Joe Root said England must make brave calls and insisted the tourists are not scared of a challenge after they were put to the sword by Australia in the Ashes opener.

England were left licking their wounds after crumbling on day four of the first Test, which Australia comprehensively won by nine wickets at the Gabba.

Root's England – having opted not to play star bowling pair James Anderson and Stuart Broad – went from 220-2 to all out for 297 in Brisbane, where Australia swiftly chased down 20 runs for victory on Saturday.

After England's collapse, Root defended his decision to bat first against Australia.

"If we go about things the way we did on the last two tours we'll get the same result," Root said, with England having lost nine matches without winning on their last two tours to Australia.

"We have to be brave. I look back and think [batting] was the right decision.

"In terms of selection, we could have gone a different way [but] we wanted variety in our attack and ways of changing things."

 

"I'm not trying to make things up," said Root. "We're not far away."

Root and Dawid Malan had sparked renewed hope for England on Friday following a strong rear-guard display, but the revival was short-lived after losing eight wickets for just 77 runs across the opening session on Saturday.

England will now look ahead to the day-night Test in Adelaide, starting Thursday.

"We're a team that's always responded well to situations like this in the recent past," Root told BT Sport. "We're not scared of a challenge.

"We're not scared of fronting up to a difficult result, and we'll just have to make sure that we do exactly that again on this occasion."

Nathan Lyon said his long-awaited 400th Test wicket was a "big relief" after the Australia spinner helped the hosts crush England in the Ashes opener.

Lyon became only the third Australian to achieve the feat in Saturday's nine-wicket victory over rivals England inside four days at the Gabba.

After almost a year of waiting, Lyon brought up the milestone as Australia claimed 77-8 to roll England for 297 in the first session in Brisbane, where the tourists had resumed on 220-2 before the sensational collapse.

Australia were set 20 runs for victory and easily reached the total following lunch, despite the loss of Alex Carey, but it was all about Lyon after the first Test.

"Relief, because I'm not so much on personal milestones I had a lot of banter going on so it probably wasn't on my mind a lot more," Lyon told reporters after finishing 4-91 to take his Test haul to 403 from 101 matches.

"But I say the next wicket is hardest to get but yes, it was a big relief."

Before Lyon, only Shane Warne (708) and Glenn McGrath (563) had taken 400 wickets or more for Australia.

Lyon – who had waited since January to join the exclusive club – also became the seventh spin bowler to take 400 wickets in men's Test cricket.

"It hasn't really hit me to be honest," Lyon, 34, said. "I'll get my phone and call my family and friends and that will probably hit a little closer to home.

"But it's something I'm very proud of, there's no doubt about that. It's been some hard toil to get it, but very rewarding."

Asked if he was less nervous now after ending his wait, Lyon replied: "I'm nervous because I care. I care about everyone in that changing room, I care about the result and playing cricket and representing Australia. I'm not nervous because I'm scared of failing.

"[Captain] Pat [Cummins] was extremely calm as captain ... I think when Australia play their best cricket, we're calm and playing with smiles on our faces and enjoying it. Pat really hit that home."

Australia captain Pat Cummins expressed his pride with the team's complete performance after the hosts embarrassed England to claim the opening Ashes Test.

England fell to pieces on day four as Australia humbled the tourists by nine wickets to draw first blood in the Ashes on Saturday.

Australia were set just 20 runs for victory after England went from 220-2 at the start of play to 297 all out – the visiting nation losing 77-8 in a stunning collapse.

Nathan Lyon fuelled Australia with 4-91 as he became only the third Australian bowler to reach 400 wickets and Cummins – in his first Test as captain after replacing former skipper Tim Paine – revelled in the display while hailing man-of-the-match Travis Head following his first-inning century.

"I really enjoyed it, a lot of things did go right, probably from the toss - overcast conditions, wicket had a bit in it, turn up day two and it's blue skies," Cummins said during the post-match presentations. "So someone was smiling on me.

"Really proud of everyone, complete performance, the bowlers did their thing, then Marnus [Labuschagne] and Davey's [David Warner] partnership and the way Travis [Head] played. Sign of a positive, brave side.

