Monday, August 24, 2009

The Ashes is back in English hands (the 5th Test)

So the Urn is back in English hands…hurrah!

Freddie Flintoff did bugger all in this match, but his mere presence on the field seemed to be enough to spur Stuart Broad on to great things. He did run out Captain Pout…so we can’t ignore him entirely. It was a good note on which to retire.

Captain Pout spent far too much time gobbing on his hands and far too little time at the crease. But he cannot be blamed for this loss – unless his psychic abilities that failed to win him the toss are considered.

Nathan Hauritz probably needs treatment for depression after missing out on the best turning pitch of the series. He was a forlorn character for most of the match as he watched each puff of dust with an agonised expression.

However, the performance of the series goes to…the Australian selectors. Nobody can deny that their steadfast refusal to play a specialist spinner at the Oval was the single most influential performance of the whole series. North toiled away stoically, however it was not ever going to be enough.

There were, however, some other notable performances. Shane Watson made sure that everyone was worried about the pitch by nervously looking at it and constantlypatting it down. His psychological attack on his own team must go down as a crucial act in this test. They spent 5 overs getting the first five runs and after that it was such a struggle. Australia’s batsmen made the pitch look like a minefield, and then England cantered to almost 400 on it. The pitch was not a factor until the last innings.

Even so Strauss appeared very reluctant to win. He did his best to ensure no wickets fell early by refusing to put in close catchers and giving the batsmen an easy ride. I think he was probably beaten up after day 3 and told not to be so soft on poor Aussies.

Ian Bell, showed how is apparent inability to hit a straight ball was, in fact, just a ploy to lull the bowlers into a false sense of security. His seventy in the first innings was vital. However, I don’t think it was necessary for him to use the ploy of being unable to make the grade again in the second innings when England needed runs. That was just showing off.

Scattergun Johnson once again struggled to find a good length, and sometimes struggled to find the cut surface. He tried to break his own foot with a bouncer (perhaps he thought that injuring himself might result in a proper bowler being used!), but merely sent it ballooning over the batsman’s head for a wide. He managed to take the same number of wickets as Siddle at about the same average – but without anywhere near the same impact. Once again Hilfenhaus was the best bowler – the quiet achiever.

And what about Hussey? Too little, too late...but maybe there is more to come.

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