A little prior to the first of five tests to be played in this summer’s men’s Ashes cricket series, I posted my first of what I had envisaged as being a series of two blog postings on the matter. Having given my initial thoughts, I looked forward to posting my reflections after all the tests had been played in this keenly anticipated series, but given the twists and turns some interim posts seemed in order. No one could have predicted the outcomes in the two tests played so far. It is strange how fortunes change so quickly and unexpectedly, but that is what has happened. I have been out most of the day and while there was no way England were going to win this particular match, yet given the benign batting conditions I imagined they had every chance to save the game when Australia chose to declare, probably around lunchtime with an unassailable lead and England would bat to save the match. I suspect though, upon reflection, England were so psychologically damaged, their capitulation was nigh inevitable. Alas, when I returned home later this afternoon, I found England had lost comprehensively and, after the England’s domination in the first test, in all departments of the game, in this second test it was all Australia and, whichever way you look, they were deserving winners and we were disappointing losers. With over half a series to go, this is now my third posting (here and here for the first two) and I now propose to post after each remaining test. While it is all square, Australia now have the psychological edge.
While test match cricket is not exactly life and death, I am nevertheless still in a state of shock following England’s defeat today, just as I was a week ago when Australia was defeated, but as an England supporter my emotions were different then compared to now. One can reflect what might have been and what might happen in the three remaining matches. One thing is certain, the confidence England gained that they were going to do well has been dealt a severe blow (reminding me of Kipling’s triumph and disaster poem), and then that doesn’t necessary make Australia clear favourites, any more than England’s earlier victory might have made them clear favourites. I should make it clear that Australia played well and were worthy winners. While things might have turned out differently if only … what seems clear to me was their amazing second wicket partnership in the first innings that went on and on, followed later by some exceptional Australian quick bowling and some poor English batting, is what won it for Australia. While the proof is not conclusive on the matter, it seemed making the pitch benign to negate the Australian quick bowlers backfired and it favoured the Australians in this instance rather than the English, and this is one area when playing at home turned out not to be an advantage. Well done Australia, but it is my hope and expectation that England will recover from this defeat, learn the necessary lessons and most of all put in a commiserate performance as that in the first test and definitely unlike that in the second. Nothing more can be expected. I dare say I will recover and eagerly anticipate the next game. As they say: “may the best team win” and as I say: “may that be England”!