Third Test, Perth December 18, 2006

One blows, the other sucks

As in 2005, the trophy was won by the team that wanted it more, and that planned, selected and executed accordingly.
46

Sixteen years to win them back. Fifteen days to lose them. That’s one press box formulation I’ve already heard for England’s Ashes defeat. In fact, it doesn’t do the Australian effort justice. This campaign to recapture the Ashes has genuinely been 462 days in the making. It’s been fascinating to watch the systematic nature of the Australian preparation for this series – not least because of its contrast with England’s ‘it’ll-be-all-right-on-the-night’ thinking.

I remember the first inkling I had of it. In England last year, I had been taken aback by how casual the Aussies’ net sessions seemed to be. Then, during the ICC Super Series one-dayers at Docklands, the Australians began coming out during the intervals and doing seriously sharp fielding routines, severely showing up the Fred Karno’s Army of the World XI. I’ve felt that note of intent and intensity in their cricket since. Having not seen England between times, I’ve been taken aback by the slippage in their standards. As in 2005, the trophy was won by the team that wanted it more, and that planned, selected and executed accordingly. No real cricket fan can be other than satisfied with that.

I’ve written about the contrast in preparation for tomorrow’s Guardian, so I won’t say more here. Having been toasted on the front and frozen on the back for five days, furthermore, I’ve buggered my neck and need some physio, so I’ll save further musings for after the three-hour flight to Melbourne - which I’m now really looking forward to! As I write this, Michael Hussey is in the middle of the ground sharing beers and posing for photos with the WACA support staff. Nice bloke. Feel free to lavish praise on him and others.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • macca on December 25, 2006, 14:00 GMT

    hi vishnu,my comment was that i think 20 or thirty more runs in the second test by england,or one more aussie wicket and that game could have been a draw.going in to the fourth test 2 nil down one drawn is as i said hanging on .in 05 ashes english fans could in hyperbole have said we smashed /destroyed australia,reality was we won ,few runs /decisions either way could have been different.in 05 australia got done by some borderline decisions,this time its strauss and england who are getting done.australia are the best team in the world playing great cricket and im glad the aussie fans are revelling in it,fair play ,we did last year.as i said i,m sad we havent competed bcause , we are not that far away from australia talent wise,we should have matched them and taken it to an interesting place.there is also too much rubbish talked about australian supremacy.in 05 when aussie batsmen couldnt play swing,all those funny stump tumbling leaves ,it is aussies playing badly nothing about mental frailty or technique or good bowling ,warne takes a wicket this year,hes a genius.england couldnt force 3-1 last year(rain at old trafford anyone)so now its weak england we only just won,gilchrist gets no runs(not cos hes lost it)just cos england have a plan ,then he gets an awesome score,suddenly hes a genius again,bias is boring ,i like to enjoy the competition and the individual battles,enjoy the fourth test y'all

  • Chalaka on December 22, 2006, 11:18 GMT

    England made so many mistakes in selection. It obviously meant they just had a plan and no plan B. Didnt know what to do if something went wrong. As usual the Poms got over confident before they really became a very good side. The aussies were awesome to say the least. 3 cheers to Warne. He is an ashes special isn't he.

  • Costanza on December 20, 2006, 21:25 GMT

    Amid all the celebrations and Ashes-frenzy, Michael Clarke seems to have silenced his critics, at least for the time being. All critics will remain quiet until another test when he falls for a single-digit score on the first morning of a test, but not me.

    Look, no matter how many runs he's got so far in the series, I am still not convinced that Michael Clarke is the next Ponting/Steve Waugh in the making. He scores entirely too many meaningless runs in low-pressure situations. He is dearly loved by everyone in and around the squad, for absolutely no reason. He hasn't even dominated at domestic level yet, just look at his stats. And at 25 years of age and more than two years into his international career, he is almost as good as he will ever get.

    Clarke doesn't deserve to breathe easy, not just yet. We need to keep him on the toes, so he realizes his potential. Becuase if he relaxes again and plays the way he wants to, you know what will happen - meaningless runs, playing suportting role to a rampaging Gilchrist and crumbling under pressure in critical situations.