"I was really happy about how everyone stuck to it, we bowled without luck yesterday [Friday]. Turned up positive and not thinking about too much other than trying to get that breakthrough.

"That's why we want him [Head] in the side, he can take a game away in a couple of hours. He showed what he can do, bright future, hopefully he's away now."

 

Cummins also said he is confident David Warner will be fit for the day-night Test in Adelaide after the star opener did not bat on Saturday, while also adding that paceman Josh Hazlewood had pulled up okay.

As for England skipper Joe Root, he cut a frustrated figure after the tourists' overnight hopes were swiftly dashed at the Gabba.

England emerged on the fourth day with renewed hope after Root and Dawid Malan mounted a fine rear-guard on Friday – the pair's stance leading the tourists to 220-2, but they capitulated and were all out prior to lunch.

"Frustration, we worked really hard to get ourselves back in the game last night and we knew how in important it was to try and get through to the new ball unscathed," Root said. "If we carried that partnership forward we could have given ourselves an opportunity.

"You saw how the pitch was playing here was sideways movement and the cracks were appearing. It's a shame we couldn't get through that initial period."

Root added: "Important in a five-match series not to feel too sorry for ourselves, relish the challenge to go out there and try and get one back. There are good things to take, most importantly the bowling effort. Created chances and felt in the game for a long time. Need to learn from this and come back stronger."

"Easy with hindsight, but can't create as many chances as we did and put them down. Similar with the bat, [29-4] is not the way to start a Test series. But we know where we need to improve, and the way we responded in the second series showed fight which will stand us in good stead," he said.

England fell to pieces in a day-four Ashes collapse as Australia ruthlessly wrapped up the opening Test by nine wickets behind Nathan Lyon's historic performance.

Australia celebrated a comprehensive victory at the Gabba, where England lost eight wickets in the morning session to set the hosts just 20 runs to win, which they scored post-lunch with the loss one wicket.

Lyon had become only the third Australian bowler to reach 400 wickets as England capitulated all out for 297 in Brisbane on Saturday – the spinner leading his nation's charge with 4-91.

England emerged on the fourth day with renewed hope after Joe Root and Dawid Malan mounted a fine rear-guard on Friday – the pair's stance leading the tourists to 220-2.

 

But England's revival quickly diminished as they crumbled and were eventually all out before lunch – losing eight wickets for just 77 runs.

Lyon sparked the collapse in the fourth over of the day, the milestone man got Malan (82) to edge onto his pad for Marnus Labuschagne to take a sharp catch at silly mid-off with the second new ball approaching, snapping a 162-run partnership.

Root added three runs to his overnight score before he fell to Cameron Green (2-23) and Ollie Pope (4) followed his captain back to the pavilion the very next over after attempting to cut a Lyon delivery, instead punching to Steve Smith at slip.

Australia sniffed blood and England simply had no answer as Pat Cummins (2-51) and Josh Hazlewood (1-32) got the wickets of Ben Stokes (14) and Jos Buttler (23), with Lyon cleaning up the tail, alongside Green.

After lunch, Marcus Harris (9 not out) hit the winning boundary to clinch Australia's victory following Alex Carey's dismissal for 9.

 

Lyon joins exclusive club

Before Lyon, only Shane Warne (708) and Glenn McGrath (563) had taken 400 wickets or more for Australia. The spinner joined the club after finally ending his quest for the milestone, having waited almost a year. Lyon became the seventh spin bowler to take 400 wickets in men's Test cricket.

Carey makes history

The Gabba opener marked a Test debut for wicketkeeper Carey, who stepped in behind the stumps after former skipper Tim Paine opted to take a break from cricket. Carey capitalised, marking his bow with eight catches – becoming the first player in Test cricket to achieve the number on debut.

Hobart will stage an Ashes Test for the first time after Blundstone Arena was confirmed as the venue for next month's series finale between Australia and England.

The fifth and final Ashes showdown was meant to be held in Perth from January 14-18 before it was relocated due to Western Australia's border restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Melbourne – the scene for the Boxing Day Test – and Sydney, which will host the fourth Test, were in the mix to stage further matches this series.

However, Ashes cricket will come to Hobart via a day-night Test – the second pink-ball fixture of the 2021-22 series following Adelaide, starting December 16.

