As promised, here is the latest installment in this series on this summer’s men’s Ashes cricket, following England’s comprehensive defeat over Australia in the third test at Edgbaston, and having listened to what the TMS pundits had to say on what has happened. None of cricket matches have gone to script and in each match one side was far superior to the other, all with unexpected outcomes.
Following England’s amazing victory in the first test we had another amazing victory, this time by Australia, in the second test, and a further amazing victory by England in the third. While English supporters may well feel their team is in the driving seat for the fourth test next Thursday at Trent Bridge, it would be premature to call it and we wait with keen anticipation for the next episode.
First test – England outplayed Australia in all departments of the game, helped a bit by the pitch, and in doing so won over many supporters by their positive, attritional brand of cricket.
Second test – Australia outplayed England on a benign pitch suiting their quick bowlers, but it was that fantastic Australian second wicket stand that broke England down. England’s batting collapses was also a factor as was their capitulation on a pitch favoring batters, albeit against good aggressive bowling.
Third test – England outplayed Australia on a helpful pitch for bowlers, especially the English contingent. England’s batting was a mixed affair but with some good performance e.g. late order stand between Ali and Broad. Bell batted well. Fantastic first innings bowling spells by Jimmy Anderson and second innings by Steven Finn is what did it for England but with some notable exceptions Australia’s batters failed to adjust to typically English conditions.
Fourth and fifth test – who knows – no doubt Australia will be licking their wounds but such is their mental strength I anticipate they will learn lessons and bounce back. There is a question mark over their captain’s recent form. Clarke has served his country well and I for one hope he regains his form. While England will be cock a hoop, they mustn’t rest on their laurels and must be disciplined. It looks like they will lose their star bowler (Anderson) but I hope other bowlers will step up to the plate. There are still doubts about the quality of one of their openers (Lythe) and their spinner (Ali). No doubt they will be hoping for a seamer friendly pitch.
I look forward to the remaining two tests. I hope we will have a ding donger just as we did in 2005 and that cricket will be the winner and so will England, but only if they play the better cricket. As a final, slightly related thought, while I have to slightly favour England to regain the Ashes if I were a betting man, it would be a different story if the series were played in Australia. Both sides have heaps of talent but neither would I categorise as great, unlike certain West Indies and Australian sides of old. For that they would need to win in the others country and then to win on the Indian sub-continent.