10/24/2006

The Ashes-Part 2

Ashes Part 2 – Obituary of English Cricket

A hundred and twenty four years back, when the English cricket team lost for the first time to the Australians at the Oval,The Sporting Times in 1882 carried a satirical obituary stating that the English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.

Fast Forward now to 2006, Yesterday, October 21st , the 7th match of the ICC Champions trophy , where before the toss, the match seemed to have all the makings of a thriller, but the contest flattered to deceive and was a totally one sided contest, with England being a pale shadow of what it was a year back when the Ashes was won by them. Cornered tigers, they say are more dangerous, but the cornered Kangaroo can actually be more ruthless, and this match hyped as the “Ashes “battle, saw a clinical display by the Aussies to demolish England. Having seen the way England has performed in the last 26 one day internationals (winning 5),I assume its time they renew the “ashes” and burn another bail, to mourn the obituary of English cricket all over again.


English cricket fans could have never had it worse, this is their team’s worst patch in recent years and it doesn’t seem like improving any soon though. Ricky Ponting won the toss and inserted the opposition, as is the wont of most captains preferring to bowl first during the afternoon, than to lay their hands on a moist ball later in the evening, with the dew compounding their problems manifold. The English openers got off to a splendid start with Bell and Strauss, going hell after leather; bring 50 from the first 10 overs. Ian bell, was severe on Bracken and Mcgrath, with 60% of Bell’s runs coming in the region of point and midwicket as he packed 6 boundaries in those regions. At 83 for no loss from 18 overs, England was well set for a 250+ score, when their usual listless batting style came to the fore.
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Bell seemed a totally changed player, from what had one seen him against the Aussies in the last ashes series, and just as he was about to get into change gears, the brakes were applied by a rather ugly long hop from Shane Watson, which Bell mistimed into the hands of the cover fieldsman Mike Hussey. This was the beginning of the end, as batsmen fell like 9 pins, no one showing resilience to spend some time at the wicket and accumulate runs. Peterson, the next batsman in, did his reputation no justice, when he poked his bat at an away going delivery by Mitchell Johnson, whose delivery had just done enough to elicit the edge, straight down Gilchrist’s throat, and the Aussies were cock-a-hoop with the Poms reduced to 85-2.

It took some excellent bowling from Australia here on, to stifle the run scoring from 5 an over to less than 4 runs, as Strauss and Flintoff seemed to struggle to get runs, after the double whammy that the Aussies struck. Soon frustration gave way for 2 indiscrete shots from the skipper Flintoff and his deputy, when they departed in the space of 3 overs and 5 runs, with England in a huge mess at 115/4. In came Michael Yardy, and his promotion ahead of England’s highest run getter this season, Paul Collingwood, certainly warranted a debate, but even before you could spell d-e-b-a-t-e , Yardy was gone, to a doubtful decision, caught down the leg side, but even if he had been given the benefit of the doubt, he hardly looked convincing in the 4 runs he scored, consuming 15 balls. After that it was a procession that followed that more or less sealed England’s fate at 169, hardly looking like troubling Ponting’s men.

The problem plaguing English cricket, is that apart from Pieterson, Strauss and Collingwood, nobody really has the ability to turn a match around or the confidence to pace the innings. Andrew Flintoff is just back after a long lay off, and will take some time to get into the groove, while the rest like Dalrymple, Read and Hardy , being more so batsmen who would prefer the safe mode of stroking singles. Another major problem for England has been pacing the innings, as their batsmen don’t seem to rotate the strike well, and consume a lot of balls before getting out, helping the team cause to no end.

The Australian chase started like the bullet train, with Gilchrist and Watson putting on a quick fire 30 in 4 overs before Gilchrist succumbed to rush of blood, being comprehensively bowled by Mahmood, off the latter’s first delivery, which followed a brief flood light power failure break, that seemed to have undone the Aussie’s concentration. Ponting didn’t last long before, playing an Anderson delivery to the slip cordon which Strauss juggled, but managed to hold the ball for dear life and England were ecstatic with the cheap dismissal of the Aussie captain. More disaster was to follow when Shane Watson, under edged an intended pull on his stumps to the leave the Aussies tottering at 34-3.

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Did some body say “we have a match on here”? Martyn seemingly didn’t’ hear that and went on to produce an innings laced with audacious shots that seemed to bludgeon the English bowlers into submission, while Hussey on the other hand was content playing second fiddle. Martyn picked his bunny in Harmison, who seemingly was still fresh from the insipid bowling effort against India, and Martyn clubbed him for three fours in an over, and that scathing attack that Martyn delivered seemed to knock the wind out of England’s sails with Martyn reaching a quick fire 50 off 35 deliveries.
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Martyn’s swashbuckling innings came to an end when Harmison priced him in the dying stages of the match, after Martyn knicked an innocuous delivery from Harmison. Martyn’s initial carnage had brought Australia 19 short of a victory, before he was dismissed for a strokeful 78. Hussey and Clarke carried out the formalities by seeing the Aussies through by 6 wickets.

So one elimination has been decided here, England will most probably go back home after their next match against the West Indies, but can still expect a favor or two technically speaking from India. If India beats both the Caribbeans and the Aussies, and England managed to defeat the West Indies by a huge margin, then it will boil down to net run rate amongst West-Indies,Australia and England. But whether India has the might to do England a favour is question that hangs in balance,as India’s one day form all too recently has not been that impressive to make the Ladbrokes put their money on them.





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The fact that I had a 4 day long weekend, and some time to spare on saturday helped me compose this little piece.Cricket related journalism is something I'd love to do, so hence a write up on the match, with me envisioning myself to be a sports columnist. :-)



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4 comments:

Born a Libran said...

England has not been good @ ODI cricket from '92. They have only improved in test cricket. The Ashes is about Test cricket. Let us not confuse the two. I do think that the English bowlers will be difficult to handle for the Aussies n it will be a lot more even than the ODI match that has been reported about.

Dev said...

my comment

Wayne said...

Brilliant write-up! I can't wait for the action to start!!

cowgirl bebop said...

I don't know what it is about Australian sports. It's like they all eat steroids for breakfast or something... maybe all that sunshine has something to do with it. I guess England gets rained out more often...

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