CARDIFF: England beat Australia by 169 runs to win the first Ashes test at Sophia Gardens today. The Australians began the day needing an Ashes-record and improbable 412 to win with plenty of time, but were all out for 242 in 71 overs, an hour after tea.

The visitors were favored as the Ashes holders, and riding high from a Cricket World Cup triumph, sweep of the West Indies in the Caribbean, and comfortable warmup wins.

But they were out-played on a slow pitch, out-led, and made to pay for errors by an England side which rebounded from a heavy defeat to New Zealand at Leeds in its last test.

The result was emphatic and key: The winner of the first test has won 15 of the last 17 Ashes series, including the last five.

Australia's chase turned on the stroke of lunch, when David Warner was out leg-before to offspinner Moeen Ali for 52. 

Instead of reaching the break at 97-1 with a partnership purring between Warner and Smith at 4.6 runs per over, Australia was dealt a double blow, on the scoreboard and psychologically.

A bolstered England extended lunch for another seven overs by devouring world No. 1-ranked test batsman Steve Smith, captain Michael Clarke, and Adam Voges.

Smith met a lifter from fast bowler Stuart Broad and steered it to Ian Bell in the slips. After averaging 97 for more than a year, Smith scored a pair of 33s in Cardiff.

If that felt like the match was as good as over for Australia, it felt certain four overs later.

Clarke took until his 12th ball to get off the mark with a boundary off Broad to fine leg, then was out next ball hitting Broad straight to Ben Stokes at backward point.

Allrounder Shane Watson didn't have enough support to chase down the target, but he needed a big score to justify his place in the team after keeping out the in-form Mitch Marsh. The odds did not favor Watson.