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The Winner Takes it All

England has done it.  They have whitewashed India, won the series 4-0 and are the undisputed Test champions.  India has barely retained a shred of pride as England has not only won four Tests but won by landslide margins.   The loser standing small.

The English batsmen have plundered the Indian bowling (with three double centuries) and the bowlers have cut down the Indian batting line-up time and time again, with all of the bowlers taking bag fulls (with Swann weighing in with six to round things out).

Of the Indians, only Dravid stands tall with three centuries.  Dhoni and Kumar put in some creditable performances but it was disappointment all round.

Anyway, I’m at the airport waiting to fly out to London.  One of the Cricket Australia initiatives from the recent Argus review was to send me on a fact-finding tour to interview the all-conquering Englishmen.   I’ll wait a few days until the boys sober up and should be able to pass on a few tips to the Aussies for their upcoming Test series in Sri Lanka.

Sanity Prevails – There is a God

The verdict is in and it’s off with their heads.  The Argus review is finally in after 8 months (how much were those guys paid, I wonder) and perhaps it is no surprise to Australian cricket fans but there is certainly relief for this one to know, that Hilditch and Chappell, G are gone.

Well, technically, it is assumed that Hilditch is gone because a full-time chairman will be appointed.  It is possible that Hilditch will apply for the role of a selector.   Dr Goofball Nielsen is also skating on thin ice and we should see him go.

Now you Pommies, who have been sitting on top of the mountain for so long may be wondering what all the fuss is about.  This action is hardly going to catapult Australia back to the top of the tree, or even into 4th but it’s a start.  It may be too late for the likes of Simon Katich but at least it feels like some justice is being done and that some steps in the right direction are being taken.

The new “Assists” Column

It is official – cricket stats pages need a new column – “number of assists”.  It is good to finally see a meaningful competition.  Two twenty20s against sri lanka. Marvellous stuff and a welcome distraction from the drivel of the four test series tween the poms and india for title of world #1…

Nice sarcasm from andrewg (quoted above) but while the T20 matches between Australia and Sri Lanka, seem totally irrelevant, the second match (both won by SL), there was an utterly stunning catch to dismiss David Warner.  I will quote the Cricinfo commentary:

“Sit down and hear this out. Warner slog-sweeps this, Mathews takes the catch at the edge of midwicket boundary, but just as he is about to run over the fence with his momentum, he throws the ball back in – both his feet in the air. The closest fielder is 30 metres from him, but he has lobbed it back that far! Australia can’t believe it. The replays aren’t lying.”

So, the score book simply reads Warner  c Jayawardene b BAW Mendis.  No mention of Mathews who performed a truly miraculous feat of skill and athleticism (I did actually see the replays).  Mathews – number of assists – 1.

Roll on Test number three.

Are you Australia in disguise?

“Are you Australia in disguise?” came the chant from the crowd.  That’s what I am reliably informed.  Apparently this was not a reference to England  playing like the Australia of old but rather, that India is playing like the current Australian team.  I suppose when you have been beaten senseless for over 15 years, it doesn’t take long on the top of the pile (5 minutes) to want to start enjoying it.

At any rate, England certainly are playing like world beaters.  And as most of you know, unless India wins a Test in this series (unlikely) and England does not win another test (also unlikely), England will have rocketed to the number one position on the ICC Test table.  In other words, England are tentatively there right now.  MBEs all round.

I say “with a rocket” because before the recent Ashes series against Australia, England was ranked 5th.  It does not seem like much Test cricket has been played since then but for England, the hits have kept on rolling.

And any way you look at it, England is impressive.  The entire side is contributing.  Seven of there players have made half centuries in just two Tests, three turning those into triple figures.  And the opening combination, one of England’s best assets recent years, has barely woken up as yet.  Three of the bowlers have taken five wicket hauls, and two of those have made impressive fifties.  Swann is the only bowler not to have done much and I don’t think we can challenge is status as a top notch bowler – it’s only a matter of time.  And did I mention depth?  One of the strike bowlers breaks down but never mind, Bresnan can come in and make 90 and take “5 for”.

England looked in deep trouble twice in this match – but won by a landslide.  At 8/124, it has to be said things looked grim.  And in India’s reply, they were 45 runs in front with six wickets in hand.  Somehow England managed to set India 478 to win and wipe them of the park.  All this, not to mention the most unusual run out, which also featured the longest period of deliberation before a reversal, in just four days!  Next thing you know, someone will be suggesting that all Tests should be four days.

On the run out, what a sensation.  It must have been a near death experience for Bell – he was dead for nearly 20 minutes – I wonder if he saw a strange, white light – only to be told he could bat on.  Anyway, credit to Dhoni.  I bagged him after last Test but he deserves praise for showing some humility and sanity on a trying day.   Let’s face it, while we are speaking of illusions to Australia, some sportsmen find it hard to act with dignity when they are being thrashed.