What about that pesky pendulum?
It’s hard to imagine a series that has had three swings in form like this current Ashes.
To find England win by 169 runs in Cardiff, to then be handed one of the greatest Ashes defeats in history, to then turn around and set themselves up for a chance to claim 100% redemption would have to be rare.
Why has all this happened?
I know at the start of the series there was plenty of banter about the Aussies cruising to victory. How many people actually believed that England would lay down on home soil? There is two reasons we haven’t beaten them in over a decade in England.
The first is that all teams are tougher at home. It’s just that simple. You only need to look at Bangladesh for evidence. They are currently giving it to any team that dares tour there.
The second is that our team has been fragile against swing bowling for decades. We had consecutive teams that had mentally tough players that could adapt, but there is no shortage of examples of Australian teams collapsing against good swing bowling. The difference, to me, was in the past we had hardened campaigners that understood when to buckle down. They could assess the situation and get through.
It’s not a new discussion. Is it the T20 influence? Is it still the test arena evolving from the Steve Waugh captaincy days, when he set the standard at 300 runs or 10 wickets in the days play? Is it the pitch preparation that no longer steels our top six batsmen for a scrap?
Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter at the moment. We have had our pants pulled down and arses spanked with some brilliant bowling.
I haven’t been shy in being a fan of Steve Finn. I just wish England didn’t show him any confidence this series and kept him on ice for a bit longer. It would have been interesting to see how Mark Wood bowled in these conditions, but it’s hard to believe he would have caused the same damage as Finn.
Finn has been around for a long time now and he is still only 26. Age wise he is about to hit his prime as a fast bowler. We last saw him when he had the problem with kicking the stumps on his way through the crease. When someone has problems like this is can have all sorts of flow on effects. The coaches start moving him wider on the crease to negate, or changes his landing stride. If the bowler can’t adapt, confidence drops, performance goes even further south, confidence drops again. It can be a long road to come back. Look at Mitchell Johnson.
It’s been about 2-3 years since Finn started the process of working out the chinks. We just may be witnessing the start of the finished product. At no better time to for England. Outside of this Ashes, I hinted that Jimmy Anderson must be starting to think about when and where he wants to have his farewell test and Finn could still dominate at test level for the next 6-7 years. Perfect replacement whenever the time comes.
As for what’s left of the Aussie batting, I hope Nevill at least gets his 50. He has had plenty go past the edge, but he has applied himself diligently. He is showing why the selectors decided to chance their arm and stay with the debutant. His technique looks good and has very proactive at the crease.
Starc has a test 99 and we will need every one of those runs on day three. While deceiving, Hazelwood is averaging around 38, I think, but his defence looks solid and can smack the ball as well. And we know Gary Lyon doesn’t throw his wicket away.
In saying that, 3 good balls will finish us off. We need some luck to fall our way, it definitely seems to play a part in the result of each of these tests so far.