"We considered a range of factors, including commercial, logistical and operational considerations," Cricket Australia (CA) CEO Nick Hockley said on Saturday.

"On the balance of these the CA board agreed on Blundstone Arena being the most appropriate venue to host the fifth Vodafone Men's Ashes Test match.

"We also acknowledge the postponement of the Australia and Afghanistan Test due to be played in Hobart earlier in the year played a part in the decision."

Hobart was due to host last month's Australia-Afghanistan Test before it was cancelled.

The upcoming clash will be the first Test match in Tasmania's capital city since Australia were thrashed by South Africa in November 2016.

Cricket Tasmania CEO Dominic Baker added: "This is a great day not just for Tasmanian cricket, but for Tasmania in general.

"This will be without a doubt the biggest sporting event Tasmania has ever hosted.

"While the circumstances that have led us to be able to have the opportunity to host this Test are undoubtedly unique, we are thrilled that Tasmanians will have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness an Ashes Test in their own backyard."

The West Indies Women are on their way home following 11 days of quarantine in Oman after the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Women’s Cricket World Cup qualification tournament in Zimbabwe was cancelled over Covid fears.

In the wake of the discovery of the new Omicron Covid variant, more severe global restrictions against travellers from a number of African countries, including Zimbabwe, forced the ICC to abandon the tournament prematurely and to send competing teams home as quickly as possible.

The West Indies squad was flown to Oman by an ICC private charter, with a short stopover in Namibia, along with eight other international squads. Oman was used as a staging area for the West Indies Women’s squad while they awaited an available route home.

“We are pleased to confirm that the West Indies Women’s squad will soon be making their way back home. We want to thank them for their patience and understanding as we worked with our counterparts at the ICC and Oman Cricket to facilitate their return at the earliest opportunity,” said CWI CEO Johnny Grave.

“We want to express our appreciation to the ICC, Oman Cricket and our operations team, who have worked tirelessly to ensure everyone was comfortable and remained safe.”

Meanwhile, Head Coach Courtney Walsh the players and coaching staff are relieved to be heading home after enduring challenging times in quarantine.

“The team is relieved by the good news that we will be home with our families before Christmas. The sudden cancellation of the Qualifiers and transition period in Oman has been mentally taxing on the entire team, both for the players and management staff,” Walsh said.

“As a management group, we tried to ensure that the players remained in a positive frame of mind. Our Strength and Conditioning Coach created a fitness challenge for all of us to participate in for the duration of the quarantine period, as it was something to take our minds off what was happening. I must say thanks to our Team Manager, the ICC and Oman Cricket, for all their logistical work, in ensuring we’re on our way home as quickly as possible.”

The players and team management are expected to arrive at their various West Indian home territories over the course of the next few days.

Following the termination of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers, ICC announced that the West Indies Women along with Pakistan Women and Bangladesh Women secured the final three qualification spots for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup by virtue of the existing ICC Women’s ODI rankings. The ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup will be played in New Zealand from March 4 to April 3, 2022.

West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, says he’s looking for the young players to put their hands up during their white-ball tour of Pakistan starting December 13.

The West Indies will face Pakistan in three T20I and three ODIs during the tour that concludes on December 20 and Simmons is expecting members of the team to stand up and be counted.

“We’re looking to see who’s going to put their hand up to be a major player in this team. It’s about them putting up their hands and saying we want to go forward with this team. We want to do the things that are necessary to help this team win,” Simmons said.

Speaking in a press conference Friday after the team’s arrival in Pakistan, Simmons acknowledged that this is the team’s first white-ball assignment since the disastrous World Cup campaign and that it is time to move on from that.

“We know what happened in the World Cup and we’re not going to go back there. We’re looking to move forward and see who now wants to move forward with this team and our different ideas of how we want to play,” he said.

The former Ireland and Afghanistan coach also expressed that while many know what these players are capable of, it is time for them to show it in high-pressure situations.

“Yes, we have an idea of what they can deliver, but they’ve got to go out there and start showing us now that they can deliver under pressure. Playing against Pakistan in Pakistan is as much pressure as you can get,” said Simmons.

