Sunday, 15 September 2019

The Oval finale

Back to work today and halfway there I realised I'd left my radio behind...  I was office based for a chunk of the day which was ironic but then I remembered that with a bit of fiddling I could get the radio to come out of my phone, which I did!  By this time England's innings was over, the tail had added a handful including two sixes from Broad, the lead was almost four hundred.

I was comfortably working when the Aussie innings started and after a few overs had passed I began to feel a little concerned.  But then Broad bowled Hapless Harris and shortly after had Walking Wicket Warner caught in the cordon again.  Fair play to 'Davey', this was one of his best innings of the series, he actually reached double figures.  The big two were now at the wicket but thankfully Funnyname didn't hang around as Leach had him stumped.  At lunch Australia were 68/3 and the win looked certain.

I was out and about for most of the afternoon session so missed Smith getting out to Broad and didn't hear much of Wade's counter attack or Marsh's brief stay at the wicket.  When I left work Paine and Wade were together.

By the time I settled into my chair Paine had gone and I'd missed most of the duel between Archer and Wade, the latter was moving ominously towards a century.  This normally attacking batsman was nudging carefully and taking his time.  Once he'd reached three figures he started slashing and whacking and had two close calls before he was eventually stumped off Root of all people.  It was as if he stopped caring about the result after he'd got to his ton.  After that the end came quickly with Root taking two decent catches in two balls off Leach, England won by 135 runs and tied the series 2-2.

One of my favourite Ashes series was Strauss' team winning 3-1 away in 2010/11.  I can clearly remember when we went 2-1 up at the MCG, we'd retained the Ashes but that wasn't enough.  As a fan I desperately wanted England to win the series outright, which they did.  I think a lot of Australians will be gutted today even though they retained the urn.  I feel quite happy with this result, 3-1 would have really flattered Australia who still haven't won a series in England for 18 years.

A lot of pundits are insinuating that England were lucky and Australia were the better team but I disagree.  If Anderson had not pulled up in the first test, Australia would not have built such a lead and without rain at Lords we'd have almost certainly won that match.  Back in July I predicted a close England win but back then I wasn't banking on Jimmy being injured for the whole series and who would have thought Steve Smith would be so brilliant?  I also predicted a golden series for a certain B.Stokes...

It has been a brilliant series of test cricket and perhaps 2-2 is a fitting way to finish.  Although it has been one of the better Ashes series this may be because the standard of test batting hasn't been good.  If either team had one more decent batsman they would have won comfortably.

Trevor Bayliss' reign as England coach has come to an end.  He was brought in primarily to improve our one day cricket which he has done with resounding success.  However our test team has not made anything like this progression, for a while it was going backwards but now it looks like we may be making progress.

When Ed Smith's first selections were revealed I was quite impressed.  I liked seeing Rashid and Buttler in whites and for a while it seemed as if Smith & co. were doing a lot right.  The quirky selections in the 3-0 away win in Sri Lanka seemed to prove the point.  But then somehow Curran was picked ahead of Broad in Barbados and I've been losing faith rapidly ever since.  The selections made for the test team this summer have done little to ease this feeling.  The sight of Smith and Taylor in the stands, suited, booted and wearing shades does nothing to increase confidence.  They look like a pair of villains from a shit comedy.  Why did it take so long to get Rory Burns into the team?

So the summer of Cricket has come to an end.  England's excellent ODI team confirmed their status as world No.1 by deservedly winning the world cup.  I must admit that on that day, half way through our innings I would have taken a world cup win over an Ashes win.  The first time in my lifelong addiction that I have placed ODI ahead of test cricket in importance.  By the time the Ashes series was in full swing that day at Lords seemed far away...  2019 has been a fantastic summer of cricket, one of the best I've ever experienced and one I will look back on fondly.

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