  • luke on December 20, 2006, 19:31 GMT

    To Tim who earlier posted talking about the "Inner Circle" in the Australian setup, i'll give you one name, Brad Hodge.

  • scott on December 20, 2006, 12:27 GMT

    Its been a wonderful and rivetting series - one that has, for those who have not just read the end result, ebbed and flowed each game. This Australian team have been together for essentially the best part of 15 years - at the very top - and have developed a culture of winning. This England tean IS very good - they just ran into possibly the greatest team of all. How many teams in history would have won in Adelaide after the end of day 2? Lets not criticise the English, just sit back and enjoy what is 'the spendour, the passionate and brlliant' that constitutes this team. For all the English supporters take note. The last team to make a significant impact (they have taken each test to the 5th day) were the Windies in the early 90's (this signalled the demise of the Great Windies team). Long live the Ashes - and - without Warne, McGrath, Martyn, Hadyn, Langer and Gilchrist - the battle of 2009 will be decidedly more open. Cant wait for test 4

  • Joel on December 20, 2006, 11:59 GMT

    When you compare this Ashes series with last year's, what immediately springs to mind are crucial periods of big games. England have been an early position of dominance in both the 2nd Test in Adelaide and the 3rd in Perth, but have been unable to suffocate a hungrier opposition team. To post 550 declared in the first innings in Adelaide and go on to lose by 6 wickets is unheard of in Test cricket, and in fact was the highest first innings declaration made by a team whom went on to lose the match in the entire history of the game. It was so extraordinary that a DVD has already been released documenting the amazing comeback. Another test drew similar attention from the 2005 series, which was that now infamous Test Match at The Oval, where Australia lost by only 2 runs. The difference between that match and the Adelaide Test Match is that in one the match was finely balanced all the way through, which was reflected in the result, whereas the Adelaide game was a momentous turnaround, beginning with England being bundled out for a paltry figure, in batting like a 4th Grade club team, or that the pitch was a minefield - the former confirmed and the latter disproven by Australia'a comfortable run chase in the shadows of day 5. It is true that England have played some good cricket in different periods of this series - batting in the 2nd innings at the Gabba, and the beginning of the 2nd and 3rd Tests, as well as a commendable batting performance in the final innings of the Perth Test - but none of these performances were sustained for long enough periods of any game to pose any significant pressure on these mighty Australians. Some say the England of old is back in town, but , although the scoreline supports this claim, we need only look at these glimpses of brilliance from the Poms to know that they are capable of much more than previous flops captained by the likes of Mike Atherton, Alec Stewart and Nasser Hussain. We must also remember that there are still 2 test matches to play, and while England have seemingly fallen in a heap when The Ashes were up for grabs, it has not been the same old story. We have seen the continuing exhileration of Kevin Pietersen's batting - the highlight being the way he can make Shane Warne look an average bowler at times (minus the 2nd innings dismissal in the Adelaide Test of course). Other positives are the emergence of Ian Bell as a mature, reliable number 3 batsmen, continuing his good form from earlier series this year. For a man who admitted just over a year ago that he felt overwhelmed coming up against the Australians, he has shown great courage and class in this series. Paul Collingwood is another who shouldn't feel ashamed at his contribution. His Adelaide double century was simply brilliant, although his second innings performance was in stark contrast - Collingwood surrendered to Australia's pressure and momentum in the game and played in such a subdued fashion, he was unrecognisable. While wickets fell around him, Collingwood failed to do for his team what was required - to play positively and put the game out of Australia's reach - and as a result the Aussies surround him like a pack of wolves, and Collingwood blinked. He poked and prodded for the entirety of his innings, and was left stranded on 16 not out, as the Australians moved swiftly towards a remarkable victory - however, it was made less remarkable by the way which the Poms just surrendered the game - epitomised by their second innings performance, and Paul Collingwood, however brilliant in the first innings, who needed to lead from the front when the game was on the verge of being taken away, set the tone by shutting up shop and scoring, along with his team at 1.5 runs per over. By adopting these tactics on the final day, England simply played into Australia's hands and were effictively passing the Ashes back over to a team who had previously held it for 16 years. Will it be another 16 years? It most certainly not be with the potential of this current England team, but if attitudes do not improve amongst the player group at the crucial stages, it could be another long wait until the Ashes returns back to it's country of origin.

