So the celebrations have began a test match early – ENGLAND HAVE WON THE ASHES!!!!!!! – just in case you were not aware – MASSIVE CONGRATS. Since the debacle at Lords – www.biggishmouthblog.com/sporting-day-london-bad-good – where it looked like the Aussies were about to swamp all over the hosts, Alastair Cook’s men have stepped up to the plate to win the next two tests and bring back the urn early at a raucous Trent Bridge on Saturday 8th August or as I now call it #REGAINSATURDAY. Yes some awful (and lets be honest amateurish at times) Australian batting contributed to their success but as in Cardiff the English strangled the tourists with a mix of inspired bowling and fearless batting – the final test at the Oval will now be one huge celebration and an opportunity to make it 4-1 which will go a long way to vanquish those dark days of the whitewash in Australia in 2013-14 – what a difference 18 months can make.
THE BOWLING FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT
The key is now to build upon this amazing and lets be honest surprising success – I cannot think of anyone who thought the series would be done and dusted before the final test match – though fair play to Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff – who maintained from the beginning England would win and his 3-1 prediction is looking a very good shout now (especially as we have not had our obligatory wash out game). The bowling department looks pretty well stocked, yes James Anderson is nearing the end of his career, but with Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, the returning Steven Finn and all rounder Ben Stokes, the pace department looks strong, especially with backup such as Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan and Liam Plunkett who are already have test experience with up and comers waiting in the wings like Mark Footitt and the current highest wicket taker in County Cricket Chris Rushworth. The main issue is the spin department, Moeen Ali is not a frontline spinner who is going to bowl teams out on spinning pitches, this will need to be looked at if they want to flourish further, especially abroad.
QUESTION MARKS OVER THE BATTING
As for the batting Joe Root has been the standout player (as we stand he is top of the ICC World rankings), Alastair Cook is still a world class opener and Ian Bell is getting back to somewhere near his best after a shocking run of form that nearly saw his England career come to an end. However other than that there are issues – Adam Lyth has struggled but it looks like he will get further opportunity at the Oval and there are still a few question marks over the thoroughly deserved returning Jonny Bairstow despite an excellent 74 at Trent Bridge. Although dropped mid-series Gary Balance will be looking to regain form to earn a recall, though James Taylor and Alex Hales will both think that they will have an opportunity to stake a claim for a place on the winter tours against Pakistan and South Africa. A quick note on Jos Buttler, whose batting has regressed at the same time his wicket-keeping has markedly improved. He deserves to be persevered with for now but he himself knows runs will be needed in his swashbuckling style to keep his place especially since Bairstow is a ready made alternative already in the team.
WARDING AGAINST COMPLACENCY THE KEY
So as mentioned onto Pakistan next (in the UAE) which is funny as in 2005 after an Ashes victory they went over and lost a three test series 2-0 mainly due to complacency thinking their previous summers Ashes victory meant they were unbeatable. Chasing 198 and being bowled out for 175 in the first test is still a vivid memory which showed they weren’t and within 15 months they were being drubbed 5-0 in Australia. They must not allow that to happen again in such a shambolic manner. South Africa is another matter but they will need to show fight against arguably the best test side in the world on their home patch before returning to England for test series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Visits to Bangladesh and India follow this before in the Summer of 2017 South Africa and West Indies visit these shores. Yes celebrate this Ashes victory hard, but it is these two years before England return to Australia in late 2017 that will tell us whether this was just a flash in the pan or the dawn of a new England winning era.
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