“…You had me several years ago when I was still quite naïve. Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair and that you would never leave. But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me.”
These iconic lyrics penned by Carly Simon all the way back in 1972 has perfectly summed up England’s attempt at recapturing The Ashes. Moreso, the English fans mesmerized by the brutality of England’s batting during the series to date. Yes, Brendan McCallum and Ben Stokes have revolutionised test cricket with their approach to dominate opposition bowling attacks. However, Australia still managed to retain The Ashes even after England won the fifth test at The Oval.
England controlled most of The Ashes. Scoring at over 5 runs per over, it was hard to watch as an Aussie supporter, but much like Wes Mantooth’s relationship with Ron Burgundy, you had to admire and respect their swashbuckling innings. And yet, here they are, still only managing to draw the series 2-2 due to a ball change. Here’s where Uncle Oyster can only sit back and laugh about the sheer arrogance of the England Cricket side throughout the entire series to date. According to them, they’ve played the better cricket. They have dominated Australia for longer stretches. They deserve to win the series. Australia was lucky to retain The Ashes. Let’s break down this luck, shall we? I’ll do it as succinctly as I can. Australia has won 2 tests compared to England who also won 2 tests. By my calculations, England did not win back The Ashes because they did not win the required 3 tests needed.
Keeping this in mind, the English Cricket Team, and the entire population of England for that matter, still think that Australia was lucky. “Respected journalist” Piers Morgan’s constant whining on every imaginable social media platform has the opinion that England has been robbed of The Ashes. Robbed? The Patty Cummins dress as Robin Hood and steal them away from their rightful owners? Did Andrew McDonald pretend to be Ned Kelly take The Ashes forcibly away from Ben Stokes and Brendan McCullum? The only thing Cummins and McDonald are guilty of is pretending to know what they are doing as captain and coach of the Australian Cricket Team. So, who are the naïve ones here in this series? Is it the English Cricket Team who choose style over substance? They would prefer to play attacking, attractive cricket than win over fans but not test matches. Is it Ben Stokes who states that if he had his time again regarding the early declaration, he would do the same thing? Is it Jonny Bairstow whose brain explosion in the Second Test and shoddy glovework all series indirectly lead to England’s demise?
Since Australia famously reclaimed The Ashes in 1989, I have been sacredly watching every series since. That Australian team was labelled the worst Australian touring party to reach England’s shores, yet Australia triumphed 4-0 to trounce England. Rain halted the Aussies’ chances of winning the series 6-0. Did England complain about the rain then? 2005 was the greatest Ashes series that I was blessed to witness. Two amazing sides going hammer and tongs. Andrew Flintoff was superb! He bowled rapidly and scored freely. Did Australia receive
some horror umpiring decisions throughout the series? Absolutely. However, England were the better team and deserved their series win. 2010/11’s edition in Australia will be remembered for a mountain of runs Alistair Cook scored and how England retained The Ashes in Australia for the first time since 1986/87. 2013/14’s edition was Mitchell Johnson’s Ashes. He bowled with express pace and a ferociousness that has not been matched by an Australian fast bowler since. Australia smashed England 5-0. Johnson ended several careers during that series.
So, what will the 2023 edition of The Ashes be remembered for? The BazBall backfiring, England was robbed, Australia’s lucky escape or Australia retains The Ashes in England again? I suppose it depends on who you ask. I will remember how the English were the undisputed champions of whinging and shifting the blame away from themselves for their failures in not winning the series they should have. Whether it be displaying sheer arrogance with an early declaration on the first evening of the First Test, poor fielding on several occasions throughout the series which gave the Aussie batsmen multiple chances, an unwillingness to choose the best wicketkeeper in their starting XI or a devil-may-care attitude with their shot selection, England will continue with they were robbed propaganda. Is that easier than taking responsibility themselves, isn’t it? The weather ruined our chances for victory at Old Trafford! Let us ignore the fact that you batted for an hour too long even though everyone knew the weather forecast was not in your favour for the remaining two days of play. Let us bask in our own BazBall glory for the sake of a Bairstow century instead of trying to get the required 10 wickets need for victory. To the English side’s credit, they almost pull it off in the 71 odd overs they had at the Australians. Alas, time and weather were the ultimate victors. As for the last test in the series, Australia was cruising at 0-130 in their mammoth fourth innings chase until an inadvertent ball change completed shifted momentum England’s way. Australia will have to wait another four years for the chance to win that elusive series on England soil.
“…But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me.” So true Carly, so true! England were their own worst enemies in this series. Australia will once again be the holders of the coveted urn for another two years. Will BazBall be as effective on Australian wickets? Time will tell. In the meantime, let us bask in the fact that Australia has retained The Ashes for a fourth consecutive series. I know I will! Any series win against The Poms should be celebrated enthusiastically. In this series substance triumphed over style but if you listen to any Englishman, they suggest otherwise. Until next time, may you be able to do what Australian bowlers only managed 36 times all series! Bowl a maiden over. They are quite underrated you know!
7th Grade Premiership Winner for the Cobbitty-Narellan Cricket Club, 2017/18 Season.