The Ashes: Still hope for England to bounce back

Jofra Archer at net practice. Source: Getty Images

In Test Cricket there is no bigger clash than the Ashes. The oldest rivalry between England and Australia. These two teams have been battling over the tiny urn since 1882. The team that usually wins it is considered to be heroes of their country. The losing team however is labelled as underachievers. Over the last 6 years, the urn has been moved around from England to Australia and vice-versa. England’s defeat at Edgbaston was considered to be huge in the English publics’ eyes and one has to wonder if any panic should set in yet within the England camp?

       2001 was the last time that Australia won an Ashes series in the UK. 18 years is a very long time and no doubt that Tim Paine would want to break that jinx for the Aussies.

     England are 1-0 down in a home Ashes series since 2005, after being beaten comprehensively by a very good Australian side. A team consisting of World class bowlers one has to say, with the likes of Pat Cummins, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and then the greatest off-spinner that Australia has ever produced in Nathan Lyon. England within the first half an hour in the first Test at Edgbaston were struck a tragedy with their best Test fast bowler getting injured. Jimmy Anderson is due to miss the second Test match at Lord’s this coming Wednesday and may also miss the third Test match as well. England’s top order still have a lot to prove, and their fifth day batting downfall was shown yet again. This happened too frequently on their last tour to the West Indies earlier this year when the hosts regained the Wisden trophy for the first time in a decade.

     With Anderson’s unfortunate injury on the opening day, the other bowlers proved that they had the will and determination to dismiss Australia, and England did gain a crucial first inning lead. Had Anderson been fit, who knows what could have happened. Australia may have been dismissed cheaper in the first and second innings and England could have possibly won the Test match. But in this life, could’ve, should’ve and would’ve just doesn’t work.

     Australia batting in their second innings looked in no trouble whatsoever. They piled on the runs thanks to Steve Smith’s return to the Test team, after almost 18 months out with his ban in Cape Town early in 2018. Smith’s twin hundreds in the Test match had England on the back foot and he has proven to be a World class batsman over the last 5 years. David Warner also back in the Test side however had a quiet match, but as the saying goes, form is temporary and class is permanent. Smith was definitely the difference between the two sides and England must come up with a solution to get rid of him. If they don’t, Australia may well regain the Ashes.

     2001 was the last time that Australia won an Ashes series in the UK. 18 years is a very long time and no doubt that Tim Paine would want to break that jinx for the Aussies. In terms of the positives looking ahead for England, Rory Burns struck his maiden Test ton in the first match. This would have given him all the confidence in the World to know that he has achieved a century at the Test level. Stuart Broad’s bowling was very good and he seems to be back to his best. His height at 6 ft 6 inches, extracting bounce at good pace would be effective on most pitches. It was also shown that when England swings the ball, they are hard to cope with and the opposition seems to be lost at sea.

     Despite the defeat, England were on top at many points in the match and maybe they should have driven their first innings advantage with that 90 run lead on a pitch that was spinning and bouncing. Nathan Lyon’s 6 wickets showed why he is a classy bowler. Moeen Ali however looked ordinary with the ball and his batting was equally poor. After registering 4 ducks in his last 8 Test innings, he was eventually dropped for the upcoming Test match at Lord’s. Jack Leach the left-arm orthodox spinner has been called to the team.

     Leach was named man of the match against Ireland in his last Test match, making 92 runs opening as a night watchman with the bat strangely. He could be a possible solution to getting Steve Smith out. It is no secret that Smith struggles against left-arm spinners with the ball spinning away from his bat. Another addition to England’s team is the sensational World cup hero Jofra Archer. The Barbadian born talented cricketer is set to make his Test debut in place of the injured Jimmy Anderson. Good luck and best wishes to this young man.

     With the Lord’s Test match beginning on Wednesday August 14th 2019, England still have time to fight back in this Ashes series. Things were not honky dory at Edgbaston, but they would be hoping that they cross the line at Lord’s. Happy hunting ground as England were crowned World Champs in the final just a few weeks ago. This however is a totally different ball game. Test Cricket as we know is considered to be the true form of the game. May the best team win and let’s look forward to a good contest.


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