I am writing this minutes after an unlikely England men’s Ashes cricket victory, bearing in mind that eighteen months ago they were comprehensively thumped playing when playing Australia in Australia. Given recent England disasters, especially the recent World Cup ignominy and Barbados debacle, as well as recently the Australian ascendency, it is with a feeling of elation I do so while at the same time listening to various comments and speeches made.
When the fourth test began on Thursday, I needed to pluck up courage to switch on fearing the worst. An hour into the match, I did switch on and to my amazement over half the Australian side had been bowled out and soon after the side was all out for a paltry 60, with Broad’s doing the main damage. The performance of their other bowlers, Wood, Stokes and Finn, was also impressive. This was helped by some good batting performances, notably in the lower order, as well as some splendid catching.
Then this was followed up with some incredible batting, led by Root, and the game looked like it was nigh over. And so it transpired, although Australian’s batting capitulation, nominally because of their inability to cope with typically English conditions and the swinging ball, especially in the first innings, is what did it. We look forward to the fifth and final test, although it will be an anti-climax. Given the intensity of past Ashes confrontations, I can’t say I am all that sorry for the vanquished. Yet commiserations Australia and good luck Michael Clarke, their excellent captain, who has just announced he will be standing down. I am surprised Australia caved in as they did but with their great traditions and strength of mind they can’t be written off, but I have no doubt they will be back.
Well done England, with so many superb performances, especially by the relative newbies. But realize this, unlike with certain previous West Indian and Australian sides, you aren’t in the great category yet. Go and win this winter in South Africa, retain the Ashes in Australia and win on the Indian sub-continent, and I will think again. But thanks again for lighting up this summer for so many.