Monday, 24 August 2009

Lefty's wash-up

Well, after several weeks of speculation, adulation, exhilaration and perspiration The Ashes is over and Australia's campaign with them. Noone realistically could have imagined England would so comprehensively rebound from an innings defeat - perhaps if the 4th and 5th tests were back-to-back they wouldn't have. But of course it all means little now.

Well done, England: you performed at the key moments while Australia did not. Australia will forever rue Cardiff where they should have been 1 nil up going to Lords. There is no doubt the series would have been shaped differently had Aus' bowlers worked out how to dismiss numbers 10 and 11. Funny when you consider that is their job and they had little trouble rolling Eng for 100 at Headingly. Of course the bowling unit became stronger and more reliable through the series but you must have something to bowl to and the batsmen failed at Lords when it counted. Similarly at the Oval first innings runs were paramount and again Aus could not deliver.

While tight finishes like 2005 were largely absent, this was a great test cricket series. Clarke, North and Hilfenhaus have written themselves contracts til retirement - what a pity none of them could achieve the ethereal heights at the final post. Hussey should still be held accountable for appalling decisions and Watson should NOT open this coming summer. Siddle demonstrated his heart again and will still improve. Undoubtedly there is positive elements to this series that Ponting will reflect on but it won't be too long before some tough questions will be asked. Maybe we can ask some of them right now.

1. Why the hell was Hauritz not picked for the worst pitch of the Ashes? Is it not the job of touring selection to examine the pitch before naming your 11?

2. Why would you give a young player two tests to make a big score yet give an older player 20 tests to make anything at all?

3. When will Australia take a balanced and comprehensive squad on overseas tours?

4. Is it Ponting's fault for being reactionary when this mode begins at the selection table? (Well, yes in part but you get the gist)

5. Will someone please tell Ponting he will not be needed in 2013?

Note no reference to the umpiring this series, until now. Both teams can feel harshly done by at times but it always evens out. This should not, however, relieve the umpires from scrutiny.

When test cricket needs a boost we only ever need to look at series such as this. The most heartening element for this humble writer is that India, South Africa, England, Australia - and perhaps Sri Lanka - will produce exciting series whenever they play each other. The only down side is that the best batsmen of the series, Michael Clarke, now has to put coloured clothing on and lead Aus in an exercise in futility. What a terrible way to reflect on the Ashes!


  1. Nice round up Lefty.

    1. Why indeed, although a special spinner only took six of Australia's top 14 (top 7 in both innings). Why was Hauritz touring? Why was he picked for the first three and not the last one? Why was Clark not picked for the first three?

    2. Why indeed and why if Hughes was dropped, was Johnson retained?

    3. Money is the answer you seek.

    4. Yes it is. Buck stops etc.

    5. Happy to. Do you have his address?

    As for your final point, please allow me to ditto in the Billy Thorpe like decibels.

  2. Thanks Lango.

    The more I think about it the more blame I put on Ponting. Bowling decisions in Cardiff still boggle the mind. He surely must have had a say in the 11 for the Oval too. It all clicked at Headingly in the bowling department so noone could stuff that test up. I think Magill said it well - Ponting always wants to go back to plan A whenever he can. This lack of inventiveness will haunt you when innovation is required.

    To be fair Aus didn't play well enough at key moments which is nothing to do with captaincy. Even if Aus were a spinner short at the Oval, making 160 makes that almost redunant quite quickly. Aus needed someone to take the England batting lineup by the throat in the 2nd dig and noone could. Johnson has work to do if he is going to be the main strike bowler. Having said that all of England's bowlers had at least one period of dominance but none sustained it through the series.

    I'm still confused how this went so wrong and so quickly. It's as if Aus were either completely on-song - and too much for England when this was the case - or almost off the boil. Funny how consistency is always the key to winning a test series.

  3. We have too many things going wrong at the one time: loss of star players, poor selection policy, a weak ineffective captain ... quite apart from the need to identify talent and that means more than finding skills. We may have found some in this series. North, for instance looks to have grit, as does Hilfenhaus.
    Ponting talks up the Baggy Green but like Clarke, he doesn't understand OR really respect it because they were wonderkind. Blokes like Katich or Boonie or McGrath who had to struggle to be in the team at first, they know why its so important.
    That's what we have to find.
    But, don't panic. It all comes in cycles and its all happened before and will happen again.
    1953 until Richie Benaud
    1969-70 until Ian Chappell
    1977 off and on until Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh
    Notice, however, how the change coincides with the emregence of a leader! That's where have to look now but CA won't have the balls to take the big C off the little c.

  4. What about the ho-hum, oh well attitude of Punter in the speeches and media!

    We were all mostly happy with the continued bowling attack; Englands 2 totals in the mid(ish)300's are nothing brilliant- we'll disregard the dec at 9 for. Runs! 20 wickets and Runs. I wonder how much Clarke contributes to tactics, "i can see a way around this but i'll just let the 2 head dig his own..." or "Yes Ricky. good one Ricky, 3 bags..." or "what do you reckon we... oh, ok, we'll do it your way"

    you see them talking in the slips, but it looks like, "i would have rocked back on that one and whipped it..."

    CA need to have a long hard about the obligations they place on a player they mark as and 'support' as captain.
    i don't mean duties, i mean ensuring people don't think that the title takes them all the way to the golden handshake. You've got it while you perform.

    Once again- as i have a few times here in the past- i think performance based contracts are the go. If everything is going to be money driven, corporate attitudes may need to prevail: KPI's, workplace agreements...
    Ok, i'm ranting a bit, but performance based contracts would have eliminated the Hayden syndrome before a 2nd series loss, and no doubt would have made selectors dip into the talent pool to blood another number 4.

    As a post script to the Ponting focus, Some (elsewhere) have have had a go at me stating there is very little a captain can due from the sheds whilst a team collapses at the crease. I can accept that, but a tactical captain must be creating the plays in every session of every test in a series; Ponting will only be rewarded when it all clicks, as he fails to (is incapable of) dictating his will -such as Taylor- on the happenings. Don't tell Outside sledge of my pro Tubby comment!

  5. above was me...working though an interruption to power

  6. Don't take credit for someone elses work Stoph. It makes you look pathetic. Nice work anon. I like the way you think......
    The problem with being the captain is you tend to get the blame for everything. While I don't think Ricky is the greatest captain I also don't think he is to blame for the the 5th test debacle. It was the batsmen that let us down. Ricky made bugger all in the 1st knock but he is hardly the 1st captain to fail with the bat occasionally. The bowling was adequate, 700 in 2 innings is hardly huge. Australia need to address the batting collapses that have plagued our team for years. How many times did Gilly and Kats save our bacon when we were 5 for f all? It's not new, we just don't have the talent to rely on to dig us out of the crap.
    Pressure needs to be put on the baggy green. It's not a ticket to mediocrity, it's a responsibility to be the best in the land. It should not entitle the wearer to endless chances.