Firstly a massive well done to Australia for completely dominating a shocking England team 5-0 – fully deserved. Their brand of cricket was outstanding and the old adage of never taking your foot off a wounded teams neck was well and truly borne out. Big congrats you deserve all the plaudits, the Ashes are yours – well hopefully till only 2015 anyways.
Ok the denouement of this tour was England being bowled out for 166 (in 31.4 overs and losing the final test match in under three days) – an absolutely pathetic performance (esp after 155 all out in the first innings). A chastened team hammered by a side they beat 3-0 (which flattered England in my opinion – see next paragraph for more) in the summer. The harsh reality is as follows Brisbane – lost by 381 runs, Adelaide – lost by 218 runs, Perth – lost by 150 runs, Melbourne – lost by eight wickets, Sydney – lost by 281 runs. A battering even for non-cricketing aficionados and 5-0 is a proper reflection of what went on and more!!!!!!!
This tour has been a shambles (two players have voluntarily left the tour in differing circumstances) a team shrouded in complacency (and arrogance for me) against a good (but not great) Australian team who went for England – who then just wilted under the pressure. England won 3-0 during the Summer of 2013, but in my opinion they weren’t three tests better, 3-1 or 2-1 would have been a fairer reflection and if that had been the result I have a feeling England may not have been so laissez-faire about their return trip down under.
Australia dealt with their issues from the summer (ie mainly their batting was poor and they struggled to deal with England’s attack in english conditions) so they prepared pitches to blunt the England bowlers and to enhance their own very potent bowling attack. So the key was how well the tourists batted – one word for this SHOCKINGLY!!!!!!!. Over the summer England’s batting was not great (they had not scored over 400 in an innings since the tour of New Zealand in March of 2013) this trend unfortunately continued.
No English batsmen scored over 300 runs (six of the Australians managed this). England only managed one, yes just ONE century and that was by newcomer Ben Stokes who was playing in his maiden test match, (Australia had ten centuries, shared across six batsmen). Top run scorer for England was Kevin Pietersen at 294, (six Australian batsmen scored more runs). I could go on. These shocking stats compound the fact that England’s bowlers who I acknowledge weren’t as effective on the Australian pitches, but bowled relatively well but hardly ever had anything to defend. It was far too easy for the Australian’s and that’s what has disappointed me the most, NO FIGHT, NO PRIDE and sometimes it did look from the outside that the players did NOT CARE.
So where now for England. Current captain Alastair Cook (his words after the humbling in Sydney “I want to be the man to try and turn this around. Whether I get that opportunity is not my decision”) would refute my above comments about fight, pride and caring but he does acknowledge that the team have not been good enough especially the batting unit not putting a decent amount of runs on the board to give the bowlers something to defend. Head Coach Andy Flower is under pressure and stated in the aftermath of the Sydney Test “This wasn’t good enough and there will be changes” and “The pace rocked our batting order in the first Test and we never recovered. We should have, but we didn’t”. Though I was disappointed with the following comment (“We’ve under-performed badly on this tour. If I’m honest we could have seen this coming earlier than now…”) – I could have told you that and justifies to some extent my previous comments re: complacency and arrogance. More worrying is WHY nothing has been done about these issues – even after a 3-0 series win, you know what they say you need to improve even after victory as other teams (especially a wounded Australia) are going to get better and put more pressure on to make the game more of a contest.
Both Cook and Flower have been given (the dreaded) vote of confidence by ECB Chief Executive, David Collier – though the timing of this just before the second day of the Sydney Test (and a subsequent batting collaspe) is tad worryingly. Personally I do feel that they do deserve another chance as you do need to take the rough with the smooth. Flower (previously with Andrew Strauss as captain and now with Cook) has been in charge during England’s rise to second in the test rankings and they have won three Ashes series in a row and won in India, but there are issues which seriously need to be addressed and if they aren’t then a change at the top will be required. One thing I would hope happens is that Graham Gooch is relieved of his duties as batting coach as clearly something is not working and has been the case way before even the summer Ashes series in England. Furthermore I would hope the new Chairman of Selectors, James Whittaker decides on a clear policy as some of the choices for this tour were poor, and in my opinion their seems to be a ‘face fits / job for the boys’ mentality. I still cant work out how the highest wicket taker in the first division of the County Championship is left out of the tour in favour of three tall fast bowlers!!!!!!! (One played in the first test and was promptly dropped and another played in the final test and I imagine he will be dropped too)
So an interesting time now for both teams, Australia go to South Africa in February and March for a three test series which is arguably between the top two sides in test cricket at the current moment. England head back to their home comforts with two tests against Sri Lanka then a five test series against India and if they don’t perform I suspect a new captain and coach will be in place for any winter tours in late 2014.
England are still a decent team but need to rebuild their confidence and fast. Australia return to England in 18 months time – and it would not surprise me if the three lions bounce back and banish the pain from the last 6 / 7 weeks. WORK TO BE DONE #UNDERSTATEMENT.
Your thoughts??????? – feel free to leave a comment, you can also tweet me @biggishmouth or go to my facebook page at www.facebook.com/thebiggishmouth
ps a quick joke (literally) how can you go 3-0 up and then lose 5-3??????? – ask the England Ashes touring party of 2013/14 🙁