|Bragg...Billy, not Will|
New Zealand have been brilliant for England as a warm up for the Ashes. I personally feel they are just as strong a side as Australia in both formats, but also they have played hard, aggressive cricket. Brendon McCullum has been great to watch with his field placings, and in Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson they have the players to implement BMac's, not Big Macs, tactics. I for one, was lovin' it. England had to sink or swim, and they matched them.
Credit has to be given to Paul Farbrace for changing the way we played. The cautious, safety first approach is no more, and the look at data is no longer. The reason is because sides are ripping up the rulebook these days, so data and stats are irrelevant. 400 is the new 300, which only became the new 250 a few years ago. I don't think I have seen England fans as positive for years and the feelgood factor is most certainly back. This series has been positively vaudevillian.
England have the minerals these days to live with anyone. Hales and Roy give it a bash up the top, Morgan and Root can get the ball to any part of the ground, Bairstow, Buttler, Stokes, Rashid and even down to Plunkett can give it a crash. Morgan has also been inventive in his captaincy and credit needs to be given to the left handed, left footer too. In Joe Root we have a batsman who many judges think is world class. Bairstow's match winning knock showed real character, especially after the death of his grandfather, and he has been in great from all year.
The Aussies are coming, and the usual bluster is coming out of their camp. An ageing side, they haven't won a series here since 2001 and they might be in for a shock. The timid England caught in the glaring headlights of the World Cup in March have gone, and we are at home. A younger, fitter side might just cause them one or two problems and five tests in seven weeks might be a defining factor. The major Melbourne newspaper might be called The Age, and doubts are starting to creep in whether Haddin, Rogers, Clarke, Johnson, Siddle, Harris and Co can cope with a younger, fitter team over a gruelling schedule. Age concern?
A New England must not go backwards. We must fight fire with fire and keep the momentum going. It might be Test cricket, but let's utilise what BMac and the wonderful Blackcaps have taught us, and these one day guys can also do a job at Test level.
We may have started the piece with Billy Bragg, but let's leave it with Bob Dylan. Because the times, they are a changin'...