So England won the toss and looked up and not down. Eyebrows were raised as the side batting first tends to be in control of the game. I can't remember off hand but sides batting last and winning at the Oval don't exactly spring to mind; you could probably count the amount of times on Martin Guptill's toes.
England didn't bowl badly, but the pitch was batsman friendly and Warner, sans moustache and looking like a naked mole rat, along with Steve Smith cashed in. Smith got another sparkling hundred to make it his third on the bounce from visits to London. Del Boy might have tried to speak Franglais, but in the nearest English Test venue to Calais, it was the Aussie batsmen who said Merci Bien as Voges and Starc added the coup de grace with fluent fifties. The Aussies amassed 481.
When England batted they struggled against the short ball. "Deja Vu", as the older Trotter would have said. For English fans it brought back painful memories of our last tour Down Under. Frankie Fraser may have removed people's teeth with pliers in this part of the world, but it was like pulling teeth for the fans. Pulling and hooking were the way we got into trouble as Lyth, Bairstow and Stokes all perished by this form of dismissal. Siddle showed there was life in the old dog, as he produced a beauty to remove Bell down the road from where Kevin Spacey got into a bit of trouble "walking his dog" a few years ago. England stumbled to 149 and Clarke, in his final Test said "Follow on".
Too many English batsmen were also bowled for my liking. This ground has the largest square in England due to it needing to offer practice facilities, and the 'gates' of some of the English batsmen weren't far short of the width of the square. Bell got a good one, but Lyon bowled Cook with a standard off spinner dismissal and Buttler didn't leave so much a gate, as a portcullis.
When England batted again, Cook showed some Dunkirk spirit but the writing was on the wall. Only the weather could possibly save England, and it needed not only a typhoon to blow in but a plague of frogs, locusts and possibly ebola and bird flu. England looked as awake as if they had a plague of tstetse flies in their dressing room. On a pitch offering plenty of turn, Boycie's apprentice Nathan Lyon bowled really well as England were blown away. Siddle picked up 4-35 off 24 overs. Formidable. England lost by an innings and 46 runs.
For Australia Clarke and Rogers wished us Bonjour, as Del Boy would say whilst for England Lyth may have met his Waterloo. A most unconventional series was won by England 3-2 but after this performance, they couldn't have ruined the atmosphere any more. The series win felt hollow, and if the players weren't going to take it seriously then why didn't we have a look at the likes of Rashid for this Test? We won the toss, and on a wicket that spun more than any other in the series we missed an opportunity to play him. Surely he will get a go in the UAE, and we missed a trick. A banner that adorned one of the nearby flats might have said, "Calm Down, We've Won" but too many old wounds were opened up here for me. The scars of the last tour Down Under still haven't healed fully.
|Del Boy grabs the Ashes in South London|
Michael Clarke may now depart the game as quickly as the pigeons that feed on the seed of the square, when a ball rockets their way, but for me he will be remembered as a very good cricketer. A superb bat, his captaincy was great fun despite his popularity back in Australia. To the left of the pavilion at the Oval is Archbishop Tenison's school but for Pup (and more on him later this week) this reminded me more of a quote from Lord Alfred Tennyson...
"A smile abroad is more often a scowl at home".
England win the Ashes 3-2, despite this horror show.