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Despondent Aussies And Their Ashes Debacle

August 9, 2015

Michael Clarke dismissed

Things do not take much time to change. Australia had played some wonderful cricket during their Caribbean trip and we all talked about the ability of this team to outperform any opponent in any part of the world, but only before they arrived England to defend their Ashes title. We could read the runes from the first test. Even though Australia did some revival to their Ashes campaign hitting back strongly at Lord’s, it has been an ever-struggling tour for them since then. England on the other hand have established their authority more and more as the tournament progressed.

Memories from the last Ashes – the Mitchell Johnson show made the whole Ashes showdown a one-way traffic. The man with a scary mustache ran in hard every ball. He swung it left, he swung it right, he banged in short to hit the helmet, yorked the batsmen to rattle the timbers – really, as brutal as it could get.

Scenes from the ongoing Ashes – Johnson is lacking his heat, so is the whole team. Only a few occasional sparks from Starc and less occasional glimpses from Hazlewood, woeful batting collapses and the last test becomes only a formality as the hosts bag the Ashes with a match to spare. No one man show though from the Englishmen with the ball, but their bowlers shared and clinically executed the bowling responsibilities to drown their arch-rivals in the oldest cricketing rivalry. Yes, Things certainly don’t take much time to change!

Perhaps what has happened, has happened and even looking back at it won’t change the results; but as Australia don’t have too much to play for except pride; they must have a look at the reasons leading to their Ashes disaster and see whether they can restore a little bit of that lost pride.

Some needless “aggression”: Yes, it was indeed a decent toss to win for England. But from Australia’s point of view, it needed a proper application of the test match basics and a formidable amount of patience to survive against seam and swing on the surface which usually bears a “win the toss and bowl first” kind of a reputation. Many test matches are won or lost during the first day first session, where offense has often proved not to be the best defense. Likewise silence being the loudest shout at times, a lot depends on how you defend in that particular period of time. Sometimes a good leave reflects more aggression than a scorching drive through the covers. Australian batsmen chose the latter, and just see how much did that cost. I am not taking anything away from Broad, but the poor shot selection from the baggy greens is a prime reason what made a test innings look like a T20 innings in terms of tenure. Even in the second innings they simply kept on repeating the same mistake, however the match had already gone out of their hands by then. While most of the deliveries probably didn’t deserve a wicket the Aussies were in a hurry of following one another on their way to the dressing room.

Frustrating form of Captain Clarke: Cricket at times has been a cruel game, even to some of its legends. Many a few greats of the game did not have a send off they deserved. If everything continues in the same manner as what has been happening for last one month, Michael Clarke is going to see himself in the list of such unlucky players who could not leave the arena with their head held high. He bats at an important position where he is supposed to hold the composure of the innings and we all knew how important it would be for Australia to have their skipper amongst the runs. But it was sad seeing one of the most prolific middle order batsmen of the modern days struggling and searching for runs ever since the Ashes kicked off. His back injury has given him some pain and has a lot to do with his early exit from the international circuit. But the agony of being the Australian captain with the most number of Ashes test defeats to his name will hurt him even more. His ODI farewell could not have got any better. But cruel is the game and cruel the fortune is, so that people will now have a very little attention left to pay at Clarke’s final retirement after spending the most of it over the Aussie humiliation. For a player of his class, the dying minutes can’t get any worse as he continues to disappoint with the bat, so does his team.

Lack of a genuine 4th seamer: The kind of tight schedules the players have to go through these days, tiredness always remains a challenge to be fought against. So it’s definitely a tedious job to bowl 90 overs with only 4 bowlers. Moreover the Aussies are not used to this. This is another department where England got benefited on having someone like Ben Stokes in their team. Besides his batting ability he can be very handy with the ball as well. If Broad had made the difference in that all important day 1, it was Stokes who did the rest on the next day. Australia on the other hand left out Mitchell Marsh for the 4th test and got Shaun Marsh in. The former might have not done wonders with the chances he had, but his elder brother’s performance was even more pathetic in terms of producing runs with the bat.

One of the reasons behind the Aussies’ recent test triumphs is the way David Warner batted upfront. He is another guy who has developed himself from a destructive T20 batsman to a successful test match opener. He doesn’t tune himself too much across the formats and conditions he play, usually comes up with an attacking frame of mind, sometimes resulting in cheap dismissals even when he is well set. But if you look at the batting line up of Australia, Clarke’s extinguish is undoubtedly going to leave a huge hole at the middle order. Something what the team will seriously miss is experience and it does not have any alternatives to it. Hence it becomes the responsibility of the current top 3 (the batsmen who are relatively more experienced compared to the rest of the team) to put expensive price tags on their wickets rather than going for expensive drives early on their innings. So it’s a mild warning to the likes of Warner and Smith. The next Aussie captain certainly hasn’t blossomed as much as his team wanted him to. Many times in the past we have seen a number 3 batsman being one of the determinants of the outcomes in England. Steve Smith has just not been the same number 3.

As we move on to the Oval for the final Ashes encounter, both the teams hardly have anything to lose, but Clarke will definitely feel that he has many things to lose. Nobody wants to end his career on a losing note, especially when he is leading a side. He will keep telling his boys that this is the team that brought success in the recent times, including that massive win at Lord’s. So if a month ago they had the belief that they can beat any team anywhere, why can’t they do it now! But can the baggy greens turn it on and make the bitter farewell series of their captain a touch better? We’ll find out in a couple of weeks’ time.

One Comment
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