I guess England might be able to put it down to an Ashes victory hangover
But in reality the way this fifth test at The Oval has unfolded, it’s just the latest in a series that has been laughable for both sides more than once.
It’s the start of England’s second innings, which has been brought about by Clarke’s decision to enforce the follow on for the first time in his career. Ironically in his last game. It’s kinda like a political figure in his last weeks in office giving his personal approval for the legalization of marijuana. I think if this was the middle of the series with everything on the line, Australia would have batted for 30-40 overs.
In saying that, there is no doubt that if ever there was a time to enforce the follow on, it’s probably now. Rain is predicted for the final two days, so Australia would be hoping to get 90% of the job done today as a minimum. While keeping an eye on taking advantage of any available play in the next two days to finish it off.
Cook on the other hand will be looking to throw back to his prime by grafting 50 off 200 balls, and boring the shit out of the crowd and audience while the rest of the team do their best rain dance. Cook’s batting has been given the thumbs up at times but I can’t figure out why. He is only averaging low 30’s and despite him looking pretty good, the fact is he hasn’t delivered. It’s always easy when the team is winning to look past some of the real problems but England have plenty to deal with.
When we have a look at some statistics (minimum of 200 runs or 10 wickets) from the series to date, they shed pretty much zero light on how the English have ended up with the urn. They probably point more to a series that has just been a long game of pin the tail on the donkey.
|SPD Smith (Aus)||5*||9||0||508||215||56.44||808||62.87||2||1||0||66||3|
|CJL Rogers (Aus)||5*||9||1||480||173||60.00||826||58.11||1||3||1||74||1|
|JE Root (Eng)||5*||8||1||449||134||64.14||656||68.44||2||2||0||63||3|
|DA Warner (Aus)||5*||9||0||418||85||46.44||561||74.50||0||5||1||59||3|
|MM Ali (Eng)||5*||7||0||258||77||36.85||353||73.08||0||2||1||42||3|
|AN Cook (Eng)||5*||9||1||249||96||31.12||527||47.24||0||1||0||36||0|
|IR Bell (Eng)||5*||8||1||202||65*||28.85||342||59.06||0||3||0||34||0|
|BA Stokes (Eng)||5*||7||0||201||87||28.71||305||65.90||0||2||2||31||3|
|AC Voges (Aus)||5*||8||1||201||76||28.71||425||47.29||0||2||1||31||0|
Sourced from espncricinfo.com
Australia have three of the top four run scorers. Generally if you have your one, two and three are in the top four run scorers, there’s a pretty good chance you have given your bowlers the opportunity to take 20 wickets each match.
Australia also have four of the top five bowlers in the leading wicket takers. Incredible to think that the bowlers used for the first four matches have consistently taken wickets and the top three batsman (on average) have all scored runs, yet we are still watching the urn head back to England.
|SCJ Broad (Eng)||5*||9||143.3||34||439||21||8/15||9/51||20.90||3.05||41.0||1||0|
|MA Starc (Aus)||5*||9||128.2||20||511||18||6/111||7/174||28.38||3.98||42.7||2||0|
|JR Hazlewood (Aus)||4||7||112.0||18||412||16||3/68||5/88||25.75||3.67||42.0||0||0|
|NM Lyon (Aus)||5*||9||111.1||19||403||14||4/75||6/144||28.78||3.62||47.6||0||0|
|MG Johnson (Aus)||5*||9||127.1||28||468||14||3/21||6/80||33.42||3.68||54.5||0||0|
|ST Finn (Eng)||3*||5||78.1||15||270||12||6/79||8/117||22.50||3.45||39.0||1||0|
|MM Ali (Eng)||5*||7||123.4||13||546||12||3/59||5/130||45.50||4.41||61.8||0||0|
|BA Stokes (Eng)||5*||7||105.0||26||368||11||6/36||6/36||33.45||3.50||57.2||1||0|
|JM Anderson (Eng)||3||6||87.0||20||275||10||6/47||7/62||27.50||3.16||52.2||1||0|
|MA Wood (Eng)||4*||7||118.4||31||391||10||3/69||4/82||39.10||3.29||71.2||0||0|
Sourced from espncricinfo.com
I certainly don’t want to imply that Australia should have won the series based on these stats alone. They simply suggest Australia should have been a lot closer.
England’s victory has been built on the back of exceptional individual performances at exactly the right time.
Root’s two centuries. Anderson’s epic Edgbaston effort after failing to take a wicket for three straight innings. Broad following it up in what can still only be described as an almost unbelievable fashion at Trent Bridge, and then Stokes second innings swing masterclass.
Test match victories are built on winning key sessions and hours of play; there can be no doubt that England have done that.
Cook has received way too much praise for his captaincy. From my couch it seems Cook has finally woken up to the fact that there is a way to play with positive intent. It’s not great captaincy to stack the slips cordon when it’s a green top and you have sent the opposition in. It’s not great captaincy that makes Stokes swing the ball prodigiously, and it’s certainly not great captaincy that helps Root put on an educational for the Aussies on how to bat in English conditions.
To say Cook has ‘out captained’ Clarke is a load of bollocks. To say Cook has been supported better by his team than Clarke has, would be a fairer assessment. Clarke has only just, for the first time in the series, been able to throw the ball to someone to tighten the belt. Siddle has given him that ability so far in the fifth test. Hazelwood has more than filled that roll in the previous six matches but unfortunately has been off the mark this series. This falls back to the selectors not recognising this early enough and not giving Clarke the right team to do the job.
The 2015 version of the Ashes could seriously have been an all-time epic. If both teams played either their worst or their best for each of the five tests, it may have been one of the greatest.
This series will be unforgettably forgettable at times for both teams but history will reduce it to only a few key facts. England regained the urn inside four tests for the second consecutive home series, Australia cannot play on a green top and it was the end of Michael Clarke.
Hopefully Australia can finish the job today. By bringing the score back to 3-2 history might also kindly imply that we have improved from our last Ashes tour.