ALTHOUGH ENGLAND succumbed to their fourth Test defeat, a certain Aussie In Lancs believes they may restore a modicum of pride in the fifth and final Test.
Shane Palmer, a member of the Guest Services team here at Emirates Old Trafford, was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. He came to Manchester this summer and is loving life in the UK. However, after watching his beloved Australia struggle in England during the recent Investec Ashes series, will he still be smiling after the series Down Under?
Shane will be writing a blog during the course of the current Ashes series on what it’s like to be an Aussie In Lancashire.
Oh England. At least you tried. But sadly it wasn’t enough, and now it’s four-nil to the Aussies, and the tour has gone from bad to worse.
As Australia cruised to an eight-wicket victory on day four at the ‘G, the vultures began to swirl around Alastair Cook’s captaincy.
England needed wickets in the morning session, when defending a meagre but potentially tricky 231 – on a Melbourne wicket that had offered generous spin and unpredictable bounce from day one.
Everyone in the stadium could see the obvious choice for Cook – throw the ball to your first-choice spinner: Monty Panesar, and see why Essex’s finest deserved to replace Graeme Swann.
Cook is determined to stay on as captain, and plans to keep his job.
“I 100% want to carry on,” he said.
“In a strange way I’m enjoying the job.”
In all fairness, England has just been beaten by a better side. While the tourists were aiming for a fourth-consecutive series win, which is certainly a strong motivation, a fourth loss for the Aussies would be simply unthinkable.
Losing one Ashes series is akin to a national tragedy in Australia, three is horrendous, and four would simply not be allowed.
And everything has gone right for Australia in this series, the batsmen have scored runs when needed, the pace attack has been consistently strong, while even the local fans and media have done their part to unsettle the tourists.
England has not been particularly bad, but not a lot has gone right. Just as little went right for Australia in 2005 – sometimes a side just has a bad series, and pointing the blame at one or a few players doesn’t help.
In Melbourne, Chris Rogers did the damage for the Australians, and scored a patient and clever century on his home wicket, much to the delight of the local fans.
Dave Warner quickly grew bored with the chase, and went out with a silly swipe at a wide delivery.
My visiting mate Jake spookily predicted that one, after stating “Warner will do something stupid in a minute,” a ball before the opener was dismissed.
Over the pond in South Africa, a magnificent career finished with a bang for Jacques Kallis, who scored his 45th test century. Kallis scored over 13,000 runs and claimed 292 wickets, and will be remembered as a true great of the game.
Back in Lancashire, the festive season is shifting toward the New Year.
I’ve endured (and survived) my first bout of food poisoning from a dodgy chicken burger, promoted the merits of wearing kilts outside of Scotland in December (it took Eccles by storm, and is highly likely to kick off a new trend), and enjoyed the delights of Australia’s unofficial national-dish: the Chicken Parmigiana.
So where to now for England?
Well there is still a good chance to salvage some pride from the wreckage of this Ashes tour.
Sydney will be a solid, flat and dull track that should reduce the intensity and aggression of Johnson, Siddle and Harris, and offer the English batsmen a chance to score some much-needed runs.
That being said, Pietersen has been the highest run-scorer for the tourists, averaging around 30 runs per innings, which is no-where near his lofty standards.
Losing the Ashes was bad enough for Cook, who has been prattling on about ‘England’s need to fight’ all series. Sydney is the time to show this fight, and show the world that England really aren’t this bad a side.
Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/Press Association Images