  • Jag on December 20, 2006, 10:30 GMT

    omg, OMG, Oh My God... no warnie..nooo ooooo warnieeeeeee

  • Tristan on December 20, 2006, 8:49 GMT

    When you look back at the result of 2005 you can see why Australia is so far ahead of the rest. England played out of their skins in 2005, Australia could not really of played any worse, only Warne, who was masterful in 2005 and Ponting heroics in the 3rd test saved Australia from ONLY losing 2-1, and thats the point, England should of won at least 3-1, if not 4-1 last year, but could not. If Australia played anywhere near their best this year, as they have they were always going to win, it was just a matter of by how much, and that was going to be determined by England, they only had one way to go after last year performance, down, the question was by how much, and we have seen. Englands openers are not consistent. No number 3 or 4. Pietersen has been good. Flintoff is not a number 6 batsmen. Keeper - none. Spinner, Giles, useless. Panesar, revelation (but to late). Harmison way down, Andersen (who), Hoggard (good work-horse, never gives up, and the rest dont matter. Thats Pietersen, Hoggard and Panesar who have played to expectations, Flintoff is some-what ahead of the rest in bowling, batting is no-where. Australia have improved across the field in every department. England need a over-haul, Australia may have dads army, but England own Faulty Towers.

  • stevelbw on December 20, 2006, 7:13 GMT

    When reflecting on previous tours, I think this English team is as poor as all the others, they simply believe potential will win thru. So much so that it does affect the overall performance.

    The really scary part is the talk and planning for 2009, I mean there are blogs comparing the teams in 2009 - how absurd and desperate can these english supporter be, barmy is appropriate.

    Well done australia, I was quietly confident there was going to be a re-alignment of the cricketing axis, order is restored.

    And for the record, previous tours India v Australia 1:1:2 draws, that was a great tense series

  • Tony on December 20, 2006, 4:32 GMT

    To Mr Clarke: I do not think DF took apart a winning side for players he thought deserved another go. I think he made a judgement, based on pre-Test form and apparent pitch conditions,that the team would be best served by the players he picked. Some of those players did not perform, and as a consequence his plan did not work. That does not mean it was crazy or evil or any of the other adjectives being liberally bestowed by armchair experts. Nobody can say for certain what would have happened at the gabba if Read, Panesar or indeed anyone else had played. But even if one concedes that DF got it completely wrong in this case , I for one would rather have a coach who uses his own expert judgement as against pandering to public opinion like a cheap politician. And over the last 7 years he seems to have got it right most of the time.....

    And to all the Aussie triumphalists "CONGRATULATIONS" (Again.) But would you mind easing up on the boasting and sneering as it is as unattractive coming from you as from some ignorant Englishmen who went overboard last time.

  • macca on December 25, 2006, 14:00 GMT

    hi vishnu,my comment was that i think 20 or thirty more runs in the second test by england,or one more aussie wicket and that game could have been a draw.going in to the fourth test 2 nil down one drawn is as i said hanging on .in 05 ashes english fans could in hyperbole have said we smashed /destroyed australia,reality was we won ,few runs /decisions either way could have been different.in 05 australia got done by some borderline decisions,this time its strauss and england who are getting done.australia are the best team in the world playing great cricket and im glad the aussie fans are revelling in it,fair play ,we did last year.as i said i,m sad we havent competed bcause , we are not that far away from australia talent wise,we should have matched them and taken it to an interesting place.there is also too much rubbish talked about australian supremacy.in 05 when aussie batsmen couldnt play swing,all those funny stump tumbling leaves ,it is aussies playing badly nothing about mental frailty or technique or good bowling ,warne takes a wicket this year,hes a genius.england couldnt force 3-1 last year(rain at old trafford anyone)so now its weak england we only just won,gilchrist gets no runs(not cos hes lost it)just cos england have a plan ,then he gets an awesome score,suddenly hes a genius again,bias is boring ,i like to enjoy the competition and the individual battles,enjoy the fourth test y'all

  • Chalaka on December 22, 2006, 11:18 GMT

    England made so many mistakes in selection. It obviously meant they just had a plan and no plan B. Didnt know what to do if something went wrong. As usual the Poms got over confident before they really became a very good side. The aussies were awesome to say the least. 3 cheers to Warne. He is an ashes special isn't he.

