So it’s finally over. Thank goodness. We predicted a 4-0 loss at the start of the series and unfortunately, it did. Everything unfolds, or should I say unfolds, in the most predictable fashion.
Overall, it was a generally bad series played on a disappointingly slow and lifeless pitch, with lethargic run rates and little competitive action. Unfortunately I have to say this is not good publicity for Test cricket at all.
The one-sidedness of the competition only makes things worse. While the results are tolerable (even reassuring) for even the most partisan Australian supporters, I think most observers who have the interests of the Test cricket at heart will be deeply disappointed (not to mention worried) by the results. The Ashes need more competition and more attention.
Despite England’s attempt to close out the game – an improvement on their last trip to the Ashes – they never looked ready to win a game and were utterly beaten. The so-called British “greats” looked exhausted, while our rookies, save for Davide Maran, proved predictably deficient. In fact, Malan, Jimmy Anderson and Craig Overton may be the only players who can hold their heads up.
Some might say that England were competitive and only lost because they didn’t seize the moment when it mattered, but I totally disagree. Any team, no matter how overwhelmed, is likely to find themselves in a pretty good position at some point during five five-day tests. Occasionally we also get into positions during whitewashing. When it comes down to it, though, disaster always lurks around the corner. Most of us feel it. I suspect the British players feel it too.
Despite a well-rounded and somewhat humbling score, the search for silver linings inevitably began in some areas. The most prominent of these seems to be “all teams are rubbish on the road”. However, in simple terms, this argument does not hold water. Why? Because England have turned defeat into an art form: we’ve lost nine of our last 10 Tests in Australia and four of our last five in India. No one is better (or should it be worse?) than the British to surrender abroad. At least Australia is competitive when they come to our shores.
Aside from a few lucky victories in South Africa a few years ago when the cricket team was in transition and key players were absent through injury, England’s recent away record has been dismal. We’ve all known the reasons for this – lack of speed and quality spin bowling being the two most obvious reasons – for years, but the ECB has never done anything about it. I don’t recall anything they’ve improved since the last Ashes whitewash, and Tom Harrison has said it won’t change this time either. Clearly the most important thing for our hapless admin is to pursue the low-hanging fruit of T20.
Instead of using this Ashes series as an opportunity to retaliate against the 2013 disgrace, the ECB has spent most of the past 4 years accusing Kevin Peterson of prioritizing white ball cricket and making these areas unpopular, absurd and Unviable city T20 match.
Things can also get worse. When Harrison’s Harebrained Have A Hit takes off in 2020 (if it does happen), the championship will be further sidelined. Top games are played exclusively (rather than primarily) in April, May and September, when bowlers require little speed or skill to hit; all you have to do is use the green. Also, hitters don’t learn to play long innings because there’s always a ball with their name on it before long. Let’s face it, guys, England’s Test squad is getting less and less competitive abroad – and ultimately less effective at home in the middle of summer.
So, what can we do about this frustrating situation? I think all our humble supporters can do is strengthen our dissent – not that I want anyone to listen. What I would like to see, however, is an ICC-led initiative to make things easier for Tour teams. There needs to be proper competitive play at the start of the tour – rather than undercutting self-interested schemes for domestic teams – I’d like to see reciprocal arrangements where all countries, not just England (and New Zealand), invite foreign players to go home first ——Participate in class competitions.
For too long, the International Cricket Board and clubs have been too selfish. It’s time they realized that things had to change, and that the overall health of the test crickets was far more important than having to “beat” the Brits or the Indians. If that means reducing the number of ODIs and T20s at the end of the tour so that important Test series can be extended for a longer period of time, with decent quality matches between Test matches, so be it. Unfortunately, however, I doubt the authorities will consider it. Earning income from white ball cricket is increasingly becoming their priority. After all, it’s easier (and lazier) to milk T20 cows than to actually tell the world what a great game Test cricket is.
As for the England squad itself – which players should be dropped and which should be kept – that will be a discussion for another day. The topic itself requires an entire article. Also, everyone gets a little bit emotional the day after losing an innings. I think we’ll see a need for major changes, although no suitable replacements are in the pipeline. We all know whose fault it was!
However, I think England need to get rid of certain players now. it’s our time of course