30 December 2010

Why did England retain The Ashes?

As always when a series is settled, analysts and journalists from both sides try to explain why the result has gone the way it did. In The Guardian Mike Selvey has given 10 reasons why England retained The Ashes. Here's a few thoughts for you from myself....some serious, some slightly less so.

The Aussie Press

Very helpful when their team is winning, very willing to stick the knife in and twist it when they aren't. Not so long ago on Cricket Burble whether there should be patriotism within journalism and we agreed (I think!) there shouldn't be. But some objectivity from the press could help Australia bounce back, rather than taking great joy in the national team's demise as seems to be the case at the moment where the Aussie press seem to advocate the "drop the lot of them" approach.

Shane Warne

When he wasn't being touted for a potential comeback as either leg-spinner or skipper, Warne was busy getting his leg-over with English rose Liz Hurley. The jealously from playboy wannabes Clarke, Watson and Johnson may have got too much....

Steve Smith

Smith may one day be a number 6 international batsman but I fear he may have to settle for number 7. And right now he's a number 8. Sadly he's no Test match bowler though so Australia picked a player on the basis that he was ultra-keen and he could make the other players laugh in the changing room. Not much of a rationale - better to have a Graeme Swann who is in the side on the strength of his playing ability and also likes to keep the side sniggering like school boys.

The Aussie selectors

And on that note....

No selectors can be blamed for injuries, but they can be blamed for inconsistent selection. Australia didn't play their best spinner throughout the series (Hauritz) and that's the selector's fault, as well as Ponting's for the terrible way he used him in India. Since Warne retired, the selectors are now into double figures of potential replacements tried - a truly awful reflection on their ability to do their job.

They did get one call correct though, sticking with Mike Hussey. It'll be interesting to see if Greg Chappell sticks with his "better to give an ageing champion one game too many than one game too few" philosophy when considering Ponting's future.

England's stability

With the level-headed Andy's at the helm, ably supported by a support staff and a number of senior players in the changing room, England went into the tour with a stable squad and a well defined game-plan. They're on the way up, were as Australia appear on the way down.

5 out of 7 England batsmen fired

With one match to play 5 England batsmen average over 40 and Trott and Cook average well over 100. For Australia, 3 out of 7 fired - Hussey, Haddin and Watson.

The wind direction

Fortunately there was only a gale blowing in the right direction to help Mitchell Johnson get some in-swing once in 4 matches.

But on another note...

Not everything is perfect just because you win. England also need to think about how they can improve, and I'm sure they will. Paul Collingwood is crucial if they are to play 4 bowlers and his batting form has slumped. Having their batting coach Graham Gooch leave the tour to see his family in the UK at Xmas just after the side were bowled out for less than 200 twice in Perth was an issue, and Strauss' lack of faith in Swann to get the better of batsmen looking to attack him could have been critical against a better Australian side. All sides have areas they can improve on though...

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