  • Costanza on December 20, 2006, 21:25 GMT

    Amid all the celebrations and Ashes-frenzy, Michael Clarke seems to have silenced his critics, at least for the time being. All critics will remain quiet until another test when he falls for a single-digit score on the first morning of a test, but not me.

    Look, no matter how many runs he's got so far in the series, I am still not convinced that Michael Clarke is the next Ponting/Steve Waugh in the making. He scores entirely too many meaningless runs in low-pressure situations. He is dearly loved by everyone in and around the squad, for absolutely no reason. He hasn't even dominated at domestic level yet, just look at his stats. And at 25 years of age and more than two years into his international career, he is almost as good as he will ever get.

    Clarke doesn't deserve to breathe easy, not just yet. We need to keep him on the toes, so he realizes his potential. Becuase if he relaxes again and plays the way he wants to, you know what will happen - meaningless runs, playing suportting role to a rampaging Gilchrist and crumbling under pressure in critical situations.

  • luke on December 20, 2006, 19:31 GMT

    To Tim who earlier posted talking about the "Inner Circle" in the Australian setup, i'll give you one name, Brad Hodge.

  • scott on December 20, 2006, 12:27 GMT

    Its been a wonderful and rivetting series - one that has, for those who have not just read the end result, ebbed and flowed each game. This Australian team have been together for essentially the best part of 15 years - at the very top - and have developed a culture of winning. This England tean IS very good - they just ran into possibly the greatest team of all. How many teams in history would have won in Adelaide after the end of day 2? Lets not criticise the English, just sit back and enjoy what is 'the spendour, the passionate and brlliant' that constitutes this team. For all the English supporters take note. The last team to make a significant impact (they have taken each test to the 5th day) were the Windies in the early 90's (this signalled the demise of the Great Windies team). Long live the Ashes - and - without Warne, McGrath, Martyn, Hadyn, Langer and Gilchrist - the battle of 2009 will be decidedly more open. Cant wait for test 4

  • Joel on December 20, 2006, 11:59 GMT

    When you compare this Ashes series with last year's, what immediately springs to mind are crucial periods of big games. England have been an early position of dominance in both the 2nd Test in Adelaide and the 3rd in Perth, but have been unable to suffocate a hungrier opposition team. To post 550 declared in the first innings in Adelaide and go on to lose by 6 wickets is unheard of in Test cricket, and in fact was the highest first innings declaration made by a team whom went on to lose the match in the entire history of the game. It was so extraordinary that a DVD has already been released documenting the amazing comeback. Another test drew similar attention from the 2005 series, which was that now infamous Test Match at The Oval, where Australia lost by only 2 runs. The difference between that match and the Adelaide Test Match is that in one the match was finely balanced all the way through, which was reflected in the result, whereas the Adelaide game was a momentous turnaround, beginning with England being bundled out for a paltry figure, in batting like a 4th Grade club team, or that the pitch was a minefield - the former confirmed and the latter disproven by Australia'a comfortable run chase in the shadows of day 5. It is true that England have played some good cricket in different periods of this series - batting in the 2nd innings at the Gabba, and the beginning of the 2nd and 3rd Tests, as well as a commendable batting performance in the final innings of the Perth Test - but none of these performances were sustained for long enough periods of any game to pose any significant pressure on these mighty Australians. Some say the England of old is back in town, but , although the scoreline supports this claim, we need only look at these glimpses of brilliance from the Poms to know that they are capable of much more than previous flops captained by the likes of Mike Atherton, Alec Stewart and Nasser Hussain. We must also remember that there are still 2 test matches to play, and while England have seemingly fallen in a heap when The Ashes were up for grabs, it has not been the same old story. We have seen the continuing exhileration of Kevin Pietersen's batting - the highlight being the way he can make Shane Warne look an average bowler at times (minus the 2nd innings dismissal in the Adelaide Test of course). Other positives are the emergence of Ian Bell as a mature, reliable number 3 batsmen, continuing his good form from earlier series this year. For a man who admitted just over a year ago that he felt overwhelmed coming up against the Australians, he has shown great courage and class in this series. Paul Collingwood is another who shouldn't feel ashamed at his contribution. His Adelaide double century was simply brilliant, although his second innings performance was in stark contrast - Collingwood surrendered to Australia's pressure and momentum in the game and played in such a subdued fashion, he was unrecognisable. While wickets fell around him, Collingwood failed to do for his team what was required - to play positively and put the game out of Australia's reach - and as a result the Aussies surround him like a pack of wolves, and Collingwood blinked. He poked and prodded for the entirety of his innings, and was left stranded on 16 not out, as the Australians moved swiftly towards a remarkable victory - however, it was made less remarkable by the way which the Poms just surrendered the game - epitomised by their second innings performance, and Paul Collingwood, however brilliant in the first innings, who needed to lead from the front when the game was on the verge of being taken away, set the tone by shutting up shop and scoring, along with his team at 1.5 runs per over. By adopting these tactics on the final day, England simply played into Australia's hands and were effictively passing the Ashes back over to a team who had previously held it for 16 years. Will it be another 16 years? It most certainly not be with the potential of this current England team, but if attitudes do not improve amongst the player group at the crucial stages, it could be another long wait until the Ashes returns back to it's country of origin.

