IN HIS final blog, Shane Palmer reflects on a one-sided series and looks ahead to the next Ashes!
Well, it’s all over. Five – zip. Australia is triumphant and jubilant, England shattered and looking for someone to blame.
For me, it’s a shame that the series was such an emphatic battering by the hosts. I’d personally hoped for a much closer contest – still with Australia winning – like the series last summer.
I’ve had mates from home – proud Aussies – even stoop as far as to feel pity for the travelling English.
“They’re so bad it’s embarrassing,” said one.
“They’re dropping like flies,” said another.
Sir Ian Botham – once a major cause of pain for the Aussies – predicted a 5-0 win to the hosts before the series began. He meant it to be tongue-in-cheek.
“In truth I was expecting a much tighter contest but at the moment we have had no contest,” he said.
“I always give it the bravado, 5-0, 5-0. I am very surprised. I have no idea why and if I could put my finger on it the whole of the management team would be out of a job. But I don't know.”
England started so well on day one in Brisbane, but has not been anywhere near that good for the rest of the series.
Graham Gooch – England’s batting coach – stated that his players are simply not good enough.
“We’ve been unable to get to grips with the Australian bowling attack,” said the former Test captain. “We’ve not been making the right decisions.”
Australia’s bowling attack has been too much for the English top order, which is yet to concede an innings of 400-plus this series.
“One of the things that has been crucial is that we’ve not been able to put some pressure on the Australian bowling attack,” continued Gooch.
“Against good bowlers if you just let them dominate it's very difficult. You have to take it to them a bit. We’ve not been able to do that at all.”
Rumours are that the ECB will be making a formal complaint to the ICC – just like Tottenham and Charlie Adam – citing Australia’s bowlers are outside the spirit of the game, or just plain mean and nasty.
But there are some positives to take out of this series for England.
For one, Stokes looks to be of test quality, and had a very honourable series.
The Durham all-rounderr scored his maiden century in Perth, took 6/99 in Sydney, and was a constant presence in the lower-order.
Perhaps if the likes of Pietersen or Bell could’ve stayed at the crease a little longer, England would have scored a lot more runs, and competed with the Aussies.
Stokes and Broad proved capable lower order batsmen – but were relied upon too heavily.
The frailty of England’s top-order has been hugely exposed by the Australian bowlers, and may prompt the selectors to move-on some of the older players, which may be needed, and is a positive – in a long-term sense.
At the start of the series I definitely didn’t see Australia winning this convincingly. The team had a huge amount of pressure to win back the urn – losing four consecutive series is completely unheard-of in Australia.
Everything fell into place for the Aussies. The batsmen – who struggled in England – where all in top form, and had at least one or two players stand up at the essential moments and make big scores.
The bowlers obliterated the tourists, and we saw Mitchell Johnson emerge as one of the top fast bowlers in the world.
Michael Clarke’s captaincy was outstanding. ‘Pup’ was aggressive (at times overstepping the line), clever and not afraid to roll the dice – and in most cases the numbers came up for him.
Finally, the Australian press and public made a huge effort to public support the team. Where they could have easily sulked and criticised, the newspapers praised the Baggy Greens and scorned the visitors; while the fans filled the grounds all series – including setting an Ashes record on Boxing Day, when 91,092 Melburnians packed into the MCG.
And so this is the last blog for this Ashes series, and it’s been a pleasure sharing my musings and thoughts about the cricket and the wonderful place that is Lancashire.
Luckily, the next Ashes series is only 18 months away, so cricket’s oldest rivalry will be back before we know it!
But for now, thanks for reading, and bring on India and Sri Lanka this summer!