Monday, 18 December 2006

They think it's all over...

...and it is. Australia have won the Third Test by 206 runs and with it take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five match series. England held onto The Ashes for a meagre 463 days from that glorious afternoon at The Oval back in September 2005.

Despite the brave and patient rearguard action from Pietersen (60*) and - at last - Flintoff (51) after an excellent 116 from young Alastair Cook earlier in the innings, it was too little too late after the Aussies amassed a huge total and left England two days to bat out and save the game.

The questions will start to be asked:
  • Why did we leave out Monty Panesar, clearly our most potent spinner in the last ten years (and one the Aussies had never faced)?
  • Why were Giles and Jones selected when the former hadn't played for a year and the latter has been erratic with the bat, his supposed advantage over Chris Read (who must be spitting feathers)?
  • Where was the Flintoff of old with the bat (although to be fair, he bowled his heart out with a dodgy ankle)?
  • How can someone as dour as Collingwood score 200 in one match and then look like a rabbit in the headlights the next?
  • Why did it take Harmison ten days of cricket to wake up?
  • Is Anderson really better than Jon Lewis? Stuart Broad? Me, for that matter?
I accept that it makes a huge difference playing at home, with the glorious English summer and the entire country behind you, (and, importantly, not distracted by any European or World Cup football in 2005). It's hard for us to get excited when the matches are in the middle of the night AND only on Sky (although hats off to the Brighton boys for combining the cricket with a massive party one Friday night; I can only imagine Aggers MC-ing about the seagulls over some rinsing hardcore drum 'n' bass...) At the end of the day (Brian) the Australians were hurt badly by the loss last time (it had been 16 years since they last experienced it) and they simply wanted it more. Ponting was ruthless as both captain and batsman, averaging an astonishing 105 and marshalling his troops brilliantly. He may look like a little rat-faced George W. Bush-a-like but you have to doff your cap, slightly. They didn't drop as many catches and they piled on the pressure when England started to look shaky, which they did at at least one point in every match, especially the disgraceful collapse in Adelaide.

So what can we take from this?
  • Cook looks like a fine prospect, needs temperament, will come with experience (he is only 21)
  • Strauss should be captain, full stop, must make hundreds not thirties
  • Bell is a good player, have to leave him in, even if Vaughan returns, but...
  • Collingwood has a great average on this tour but is fighting for the place with Bell (and I guess, Key) - admittedly his astonishing fielding may get him the nod at times
  • KP has been patchy this time but is sheer class, prefers a target to chase rather than having to bat out a day (though that is part of Test Match cricket, Kev mate...)
  • Flintoff does not need the captaincy on top of being the main strike bowler and an attacking batsman - politely relieve him and let him be magnificent again
  • Jones has blown it, Read is surely in - he owns a bat too, you know :)
  • Panesar must start every test - when did the Aussies ever drop Warne after looking at the pitch and deciding it wouldn't take spin?
  • Giles is now the second spinner to the mighty Panesar, as and when required
  • Anderson? Mahmood? Forget it, surely Stuart Broad is the way forward, young & fiery (as he proved in the Twenty20 final)
  • Hoggard continues to surprise, getting wickets through sheer grit, must stay but really should be second change to...
  • Harmison can turn it on, but once in six innings is poor for a bowler of his apparent quality, needs work and fast
Other than that, there are two more to play - this is the time to let the team pick itself and shy away from Fletcher's favourites. We must attack and try to salvage some pride and if we lose 5-0, who cares? The Ashes are lost and England is in mourning (once it wakes up)

[cue much weeping into skinny camel latte]


  1. it'll be a whitewash, you know...

  2. Probably. I don't care now. If one of the newer players gets a good score, or takes 5 wickets, or makes a tricky stumping, that'll do. We need to know the future of English cricket is sound and we may as well go down trying to find out. It can't possible save Fletcher, he has to fall on his sword and some of the other selectors should be taking a good hard look too.

  3. You should care because it will be very embarrassing and more importantly for the team, demoralising. Can't expect them to bounce back from a whitewash in time for the World Cup.

    oh well, its only a game....

  4. I do care in so much as wanting them to play better. If they still lose both games then at least some good will have come of it if we find the correct team to take forward.

    *puts hands over ears for 'only a game' comment*