Simmons says he’s anticipating how the mental approach within the squad will change.

“We’re looking forward to seeing how things are going to change within this squad, not just from a cricketing point of view but also an attitude point of view,” Simmons said.

The West Indies coach also noted the threat of Pakistan left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi.

“He’s been brilliant for Pakistan and I’m sure he will continue to improve. Our batsmen will work on plans to of how to play him, how to score off him and we’ll see how their plans work out when the games come about,” said Simmons.

 

Dawid Malan admitted he thought he "may never play another Test again" after the left-hander combined with Joe Root to frustrate Australia in Brisbane.

England were skittled for 147 on the opening day of the Ashes and problems were compounded when Travis Head's 152 guided Australia to 425, the hosts boasting a 278-run first-innings lead.

When Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed were dismissed with just 61 on the board in response, Root's side were teetering once more on day three before the vital partnership between the England captain and Malan.

The pair dug deep to record an unbeaten 159-run partnership, with Malan six behind his skipper, who reached the close of play on 86 not out as England reduced Australia's lead to 58.

Malan, who flourished in Perth during the last Ashes trip before losing his place due to a lack of form, is relishing the somewhat unexpected opportunity of facing Australia once again. 

"I thought I'd never play another Test again," he told reporters. "I actually said to Rooty when we were on 40 or 50 and the Barmy Army were singing, 'I've really missed this'."

"I've missed having someone trying to blow my head off all the time, the crowd going and the adrenaline going, playing against the best bowlers going around. Test cricket is the pinnacle.

"To be able to stand out here in an England shirt. I'm so proud to do that. Especially to do it here at The Gabba in front of everyone. It's just really good fun.

"You can do as well as you want in Twenty20 or 50-over cricket, but you're judged a lot by your Test career at the end of it. For us, an Ashes series is the biggest series of our calendar so to come here and get runs against this really good attack is very satisfying."

Root, who has amassed 1,541 runs in a prolific 2021, moved past former England captain Michael Vaughan (1,481 in 2002) for the most runs in a calendar year for his country in Test cricket.

While hailing the work of his skipper – who is closing in on a maiden century in Australia – Malan appreciated England are still in a difficult position.

"The job isn't done yet, just getting an 80 doesn't mean you've made it, it's about scoring the big hundred that will change the game," he added.

"They are so brilliant at closing that door on us. We need one more good 100-run partnership to put a score on the board and then who knows what can happen? To come in after a day and a half of hard fielding and do what we did here was fantastic, but that’s only half the job.

"Joe's record obviously speaks for itself, with what he's done in his career. Batting with him is great because he takes the pressure off you, always looks to score and seems to find a way of putting the pressure back on the bowlers. 

"It's a great sign for us as a team that Joe is playing so well and leading from the front."

Australia still hold a "great advantage" in the first Ashes Test despite England's batting rearguard on day three at the Gabba, says Travis Head.

Head (152) passed 150 for the second time in his Test career on Friday, as Australia took a lead of 278 runs after scoring 425 from their first innings.

He had a batting strike rate of 102.7 in his innings – the second-best by any player to score 100+ runs in a men's Test innings at the Gabba, after Joe Burns (129 runs, 104.9 SR v New Zealand) in November 2015.

Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc dismissed Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed respectively to leave England on 61-2, but Joe Root and Dawid Malan led the fightback for the tourists.

Root, who has now scored 1,541 runs in 2021 (the most an England captain has managed in a calendar year), reached stumps on 86 not out, while Malan will resume on 80.

While having had joy with the new ball, Australia struggled to unsettle Root and Malan as the day wore on and batting conditions improved.

Head, however, is still confident the game is in Australia's hands, though he emphasised the importance of a strong start on day four, with England trailing by 58 runs.

"Having seen with the new ball, both last night and in our innings, we've seen it challenging the bat," he told BT Sport. 

"That's going to be the key tomorrow morning is hopefully getting a wicket in those first 10 overs then we get the new ball again, it's going to be key for us.

"If we can hopefully get one or two [wickets] in those 10 overs, hold onto those runs, each one's going to be gold. If we can have five or six wickets at evens we're right in it and still driving that game.

