So Australia avoid the series whitewash and England hang on for the draw. Manchester’s first Ashes test match back at Old Trafford since 2005 (and what a match that was!!!!!!! – a Ponting masterclass and Harmy vs McGrath in a last over shootout) produced a cracking match, unfortunately the rain intervened so a grand stand finish wasn’t on the cards – nevertheless a massive big up to both teams, the fans and the ground staff (I actually know the head groundsman – he a top lad and no one could complain about the strip produced – though the great Geoffrey Boycott did have some things to say about about a few bare patches – BLAH BLAH BLAH to you there Sir Geoff) for producing an absorbing match.
So The Ashes are retained – but no 15 month wait for the next series in Australia – it will only be 3 months this time!!!!!!! – so where now for both teams in the final two tests.
Well at last Australia turned up properly for this test – batting wise (I mean their top order) led by an outstanding innings by Michael Clarke. As mentioned in a previous blog – this is the key to Australia winning test matches – scoring runs to allow their potent bowling attack something to defend when let loose. This needs to continue at Durham and the Oval or it will be much the same as it was at Lords and easy pickings for England. I suspect they would now want to win one of the final two tests, to get some psychological edge before the Australian leg of these back to back series. I expect they will go up to Chester-Le-Street with the same team and attitude of getting some runs in their first innings and hopefully putting the English batsmen under pressure as they are fallible as has been shown in all three tests.
As for England the Ashes have been retained, you’d think job done. It is, but there is still a lot of work to do. Australia’s batting isn’t great, but England’s needs some work too. If not for KP’s magnificent century, then England would have struggled to have made the follow on and the rain that came may not even have been enough to save them. Their batting line up as a unit has not fired this series, individual batsmen have stepped up and produced some great innings – in the previous tests – Bell (Trent Bridge and Lords) and Root (Lords). Cook, Trott and especially Prior have been a bit out of sorts with the bat and has Jonny Bairstow done enough to keep his place??????? the selectors say yes – well for Durham at least. Bowling wise England are fine at the moment, someone always seems to step up – Jimmy at Trent Bridge, Swanny at Lords and Old Trafford with good support from the other bowlers and with players such as Finn, Onions, Panesar and Tremlett in reserve – they have options if a change is required. One thing you have to give this current England team under Andy Flower is that they do make themselves very hard to beat (they were 110-4 in the first innings at Old Trafford) and they do have a habit of bouncing back after a poor performance. The main kudos I give them is that they could easily be 1-2 down in this series, but they are 2-0 up and have the urn under lock and key – the plan now is to win the series outright.
So still plenty of spice left in this series. I think both sides would welcome a win a piece in the last two tests, then they will have something to take with them to Australia. Obviously the onus is more on Australia to earn a win as they could still lose this series 4-0 which will pile the pressure on come Brisbane and the beginning of the first test at the GABBA. I would imagine two battling draws would just about be acceptable for the Aussie’s, though England will be looking to grind their southern hemisphere counterparts into the ground so when they fly over to their antipodean counterparts later in the year the momentum is very much with them.
So what’s going to happen in the rest of this series??????? Do you agree (or maybe completely disagree) with my take on the series so far – (there are two previous blogs on the Ashes 2013) let me know yours thoughts 🙂