Australia deserve poetic justice

Last Updated: Mon, Aug 26, 2013 09:58 hrs

It was perhaps fitting that the final Test of the Ashes series came to a rather frustrating end for the players and the spectators whose booing when play was finally called off because of bad light summed it all up. 

However in the ultimate analysis it seemed poetic justice that England fell short by 26 runs with five wickets in hand. 

For Australia to lose the Test after amassing almost 500 in the first innings and declaring twice in the match would have been grossly unfair. 

The Aussies didn't play very intelligent cricket during the series but full marks to Michael Clarke for injecting some excitement into a game that was meandering towards a dull draw.

Overall though this was not an Ashes series that will live in memory for an extended period. 

Too many controversies particularly those with regard to the DRS, not a very high level of cricket, very few purple patches and a little too lop sided to hold one’s attention the 2013 contest will go down in history as one that will not be remembered with much affection.

But perhaps in a way that was to be expected. 

At the outset it was largely accepted that England were too strong for the tourists and it was predicted that they would win comfortably.

All the same it was hoped that Clarke and his team would provide some surprises in keeping with the Aussie tradition of being fighters, of making a mockery of the odds and following in the footsteps of earlier sides like Bobby Simpson’s under qualified tourists of 1964 or Allan Border’s unheralded side of 1989 both of whom managed to pull the rug from under England’s feet.

That however proved to be mere wishful thinking for the tourists never had any realistic chance against a well oiled England machine which displayed a professional approach that had to be admired. 

The result was a 3-0 victory for the home team and about the only minor surprise was that Australia didn’t even win one game – the first time this has happened since 1977 when England emerged triumphant by a similar margin. 

That was a largely colourless Aussie side and as far as this negative aspect is concerned the present squad will compare favourably.

It may be argued that the result could have been slightly different had Australia won the two rain-affected matches. 

But there is no guarantee that they would have forced home the advantage for to be candid Australia lacked the bowling depth. 

As the final figures clearly illustrate they did not possess the bowling resources and it is not too often that over dependence on a couple of bowlers has led to a victory in an Ashes series.

Bowlers win matches but batsmen can help draw games and even here the Aussies failed. The batsmen lacked the skill, temperament and technique to combat the England bowlers and here again the series stats tell a very telling tale. A side that is over dependent on just a couple of batsmen is bound to fail and that, plainly and simply put, is what happened.  

In a nutshell then Australia had just a few first rate players and they were up against a home team which had world class cricketers down the order. 

England had class, skill and experience on their side and the cricketers had just to play up to potential for the side to win. 

The depth was admirable in both batting and bowling with the result that when one or two of their leading players failed there was enough reserve strength to bolster the side and keep them in a position of command.

The point to be noted in this regard is that England won convincingly despite a below par showing from two of their main run getters in Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott. 

But there was always someone who could be counted upon to deliver the goods and Ian Bell, Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen filled the role commendably. It was the same with the bowling with James Anderson, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad rising to the occasion whenever the situation warranted.

As if their on-field performances were not mediocre enough the Australian players were distracted by off the field events too. 

The genesis of their problems probably go back to their disastrous tour of India earlier in the year when action was taken against some of the players for not acceding to the request of Micky Arthur in providing inputs as to why the side was doing badly as required by the coach. 

Then shortly after the team came over to England Arthur himself was replaced by Darren Lehmann and he did not take too kindly to the sacking coming up with certain unacceptable remarks that did not go down well with the team members as well as the Australian Cricket Board. 

The outspoken Lehmann himself did not help matters by hitting out at Stuart Broad’s refusal to walk in the first Test. 

This happened more than a month after the incident and the language used by Lehmann deserved retribution which came in the form of a fine imposed by the ICC.

The last straw was the unwarranted outbursts by rookie James Faulkner who criticised England’s tactics in the final Test. 

All this exposed the frustration and desperation of the Australians and completed an unhappy series for the visitors who went down in a third successive contest against England for the first time since 1956.

Australia are in the midst of a rebuilding – even turbulent – phase and it is unlikely that their fortunes will take an upsurge soon. 

For England there is little to worry about. Theirs is a balanced and well settled team.

Their professional approach was admirable and if the cricketers at times put a premium on the entertainment value it was very much in keeping with England’s tradition of displaying technical proficiency at the expense of pyrotechnics. 

After all the end justifies the means and few will disagree with the view that England were the vastly superior outfit. A climb to the No 2 spot in the latest ICC rankings is the icing on the cake.

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