England cricket
England celebrate crushing Australia in Cardiff.Getty Images

England took a step towards regaining the Ashes by completing a 169-run thrashing of Australia on a stunning fourth day win in Cardiff.

Alastair Cook's side take a 1-0 series lead into the second Test at Lord's starting on 16 July after taking all ten Australia second innings wickets with a day to spare at the Swalec Stadium as Trevor Bayliss' era as coach began with victory.

Australia only briefly flirted with successfully chasing down the 412 which would have been the highest score to win an Ashes Test, with David Warner making 52, but his dismissal from the final ball before lunch swung the momentum.

Mitchell Johnson (77) provided late resistance with his 11th career half century but an enterprising England completed victory with over an hour of play remaining to continue Australia's woeful record in the Welsh capital in a fine response to the 5-0 whitewash in the 2013/14 winter.

While England have made a mockery of pre-series predictions by taking an early lead, Australia head into the second Test with questions over the future of a number of players including Shane Watson, who was dismissed lbw for the 29th time in his Test career.

Concerns over Mitchell Starc's ankle injury, the form of Brad Haddin, who dropped man-of-the-match Joe Root decisively on day one with England on the rack, and Michael Clarke's ineffectiveness will need to be answered before the Ashes holders arrive in London.

Stuart Broad
Broad produced his very best to set the tone for England.Getty Images

With Australia faced with requiring the third highest fourth innings score to win a Test match, the tourists knew their success during the testing new ball period would provide a good indication of their success.

Opening pair Chris Rogers and Warner both rode their luck in the opening hour as the visitors clung on desperately to hopes of claiming an unlikely win.

Stuart Broad managed to beat Warner's bat on numerous occasions during a fine opening spell, while Rogers - seeking a world record eighth straight Test half century - was put down by Root at second slip on four.

But in the Nottinghamshire seamer's fifth over he was rewarded for an inspired spell of frugal bowling with the first wicket as Rogers (10) edged low to Ian Bell.

Warner, after surviving the new ball, and Steven Smith launched a firm counter-attack with 22 runs scored off Moeen Ali's two-over spell as the pair went to the fastest half century partnership of the match off 40 balls.

Both men continued to give England encouragement with thick edges flying through the slips and balls continuing to agonisingly pass the edge of the bat but yet the runs continued to flow as the run rate approach four an over.

Alastair Cook
Cook took a stunning catch to help dismiss Brad Haddin.Getty Images

The New South Wales-born Warner was the main protagonist and went to his half-century off 72 balls with an innings which combined resilience with adventure.

However, Australia were unable to negotiate the remainder of the morning session without losing a wicket as the final over before lunch saw Ali trap Warner lbw; a critical breakthrough which eased tension within the England ranks.

That change in momentum continued in the first full over after lunch as Smith (33), who had earlier survived a huge caught behind appeal, glanced the superb Broad straight into the clutches of Bell.

Broad soon took his third wicket when Clarke totally miss-timed an off-drive for a paltry score of 4 and a third Australian batsman fell in the space of 26 balls when Mark Wood caught the edge of Adam Voges (1).

Australia's chase was by now forlorn, with batsman forced to adopt a defensive stance in order to grind out an improbably draw.

Shane Watson
Watson's position will now be under review after he was dismissed lbw for the 29th time in his career.Getty Images

And even brief flirtations with attack were met by moments of England inspiration as Cook took a remarkable catch to dismiss Brad Haddin (7) after initially spilling a slog to mid-wicket, before taking the catch one-handed at the second attempt.

A brief period where the game moved along at a slow pace was ended when Wood had Watson (19) lbw for the 29th time in his Test career, to break a period of resistance from Australia.

After tea, Johnson took on an attacking guise in an attempt to attach some respectability to Australia's performance and the all-rounder went to his fifty in 70 balls with a four pushed delightfully through cover.

The partnership between Johnson and Starc (17) was beginning to become moderately concerning from an England point of view, but another moment of brilliance in the field ended the 72-run partnership as the latter edged Root and when Cook parried the catch, Adam Lyth took the diving catch.

Johnson soon followed when he edged Root to Lyth and England completed the handsome victory when Josh Hazlewood (14) picked out the first innings centurion off Ali as Australia were bowled out for 242 after being blown away on day four.