December 18, 2006

The Ashes are gone… what happened?

Amidst flashes of English inspiration, the Australians have reiterated just what a fine team they are and sorted out the Ashes series in short order. I assume that the rest of the series will be more of the same, possibly ending up 4-0 or 4-1.

One positive that can be drawn from the wreckage is just how much character the team has. It had a lot of it last winter and clearly has much more now. In a relentless search for something to be upbeat about in front of the media, character is certainly something the England team has too much of presently, and it could do with a bit less.

The umpires have the wood on poor old Andrew Strauss at the moment and it remains to be seen how many more times they will get him out this series. I am, in fact, a qualified umpire so I will put my hand up to how hard a job it is. And how hard it is to practice (look at a wall and count to six regularly?) but there have been some poor decisions made and I think it has not evened out yet. Possibly the umpires are underprepared, too, by the lack of preparatory cricket that’s been played on tour and so are unused to the pitches themselves. It makes it hard to keep hold of the Ashes if some of the Australian batsmen have to be got out two or three times before they are out.

But let’s look for the positives and say, hey, it looks like we have some players who are getting their games sorted out and approaching some sort of consistency: Bell, Pietersen, Collingwood. I think the main problem is that the bowlers have not really fired as a unit. With Harmison, one swallow never makes a summer and it’s too early to tell with Panesar to be fair. And then look at the Australians: Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, the other Clark, McGrath. Those are great players in comparison and to have all of them in one side: wow! I know I should add in Shane Warne, too, but so far, he’s having to buy his wickets at quite a price. However, just to show that it’s not all firing for the Australians, Brett Lee is a terrific athlete but he’s not contributing much in this series thus far.

No wonder the Aussies won! I think people forget how close the 2005 Ashes really were. The England team in 2009 needs to be better than that.

Maybe the Ashes are done and sorted now we can get down to some serious cricket.

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