England vs Australia Series Wrap

4 07 2010

Australia, having found their usual one day form over the last two one dayers, ensured yesterday that neither side will go into the Ashes in November with any bragging rights at all. This was always likely to be a series of little relevance and so it has proved. Interesting entertainment, enjoyable cricket and has allowed one or two to state their cases once more, but other than that not much meaning.

The point has been raised that by having a series like this it devalues the meaning of a genuine Ashes contest, but in our opinion, this is not the case. It has served as a tasty hors d’oeuvres and in that sense is welcome – Ashes cricket after all is about test cricket, no other form, and therefore the Compulsive Hooker has little problem with our appetites being whetted. Coming as it did after some long months of pretty uninteresting cricket against Bangladesh it was a welcome relief to be honest! (But never fear – fans of uninspiring cricket have more to come with a further three one day games against Bangladesh this month!)

If the result has little relevance; what did we learn?

What we have learnt is that looking at the averages seems to mean little when looking at who was dominant over who. Australia had four regular bowlers averaging under 30 with the ball and all conceding less than five runs an over. England on the other hand had two bowlers averaging under 30 and most still going at over five an over. Yet England won 3-2! Things were more even on the batting, but it is an interesting aside to see that once again as in the Ashes, England seem to have won the crucial exchanges without dominating in terms of wickets taken.

First of all the bowling. It is clear that an Australian attack with Shaun Tait in it is a much more fearsome thing than without him. Yesterday Tait bowled a ball clocked at 100 miles an hour, only slightly slower than Shoaib Akhtar’s record, and ripped the heart out of England’s batting. Demonstrating just how difficult it is to bat against such extreme pace; Tait took 8 wickets at 12.38 and went for less than four runs an over! Predictably there has already been talk about whether he might return to the longer forms of the game with one eye on the Ashes, and worrying as that prospect is for Englishman, it is unlikely to happen given Tait’s record at breaking down if required to bowl more than 8-10 overs a day.

Likewise Harris also proved a handful on occasions, taking 10 wickets in four games, with his ability to bowl up above the 90 mile an hour mark suggesting that he is around to stay for a while. With Bollinger also thrown into the mix and Hilfenhaus, Siddle and possibly even another young gun like Hazlewood to come in, the Australian bowling stocks don’t look bad at all.

For England it was a different story with only Swann and Broad really having good series. Anderson had his moments too, notably at Old Trafford, yet in three of the five games he went for more than sixty in his allotted overs and yesterday for 75. Bresnan also belied his recently acquired status as a good limited overs operator with only one wicket in the series. Call us fickle but, having witnessed his performances in this series, we are doubly concerned about any potential Ashes involvement he might have! As an opening bowler Sidebottom would surely have been a better selection (limited as he is also by conditions), but Bresnan’s batting in the end saved him (mostly) from our ire. Swann, who despite being strangely under bowled, was his usual excellent self and these days really is the heart of this England team.

The batting was strangely inconsistent for both sides in this series with almost everyone contributing something at some point. The much maligned Clarke top scored for Australia and did much to win the fourth match for them, although the pedestrian finish to his 87 not out at the Rose Bowl also possibly lost them that match. Watson got starts without going on and looked in a continual sulk; all of White, Hussey and Ponting contributed well at some point; but on the whole the batting was fractured with generally only one man performing at a time.

England’s batting was also mixed. Strauss proved he can score quickly enough to be a threat at the top of the order although, despite his 87 in the third match, he is guilty perhaps of not going on and taking the game away from the opposition. Morgan won the man of the series award for his excellent contributions in the first three games – his hundred at the Rose Bowl was a brilliant exhibition of how to pace an innings. Collingwood had a quieter series but showed his worth last night with an excellent 95 as all others struggled against the extreme pace and Bresnan did well at 7. The notable failures were Kieswetter, KP and Wright though for varying reasons.

KP looked in great touch but was too frenetic, looking to smash everything for four; Kieswetter was undone by a mixture of good bowling and poor shot selection but deserves another chance. Wright on the other hand, despite his important 35 at the Rose Bowl, looks too high up the order at six which begs the question – what is he there for? Currently he appears to be doing the Mark Ealham bits and pieces role from a front line batters spot which is probably a luxury England can’t afford come the world cup next year.

All in all it was an entertaining series and one that should encourage England for having won with only three batsman really firing. The potential shortfalls are easily apparent though and it will be Andy Flower’s priority to remedy those over the next 9 months up until World Cup time. Australia on the other hand won’t feel despondent and Ponting will be pleased with the way one or two have come through and taken responsibility, particularly in the last two matches. There is a depth to Australian cricket that means they are rarely going to be too far off the pace and so it showed here.




2 responses

4 07 2010

b Tait, sends shivers down your spine, he’s exactly the type of thing that’ll save 50overs stuff, bit of excitement, 2 over spells, you want him to bowl the wides and bouncers and yorkers, McGrath was definately a great bowler, but exciting he was not, on a pure entertainment level we want bowlers trying to kill and batsmen playing off the front foot and throwing their wicket away… yeah. viva la pyjama cricket!

6 07 2010

Kerry Packer would have loved Tait for that reason. Problem is can he do all of this for longer than 3 overs?

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