There’s an advert here in Oz for the Ashes with quotes from ex-players (Gooch, Strauss, Botham) etc extolling the history and tradition of the Ashes. One quote is the now-hackneyed ‘it’s not about life and death, it’s more important than that’ – of course it isn’t but in the context of matches within matches, batsman against bowler, captain against captain, it’s all consuming at that moment to the exclusion of everything else, hence the ‘match of our lives’ and players needing to ‘stand up for England’ exhortations coming out today.
Lose this one and the urn is gone for another 18 months at least. It is important but we should not have got to this point and I’m not going to rehash all the ramblings so far.
England’s track record at the WACA in Perth is not good – only one win since tests were first played there in 1970/1 – and whilst it would be nice to have another in the last test to be played there before the circus next time moves onto a 60,000 seater stadium, the prognosis is not great and hopefully Root will not be guided by history and statistics if he wins the toss but by sensible cricket reasons; he has the nous to do it!
This Australia side is not ranked as one of the highest in the game at the moment but in their own backyard they are quite formidable and Smith has done a great job in a very short space of time in Brisbane in forming them into a winning team and on a roll – they’re close to the ‘storming’ stage of team dynamics. England man for man have more vulnerabilities than we would like – unsettled batting, Root at #4 (really?), Ali outplayed and Lyons rabbit, fast bowlers only turned up in Brisbane for the first innings and for the second in Adelaide and so forth. One could say that this is not the most impressive side we’ve ever sent here but what is more worrying perhaps is the question ‘who else could or should have been picked, who else is hammering on the selectors door saying pick me, pick me?’ Ok BS should have been here but would one person have made such a dramatic change or had such a monumental impact on the tests so far? There is at least one from history I’ve been with my own eyes – Bothams Ashes of 1981 (and still a better series than 2005) – would this have been ‘Stokes Ashes’ ? I doubt it but we shall never know. But who else should be here who isn’t?
Perhaps a few media people shouldn’t be here but perhaps an expert PR person for the England team?
Tour parties amateur and professional are not always on their best behaviour (haven’t reached dwarf tossing yet, but that’s possible on the NZ leg early next Spring) but what hasn’t been the case is the constant media pressure and it’s parent called ‘social media’ and I suppose I am part of that feeding frenzy but I hope not in salacious areas but looking at the cricket dispassionately- all I want as a minimum is a good game of cricket and if England win or put up a spirited performance then I’m happy. It’s the losing and looking like they don’t care really sticks in my craw!
And every little incident however leaked or issued to the media is like blood in the water at shark feeding time. The Aussie team will pounce on any indiscretion and gently remind the opposition from time to time. So then why has the vice-captain through the teams media machine, tried to play down the Duckett incident – it would have been easier just to leave it alone, it would go away as part of the news cycle and something else replaces it in the agenda (as long as it’s not something else the team has done!). Often best to leave things alone!
There is one glimmer of hope for England- the weather forecast for Perth is not as hot as it has been over the years and it’s forecast to be rainy on Day 4 and perhaps worse on Day 5 so all we need to do is to make sure we don’t lose in three days!