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The Ashes 2013-2014 (Next: 1st Test, The Gabba, Brisbane, Australia, 21-25 November 2013)

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[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtCrpB9jo_Q]Cook ready for Ashes showdown - YouTube[/ame]


Ashes 2013: England captain Alastair Cook prepared


England captain Alastair Cook has told his players to be ready for an almighty tussle when the Ashes series against Australia gets under way on Wednesday.


England are favourites to win their third Ashes in a row, a feat they have not achieved since 1956.


Ahead of the Trent Bridge Test, Cook said: "Australia have fantastic players and it will be one heck of a battle.


"Every Ashes series I have played in is always intense and that is what we have got to prepare ourselves for."


Cook, 28, who will be captaining his country in an Ashes series for the first time, added: "Cricket isn't played on paper and it never will be. It's about who delivers out there come tomorrow and the next 24 days of cricket."


The momentum in one of sport's oldest rivalries has shifted towards England in recent years following an era of Australian dominance.


Having lost eight straight series between 1989 and 2002-03, England have won three of the last four, culminating in a resounding 3-1 triumph in 2010-11, their first victory in Australia since 1986-87.


Recent form points to another England success, with Australia having suffered a 4-0 whitewash by India in March, three months after England's 2-1 away victory over the same opposition.


The tourists have also endured a chaotic build-up to the series. Batsman David Warner was banned after punching England's Joe Root in a Birmingham bar and coach Mickey Arthur was replaced by Darren Lehmann just two weeks before the series.


Captain Michael Clarke, however, said Australia had put the turmoil behind them and, after encouraging performances in their warm-up matches against Somerset and Worcestershire, were capable of surpassing expectations.


"We come here as underdogs and we know it's going to be tough but I know the boys are up for the challenge," he said.


"I think every single one of our boys has prepared as well as they possibly can. Now it's about going out on that stage and playing with freedom and backing your own ability.


"We have so much talent inside that room and I just want to see the guys play their natural games.


"We've spoken about a lot but I think the talking is done for us as a team now. Now it's not what you say, it's what you do."


While Clarke declared himself "100% fit" for the contest following a long-standing back problem, both captains vowed not to disclose their team selections until the toss at 10:30 BST.


Lehmann hinted last week that Warner could be a surprise inclusion at number six for Australia as the tourists look to unsettle England with an aggressive brand of cricket. Clarke said he was confident that Warner would be "a success" if selected.


England have won seven of their last nine Tests at Trent Bridge, including a famous victory in the 2005 Ashes, when unlikely batting heroes Matthew Hoggard and Ashley Giles helped put the hosts 2-1 up in the series with one to play.


The ground will be full to its 17,000 capacity for all five days of the match after tickets sold out within hours of going on sale in October.


Cook, who scored 766 runs at an average of 127.66 in the 2010-11 Ashes, said expectation levels across the country were consistent with his experiences in past contests against Australia.


"The biggest thing I've noted from playing in Ashes series is that when you've been successful, people come up to and tell you what a great series that was to watch," he said.


"Over the last couple of weeks, we've had a lot of people come up in the street and say good luck in the Ashes - that's very different to any other series.


"But you have to keep yourself very true to what you are and remember that it's another game of cricket.


"This is what we have been doing all our lives and we have handled these situations before so I don't see reason why we can't now."


He also echoed the feelings of off-spinner Graeme Swann, who said on Monday he hoped England's cricketers could build on recent British sporting success.


Cook said: "It was an incredible moment for British sport when Andy Murray won Wimbledon and when the Lions won after such a long period of time. In our dressing room, there are a lot of big rugby and tennis fans, so watching that as a genuine British sports fan was fantastic.


"We'd love to be able to join them in that success but there's a hell of a lot of hard work to do first."



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Ashes 2013: England ahead despite Ashton Agar record score


Australia debutant Ashton Agar posted the highest score by a number 11 in Test history as the tourists enjoyed the better of an extraordinary and controversial day of Ashes cricket.


