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Cricket

Ashes 2015. The Pendulum Series (Again)

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This Ashes Summer had many similarities with its 2009 counterpart. Six years ago Aussie batters occupied the top of the run charts but it was England who prevailed. As in 2009 England suffered a crushing defeat only to bounce back with a dominant performance of their own. Back in the day Broad blew the Australian middle order at the Oval to lift the urn and this year his one man demolition of the tourists at Nottingham went a long way to reclaiming the Ashes.

The theme of thus series was that once a side got on top they simply ground the opposition into whimpering submission. 2005 saw matches ebb and flow as two stand out teams traded blows with neither side capitulating. Apart from Lords when Glenn McGrath produced a masterclass in fast, accurate bowling each game came down the the wire. Every session was hard fought and exemplified why this, the greatest firm of the game is called Test cricket.

The advent of T20 has been a wonderful addition to the sport and it has certainly had the effect of putting rocket boosters under the five day format. Games progress at break neck speed and unless weather intervenes, the draw is a rarity these days. England has played ten tests this year with a 50% success rate and only one draw. The downside is a lack of patience and application by the batters if the scoreboard isn’t whirling around. Thus momentum is now massively important. The Aussies had it in the two games played in London and England had it at Cardiff, Birmingham and Nottingham.

Player by player comments.

Alastair Cook. A better year with the bat but failed to register a ton in the series. Mind you only Root managed this milestone. Captaincy seems liberated by the arrival of new coach Trevor Bayliss and Brendan Mccullum’s attacking instincts seemed to have rubbed off on him. All his obstinacy will be needed in the Pakistan series being played on the low spinning pitches in the UAE and then S. Africa. Victories there will seal his place as a great England skipper.

Adam Lyth. The Yorkshire opener epitomises the gap between the County game and international cricket. Like Jonny Bairstow he has been hugely prolific in the Championship but he looked nowhere near ever being comfortable facing international fast bowling. The best players appear to have time, Lyth just looked under the pump and never settled. Contrast his performance in the One Day Cup semi when he dominated the Gloucester attack albeit in a losing cause. There is no obvious next cab off the rank which is seriously worrying. Since Struass retired in 2012 England have tried Compton, Robson, Carberry and Trott all to no avail. Root is settled in the middle order and why disrupt a guy who has found his role.

Ian Bell. Frustratingly he continues to grossly under perform and then produce a place saving performance. No one is questioning his supreme talent or record, but the barren spells are getting longer and longer. But as with Lyth who else is there?

Gary Ballance. The same issues as beset his county colleagues Lyth and Bairstow apply to the Zimbabwe born batter. He can be relied on to fill his boots in the Tykes middle order but number three against quality fast bowling when you are likely to be in right away has exposed technical flaws which analysts employed by international sides exploit with no mercy. I would take him to the UAE and see if he can work things out.

Joe Root. The greatest batter of his generation and the reason why the KP issue did not arise. Has it all. Just don’t ruin it by pushing him to open or by giving him the captaincy too soon.

Jonny Bairstow. Brilliant 74 at Trent Bridge set the tone and allowed Root to excel and nail the visitors after the 60 run first innings debacle. Has some flaws but potential to succeed at the highest level is there. Should take the gloves if Buttler’s wretched form continues.

Ben Stokes. Aged just 24 consistency will see his sublime talent take it’s place alongside Botham and Flintoff in the pantheon off all time greats. Has it all and a six fer  at Nottingham sealed the win.

Jos Buttler. Confidence shot with the bat but deserves another chance. If the top order do their job he can take the game away in an hour from a jaded attack.

Moeen Ali. Confounded critics with both bat and ball. Very hard working, talented and a team man. First name on the team sheet after Root and Cook.

Stuart Broad. Won the ashes with 8/15 on his home ground. Batting on the up again but when it’s not happening is still prone to blaming everyone else.

Mark Wood. Promising debut but Finn and Plunkett are ahead of him. Great attitude and one for the future. May thrive with reverse swing in the Pakistan series.

Steve Finn. Selectors dont fancy him for reason but he is seriously quick and is the second fastest to 50 wickets for England so he has the ability to take scalps as proved when he was recalled to replace Anderson.

Jimmy Anderson. Record wicket taker for England when there aren’t the cheap victims Botham bailed early on in his career. Will he be able to perform abroad on a consistent basis anymore. The winter will tell us.

The Others.

Liam Plunkett. His comeback to the top is amazing when you think he was let go by Durham. Jason Gillespie saw his strength and pace allied to powerful striking with the bat could catapult him back into international cricket.

Adil Rashid. Have seen a lot of him over the years. He is the real deal as a genuinely wicket taking spinner and a well organised middle order batter. Can see him having a long test career having been kept waiting seven years since his first squad selection.

KP. The ECB need to get over themselves. But have just read his book and have to say it doesn’t do him any favours.

Eoin Morgan. The white ball skipper is a tremendous player with a great temperament and deserves a test recall.

Alex Hales. Press clamour for him to replace Lyth. No evidence of runs in first class cricket but has played on the international set with some success.

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About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.

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