So the Ashes has come to an end. Not the most pleasant of endings perhaps, if the Australian media’s allegations regarding the England players’ post- match antics at The Oval are to be believed, but till November at least, cricket’s oldest rivalry goes into hibernation. And as one reflects on the action over the past month and a half, you can’t help feel somewhat underwhelmed by it all. Credit where it’s due certainly, England proved the better team; you don’t win a series 3-0 if you’re not. But there’s that lingering feeling that this series runs the risk of being remembered more for things other than cricket. Only time will tell if Ian Bell’s three hundreds or Ashton Agar’s extraordinary debut innings are the preferred topics of discussion among fans in a few months time as opposed to DRS howlers and Stuart Broad not walking.
On a brighter note for fans from both countries and neutrals, these two teams will again resume battle for that miniature urn starting November 21 when Australia host England in the reverse series. And here’s why we reckon this five-match contest is unlikely to disappoint.
Australia expected to be a stronger force at home
Considering most pundits had confidently tipped England to whitewash the Aussies 5-0 on home turf, Michael Clarke’s troops went a fair way towards ridiculing that prediction. With a little more luck in Test 3 and application in Test 4, the series could well have read 2-2. This is sure to instill a strong sense of belief among the Aussies that they are capable of turning the tables Down Under.
The reception that awaits Broad
The England all-rounder hasn’t been in good books with the Australians ever since the first Test when he chose not to walk despite a thick edge which deflected off the wicketkeeper’s gloves enroute to first slip. The bitterness within the Aussie camp reached a boil in an interview coach Darren Lehmann gave to a radio station where he called on the Australian public to ‘get stuck into’ Broad when the English come visiting. It earned Lehmann a fine but it’s also set the stage for some fireworks come November.
England may have a point to prove
Alastair Cook’s men emerged victorious all right but not in the ruthless manner that most experts had predicted they would do so. Former captain Ian Botham admitted England didn’t hit their peak in the series just finished but said perhaps they were saving their best for the Australian summer. Having seized full advantage of tailoring pitches to largely suit their star spinner Graeme Swann, it will be intriguing to see how they cope with that luxury now lying with Australia.
Cook vs Clarke – the sequel
England skipper Cook has led his team to series wins over India (away) and New Zealand and Australia (both home), yet he has his share of critics, most notably Shane Warne. The Aussie legend has repeatedly hit out at Cook’s captaincy throughout the English summer while praising compatriot Clarke to the skies. How the two go about trying to outwit each other in round 2 should surely spice up the series.
Pic courtesy: www.mirror.co.uk