For the first time in 56 years, the final Test in an Ashes series was started with the series level. For the first time in 119 years, a captain presided over the loss of the Ashes for a second time. And wouldn’t you know it, England won easily. Broad fired the Aussies out, Trott galloped to a century on debut and I can’t think of any more clever little clichés.
Some Aussies have blamed the selectors – surely Hauritz must have been picked. Many, and not just Aussies, have been up in arms about the pitch. But neither of these are excuses. To illustrate my point, we are going to have a short quiz. From the following numbers, pick the odd one out: a), b), c) or d).
That’s correct. The answer is b). An innings of 160 is the only score that is unacceptable for a completed innings in a Test match. Was it made on a different pitch to the other three? Would Nathan Hauritz have stood a good chance of increasing its size? No need to answer. The big question is: Would Hauritz have reduced a) or c)? That is a good question and entirely open to debate. Let me say this: I acknowledge that Haurtiz is a better bowler than North. Then again, so is Swann. North took 4/98 in while Swann took 4/120 in the respective innings. Hauritz was not the definitive answer.
All and sundry have been bemused over the series statistics. Australia had six of the top seven run scorers (all behind Andrew Strauss). Australia had the top three wicket takers. Australia had eight centuries in the series to just two from England. With such weight of statistics, how then did England win? I have some ideas:
Half of Australia’s centuries were scored in just one innings – at Cardiff – they should have won that match but did not. Australia had three bowlers upon whome they were largely reliant. England’s attack shared the load. Lord’s was won with match-winning wicket performances from Anderson and Flintoff. Neither of those players had much impact in the rest of the series. Broad did the job in the final Test after a rather ordinary first three Tests.
When Test cricket and ODI cricket are compared, it is often observed that Test cricket is about the long haul. You can have a bad session, or even a bad day and still recover. This series was interesting however, because the last four Tests each had a horror session, featuring a spectacular collapse (three belonged to Australia). They were so spectacular that only in the 3rd Test was Australia able to claw back to equal footing and a draw.
When Australia loses in England, it is almost always for the same reason. They don’t know how to play good swing bowling. The 2009 Ashes was no different.
And a final goodbye to Freddie. While he took no wickets in his final innings (and indeed he took just one wicket in his final two Tests) he finished on a very winning note. Not only that, he had his moment of glory. His run-out of Ponting was quite spectacular and was an important moment in the match. That piece of fielding was impressive. But consider that he is a big, tall unit with a buggered knee, running to his wrong side and it is even more impressive.
Onto the one dayers now. Australia starts with a hit-out against Scotland (one they should not take lightly). And then it is two T20’s and seven one-dayers against England. Seven? Are that many matches really necessary?