The title of this blog is definitely – in my opinion anyways – been the England cricket teams mantra throughout this test series and they have won the Ashes 3-0 so objective achieved and massive credit – three series wins in a row (four out of five) is an outstanding achievement but will it be a connect ‘four’ in a row???????
So the final test at the Oval could have ended in a damp squib, it actually ended in a bit of a farce (well done AGAIN ICC). Thanks to an extremely generous declaration by Michael Clarke England nearly chased down the 227 runs in 44 overs but bad light forced the end of play through regulations – utterly ridiculous. England would have likely won – though I still don’t understand how any of the players or ECB officials could complain too much as there have been light issues mainly in England’s favour through the series, so if the light reading was worse than when they have gone off the field before then the umpires had no choice – despite it being one of the silliest decisions in test cricket (fans losing out again). The booing of the Australian captain was uncalled for in my opinion – if not for him then the last day would have been utterly pointless.
So my prediction of a result in the 5th test was pretty close but in my defence I had no idea that the England selectors were sending in an experimental team with the introduction of new caps Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan – which I think we can say were not a success. Adding to that England using their ‘go slow’ tactics (not the first time in athe series) as the Australian’s piled on the runs – at one point 11 overs in an hour – disgraceful. When batting it was turgid – understandable as they did not want to lose the match – but going at two an over – not great – especially on a flat track, but with England’s batting woes through the season – they knew getting to the follow on target (irrespective of a wash out) was the key to securing a draw (though it was nearly so much better) and making sure the Aussie’s did not get winning momentum going onto the Australian leg of this back to back Ashes series
So where are the teams at come the end of the series:-
As for England they have achieved what they set out to do i.e. retain the Ashes. There are still issues. The batting has not been great – admittedly against a very good Australian attack. There is a thought that the pitches (which were prepared to help take spin for Graeme Swann) were not all true batting pitches, but I’d argue, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen, Joe Root to a lesser extent managed to score big runs – but a lot of the other batsmen seemed to get in then get out. Work is needed on this, as in Australia the pitches will be prepared to help the Oz pace attack and be very fast and bouncy. The bowling has been very good (apart from this last test), even though Jimmy Anderson has not been at his best since is ’10 for’ at Trent Bridge – Broad, Bresnan and of course Swann have come to the party. As said the pitches wont be prepared to help the England bowlers but as a unit they have bowled very well over the last few years and they have done it before in Australia, so they should go in feeling confident (as long as selectors – get the the team right!!!!!!!)
So what now for Oz. As I have said before – its all about their batting – if they can get totals of 350+ in their first innings they will be extremely competitive the problem is, they are very prone to a batting collapse!!!!!!! This the the key to the next series, they need to go away and work on their techniques and get back to posting totals that they can defend. Another issue is their mental state. They have won none of their last nine test matches (losing seven and drawing two). 3-0 is a bit harsh on Australia really, but when they had their chances they could not deal with the pressure (England did) and they need to get over this as the longer they go without a test match victory the longer they will remember the losses.
So what is going to happen in Australia. On this series England in my opinion are slightly flattered by the 3-0 by that I mean from what I saw they were not three tests better than Australia (they were just brilliant at taking their winning opportunities). 3-1 would have been a fairer reflection. But on top of that England did not perform at their best, now was that tiredness or just not being as good as they think they are. For me they are the holders and favourites when they head to Australia and if they can improve their batting then they should return with the urn. I’m going 2-1 to England going into the last test and that will be good enough to retain the urn. Roll on November 21st I say – Brisbane awaits.
So what are your thoughts – let me know
ps Four previous blogs on the Ashes so you can check out my thoughts across the series.