It was only two weeks ago I reflected on what was then the forthcoming Ashes cricket tests to be played over the next few weeks. As a lover of the game of cricket, especially the long form of the game, this represents the pinnacle of competitive cricket. While I hoped England would do well and might even edge a series victory, I realized the odds on doing so, going by recent past performances and current form, were not favourable, although there were encouraging signs of a renaissance in English fortunes.
Having these last few days been keenly following what turned out to be a fascinating game, exceeding expectations, sometimes live action (via Internet radio) but then catching up with end of day podcasts, I have been greatly encouraged by the English performance and a little disappointed by the Australian one. It seems to me that the English outplayed and overwhelmed the old enemy in every department of the game, with most of its new faces coming good, as well as more established figures (Root: batting; Anderson, Broad: bowling) putting in more than creditable performances. The enigmatic spinner (Moeen) was perhaps my man of the match. Although he is not in the top drawer of spin bowlers, he still managed to take crucial wickets and his making of important runs was a bonus. Mention should be made of Cook the captain. While his batting performance was modest his captaincy on this occasion was outstanding. While Australia were without their star bowler (Harris), had to endure conditions that compared to the English they were less accustomed to and had luck go against them (e.g. dropping Root before scoring), this should not take anything away from the English performance. But nothing should be taken for granted. There are four more test matches to play and Australia is a tough side with class players and will take some beating.
I note England have announced the same squad for next week’s Lord’s test and are no doubt confident. I for one will be following the unfolding of what looks to be a fascinating series of cricket and resisting the temptation to multi-task (listen to my beloved TMS commentary while getting on with work). I hope that this more positive brand of cricket will continue e.g. as evidenced by the faster than what we have been accustomed to in the past scoring rate and yet constantly adapting to the conditions and situations that will be encountered – always a fascinating prospect to anticipate. Let’s hope it will be a great series to match the one that took place ten years ago, with lots of heroic performances. May cricket be the winner!