After getting annihilated at the hands of Australia in the recently concluded Ashes series, England could well have understood the harsh realities of life. Barely 5 months earlier were some of the English players found urinating on the Oval pitch, after retaining the Ashes urn for the 3rd consecutive time in 4 years, but the return Ashes fixtures in Australia have had something miserable in store for Alastair Cook‘s men. Australia have performed brilliantly against the odds, and have been vengeful right throughout the Ashes.
England’s tour of Australia so far has been all about one team playing poorly, and the other team performing way above expectations. It should be said that, no one in the cricketing world would have seen this coming, but in the end, analyses are aplenty as to what really compounded the problems for Cook & co.
As much as cricket is a team sport, the captain’s influence on how a team fares cannot be understated. Alastair Cook, for me, has made headlines with what he has managed to do for England at the top of the batting order, than what he has done as England’s captain. When England toured India during the 2nd half of 2012, Cook’s batting prowess against the Indian bowlers was exemplary to watch. The big runs he scored with the bat subsequently translated onto his captaincy in the middle.
So, even for a captain, it’s important that he plays his specialized role very well, and Cook, for most part his captaincy stint has managed to satisfy that aspect. Unfortunately for him and England, the runs haven’t quite come from his blade right throughout this tour, and it has to be said that the England camp looks beleaguered due to Cook’s poor run of form.
Secondly, England were inept in finding ‘Ashes heroes‘ of their own. Australia, on the other hand, had the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Chris Rogers, David Warner, Steve Smith, Nathan Lyon, Ryan Harris, Brad Haddin and Peter Siddle stepping up to the plate at various junctures during the Ashes, and whenever England looked like getting themselves out of a hole, Australia did well to keep them down by various means.
Ben Stokes has been the only positive to come out of the tour so far, but if your marquee players like Kevin Pietersen and James Anderson aren’t going to get you runs and wickets, a new bloke in the side cannot and will not make a massive difference, as has been the case with Ben Stokes.
As things stand, ‘England look clueless, Australia continue to flow like a rampaging river – simply unstoppable‘! Yes, momentum is significant in any sport, and more so in cricket. Australia have done well to gain early momentum, and once they did gain it, have shown no remorse to a hapless English side that craves sympathy.
As much as you can look into rationality, tactics and clinging onto an opportunity, you can’t keep out the pedigree that’s part and parcel of Australia’s sporting culture. Belligerent is the only description to all this, and from Australia’s perspective, it couldn’t have come at a better stage to rediscover themselves, and remind the cricketing world that they are here to save their pedigree.
I can’t see England abruptly turning it around in the ongoing ODI series either, and it’s all down to Australia and Michael Clarke to taste some sweet home success ahead of the cricket world cup in the nation next year!