England 238 & 330. Australia 270 & 224. England win the Ashes (hooray!)
Just when you think you’ve got this game sussed – just when you’re certain that Anderson is running on empty, Bresnan is a useless carthorse, and Draco Malfoy Broad needs to sort his length out or sod off back to Hogwarts – suddenly the incredible happens.
At approximately 5pm yesterday, I started writing what can only be described as an obituary. England looked spent. Our bowlers were wilting in the face of a Warner whirlwind (how’s that for an alliteration, huh) and Australia were cruising to an easy victory.
Then good old Draco found some magic. Australia lost their skipper to the ball of the century and the others collapsed like a pack of cards made from filo pastry.
I don’t really care if we won because Broad was inspired, or the Aussies bottled it (or both), England have won the Ashes series. It wasn’t a damp squib like Old Trafford – this was dramatic and memorable – a moment of pure triumph.
I can hardly believe it to be honest. For most of this series England have played like a collection of blind donkeys.
Which players can actually put their hand up and said they played well? Only Bell, Swann and Broad. The others have been pretty awful really. The batting remains a major issue – since we beat India 4-0 at home in 2011, our average first inns score is a paltry 320 – and the coaches seem helpless to stop the rot.
Meanwhile, our bowlers continue to look, well, a bit innocuous on flat surfaces. The four bowler strategy restricts us (Australia’s attack often looked better than ours because Watson gave them a better balance) and our policy of bowling Jimmy Anderson into the ground almost came back to bite our collective behinds.
Many observers also claim, with some validity, that we’re a worse side than we were in 2010/11 (remember all those victories by an innings?). We’re certainly no nearer to beating South Africa – although it will help enormously when Jacques ‘the bane of our existence’ Kallis retires. Where would we be without Ian Bell, who played one of the greatest innings of modern times on Sunday?
The correct response to these questions, of course, is “who cares?!” This is a moment of celebration. We can discuss whether England are regressing as a team, or whether the fact we’ve won without playing well shows we’re getting stronger, another day. The bottom line is we’re beating Australia 3-0 and we’ve hardly got out of third gear.
We can actually look forward to the Oval with confidence too. Michael Clarke looked absolutely distraught yesterday evening, and the Aussies look like they’ve totally forgotten how to win. I haven’t done much betting recently, but I might check out the odds at Unibet before the 5th test. I’m not sure about you, but I think the sound of 4-0 has rather a nice ring to it.
Written in collaboration with Unibet
Yes, great to be 3-0 up but I think it flatters us a bit. Fantastic spell by Broad, though Bresnan started the rot. I can only assume Bres is a regular TFT reader, every time I say he’s a county trundler and we don’t need his batting he pops up with some vital runs and grabs a key wicket from nowhere. I would give Anderson a rest from the Oval Test – let him recharge the batteries for what will be a long return tour.
The batting is still a big concern – Bell’s excellence is barely papering over the cracks. Not sure there’s much benefit in wholesale changes, but I would be tempted to give Carberry a go at the Oval – we need a Plan B for Down Under if our top order problems continue.
I must have been watching a different game but I always thought we would would win. I thought 250 lead would probably be enough, and 300 definitely. In a strange premonition before they batted, I even said to someone “Even if you’re 100 – 0, chasing 300 is still bloody hard batting fourth”.
I looked at the Rogers/Warner knock as the anomaly rather than the norm. I suspect England may have as well. They had had them 117-9 and all out 128 already in this series, and they’ve seen them collapse against other teams recently. They must have had it in their heads that as soon as they got a breakthrough they could rip them out for a hundred.
People’s perspective is completely skewed in this series. It’s the same in message boards on newspaper sites and Cricinfo and the like. People seem to think England should be winning every match by an innings and 300 or it doesn’t really count. This Australia side has problems but they have a world class pace attack and the world’s best batsman. They had the upper hand for 2/3 of the series against South Africa and would have become World no 1 again if they could have got Faf out (as odd as that seems now).
Talk about first world problems. 3-0 up after four games doesn’t lie. I’ve got a long enough memory to recall when that was the thing of dreams…
The one thing that makes the difference between the two teams is match winners.
OK England as a collective haven’t performed as we’d like but individulas have shoved their hands up and been counted at the right time.
Trent Bridge, Anderson & Bell
Lords, Bell, Root & Swann
Chester Le Street – Bell, Broad and lets not forget the ball Bresnan got Warner with, or his vital runs.
At OT we were staring down the barrell, but KP played wonderfully on day 3 to keep the Aussies out in the field. And you never know someone may have kept them at bay for the 2 sessions. I certainly wouldn’t put it past this England team.
You are correct our first innings scores are worrying, but we are still winning test matches despite this.