After walking out to bat with his team in deep trouble at 117-9, the 19-year-old cracked a fearless 98 off 101 balls before holing out to deep midwicket. His last-wicket partnership of 163 with Phil Hughes (81 not out) was the highest in Test history and lifted Australia to 280 all out, a first-innings lead of 65.


Mitchell Starc then removed Joe Root and Jonathan Trott in successive balls to put Australia firmly on top at tea with England on 11-2. But Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen batted carefully, and with increasing authority, through the evening session to steer the hosts to 80-2 for a slender lead of 15.


Agar's heroics aside, Trott's dismissal provided the day's main talking point as third umpire Marais Erasmus overturned Aleem Dar's not out decision to what appeared a clear-cut lbw dismissal, one ball after Root had been caught by keeper Brad Haddin down the leg side. Trott, however, clearly believed the ball had brushed his bat and it later emerged that the HotSpot camera that would have provided the crucial side-on angle did not record the moment because it was playing out a replay of Root's dismissal.


An angry England camp responded by asking match referee Ranjan Madugalle for clarification over the incident.

The dispute should not be allowed to overshadow an incredible innings by Agar, which surpassed West Indian Tino Best's 95 at number 11 against an England attack missing the rested James Anderson and Stuart Broad at Edgbaston last year.


Having arrived at the crease with the Australian innings in tatters, following a dramatic 32-ball spell in which five wickets fell for nine runs, he proceeded to repair the damage in breathtaking style. He survived a major scare on six when Erasmus gave him the benefit of the doubt in an agonisingly close stumping call, but from then on displayed greater timing and technique than all his team-mates who had come and gone before him.


There were two straight sixes off Graeme Swann, several dismissive pull shots off Steve Finn and Broad, and some immaculate drives on both sides of the wicket.


With Hughes happily assuming the role of junior partner as he compiled his first Ashes fifty, Agar motored towards a century after lunch, building Australia's lead and increasing England's exasperation. A thick outside edge for three off Swann took him past Best's record before two more from Broad's bowling saw him move within two of a century. Clearly intent on reaching three figures in style, Agar swung and missed twice before mistiming a pull and picking out Swann, who ran in from the boundary to claim a comfortable catch.


The England off-spinner celebrated as if he had won the Ashes, while Agar trudged back to the Pavilion rueing a rare blemish in a near-faultless and unforgettable innings. Those adjectives would be entirely inappropriate to describe the rest of Australia's batting, which folded in the face of a fine spell of reverse swing bowling from Anderson and some sharp turn from Swann. There had been little sign of danger as Australia added 33 quick runs to their overnight position of 75-4, with Steve Smith reaching fifty off 72 balls.


In the following over, however, Smith nicked a beauty from Anderson to Matt Prior to initiate the collapse.

Haddin was bowled through the gate by Swann, while Peter Siddle and Starc were both caught behind, outfoxed by the variations of the peerless Anderson, who finished with figures of 5-85.


When Swann trapped Pattinson lbw for two, Australia were in deep trouble, 98 runs adrift with just their last man to come.

That last man was Agar, a name that would soon be familiar to cricket-lovers around the world.



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Guest howyousawtheworld

Been a brilliant start to the series. Hoping Australia can keep it this competitive but in all honesty it'd be a disaster for England if they didn't retain the Ashes!

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Oh and, haven't been on in a few days, but what an innings by Ashton Agar. Phil Hughes did superbly as well, although there was too much hype surrounding Agar for him to really get noticed.


It sucks that the Ashes starts at 7:30pm for us and finishes at 3:00am. :/

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Guest howyousawtheworld

England building a solid lead now on this wicket. 200+ and with the wicket being competitive for bowlers this match may just be moving into a favourable position for them largely thanks to Ian Bell's very good innings. Regardless anyone can still win this match!

