Is anyone really surprised? Before the series started, I predicted Australia would win 4-0. I may be a little optimistic. It doesn’t take a genius to find real speed and top spin bowling wins on par with the Australian game, and our four mid-tempo right-arm seamers aren’t going to cut the mustard.
As for England’s impact…well, I guess we’re all expecting a few more goals from Joe Root (although I doubt his skill on the pitch in Australia), but other than that, it’s as good as the hype almost. How utterly predictable and utterly frustrating.
I’m afraid I can’t comment too much on the specifics of days 4 and 5 in Perth. The truth is I don’t even bother to watch it. Some of us predicted England would lose a set after our collapse the next day, and things worked out exactly as expected. The following exchange is fairly typical of the mood at the time:
While this humiliating defeat – which I think could definitely be described as downright humiliating – wasn’t unexpected, that doesn’t stop it from hurting. England’s cricket supporters generally care about the Ashes more than anyone else. It is unacceptable to fail again like that.
Yes, there is an argument that most Test teams are struggling these days, we can beat Australia at home to win the urn back in two years but the defense can’t in eleven. It’s not just bad; it’s definitely unfortunate.
As far as Australia is concerned, no major country has performed worse than England (South Africa has generally performed well in Australia, for example), and the Australians have always been more competitive in England than we are in their backyard. How can man be content with such a situation?
However, before I go on to criticize England’s shortcomings, a few words about Australia. Basically, I tip my hat to them. They may not be a classic Australian team, they are certainly not as good as they were in 2006/6 and 2012/13, but you can never ignore a team with the world’s number one batsman and a very strong bowling attack.
Yes, there are some flawed cricketers in this Australian cricket team – the fact that Peter Handscomb is even close to this team shows that Australian cricket is not all smooth sailing either – but world cricket How many teams in are you calling “complete teams”? The answer is no. They both have less convincing players like Khawaja.
Australia (again) proved to be an impressive team on home soil. They are entitled to travel all the way from Perth to Parramatta on the Smith and the Bowlers train. We all respected Laura, Ambrose and Walsh when the West Indies were the show for them, so it’s time we supported the Australians too. The boys played well.
As far as England is concerned, what annoys me the most is that after the 2012/13 collapse, the ECB did nothing, absolutely nothing, to ensure that this never happened again. They simply ignored the warning signs, hoped for the best, and instead focused on white-ball cricket.
Since the ECB has completely screwed up the four year cycle since the last Ashes series, I firmly believe that the heads need to roll: selectors need to go, and Andy Flower should (belatedly) acknowledge his P45, because we simply don’t have production test quality Young players, although I have a deep understanding of Andrew Strauss’ personal situation – there are more important things than cricket – he also needs to take a long and hard look at himself.
Then we come to Harrison and Graves. I expect we will see some developments in the coming weeks that could make their position untenable. On top of that, they’ve been implementing an unpopular and unviable City T20 tournament for the past few years, which will collapse if my sources are correct. Districts are reportedly not happy with the current arrangements, but I understand the potential for open rebellion is high. Let’s see how things play out.
Meanwhile, Graves and Harrison have of course left Rome. The domestic schedule is a mess, the Championship has been sidelined and the result is a declining Test squad with no hope of improvement. What exactly will the hit look like after Alastair Cook unmasks again? And, worse, what kind of attack will we be able to mount when Jimmy Anderson hangs up his boots? Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes are toothless.
Of course, the ECB will try to attribute this colossal failure to a lack of discipline. Why do you think Tom Harrison wrote publicly to the England team on the eve of the Perth Test (when he was actually writing to the media and the more naive supporters there)?
My best guess is that this was another pre-emptive PR move to shape the post-series narrative to obscure the real problems with English cricket – while getting the ECB off the hook in the process. If he did, why did Harrison even write to the team? Surely he knew the players wouldn’t be playing halfway through the Test match, and that Strauss and Baylis had warned them beforehand?
While it is true that Ben Stokes’ absence is part of England’s loss, the history of the discipline is otherwise entirely red herring. In terms of behaviour, that tour was nothing special – Steve Finn said the 2010/11 season was worse when we won – and