Heads will roll in Aussie camp
That's it. The Ashes as a contest is done and dusted. England have regained it on their home soil, and Alastair Cook has become the second England captain after W.G.Grace and Mike Brearley to win the urn twice at home
That's it. The Ashes as a contest is done and dusted. England have regained it on their home soil, and Alastair Cook has become the second England captain after W.G.Grace and Mike Brearley to win the urn twice at home.
It took only 40 minutes of Day Three for England to administer the final rites but the Ashes 2015 as a 'cricketing' contest ended exactly two days ago when Stuart Broad ran through the Australian top order in a chaotic hour that saw the antipodeans sent packing for 60.
There is so much hype surrounding high visibility series like the Ashes. Two nations desperate to put one across to the old enemy, there is an increased media spotlight on the goings on, even the casual fans are tuned in. At the same time, such high pressure contests also take with them a fair bit of collateral damage for the losers, and a favorable historical records for the victors.
The 2013-14 Ashes in Australia saw Mitchell Johnson praised to the heavens as the return of the mean old fast bowler, the likes of which hadn't been seen on this side of Jeff Thomson and the West Indian quartet. It provided a long list of casualties on the English side.
Jonathan Trott left after the first Test at the 'Gabba, Graeme Swann retired after the third Test when Australia took ownership of the urn, Kevin Pietersen has been persona non grata since the end of that series and Andy Flower could not continue as coach.
As Australia helplessly watched England rout them at Nottingham and win the series 3-1, it was inevitable that heads will roll. Michael Clarke announced at the end of the Test that he will retire from international cricket having retired from ODIs after the World Cup win at home earlier this year.
Ricky Ponting who is here as TV analyst had mentioned that as many as 8 players from the original Australian squad that reached these shores may never play Test cricket beyond this series. Chris Rogers announced coming in to the series that this would be his last.
With Ryan Harris retiring even before the series began, and now Clarke joining him, one could venture a guess about the others: Shaun Marsh, Brad Haddin, Shane Watson, Fawad Ahmed and possibly the aging Adam Voges, who remained unbeaten on 51, finally getting a score of note, as England won by an innings and 78 runs.
Even Coach Darren Lehmann's job is expected to be under severe questioning and he might give up the reins to his former teammate Justin Langer, waiting in the wings. That is a quite a bit of roadkill and turnover for the Australians arising out of this shellacking. Even as England rejoice over regaining the Ashes, the quality of individual contests have been poor.
If one side grabbed the initiative, the other team just couldn't summon the resources to mount a comeback. The 'closest' Test we have had in the series was at the opening encounter at Cardiff, where Australia had an outside chance of achieving the target England had set them in the 4th innings. Since then, all we have witnessed are one-sided contests.
The last two Tests – in Birmingham and in Nottingham were not contests even in the notional sense, with England winning by 8 wickets and an innings, respectively, in just over two days of play. But such is international schedule that there is always another coming up in the cricket carousel, and teams continue to struggle away from home support and conditions.
This is the third Ashes series in the last 24 months with England winning 3-0 in 2013 and Australia responding in kind with 5-0. But for now, the cricket circus moves back to London for the final Test at The Oval, all meaning sucked out of the series as England have emphatically sealed it. One hopes that for the viewers' sake, with all the pressure of performance and scrutiny absent, it is at least a 'contest'.