By Ayyaz Malik
If this was a boxing match, the referee would be pressurised to stop the fight. This was no boxing match but it does have some similarities in parts due to the brutal nature of their beating. What am I talking about I here you ask? I am referring to the cricket and the ongoing test series between old foes England and Australia.
England and Australia who when this test series finish would have played five test matches. Against all odds England have won the Ashes with a game to spare. At the start of the series I don’t think anyone would have thought that.
At the start of the series in July the Aussies came as the team to beat as they were on the back of an unprecedented fifth world cup triumph. Fast forward a few months and several survivors of that world cup winning side, have been on the end of Ashes humiliation.
Unfortunately for Australia it started badly in Cardiff where England helped them selves to an emphatic 169 run win. The next test at Lords where Australia have had a terrible recording Ashes history seemed like not the best place to be playing especially after such a drubbing.
To the Green Caps’ credit they produced a brilliant batting performance at the home of cricket and scored 566-8 declared. That score was largely down to Chris Rogers and Steve Smith’s double hundred – but cricket is a team game that can be won by a person or people in this case.
Well it has to be pointed out that England on the same pitch could only make 312 all out in the first innings and a really disappointing 103 all out in the second. That second innings capitulation meant that Australia won the second test match by a massive 405 runs. A perfect way to exact revenge against the old enemy.
Just when Australia thought they were in the ascendancy, England roared back at Edgbaston. Key to that win was James Anderson’s six wickets in the first innings and Steven Finn’s six wickets in the second innings. This test was literally the turning point I felt and so it proved.
Just like in the last Ashes in England , England where again triumphant at Edgbaston. Australia just couldn’t live with the accurate bowling of the home side. England’s batting wasn’t firing on all cylinders – but in that test it didn’t have to be . The result was still emphatic as England won inside three days.
With England 2-1 up with two to play, the Ashes was in touching distance almost, especially with the fact that Trent Bridge was the venue of the fourth test. Trent Bridge is of course where England have enjoyed a a lot of success over the years, particularly James Anderson.
Sadly for Anderson and England though the 32 year old ‘Burnley express’ couldn’t take part in this test match. Anderson suffered a side strain in the win at Edgbaston and couldn’t bowl in the second innings of that game as well.
Going into the fourth test this could have been an area of weakness, an area of concern. England didn’t need to worry as the supporting cast in the England bowling attack destroyed Australia’s top order. In fact Australia slumped to the seventh lowest total of all time as they were skittle out for a very humiliating 60 all out.
The chief destroyer was Stuart Broad. Broad recorded quite brilliant figures of 8-15 and those figures which included a joint fastest in history five wicket haul off 19 balls, left Australia bewildered.
Just to rub salt into the wounds, the Three Lions through Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow put the game out of Australia’s reach with a crucial fourth wicket stand . When England did decide to put Australia’s bowlers out of their misery, they were a mammoth 331 runs ahead.
Australia needed to survive and save the game, other wise the Ashes would be lost with one game left still to play! Sadly Australia couldn’t survive which meant England regained the Ashes with one game still to play.
Australia despite a good opening partnership, the Aussies were all out for 253 which meant England won the game by an innings and 73 runs. This series win for England means that for the first time in 30 years England have won four Ashes series in a row at home.
For Australia just to make matters worse for them will have to prepare for life with out inspirational leader their Clarke who announced that he will retire after the fifth test at the Oval. Clarke who succeeded Ricky Ponting as captain, has been in desperate form of late. In fact Clarke has only scored 366 runs in his last 18 innings. For a player of his ability that’s a disappointing return.
The fact that the Australian selectors said that he won’t be picked for the next tour, just might have forced the 34 year old’s hand. One thing is certain with 8,662 runs in test cricket it’s fair to say that it will take some replacing this legendary Australian number five. All the best in your future endeavours Pup!