Monday, December 6, 2010

Ashes 2.5: This Changes Everything



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England 1 : Australia 0

The signs were there for all to see. Yet collectively there was hesitation. To proclaim England as favorites.

England were serious about retaining the Ashes. In an era where teams are lucky to have a captain on tour a day in advance of a Test Match; England; old fashioned England; asked for 3 tour games. They won two of those convincingly. Yet collectively we refused to grant England its due. We always found a "but".

The decay had set in a couple of years back. Australia were on the decline. They regularly lost Test Matches. they lost to South Africa at home; lost a Test Match to Pakistan, after having almost lost to them at home; were blanked by India. They found baffling ways to lose Test Matches. They named a battalion, when the call was to name a Test Team. They sounded hollow as the usual suspects began to talk up a  0-5 blanking of England. Yet, we managed to keep a straight face. A decade and more of Aussie domination had taught us to be cautious. We knew Australia would find it almost impossible to wrest the Ashes but we did not say it loud.

Even now; all I am saying is England are favorites to win the Ashes. It would be a huge upset if Australia comeback to win this one. Botham's Ashes will have to take a back seat.

This changes everything. There are 3 teams at the top who can compete as equals. England have the best spinner in the World. England have the most dominating middle order batsman in the world. England are favorites to beat Australia home and away. England can bat for a draw or put up monumental scores. Above all England have a cricket administration that is committed to Test Cricket. England have many of the things that should be the envy of South Africa and India. England have what it takes to be first amongst equals. Or may be I am being carried away...

Related...

  1. Yes We Can't
  2. History is the Only Thing Going For Australia
  3. 6 Reasons England Will Lose The Ashes 

12 comments:

Mahek said...

You are indeed getting carried away. I'll believe this England side can match up to India and South Africa when it wins a series against them either home or away. But I do like Swann and find it quite ridiculous that most Indians seem to consider him an average spinner. As for KP, I'm glad he scored a double hundred. He gets way too much criticism for things he doesn't do. Trust the media to build an image that helps them get page hits.

straight point said...

irrespective of the result of ashes... if i were england i would be very disappointed if i don't reach at top with the kind of personnel i have in near future...

Golandaaz said...

Mahek, We will see in July 2011. Not too far away :-) We will go there after a hectic WC, IPL, etc etc and England is likely to feast on us.

SP, I agree. Realistically England can beat India and be #1 the summer of next year. I think that's possible if England win big in the Ashes like say 3-0. India lose big to SA say 0-2 and England beat an exhausted India 2-0. Its my guess

Mahek said...

Gol, you have to remember even England will be coming off a really long grind. Ashes, WC, IPL, home series versus Sri Lanka. So I don't see why England is likely to feast on us. It's just fashionable to talk England up right now. Don't get me wrong, they probably give themselves a better chance to win than most other sides. It's just that I consider the Indian team better (The results of the past two years back me up).

Oh and there are a lot of ifs in your response to SP. If England lose the Ashes 3-1 and India beat SA 3-0 and beat an exhausted England 4-0 then India would be the undisputed best side in the world :)

Golandaaz said...

Mahek

"they probably give themselves a better chance to win than most other sides"

You said it man...that's what I wanted so say but could not

Of course, theres a lot of ifs for England to be #1 but its possible. A realization that has me thinking because before the 2 ashes tests, I never thought England had a serious chance at #1

May be you are right about England being equally fatigued...

likeatracerbullet said...

England vs India in 2011 will be the real deal, alright....the one edge England has over India is, that unlike India, they won't have their main players retiring in a couple of years...so even if India beat England next year, England are the team for the future...

Golandaaz said...

latb, you have a point...

Unlike previous times, the success of this English team seems built on something solid and sustainable.

Mahek said...

LATB, it remains to be seen when the middle order stalwarts retire. I don't mind them playing if they can churn out 60+ average like Tendulkar and Laxman have been doing of late.

While England won't have their main players retiring in a couple of years, it's no guarantee that they'll keep up this level of performance. Afterall, they seemed to be on an even bigger high when they won the 2005 Ashes against a world class Australian side but well all know what happened after that.

Gol, it's not like England wasn't built on something unsustainable back in 2005. They had two quality openers, a world class number 3 and 4, and an exciting prospect in Ian Bell. They also had the best pace attack, better than the one they have now. I'm not saying they'll falter again, just pointing out there are no guarantees in sport.

Mahek said...

While we're at it why don't we discuss South Africa's claim to being the best side in the world? They have one of the best opening batsmen in the world, their middle order is just as strong as that of India, the best bowler in world cricket, another pace bowler who would walk into any test side. Botha is among the better spinners going around at the moment (It's an indictment on the quality of spinners in world cricket) and Kallis is probably better than the third seamer for most test sides. I have no idea on the status of Imran Tahir but he could potentially be the bowler who takes South Africa from highly competitive to truly worldbeaters.

Golandaaz said...

SA are one-dimensional especially bowling wise. Imran Tahir is good by all accounts but not a test player yet....In any case I am not discounting either SA's or India's right to be called a top team. All I am saying is India Eng and SA are the 3 top teams and I am not sure I want to rank them. England can easily build on this win and get to #1 and I won't be surprised. I would say we saw it coming.

Also Mahek, winning at home as England did in 2005 is different than winning in Australia. Back then there were no Trott, Cook, and Collingwood. Instead you had Vaughan (ageing), Treskotick (mentally not there) and Bell was just starting out. There was no Swann or Prior. Now they are well established. I would argue the value of the 2005 win was over stated and England got drunk. It was the closest 2-1 result you can get.

If they go on to win this Ashes, they will have to be considered equal to SA and India.

Mahek said...

The Windies were one-dimensional too in their bowling attack when they went 15 years without losing a test series. It's good to have variety but variety can never trump quality. We can argue that England have quality in their variety (Graeme Swann) but again he adds value with the quality of his bowling.

The 2005 win was on the back of some very impressive performances. England had dominated West Indies in West Indies and beaten South Africa in South Africa. The Ashes win was only a culmination of their dream run. Vaughan in 2005 was the same as Strauss is now, Trescothick hadn't suffered anxiety issues until then, Hoggard was accurate as ever, Jones & Flintoff had pace & swing, Harmison was still a man, and Flintoff was playing like a genuine allrounder. They had a lot to be happy about but injuries & mental problems took their toll.

Swann is the only major differentiator as even Prior's spot was in question until 2009. That said, beating this Aussie side doesn't make them equal to SA and India for the simple reason that England haven't beaten either of these sides either home or away in their recentmost rubbers. Also, they've managed to dodge Sri Lanka (More specifically Murali) for a while. I think their last series win against Sri Lanka came in 2000/01.

Golandaaz said...

SA perhaps have one guy Styen who can match up to the quality of the WIs pacemen of past. Sure if SA can produce 4 Styen's it probably wont matter if they play in Ahmedabad or Wellington. But they have only one Styen, so when they don't have a Swann like spinner to exploit conditions, you have to give more points to England. Batting wise SA may have a sight advantage but only slight

India are struggling with getting their spin right. Their middle order of Dravid, Sachin, VVS and Raina is probably ahead of Trott, KP, Collingwood and Bell. Opener wise, India have the X Factor England have stability. Pace wise I would say we are slightly ahead with Zaheer, Ishant and Sree v Andreson, Broad and Finn.

All in all I would say KP and Swann tilt it for me in England's favor. Also the ECB is likely to make sure England always start tours with 100% preperation. India and SA are more likely to spread their players thin. Time will tell but I have new found respect for England