance when Cummins had six and the captain would later make him pay by crashing 14 from a single over.
In the next over, Stokes flung himself at a catch that would have matched his grab in the 2019 World Cup, but this time could not hold on.
The new ball was belatedly taken, but Australia’s confidence grew. For every time the outside edge was beaten, a single was pinched. Cummins slapped Robinson past a flying Ollie Pope at cover, Lyon twice belted Stuart Broad down the ground for fours.
The outside edge was beaten, England kept the field back, James Anderson was ignored. Australia were within one hit of victory for more than two overs.
With three required, Cummins fended off a short ball and the flailing Brook could not prevent the boundary. Australia ended on 282 – their target back in 2005 – and the brilliant Cummins threw his bat in the air to begin wild celebrations.
England left to fight back again
England had lost two of their past 12 Tests and one of those, against New Zealand in Wellington in February, was by just one run after they had made the Black Caps follow on.
This, though, will test the resolve of their new attitude under captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum like never before. Not because their swashbuckling style has failed its first examination by Australia, but because they were so close to winning and it is their own errors that have cost them.
They missed eight chances of varying difficulty in the field, four of which were by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow. Most crucially, Bairstow failed to move for an edge when Khawaja had only five on the fourth evening.
Questions will linger over Stokes’ decision to declare on the first evening and the fitness of Moeen Ali, who was badly hampered by a cut on his spinning finger throughout the match.
It was also telling that Stokes, who is managing a left-knee injury, did not bowl himself until the 70th over of the second innings and that Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, was not trusted with the second new ball.
No team has come from behind to win an Ashes series since 2005. Stokes’ England have shown they can get at Australia, but they must be near-perfect in the remaining four Tests if they are to win the urn for the first time since 2015.