Beer for Aussies; Ashes for Barmies

It was an efficient performance by England and a show that completely undid Australia in the second test. One wonders whether the Australians could ever recover from their current state of affairs, as it is without doubt at least for now they appear to be in disarray.

What is also most amusing is the fact that, people have already started calling for the retired Shane Warne so early in the series just after one defeat! Would this mean the inevitable is clear to the Aussie fans too? Having retired four years ago a recall for Warne would not make sense and one wonders whether it is a step in the right direction, if it happens at all during the series.

Secondly Australian cricket which once boasted of being the richest in talent cannot be expected to have exhausted their resources so quickly, calling for a veteran to save Australia from the ignominy of losing the Ashes in a back to back series and of course for the first time in twenty four years in Australia. If this is so what would be next? A call for Hayden, Gilchrist, McGrath and the rest to make come backs as well?
It is a shame that a country which prided itself on its high standards appears to have fallen to such a depth. Further it is also clear that the Australians lack a match winner in their ranks who could spearhead the attack and look at getting twenty English Wickets!

Though there is a strong school of thought that Swann could be faced with the situation of being over bowled, England’s current balance of three fast bowlers and six batsmen plus the wicket keeper doesn’t permit the extra spinner.

It is apparent when one looks at the last two English innings which was five hundred plus for just one wicket at Brisbane and six hundred plus for five wickets! Effectively it is eleven hundred plus runs for the lost six wickets with centuries and double centuries conceded.

This is a clear indication of the disappointing bowling of the hosts. The frustration and the anxiety are evident when you consider the squad named for Perth. The addition of the unknown Michael Beer with five or six first class games and the fact that Steve Smith the leg spinning allrounder may bat at seven confirms that Australia is desperate for the right formula. The injury of Katich will not help their cause with Philip Hughes not in the best nick, but the dropping of North and Doherty were only expected as both appeared to be highly over rated. And the ploy to exploit the so called weakness of Pietersen against left arm spin was a failure with the batsman taking full toll of the Australian Attack.

England on the other hand is riding the crest of the wave and it appears that everything they touch is turning to gold. Skipper Strauss couldn’t have asked for a better start for their Ashes campaign with a win at Adelaide. I think the greatest plus the English have at the moment is the squad they carry. The sixteen players have played together for almost two years and judging by their ages they should go on with almost the same squad with a very few changes for at least another three years, which could be a huge factor for their success in the future. The Australian strength in the past was the retention of players who went through a large number of test matches unchanged and converted themselves to an efficient unit. England has the making of it, though the injury to Broad at the early stage of the tour should be considered very… very unfortunate! It is a known fact that every English and Australian cricketer dreams of playing in the Ashes and more importantly in an Ashes winning squad. Whilst many dreams of the Australians in that aspect was fulfilled in the past the English hadn’t much to show as they have been vanquished many times leading up to this series in Australia. On that score the disappointment of Broad is only understandable!

But besides the injury to Broad England as a unit has been outstanding! The batting of Cook, Trott and Pietersen have been the factors that have not allowed the Aussie bowlers to settle down. Whilst Cook and Trott have been more in to grafting, Pietersen has been just Pietersen batting in his usual aggressive manner tearing the bowling attack with brilliant stroke play reminiscent of the great Viv Richards in the past, though Pietersen himself is bound to concede that he still has a long way to get close to touching the hem of the garment of the great man leave alone being compared to him.
And in bowling it has been the seam and swing of Anderson.

With his big out curves at a good pace Anderson was able to create difficulty amongst the right handers especially who struggled to negotiate the movement. The strength of Anderson is the swing he gets both in the air and off the track. Whilst Finn and Broad were essentially seam bowlers and were looking to hit the deck hard to generate pace and bounce Anderson complemented them by pitching the ball up and swinging it late which found the edge to be snapped up behind the stumps. Whilst Broad’s injury is bound to cause some concern, an Injury to Anderson would have been unthinkable in England’s quest to regain the Ashes.

Whilst the pace bowling has been of high class, Graham Swann’s off spin has finally come in to it’s own with a five wicket haul in the second test. Swann who wasn’t highly thought off when he first appeared on the English horizon has done tremendously well first to displace Panesar who looked every inch a test bowler when he made his debut. But Swann to his credit has not only got in to the side but held on to his place and is now an indispensable part of England’s bowling.

Though there is a strong school of thought that Swann could be faced with the situation of being over bowled, England’s current balance of three fast bowlers and six batsmen plus the wicket keeper doesn’t permit the extra spinner. May be Melbourne or Sydney where the pitches are bound to be more spin friendly England may need a second spinner and could look at either dropping the extra batsman or stick to just two quicks.

As for the Ashes it is in no way a forgone conclusion though England is the clear favourite at this stage. To me the reason is more to do with Australia being weak and in a rebuilding stage than England actually being a super strong side. Having said that one can not take away the performance of England which is bound to improve with every passing game as winning makes players enjoy the game and if you are happy and enjoying your cricket it is bound to have a positive rub off. Australia for the first time in a very long time seem to struggle to come to grips with defeats and would want it arrested though with the current side it is definitely easier said than done.

Roshan Abeysinghe is a leading cricket promoter and an international cricket commentator

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