Monday, 6 December 2010

A Good Old Aussie Style Hammering!

In the end any overnight concerns about inclement weather or the stoicism of Mr Cricket proved unnecessary as England romped to a huge innings victory in Adelaide before lunch on the final day. First such victory against the old enemy since 1986 at the MCG. That win in Melbourne was completed within 3 days and saw Gatt's men take the series and the Ashes.

Not quite there for Strauss and co but it's going to take something extraordinary to stop them now. Something like Warney being recalled. Now that would be some comeback and perhaps not quite as implausible as it sounds. His mere presence would be worth a few wickets and interest in the remaining tests would sky rocket. Has anyone asked him the question?? He's still twirling it in the IPL and even half a Warne is worth 10 of Doherty. Young Xavier isn't going to be playing any test matches for the foreseeable.

To today's action. Swann and Anderson did the main damage, Finn chipping in with the crucial wicket of Hussey. The image of Jimmy Anderson catching the ball and flinging it in the air with the Barmy Army going wild behind him will live long in the memory. Little over an hour was all it needed to clean up the remaining wickets.

Good job too as no play would have taken place this afternoon now that the thunderstorm has well and truly arrived. Bucketing down. Makes Pietersen's dismissal of Clarke with the final ball of the day yesterday even more important in retrospect. England has utterly dominated Australia but any team needs a bit of luck - the rain abating yesterday to allow England a final dart at Clarke and Hussey falls into that category.

A winning team makes any captain look good but Strauss is doing a sterling job at present. Many observers were calling for an overnight declaration after day 3 but those quick runs from Pietersen and Bell proved to be very handy in the final analysis.

Similarly today. The pundits thought England should persevere with the old ball to give Swann a better chance of running through them. But Strauss handed the new cherry to Anderson and Finn and promptly saw them pick up 3 wickets, including the form pair of Hussey and Haddin. Then Swann bowled with the new ball anyway and ended up with a 5-fer.

The skipper knows his own mind, has clear plans for each day and has built a great team spirit in the camp. Such a marked difference between his captaincy and Freddie in 2006. Freddie could change a game through his sheer force of personality, a la Warne or Botham, but Strauss is the one you want calling the shots. He's safely sunbathing on the beach while Ponting struggles in the water, all at sea. Freddie next to him on the pedalo.

It's been so long since an England win in a 'live' test in Australia that many at the Oval today weren't even alive when it happened. The celebrations were understandable. As the 7th and 8th wickets went down and victory became a matter of time, many fans left their seats in the Chappell Stand to join the Barmy Army, take photos of the scoreboard and relive the key moments on the big screen. Strauss and Pietersen both made sure to thank the travelling support in their post-match interviews and they were rewarded with raucous cheers from the hill.

Things are looking up. Onwards to Perth. Australia need to win two of the final three tests and draw the other to regain the Ashes. Well never say never but even so...

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