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In Summary

■England 326-6 at close - a lead of 261

■Bell 95 no - 100 stand with Broad (47no)

■Broad ct at slip on 37 but does not walk

■Australia angry with not out decision

■Cook 50; Pietersen 64; Prior 31; Bairstow 15


CLOSE OF PLAY- Eng 326-6 (Bell 95*, Broad 47*)

The last over of what has been England's day. The main question, will Ian Bell look for the six runs he needs for a hundred, or will he sleep in the 90s? Remember when Steve Waugh went to a century off the final ball of the day in Sydney? The SCG almost collapsed. Pattinson to bowl. Three dots, then four. Bell looks to have settled for a nervous sleep. A single from the fifth ball means Bell will rest on 95, with Clarke making Broad wait for the final delivery. Three gullies, but it's down the leg side. England close on 326-6, they lead by 261.



Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott, BBC Test Match Special

"I certainly won't be crying for Australia. It shouldn't over-ride the fact that Ian Bell has played one of his best ever innings for England. I thought Kevin Pietersen played well today and Stuart Broad played quite well too. There has been some splendid cricket. I still think it's a good pitch to bat on, so I'm not sure England will definitely win it, because it's not one of those pitches were you will flash the ball around."

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The Ashes: Stuart Broad's 'miraculous' escape angers Australia


Broad had made 37 when he edged debutant spinner Ashton Agar to Australian skipper Michael Clarke. The tourists couldn't believe the verdict but ultimately, as they'd already used up both their two permitted reviews in the innings, they had to accept it.


Australia were left fuming as England's Stuart Broad enjoyed a massive slice of luck on the third day of the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge on Friday.


Broad, on his Nottinghamshire home ground, had made 37, with England then 297 for seven in their second innings, when he edged teenage debutant spinner Ashton Agar.


The ball clipped wicketkeeper Brad Haddin's gloves and then flew to Australia captain Michael Clarke at first slip.


Australia appealed for the catch but leading Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar ruled in the batsman's favour as Broad stood his ground.


The tourists couldn't believe the verdict but ultimately, as they'd already used up both their two permitted reviews in the innings, they had to accept it.


Australia coach Darren Lehmann's anger on the dressing room balcony was clearly visible after television replays showed Broad had got a thick edge.


Former England captain Michael Vaughan, who played alongside Lehmann at Yorkshire, sympathised with Australia.


"The review system was brought in to get rid of the howler, I don't see why umpire Dar couldn't have had someone in his ear saying you've got that one wrong let's just overturn that quickly," said Vaughan, now working as a commentator for BBC Radio's Test Match Special.


"This has been a terrific game but I think a lot will be talked about that incident, which is sad."


Earlier on Friday, Australia ran out of reviews when they decided to challenge a not out verdict following James Pattinson's hugely optimistic lbw appeal against Jonny Bairstow, which replays showed was missing leg stump.


'Walking', the practice whereby batsmen gave themselves out without waiting for the umpire's decision, was once a long-established tradition in English county cricket and 'non-walkers' were considered unsporting.


However, the custom in Australian cricket, from even as far back as batting great Don Bradman's time, has been to wait for the umpire's verdict.


Despite former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, who retired from international duty in 2008, being a noted 'walker', few other modern players have copied his lead, particularly now that decisions can be challenged by recourse to technology.


England themselves had been angered Thursday by third umpire Marais Erasmus after the South African gave Jonathan Trott out lbw when the hosts were convinced the batsman had hit the ball and denied them the wicket of Ashton Agar, on six, when they thought the 19-year-old debutant had been stumped.


Agar went on to make 98 -- the highest score by a Test match No 11.


England paceman James Anderson, speaking after play Thursday, said Trott's dismissal was "very frustrating".


Meanwhile former England captain turned Sky Sports commentator Bob Willis said Trott's exit was a "staggeringly bad" decision, while the Agar call was "shocking".



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I'm so glad Australia haven't disappointed. Their recent form has been poor but Ashes is different. I knew they'd step it up. Poms won't lost easy though, I'm predicting a very close series.


AUS 0/39 after 10.1 overs.

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