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Home > News > Opinion News > Article > Blunders thunders in these Ashes

Blunders, thunders in these Ashes!

Updated on: 16 July,2023 07:43 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Ian Chappell |

Not only did the hosts fail to introduce Mark Wood’s threatening pace until the third Test at Headingley, they also chose a wicketkeeper in Jonny Bairstow, whose mistakes with the gloves have cost his side dearly; Cummins and Starc right on the money

Blunders, thunders in these Ashes!

England’s Mark Wood celebrates after dismissing Australian Mitchell Starc during Day Three of the third Test at Headingley, Leeds, last week. Pics/Getty Images

Ian ChappellThe first three Tests in the Ashes series have been exciting; plenty of scintillating cricket, the odd questionable tactic and some glaring examples of administrational blundering.

The series has provided ample batting highlights including the stubborn resistance of Usman Khawaja and the skilful placement of Joe Root. There’s been abundant audacity ranging from the unlikely pairing of Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett to the brilliant counter-attacking stroke play of Travis Head and Mitch Marsh. Skipper Ben Stokes oscillates between sedate defence and explosive hitting that sends the ball sailing deep into the crowd.

The series is littered with batsmen who have made starts but failed to convert them into a match winning score. I was uncertain about Harry Brook’s talent leading into the series but his second innings that piloted England to a much needed victory in the third Test confirmed his outstanding ability.

Jonny BairstowJonny Bairstow

Australia’s bowling has been headed by Pat Cummins who is a stand out performer. Mitchell Starc displayed great attacking skill in a spirited attempt to bring Australia victory and with it the urn at Headingley. With the serious injury to Nathan Lyon at Lord’s it’s obvious how much Australia depended on its consistent off-spinner.

England reliy heavily on the skill of Stuart Broad and his choke hold on David Warner to spearhead their attack. They belatedly introduced the big-hearted Mark Wood into the series and he proved his worth with a high speed attack at Headingley.

Wood’s inclusion highlighted a perennial English failing—selection. Not only did they fail to introduce Wood’s threatening pace until the third Test but they’ve chosen a bat-first wicketkeeper in Jonny Bairstow whose mistakes with the gloves have cost his side dearly. They also chose to offer red carpet treatment to Moeen Ali, who in his prime was never much of a bowling or batting threat to Australia.

Joe Root and Usman KhawajaJoe Root and Usman Khawaja

England’s fumbling failure to catch securely and save runs on the ground has been one of the main differences between the two teams. 

The captaincy styles of Cummins and Stokes are very different but they both admirably try to achieve victory from the first delivery. Stokes has done wonders in cajoling England into the priority of—as it should be— scoring runs and taking wickets.

The regular bouncer barrage—utilised by both sides—is not a plausible tactic as it is too demanding on the bowler. The resultant scattered field placings are also a surefire signal to any flint-eyed batsman. The most effective weapon of the bouncer is still surprise.

There has been a number of controversies, headed by Bairstow’s second innings dismissal at Lord’s. Bairstow was out and his thoughtlessness was the result of an abject failure to respect his wicket. What Alex Carey did was simply smart cricket; there was no deviousness involved and the crowd reaction was despicable, including the ludicrous cries of “cheat.”

Also Read: Ashes 2023: Aussies abused after Jonny Bairstow’s controversial dismissal

If Bairstow was trying to highlight the way etiquette has been ignored (a batsman should be ready to face up when the bowler is in position to begin his run) his thought process is commendable but his method was totally wrong.

Umpires have been lax in not enforcing this unwritten rule and the administrators are negligent for not backing arbiters to the hilt. It served to further expose the administrators inaction. They haven’t had the guts to explain some of the more controversial laws. Consequently the players undeservedly hear despicable chants of “cheat” from an ill-informed public.

In the case of a replay for catches perhaps the administrators haven’t explained the process because there is overwhelming evidence that this method doesn’t always provide the truth. This is further evidence of how the administrators make the mistakes but it’s the players who suffer the consequences.

Midway through the Lord’s Test I felt Australia was poised to run away with the Ashes, however I failed to factor in Stokes’s outstanding inspirational qualities. Australia will still win the Ashes but it’ll be a hard fight against an England side that continues to compete despite poor selection.

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