Ashes Victory

Well, there you have it. England’s cricketers finally won the final Test of the Ashes series in Sydney by an innings and 83 runs, to win the series outright. It has been a wonderful performance by the England team down under which has warmed the cold English (and Welsh) winter.

Commiserations to Australian cricket fans. Their team just wasn’t as good as England, with bat or ball. They have a lot of rebuilding to do, but you can be sure they’ll be back challenging for the Ashes again before long.

I thought I’d put up a poem to celebrate. This one is called The Game and was written by John Groves. It represents an idyllic view of what many English crickets fans surely regard as the match of any season – the Lord’s Test – which we can now look forward to with relish in the summer. However, I chose this poem for this occasion primarily because of the final couplet which takes us far beyond the boundaries of St John’s Wood.

A painter’s sky over Lord’s.
A gentle zephyr, blowing without brace,
The crowd engaged in all that joy affords
And England batting with admired grace.
The sun ablaze, an unforgiving pitch,
A bowler with a patriotic itch,
A ticking scoreboard and a close-run thing,
A resolute gull, high on a drowsy wing.

Though one team triumph, victory’s all the same:
The winner is the beauty of the game.


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18 Responses to “Ashes Victory”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Job done! Can we at last win the 50/50 World Cup between now and the start of the domestic season, to add to the 20/20 trophy?

  2. telescoper Says:

    That would be nice but, for me, is of little importance compared to Test cricket which is what really matters…

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Agreed. But we’ve NEVER won the 50/50 in 32 years of trying, we have a team capable of it, and it would be nice…

    • Dave Carter Says:

      Agree absolutely with this. One of the Australian newspapers made the very point that you won’t see Cook hanging around for ODI and 20/20. It is a format to which he is not suited, and test cricket is the summit so thats what he will concentrate on. Michael Clarke seems to have made the same decision today.

      If there is now to be a test world championship, let us make sure that a) we remain ranked in the top four so we are in it, and b) we perform well.

      Next test series is against India, with Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman up against our excellent selection of bowlers. Should be a fantastic contest.

    • telescoper Says:

      Dave. I have to correct you. The next test series is in fact against Sri Lanka, including one match at Cardiff in May…

  3. Dave Carter Says:

    Ah, right, thanks, I forgot that. They are a fine batting side also. Lets hope and pray for a fine May. I am annoyed with myself now because we have just booked a holiday at that time, otherwise I would have tried to get tickets.

  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    What would you do if you were an Australian selector? Personally I’d I’d retain Watson, Khawaja, Ponting, Hussey (c), Haddin, Siddle, and Mitch Johnson IFF he is able to accept coaching to bring the arm over vertical. Dump the rest permanently and bring on youngsters to fill the gaps.

    O, the joy of being English and having such discussions…

    • telescoper Says:

      Based on the little I’ve seen, Khawaja looks a good player. I’d also keep Watson; although he can’t make it past 50, I think an opener who gets to 40 regularly is a good thing. Huseey and Haddin must stay. Ponting also, although he may have had enough; that decision is up to him. Smith looks like he has a good eye, but he’s too fond of the agricultural shots for my taste. I’m surprised at the poor showing with the bat of Clarke and North (earlier); I thought they’d do better.

      However, I agree with Richie Benaud’s analysis that it’s the bowling that’s the big problem. Look at the runs England have made and it’s clear Australia are not a threat with the ball. I like Siddle because he tries hard, but I think he’s a good third seamer, not a strike bowler. Johnson is a lottery. But where are the other Test quality bowlers? Warne was always going to be irreplaceable, but they don’t seem to have a half-decent spinner or good quality pacemen.

      If you were going to pick a team from both sides in this series, the only Australian who’d get in would probably be Hussey for Collingwood. Certainly none of the bowlers would make it.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Peter: I think I’d take Watson for Collingwood, because of his bowling. I disapprove of England’s 4-bowlers policy in the absence of an all-rounder. Against India we shall need five, and the basmen must be told to stand up.

