Binge-watching is a term I like to associate with Test cricket. Ask Vince Gilligan how much it has benefited his series. Once you are hooked you just don’t want to stop watching. When it comes to Ashes the minor battles that add up to the war keep you riveted in your seats. Honestly, the last two tests have been a serious let down from the English cricketing side. The excitement that Graeme Swann, Kevin Pietersen, Cook to certain extent bring to this otherwise very professional bordering on boredom outfit has gone kaput. The minor battles have been lost in the dressing rooms it would seem. The appalling effort on the field to let go of wobbling Bailey, Clarke and Haddin has completely blown away any semblance of a mental comeback by the English.
What changed for the English? Before the first ball was bowled at the Gabba, the previous Ashes results were (courtesy howstat.com.au):
|Test||Countries||Date||Ground / Location||Result|
|1st||England v Australia||10/07/2013||Trent Bridge, Nottingham||England won by 14 runs|
|2nd||England v Australia||18/07/2013||Lord’s, London||England won by 347 runs|
|3rd||England v Australia||01/08/2013||Old Trafford, Manchester||Match drawn|
|4th||England v Australia||09/08/2013||Riverside Ground, Chester-Le-Street||England won by 74 runs|
|5th||England v Australia||21/08/2013||Kennington Oval, London||Match drawn|
Any discerning human eye would be belied to an English dominance in this current series. The last match is of quite a bit of interest. Australia scored 492 in the first innings with 2 centuries from Shane Watson and Steven Smith. They declared the first innings and bowled out England for 377 who had no centuries. Jolly good momentum some would say. Cricket has, is and always will be as much a mental game as it is of skill. If you are a world beater, you better have the mindset. Slight sign of insouciance and a team like Australia is going to pounce. No wonder Clarke was confident ahead of the series. He had smelt blood and probably knew a perfect pounce would asphyxiate the prey.
Resilience is the beauty of sport and the reason why we love watching and playing it. When you are down and out, its only your mental strength that can bring you back. This series has shown the both the extremes of the pendulum. A distraught Jonathan Trott unable to muster the resilience needed to play the sport at the highest level and a pie chucker Mitchell Johnson bouncing back looking like a Sabre tooth tiger literally with his moustache. Mitchell Johnson’s record in last 12 innings before this series read:
0/44,0/16 (against India in Delhi in March 2013 when he last played), 0/58,3/34, 4/63, 2/16, 2/54, 4/110, 1/67, 1/101, 0/26,1/61
Glimpses of good bowling but nothing much really to write about when the team as a whole was getting beaten or only managing to salvage a draw with the exception against Sri Lanka where they won 3-0. Resilience is a good habit. It instills the faith to question your own status quo and exceed your own expectations. With the current display of ability and menace, it would take a serious heroic display from one of the masquerading English batsmen to ruffle him. Harris, Siddle and Lyon quite playing their part are forming a formidable combination. Warner, Rogers, Clarke, Haddin, even Mitchell have done their part turn by turn when the situation demanded. This is sign of a team that believes its indomitable.
Nonchalance and arrogance are a deadly combination unless backed by extreme talent. One Mr. Pietersen has always possessed that concoction and seems to get away with it even to the point of being compared with another nonchalant but extremely talented gentleman Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards. In this series he has been culpable of atrocious shot selection and no batting game plan according to the situation. In fact his last 12 innings look:
2, 5, 113, 8, 26, 44, 50, 62, 18, 26, 4, 53
There are signs of the Mr. KP we know but ultimately no consistency and his team might be getting impatient with him. Will he bounce back aka the Sabre toothed? It’s completely possible and it’s one of the reasons why the paying public might even go to the next game. Sometimes it just takes a spark to engulf a forest, may be a Cook display or a Swann heroics might trigger the spark in Mr. KP. Sport has always led us to believe that romantic situations are not impossible. What other perfect setting than the WACA for such a scenario? Quite unlikely though given the dominance Australians have displayed and their reluctance to provide an inch of breathing space.
In conclusion, an English bounce back seems very unlikely given they are wobbling in all the three departments that matter in cricket. It would take some strong soul searching and belief in their ability that will help them bounce back. Its so much harder for the prey to stand up and start running when the hunter is clamping down its neck, asphyxiating it. Australians will blow the English away 5-0 unless…
–Ranjit Eswaran [Ranjit Eswaran is a writer at Sportz Cosmos. You can contact him at our gmail address: sportzcosmos]