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Monday, December 18, 2006

Ashes lost too soon as curate's egg team reverts to type

Justice was done and seen to be done today when Australia defeated England by 206 runs to win the series 3- 0 and recover the Ashes.

I don't want to take anything away from Australia who collectively and individually have performed well. Not one player, including Damien Martyn in the first two tests (just) and Andrew Symonds in the third (definitely), has failed to make a substantial contribution to the team's success. Of course Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Stuart Clark, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and, in one incredible innings , Adam Gilchrist, have produced performances which will be remembered for a long time.

It's now clear, if it hasn't been for some time, that England have not (1) always fielded their best available XI, (2) performed consistently to the level needed to be competitive for an entire five day match and (3) been mentally tough enough to resist the onfield and mental pressures to which they've been subjected. To put it another way, England's performances have been like the proverbial curate's egg: good in parts. Pietersen, Collingwood and, latterly, Bell, Cook and Panesar must be wondering how their efforts have gone unrewarded.

The crucial test was the second, and the crucial day of that game was the fifth, when Australia, perhaps willing to settle for a draw, were inspired by their attack, led by the indefatigable and unforgettable Warne bouncing back from 1/167 in the first innings, to give them the scent of victory. Which, as is their custom, they achieved.

A (brief) selection of media comment

Andrew McGlashan's Cricinfo Bulletin.
Gideon Haigh's Cricinfo blog (a very different view of Michael Hussey from a couple of days ago).
Richard Williams in The Guardian.
Simon Barnes in The Times.
Simon Briggs in the Telegraph Ashes Blog
(no comments as I post this but should be worth watching as English supporters vent their spleen).












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