Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Rantview of the 3rd Ashes Test in Australia

We knew it was coming. For days the English jumbuck has been circled by a pack of success starved dingoes, and in the Perth heat they finally wilted as the Australians feasted on the spoils of the mother country carcass. Like a drawn out kill, we have known this was coming since the second day at Adelaide, and our senior players who have been the fulcrum of recent English success, have been thoroughly outplayed by their Antipodean counterparts. The Baggy Greens have pulled our pants down, had their fun and no Pom likes it. The Ashes are Aussie once more for the first time since 2009.


Perth is one of the most remote cities in the world, and the WACA has a feel of the 70's about it. Flanked by six distinctive floodlights, it even has a grassy knoll, and Alastair Cook must have felt like JFK in Dallas all those years ago. England needed his golden duck in the second dig, like a hole in the head, and keeping on the American presidential theme I enjoyed this Test match as much as Mrs Lincoln would have enjoyed that infamous theatre performance in 1865. Once the quickest pitch in the world, this one was brilliantly described by Jarrod Kimber as "white and virginal at the start, but by Day 2 had started turning tricks to pay for its habit". Mosaic like towards the end, this was a cracked whore. If Jonathan Trott had been here scratching out his guard, the whole thing would have crumbled quicker than Daniella Westbrook's septum. In temperatures which touched 40 degrees in the shade, it was in Middlesex keeping rhyming slang, seriously 'Ben Scott'.

This series has been in many ways similar to the one on our own shores last summer. Both home sides captain won the toss regularly and both home sides have had the rub of the green with regards to reviews. Both host sides have been downright rude to their guests as well. So it was that Michael Clarke won his third toss in a row, in a game England had to at least draw to keep their fading hopes alive. Again England penetrated the Aussie top order having them at at 142-5, again Haddin held it together in the middle. Backed by an ugly Steve Smith hundred (is that the innings or the person? - Ed) they managed 385. Brad Haddin has had a splendid series and been a constant thorn in the English side.

Haddin...superb series

When England came to bat, our hopes were high with an opening stand of 85 between Carberry and Cook. As usual they were soon deflated, although Root was unlucky with his DRS. Just when you think you haven't nicked one the last thing you want is Warner offering you his advice. The next dismissal was like the old kids show Wacaday at the WACA, with KP as Timmy Mallet.

251 was the mere offering of England with Siddle and Harris using their experience to become the architects of this demolition job. Under no pressure in the second knock for the third time this series the cerebral pairing of Warner and Watto helped themselves to hundreds. Warner's celebrations of his hundred when he bellowed at Matt Prior were not the best advert for the game for any schoolboys watching. England players refused to clap Watson's ton. Much has been said about the nastiness of these two teams with each other but in reality, it is nothing new in Ashes battles. Allan Border, stuffed over here in 85 regularly enjoyed a post match vino with Botham and Gower, and they were shocked in 1989 when he virtually blanked them all summer under instructions to toughen up by Bobby Simpson. Simon Jones hurling the ball at Matt Hayden in 2005 was another one that sticks in the memory of how to set a tone. How this generation feel about each other at the end of the series, time will only tell. George Bailey even took Anderson for 28 off of the final over. It was the equivalent of booting a bloke in the head when he is on the deck, already unconscious.

Some of England's shot selection made as much sense as this bloke!

So England needing 500 plus on a cracked pitch were struggling. Cook went first ball, KP played another brainless shot and too many England players got in and then out. Low scores will always happen, but when you get to twenty you should go on. England most definitely haven't and some of the strokes again when you are playing for a draw made about as much sense as Nelson Mandela's sign language expert to a deaf bloke. One small crumb of comfort was a maiden Test hundred for Ben Stokes. Not bad for a ginger lad in that heat and on a pitch that had cracked so much that you could put your hand down it. I have met many a sexual deviant over the years at many cricket clubs, but none who have ever fisted a cricket pitch. Stokes and Carberry have at least shown a bit of heart. I'll get onto the others later...

The WACA track

And so, fittingly Mitchell Johnson bounced James Anderson out to give the Baggy Green's the urn. The Aussies crowed, the Aussies cried, but let them have their moment. They have outplayed us on the pitch. Members of the English press such as Jonathan Agnew took a leaf out of the Australian hacks hymnsheet after the Oval, and moaned about the opposition behaviour. Certainly some of the Australian behaviour both on the pitch, in the print and on social media has been boorish. However, we are no Malcolm Conn and we congratulate Australia on their fine all round team performance, the best team has won and won easily. Lehmann has done a brilliant job, and so has Clarke. The mongrel spirit came through and we have been spanked. With a number of players the wrong side of thirty in this side, the Aussies are not about to produce another golden generation, but this lot have well and truly dicked us. For that, and considering the shambles they were when he took over from Mickey Arthur, Boof deserves some serious kudos.

As for England...our senior players are Cook, KP, Swann, Prior and Anderson. They have been the glue of this successful team for years and all have had a series they would rather forget. I would suggest that they are playing for their places in the team at Melbourne and Sydney. Is it time for Cook to go as captain? I think Flower will go for family reasons, and this Essex trinity including the holy ghost Gooch, might be getting their P45 soon. We haven't played a good brand of cricket for a while, and we missed a chance to bury this lot whilst over here last summer. Cricket is a mental game and a proper drubbing would have dented the Aussie confidence. Ashley Giles will no doubt get the nod from the conservative ECB, although a left field choice would be Jason Gillespie who has done a fine job at Yorkshire and is now based in the UK. Conservatism reigns within the corridors of English cricket however, with conservative tactics, a conservative coach and skipper. No doubt the ECB will be privatised and sold off to a select few high net worth individuals shortly, should they get any more conservative.

We look muddled in every aspect. We brought three big guys on tour to bowl and none were played on a pitch tailor made for them, let alone letting one of the best domestic bowlers fry in the Perth sun, Graham Onions. Our fielding was a fucking shambles, and Anderson and Bell (two of our better fielders) leaving a catch to each other summed up what a disaster this tour has been. Our bowling lacks depth and the whole thing needs a re think. Our tactics have been rumbled and we have been second best in every aspect all tour. Don't even get me started on the batting and some of the immature shots. A lot of English fans are fuming, as we didn't see this coming.

The inquisition starts here

Do we get rid of the old guard and chuck a load of youngsters in? The performance of Stokes certainly gives us heart in that respect. If we do, we will have to accept that we will not be that competitive and learning for a few years. The old guard will get more chances in the next two matches but they are on thin ice. They still can do a job but questions remain whether they are the future? We will no doubt have more inquiries than Lord Scarman and Quincy combined as to why we have fared so badly on this tour. And there's still two more games to go!

To misquote a z list celebrity on ITV when they are in Oz...I'm an Englishman, get me out of here.

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