"I think we created opportunities throughout the day. No surprise in the way [Root and Malan] came back out and applied themselves, two quality batsman that have put themselves in a position of fighting back.

"We still hold a great advantage, 60 runs with the new ball round the corner. Still positive and it's going to be a positive morning."

England captain Joe Root and Dawid Malan mounted a fine rearguard to help England get back into the first Ashes Test against Australia with an unbroken 159-run third-wicket partnership.

The tourists reached 220-2 at stumps on day three at the Gabba, trailing by only 58 runs, with Root 86 not out and Malan 80 no.

Australia had added 82 to their overnight score – led by Travis Head, who passed 150 for the second time in his Test career – before being bowled out for 425, with a 278-run lead.

England appeared well behind in the game at 61-2 when Mitchell Starc had Haseeb Hameed (27) caught behind by Alex Carey.

But Root and Malan combined for an excellent partnership, as batting conditions improved on a bright day in Brisbane where only five wickets fell.

Australia had resumed on 343-7, with Head and Starc continuing their 85-run eighth-wicket stand well into the first session before the latter fell for 35. Mark Wood then claimed the final two wickets – including Head with a yorker for 152 – to finish with 85-3.

In response, England opener Burns, who was clean bowled with the first ball of the series, almost fell for a pair when umpire Paul Reiffel gave him out lbw from Starc.

Burns successfully had the decision overturned, with the early bounce taking it over, but did not capitalise on the reprieve for long, caught behind by Carey as Australia skipper Pat Cummins deceived him for 13.

Hameed had played well before he tickled a Starc delivery down leg through to Carey to fall for 27.

However, Root and Malan responded with a gritty stand. The England skipper was clinical off his pads, hitting 10 boundaries, while Malan was excellent square of the wicket, also finding the rope on 10 occasions.

Record for Root

Root's attempt to play at the final ball of the day from Cameron Green almost undid his hard work, but the England captain remains well poised for a 24th Test century and fourth Ashes hundred after being dismissed for a duck in the first innings.

Six of Root's tons have come in 2021 alone, and this knock has now taken him clear of Michael Vaughan (1,481 in 2002) with the most England Test runs in a calendar year (1,541).

Aussie bowling concerns

The first session on day four will be critical for both sides, with only 10 overs left until Australia take the new ball, desperate to get more wickets before England take the lead.

Josh Hazlewood did not bowl in the final session on day three, only getting through eight overs in the second innings in a slight concern for the hosts, while spinner Nathan Lyon has struggled, failing to take a wicket so far in the match.

Former West Indies batsman, Philo Wallace, says the Caribbean side should look to the future instead of the past in order to return West Indies cricket to what it once was.

Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, The Honourable Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, has described West Indies Cricket as being in a state of crisis.

Speaking on Mason & Guest radio show in Barbados on Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Gonsalves said he based his assessment on a string of poor performances from the Caribbean side and an apparent lack of development.

“On the basis of the recent performances in the T20 World Cup, the abysmally poor outcome we have had in Sri Lanka and the very mediocre performance here in the Caribbean in recent times, I think it would be fair to say that the cricket is now in a state of crisis,” said Gonsalves, who went on to say that he believes a lack of ideas for a way forward from leaders of cricket around the region continues to be a contributing factor to the demise of the game.

“What we are having here is a full-blown crisis, not a crisis of governance so much, but a crisis in the performance which is connected to governance. I see a crisis as a condition in which the principals are innocent of the extent of the condition and have no credible bundle of ideas as to the way forward,” he said.

Gonsalves said he doesn’t believe those in charge of West Indies cricket truly understand the magnitude of the situation at hand.

“Every time I hear persons speak after a poor performance, you get commentary about how we didn’t do so badly; that there are bright spots and we keep looking for them as though we have to fool ourselves as to what is taking place. I don’t think we ought to fool ourselves and I’m not so sure from what I’ve been hearing that the persons who are in charge at different levels fully grasp what is here upon us,” Gonsalves said.

The West Indies next assignment will be a limited-overs tour of Pakistan consisting of three T20 Internationals and three ODIs beginning on December 13.

