Well, I give up. How would you rate this series of tests? Expectations always fall short.
In Cardiff, England were surprisingly good, beating a surprisingly dismal Australia. Then at Rhodes the script was torn up. England were terrible, smashed by brilliant Australia. But the visitors immediately gave up every ounce of momentum, and then some. It was reasonable to expect the pendulum to swing back a little, but it didn’t.
If England win tomorrow morning, expect a lot of different people trying to gain recognition. The media might give Andrew Strauss a lot of credit for being a total shoemaker.
Management, selectors and captains cannot be credited with England’s sensational performance. The addition of Bairstow has not been proven relevant. Finn’s recall was a rather desperate attempt they were forced to make, and it paid off in ways no one could have predicted.
England also didn’t bat very well in their first innings. Lyth and Buttler have nowhere to go. Of the three batsmen who found their feet, two dropped wickets.
No, given the continued excellence of the British rhythm trio, the match was decided by timid and often amateurish Australian batting. I’ve always thought that England were good when Anderson was good and that was demonstrated here, especially in the dominant first innings. If the “nervousness” around him turns into a serious injury, Australia will win the series.
Steve Finn’s Extraordinary Redemption is a fantastic story that is also wonderful on a human level. It just goes to show what players can do when they’re freed from ECB’s Gradgrindian coaching laptops and allowed to be themselves.
It was the fiery, sharp, explosive performance Finn was made for, but never quite matched, even on his best days. It first appeared in an English-language setting in a box labeled “Great Fast Bowler,” but the coaches either lost the instruction manual or programmed it incorrectly. They can’t make Finn work for love or money. He ended up having to do a factory reset himself. But thanks to the reboot, it’s now delivering on its promise.
Aside from his lackluster discharge, Root looks like he’s in a class of his own. Pound for pound, he’s the best hitter on either side. Moeen Ali was a cricketer I found less and less convincing, but today – after some early luck – he played his first really clear innings since Headingley last year.
In four Ashes tours, Michael Clarke has only hit a century in the first innings and has never scored in a match Australia has gone on to win. England has never been his happiest hunting ground, but even by his own standards he has had a nightmare. Clark looked shot. Are his eyes missing? The way he pokes around suggests he’s having a hard time grasping the line.
Elsewhere, Steve Smith hit the ball too high on the three as the ball moved. Adam Voges looks from his depths. Brad Harding’s linebacker is missing — and so is Ryan Harris.
Finally, a photo for everyone during a week when Cecil the Lion dominated the headlines. Thanks to Emasl for the tip. England players rest a few more days. This is how their captain spends his free time.