I couldnt stop myself writing about the 2015 Ashes test series that finished today - this blog is usually reserved to Indian cricket. But, the fact that Australia lost despite winning two matches in London by a huge margin was a shock that I couldnt resist. This was an average series won by a team that knew how to bowl on overcast conditions but came a cropper on batting pitches.
The Australians knew how to take 20 wickets on flat pitches but could not do much on surfaces that supported them. Well, not exactly. They did well then too but their batsmen could not face opposition bowlers who made the ball talk. Result was that by the time bowlers had a chance to bowl, the English were too far ahead in the game. Flat pitch bullies are the Aussies then but what of the hosts? They are good at home, especially when they have Anderson and Broad together. But, step outside and they lost to West Indies even. Imagine! They are now ranked third in the ICC Rankings. Something must be wrong.
Twice we were wondering whether the test will be completed in two days. Yes, two days. I remember a match between England and West Indies long ago on telly where all four innings were played on one day and the match finished in two days. But, not here. The matches, thankfully to the spectators who were in full attendance, crept to the third day. Not a single test match went to the final day. Can you believe it if this was done on subcontinental pitches? There would have been a huge uproar - spin doctors et al.
The statistics are revealing. Batting and Bowling. The Australians seem to appear at the top in both lists but they are upstaged by those players who rose to the occasion when required. Imagine, the second best bowler on Australian side was dropped for the last test to make way for Peter Siddle! The fifth bowler made a difference - yes, fifth bowler. Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes picked wickets that were critical. Australia had Mitch Marsh who did well but was picked for three tests only! The English batting was held together by Joe Root and his captain. The others did not seem to matter.
Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers retired while Brad Haddin and Shane Watson may not play another test match. Similarly, Ian Bell must rethink his position in the English team while Lyth will be lost to county cricket forever. Bairstow can go back to County, scoring runs by the tonnes. Few batsmen survived the test series that was won by the home series again. Overall, an average series if I am being generous.