Following a trend from the Abu Dhabi T10, where he batted consistently well while his team developed a habit of losing, Rovman Powell scored a magnificent half-century for Kandy Warriors Wednesday only for them to lose by 14 runs (D/L) to the Jaffna Kings in the Lankan Premier League.

Travis Head said he is "still pinching" himself after his maiden Ashes century furthered Australia's control in their opening Test against England.

Head, whose position was seemingly in doubt heading into the series, raced to the third-fastest century in an Ashes innings, reaching the landmark in just 85 balls as he took a particular liking to Jack Leach.

The 27-year-old added to his total for an unbeaten 112 at the close of play in Brisbane, with Australia boasting a 196-run lead after England were skittled for 147 in their first innings.

After the end of day two at the Gabba, Head expressed his disbelief at his performance as also credited the work of new Test captain Pat Cummins and Australia's coaching team.

"I'm still pinching myself," Head said post-match. "It's the sort of thing where I can't quite work out what transpired in the last couple hours, but I want to contribute to Australia and Australia wins. 

"Hopefully, we've put ourselves in a nice position. [Thursday] morning is important to continue another great day for Australia and that's what I'm here to do. 

"I was really relaxed throughout the game. Patty and the coaching staff have been fantastic in the way they've handled the last six or seven days and how they've wanted to see me play. 

"They'll go about it and just want to see me be myself and play the game and play how I see it. They've got great confidence in that. 

"I was relaxed over the last two days and I said that going into the camp, it's so enjoyable to be around this group again and contribute in some little way."

Head's bludgeoning that compounded England's misery was earlier set up by David Warner, who managed 94 after multiple missed chances by the tourists, and Marnus Labuschagne crafting 72 to stunt the charge of Joe Root's bowlers.

Indeed, only four men have recorded faster centuries for Australia in men's Test cricket than Head, but the Adelaide-born batter praised the work that went before him in grinding down the likes of Mark Wood, Chris Woakes and Ollie Robinson.

"Today it went my way, but a lot of work was done by the top order and I thought they batted exceptionally well," he added.

"I think both camps would have been talking about that [grinding the opposition down] for the last 10 days and what they want to try to achieve. 

"We spoke about that as a batting group going into this Test in Australia. We said our biggest goal is trying to keep them out in the field. 

"It was extremely hot over the last two days, there are some difficult conditions. There's no doubt that both camps would like to do that as they bat. 

"[England] are going to try and do that in the second innings when they play as well. We've not really talked about it, we'll talk about it in the morning, but I think it's pretty obvious that what we would like to do is continue to bat well for as long as possible and get ourselves in a great position."

England fast bowling coach Jon Lewis defended the tourists' selection for the first Ashes Test and says Ben Stokes' fitness will be assessed ahead of day three at the Gabba.

Australia are in command of the series-opener in Brisbane after closing on 343-7 in reply to England's 147 all out, leading by 196 runs.

Travis Head (112 not out) smashed the third-fastest Ashes century off only 85 balls after David Warner made 94 and Marnus Labuschagne crafted 74 on day two.

Ollie Robinson was the pick of the England bowlers, taking 3-48, but had to leave the field with a hamstring injury, although the paceman later revealed he had not done serious damage.

Stokes also sustained a knee injury on a tough day for Joe Root's side in the heat, with spinner Jack Leach's 11 overs going for 95.

But Lewis says the selectors did not feel they ought to have played an extra seamer.

"We looked at the pitch on the day before the game and the morning of the game and decided to go with the make-up of the team that we have," he told reporters.

"That's what we felt was the right decision at the time, and I think if we'd have all bowled to the best of our ability, we would have put Australia under a bit more pressure than we did today.

"We still took several Australian wickets. We are a bit behind in the game; however, like I said to the lads before, I know the guys will come back fighting in the next few days."

Lewis was unable to shed any light on the extent of the damage Stokes has done.

Asked about the all-rounder's injury, he replied: "I don't know, I don't assess players, I'm not part of the medical team. We'll see how he pulls up in the morning."

Stokes bowled Warner for 17, but the opener was reprieved as England's vice-captain had over-stepped.

Warner was also dropped by Rory Burns on 48 and should have been run out when he had 60 to his name on a bad day for the tourists in the field.

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