At last, an English summer?

English cricket is in an unusual position—they are actually leading in an Ashes series! This has only happened once before since I started following cricket (and even then they lost the series)! The good thing is, for so-called neutral (!) viewers such as myself, it sets the series up for grabs in the fifth and final Test at the Oval: if Australia win to level the series at 2-all, they keep the Ashes; if England win or it’s a draw, they take the Ashes.

To be honest, though, I have never seen such an aimless Australian team. Not even the most rabid England supporter will believe in their heart of hearts that the English side is actually better; it’s just that the visitors have never really got their act together. Ever since they landed in England this year, something has seemed amiss. Did Australia think they only had to turn up to retain the Ashes? (Not that one would blame them, given recent Ashes history!)

Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Ricky Ponting (save his match-saving century at Old Trafford), Simon Katich and, most notably, Adam Gilchrist and Jason Gillespie—all decided to lose form right now. In fact, Shane Warne and Brett Lee seem to have done more than their more illustrious batting teammates. (Technically, the batting averages are being topped by none other than Test cricket’s most successful number 11, Glenn McGrath, the only batsman England haven’t been able to dismiss yet!)

Dropped catches, silly runouts, rash shots and some inexplicable captaincy have been the cause of Aussie downfall this summer. Yes, they have shown sparks of that indomitable spirit when the chips have been very badly down, but the intensity—and, dare I mention, professionalism?—has been woefully missing. Thrice England have stuttered after having Australia by the short and curlies. All they had to do was pull; instead they brought out the shampoo!

Perhaps it’s time to find out if the cliche about the tough getting going when the going is tough is true.


5 Replies to “At last, an English summer?”

  1. In fact, this Ashes series bears more than a passing resemblance to the India-Australia series in 2001, which India won memorably. In that series too, a number of Australian players went “missing” (Gilchrist, Ponting, Slater, Langer, Warne, Fleming and Kasparowicz). It seemed that the only people standing between India and victory were Steve Waugh, Hayden, McGrath and Gillespie. Even Mark Waugh was relatively off-colour. Australia are paying the price for not sticking to their own high standards of team selection – how is it that Mark Waugh and Darren Lehmann were sacked after just a bad series each while Matthew Hayden is being given an extended run? But for Shane Warne and McGrath, the Aussies would have been 4-0 down. Ponting needs to take some hard decisions, but I reckon he won’t take them. Mind you, this does not mean that this Aussie team is finished. Far from it! I still think they are the best team in the world. As for England, Pakistan will give them a reality check later this winter!

  2. Came here after Hathirpithi’s “shameless plug” on hers. Will be back.
    As far as England is concerned, they have been on the ascendancy these past few years! Their record in their last 20 test matches reads 14 wins, 2 losses and 4 draws. So, ultimately Australia has met England when the teams are going in opposite direction (though their relative records are similar more or less), injuries notwithstanding. The English bowling however has been a revelation! And the captaincy. Inspired or lucky, Vaughan’s bowling changes has been superb and timely. That is another reason for England performing as well as they have. And Australia have been simply outplayed. I wouldnt blame them.
    Nimish: Pakistan giving England a reality check? The only bowler capable of tying England up is Saqlain and he is nowhere in the radar now. The Pakistani pace attack is in shambles with neither Saami or Razaaq being what they were and Shoaib is at best effective in patches. As far as the batsmen are concerned, they are not anything extraordinary. So if the English bowling attack is the same as this one, I think England will be comfortable against Pakistan and come out without sweating.

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