Monday, 5 August 2013

The dampest of squibs

The Oval 2005, Pietersen’s heroics regain the Ashes, and rain can’t dent the momentous occasion. The Oval 2009, Swann picks up the final wicket and England regain the Ashes after Broad’s heroics. Melbourne and Sydney 2010/11, England smash Australia twice to retain then win the Ashes.

Old Trafford 2013. Rain falls for two and a half hours, and the captains shake at 4:39. England retain the Ashes in a damp anti-climax. Maybe at Chester-le-Street they’ll provide a lasting winning memory in a thrashing or close thriller, but this damp squib is suitable fitting for what has been a damp squib of a contest.

However well Australia competed at certain points, it was always obvious that England had enough more, and that they were going to win the series. After Trent Bridge, the likelihood of a 2006/7 style evisceration seemed less likely, and now with that gone, the series holds about as little interest as an Ashes series can.

Maybe the rest of the series can retain some interest if England try to find the missing (and I hate this phrase) X-Factor. They need to look for the instinctive way to play, at times everything is too robotic. Now’s the time for some fun. Pietersen and Swann are about the only two players who have that sense, they need to transmit it to the rest of the team, if they’re going to go to the next level.

England will win one of the next two Tests at least, and in the very worst case the final score will be 3-1, the same as down under two and a half years ago. That series however was against a slightly more balanced Australian side, and England - Perth aside - brutally eviscerated them, Three innings victories, all sealed by bowling first, batting big, then bowling Australia out cheaply for a second time.

Even the draw in that series was more of a victory, as England batted Australia into submission in their second innings 517 for one. Go back to 2009 and a poor series is made interesting by two closely matched mercurial teams, Here, a solid but flawed team so far has comprehensively beaten as poor an Australian outfit has there has been in a long time by less of a margin than expected in a series marred by poor umpiring

Thrilling.

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