Apologies for the lateness of this blog - I realise that it's very much overdue but better late than never!
Here are my top five reasons for why England won the Ashes this year in Australia:
England’s planning for this tour was meticulous, right from the warm-up matches to squad selection. The surprise inclusion of Chris Tremlett paid dividends to the 3-seam attack and provided a perfect replacement for Stuart Broad, who was side-lined for the remainder of the tour, after the second test in Adelaide, with an abdominal injury.
Form of England’s batsmen
The England opener Alistair Cook deserves special mention here as had the tour of his life. The Essex man hit back at critics, with the form that would have made the great Sir Donald Bradman proud. Cook amassed an incredible 766 runs at 127.66 over the series, smashing records left, right and centre. However, Trott, Bell, Pietersen and Prior averaged over 50, proving that there was always somebody to hold the side together when others lost their wicket.
Australia’s poor selection
Selection decisions seemed to baffle pundits not least the decision to leave out spinner Nathan Hauritz, who in his last match took five wickets and hit a century in his last first class match. Michael Beer gave headline writers an easy time and made no difference to the Australian attack. Xavier Doherty must have wished that he had been dropped after the first test at Brisbane, to avoid more embarrassment but selectors simply added to his misery by putting his name on the team sheet for Adelaide. Phil Hughes seemed to be picked on the basis that there was nobody else to open the batting and Michael Clarke wouldn’t have had less success if he had walked out to bat with a stick of rhubarb in lieu of a bat.
The swinging Kookaburra ball
A major worry to the England camp was that the ball wouldn’t swing for the bowlers, therefore rendering James Anderson’s most potent weapon as useless. This was not the case. Jimmy found excellent form, finishing leading wicket taker of both teams, taking 24 wickets at 26.04 apiece. Only Mike Hussey, Shane Watson and possibly Brad Haddin seemed to be able to cope with England’s bowlers.
Erratic bowling from Australia
The Barmy Army summed up Australia’s bowling by critically analysing the form of Mitchell Johnson. Their song of “He bowls to the left, he bowls to the right. That Mitchell Johnson; his bowling is sh*te” proved to be an accurate summary of events. Johnson’s waywardness set the tone for the rest of the bowlers who also struggled to break through England’s top order. Highlighting how important Johnson is to the attack, Australia won the third Test at Perth, where Johnson was back to his best.
|Andrew Strauss lifts the urn and the celebrations begin after an emphatic win at the SCG|