Australia thoroughly deserve all the plaudits that come their way, having thrashed the England cricket team in the third Ashes Test in Perth, reclaiming the coveted little brown urn with an unassailable 3-0 series lead. It was an utterly convincing, clinical and brilliantly executed performance that has once again left English cricket in ruins.
Everything has clicked for the Aussies, emphasized by the mightily impressive pace trio of Starc, Hazelwood, Cummins who have lived up to their much hyped pre-series billing by destroying England’s batting order. Nathan Lyon has been excellent as well, taking crucial wickets and ensuring that his fellow bowlers have been able to alternate and keep fresh.
Captain Steve Smith should take the overall plaudits, however, and is without peer in the game at the moment. We will be talking about him in the same breath as such legends as Bradman and Tendulkar when he hangs up his bat. It has been very obvious that Smith has totally outplayed Joe Root in every facet of the game.
The only surprise is the quiet form of David Warner, which does not bode well for England with Melbourne and Sydney approaching. He will be desperate to get in on the act, especially as England’s bowlers now look leg-weary, not to mention ineffective.
To think; we all scoffed at the beginning of the series when the Australian selectors looked to have thrown a few wrong-uns by calling up the likes of Tim Paine and the Marsh brothers. These guys have all played a significant part in the series victory and the selectors deserve great credit for sticking to their guns, even if the game’s most prominent experts, as well as the public, thought to the contrary.
For all of the talk around England having had their chances in the first three test matches, they have not been good enough to make these small windows of opportunity count. I for one am still scratching my head over how England can lose by an innings, having been 368-4 on day two at the WACA.
One feels for captain Joe Root and coach Trevor Bayliss because they are good men but this has been a poor showing from an English team that were expected to at least challenge the Aussies.
Quite simply, Australia have bowled, fielded and batted better than their counterparts. Significantly, every Australian player has made telling contributions in each of the three Test matches so far. Contrast that to England, where the likes of Stuart Broad, Moeen Ali, Alistair Cook and Joe Root have all failed to live up to their reputations. Indeed, it is the senior players who have disappointed the most for England.
Root will be gutted that he could not score the runs that England so desperately needed from him. The cases of Moeen Ali and Alistair Cook are equally very disappointing. We know that Moeen is a confidence player but he is so horribly out of sorts that playing him in the next two tests could further risk the progress of his Test career. For Alistair Cook, he has earned the right to see the series out and make a decision on his future away from the spotlight. He has been a world-class operator for a long time but currently cannot buy a run.
The most vociferous conversations have been based around Stuart Broad. He has been a magnificent player for England but has not fired a shot in this series. Broad has struggled to get much above 80 mph and he does not possess the tools of Jimmy Anderson to be a threat when his pace is down. For a few seasons now his batting has been in steady decline; understandable, given the nasty injury he sustained against India. However, the dismissals in Perth showed just how much his batting has disintegrated as well as his confidence. England fans will hope that Broad can draw upon his undoubted abilities and prove his growing number of critics wrong.
It will be an ugly post-mortem for England but there have been some positives. The rookies, led by Dawid Malan in particular, have been promising. Mark Stoneman has shown great courage at the top of the order under immense pressure from the Australian quickies. James Vince has saved his career for the time being by making a classy 55 in England’s second innings. Just maybe his undoubted talent has broken through at this level; we will wait and see. We should not forget Jonny Bairstow either with his wonderful hundred in England’s first innings.
Mason Crane and Tom Curran are two individuals who I would like to see be given a crack in place of Moeen Ali and the unlucky Craig Overton. England needs a bowler who can spin the ball, as the next two venues in Melbourne and Sydney could offer some help. It does not matter if Crane goes for a few, he offers something different and, more importantly, some variety to England’s attack.
Tom Curran is an exciting cricketer who can make things happen. He had a good game with both ball and bat in the warm-up match before the Perth Test so he has some form. If Overton does miss out through injury, which looks like being the case, he can be proud of his efforts in Adelaide and Perth.
So, congratulations to Australia. There is a lot to be excited about with Australian cricket given the youth of this team and that bodes awfully well for future Ashes campaigns, both home and away. As for the remainder of this series I cannot see any outcome beyond a dreaded 5-0 white wash.
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As for England, it has been a disaster. Poor discipline on and off the pitch has blighted their every step on this trip. Each player has to look at the way they have prepared as an individual and as part of the squad. They need to take responsibility and not look for excuses. Changes must happen, most specifically on selection, professionalism and a thorough analysis of the county system.
On the latter point: Dear ECB, can we please find a bowler who can bowl 90 mph on a consistent basis?