Firstly big congratulations to England. After retaining the Ashes under rainy skies in Manchester, they have now won the Ashes in a blaze of glory at Chester-Le-Street. An amazing post tea session yielded nine Australian wickets with Stuart Broad claiming six of them to end the match with 11-121 which earned him the man of the match*.
So where now for Australia, in the space of just under three hours they went from 109-1 to 224 all out. I was watching on live text as I was at work and just thought lets just get one as their batting is suspect and it came to fruition. To be honest a poor effort by the Aussies – as I’ve said in my previous blogs – yet again their achilles heel – they are basically just not good enough – especially when put under pressure. I feel sorry for their bowlers, they have made England’s batsmen look average most of the time, but get no back up from the their top order and initially in the series, they were getting the runs as well. There have been some improvements (rain cost them a chance of victory at Old Trafford) but when they have had to dig in they have not been good enough at the crucial moments. A lot of head scratching needed from the Australian’s (and I imagine some harsh words and home truths from coach Darren Lehmann), they go to The Oval facing a 4-0 drubbing. Pride is all they can achieve now and I’d imagine they’d take a draw now.
England on the other hand will be cock-a-hoop and they deserve to be, they are three tests to the good and they will be planning on making it 4-0 at The Oval – following the old adage of not taking your foot off the oppositions neck – and with a return series so soon a major psychological advantage to be sought. As I have said before, I’m not convinced about the quality (against better teams) of this England team, but have no doubt about their spirit. Australia’s failings have contributed massively to the current 3-0 scoreline, but credit to the home side, when they sniff victory they take full advantage (something they have been on the end of on numerous occasions). Someone always steps up, in this test, it was KP and Bell with the bat and Swann and Broad with the ball, with understated cameos from Tim Bresnan. Now do you change a winning side – well there are still issues with this England side, the batting has not been great – even with the mitigating circumstances of a decent Aussie bowling attack – I would drop Bairstow and bring in James Taylor. Root will also need to score runs or he may find himself under pressure for a place come the winter trip to Australia.
So onto the Kia Oval. If the weather holds I can see a result as England will be looking to win the series 4-0 and have nothing to lose so would try and contrive a result if necessary. The Australians have to now stand up to the pressure, a win would be a massive turning point and give them something to cling onto for the Oz return. The Ashes may have already been sewn up but the final test is definitely not a dead rubber an intriguing test match awaits.
Let me know your thoughts on this blog and any of my previous ones in regards to The Ashes.
*Despite three crucial centuries, two half centuries, 500 runs exactly and an average of 71.42 – Ian Bell somehow has not won a man of the match award but is very likely to win man of the series – an anomaly if there ever was one :-s