    • telescoper Says:

      Anton,

      The three seamers did much better against Australia than I expected, but even so I think we should have an extra bowler. If Broad gets back to fitness in time, I can see no real problem with him replacing Collingwood (moving Bell to 5 and Prior to 6). Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Tremlett and Anderson is still quite a capable tail end.

      Peter

  5. Dave Carter Says:

    Anton, what I would do if I was one of the current Australian selectors is resign, Andrew Hilditch’s performance when interviewed, as reported by SMH, was poor. They have been dreadfully inconsistent, with Hauritz, Bollinger, and over the years they have ignored quality players like David Hussey and Brad Hodge who score runs against the very same England bowlers in the county championship every year.

    Hussey and Ponting are the best batsmen, they are 35 and 36 though, will we see them in 2013? Amongst the fast bowlers, you hear names like Trent Copeland, Peter George, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood, but I have never seen any of them. A couple might turn out to be really good. But it will take a good 2 years.

    Johnson, I am baffled. You can be a world class fast bowler with a low arm action, Ray Lindwall was. His action was classical and side-on, but low, you can find Youtube clips. Maybe Johnson’s problem is trying to bowl low and front-on?

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Indeed; during the glut of Aussie talent the selectors decided who should be persevered with and who should not, and I don’t think it would have made much difference if they’d made other choices. Today it does. No I don’t expect to see Mike Hussey and Ponting here in 2013, but the problem facing Aussie selectors is 2011 not 2013 and you shouldn’t junk *everybody* at once. Like Peter I agree with Richie Benaud that the main problem is in the bowling. With that action Mitch J will always be inconsistent, and will probably win one Test per series whiile spraying runs in the rest.

      Didn’t Lindwall model himself on Larwood?

  6. Dave Carter Says:

    Just looking at some Youtube clips, I had heard that Lindwall modeled his action on Larwood, and it is similar, longish, easy run-up, gathering pace, side-on action with a high leading arm, straightening the back in the last few strides and the effort of back, shoulder and wrist co-ordinated at the point of delivery. Larwood’s bowling arm looks higher than Lindwall, but not as high as Trueman, otherwise all three are quite similar. Tyson also seems to have a very high arm and a lot of shoulder effort.

  7. Dave Carter Says:

    Another clip of the Bodyline series shows Larwood more from behind, his arm is also low, at about 70 degrees. Watching a clip of Johnson, I think he is higher than either.

    So in summary my view is not that Johnson needs to get his arm high, but he needs to get more side-on in his delivery stride. Dennis Lillee should sort him out.

    • telescoper Says:

      Trueman had a classic action, with his arm high and was a natural exponent of outswing when he wasn’t bowling at top pace – nobody swings it when it’s going fast. I think he was quite different to Larwood. The best modern comparison for a round-arm style is Malinga, who is lower than any of the names mentioned above.

      I didn’t see much of Johnson’s bowling in the latest series, only on the edited highlights but it seems to me that he has developed a kind of hesitation in his delivery that I’d never noticed before. Sometimes just before he bowls there’s a slight pause as his arm comes through. I don’t know whether that’s real or just my impression, but if it is real it’s recipe for disaster. If you look at all the great bowlers what impresses is how smooth and natural their action looks, however high their arm is. Larwood is a great example: a short man, with a low bowling arm, his action looks wonderful, even better in slow motion!

      I think another problem with Johnson is that he clearly thinks he’s God’s gift. I’m not sure he’s the kind of bloke who is capable of taking advice…

  8. Dave Carter Says:

    Yes I think you are right on Johnson (both paragraphs), there was some video of Johnson bowling in South Africa where he was very successful, and he looked much smoother than in this series.

  9. You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side thats been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

    When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!

  10. […] seems like yesterday that I was celebrating a famous England victory in an Ashes series in Australia. In fact it was a little under three years ago. In that series the difference between the two teams […]

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