England Respects the First Innings and Wins the Ashes

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).

a) 332
b) 160
c) 373
d) 348

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?

6 thoughts on “England Respects the First Innings and Wins the Ashes

  1. speaking of captaincy, warnie etc – dean jones suggested that the selectors should offer him the australian test captaincy for 2 years until clark is old enough to step in.

    needless to say that dean jones was a tosser when he played and not much seems to have changed.

  2. I’m not the world’s biggest Ponting fan but I’m glad to see that the knives are not out for him in the thinking dongles community. It’s not his fault. I agree – the selectors have been muddle-headed for 18 months. Good points Scrumpymac. It’s a good question: If Warnie made legspin so popular and glamorous, where are they all? You’re joking about the Mums, right? Maybe the youngsters thought Warnie would hold down his spot until 2020 and that they wouldn’t be able to get a place in the Test team, so they should bowl pace.

  3. I suspect alot of the blame will fall on the Australian selectors. They basically took a team to England without a backup batsman (Watson is an “allrounder” and surely not in the best 6 test batsmen in Australia), hence they were left wih very few options once they decided that Hughes must be relegated to twittering and Hussey was sadly out of form.

    Possibly the unexpected series win in South Africa, contributed to us losing the Ashes. The selectors (perhaps all of us) were lulled into a false sence of security and kept faith with the S.A squad, which included McDonald, who must surely have been the luckiest cricketer since Wayne Phillips (W.N not W.B) to earn a test cap and a tour to England as a spectator.

    That said the most urgent priority for Australia is a decent spinner. Hauritz tries hard but would probably not make any other national side. Where are all the kids taht grew up watching Warnie. Perhaps as a result of his off field antics, the mums of Australia are responsible for them not coming through.

    Good on England, after all the Ashes changing hands has to be good for test cricket.

  4. ajebec, I agree to an large extent. You might notice I haven’t put the boot into Ponting. I was impressed that Ponting was smiling on Saturday. He was smashed in the mouth and his team was being smashed but he managed some smiles. On the captain thing, I’m not sure. It isn’t just two losses – Border lost in 85 and 86/87. I think it is losing the Ashes, as in giving them back.

  5. just to clarify – is ponting really the only captain in ashes history to lose twice, or just the only australian in the last 120 years to go to england and lose twice, winning other series in australia.

    i’ve generally been fairly vocal in my disapproval of ponting as a captain but i’d have to say his captaincy has impressed me much more in this series. for the first time in his life as a captain, he’s actually engaged in the concept of doing captain things, rather than tossing the ball to a proven matchwinner or have a matchwinning partnership with another champion batsman.

    as opposed to 2005 (where a good captain would have won it for australia, even with the indifferent form against swing, bad umpiring and decisive injuries), i don’t think any failings in this series can be laid at ponting’s onfield decision making. and his manner in dealing with the english crowds certainly won him many admirers, english included.

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