  • Jag on December 20, 2006, 10:30 GMT

    omg, OMG, Oh My God... no warnie..nooo ooooo warnieeeeeee

  • Tristan on December 20, 2006, 8:49 GMT

    When you look back at the result of 2005 you can see why Australia is so far ahead of the rest. England played out of their skins in 2005, Australia could not really of played any worse, only Warne, who was masterful in 2005 and Ponting heroics in the 3rd test saved Australia from ONLY losing 2-1, and thats the point, England should of won at least 3-1, if not 4-1 last year, but could not. If Australia played anywhere near their best this year, as they have they were always going to win, it was just a matter of by how much, and that was going to be determined by England, they only had one way to go after last year performance, down, the question was by how much, and we have seen. Englands openers are not consistent. No number 3 or 4. Pietersen has been good. Flintoff is not a number 6 batsmen. Keeper - none. Spinner, Giles, useless. Panesar, revelation (but to late). Harmison way down, Andersen (who), Hoggard (good work-horse, never gives up, and the rest dont matter. Thats Pietersen, Hoggard and Panesar who have played to expectations, Flintoff is some-what ahead of the rest in bowling, batting is no-where. Australia have improved across the field in every department. England need a over-haul, Australia may have dads army, but England own Faulty Towers.

  • stevelbw on December 20, 2006, 7:13 GMT

    When reflecting on previous tours, I think this English team is as poor as all the others, they simply believe potential will win thru. So much so that it does affect the overall performance.

    The really scary part is the talk and planning for 2009, I mean there are blogs comparing the teams in 2009 - how absurd and desperate can these english supporter be, barmy is appropriate.

    Well done australia, I was quietly confident there was going to be a re-alignment of the cricketing axis, order is restored.

    And for the record, previous tours India v Australia 1:1:2 draws, that was a great tense series

  • Tony on December 20, 2006, 4:32 GMT

    To Mr Clarke: I do not think DF took apart a winning side for players he thought deserved another go. I think he made a judgement, based on pre-Test form and apparent pitch conditions,that the team would be best served by the players he picked. Some of those players did not perform, and as a consequence his plan did not work. That does not mean it was crazy or evil or any of the other adjectives being liberally bestowed by armchair experts. Nobody can say for certain what would have happened at the gabba if Read, Panesar or indeed anyone else had played. But even if one concedes that DF got it completely wrong in this case , I for one would rather have a coach who uses his own expert judgement as against pandering to public opinion like a cheap politician. And over the last 7 years he seems to have got it right most of the time.....

    And to all the Aussie triumphalists "CONGRATULATIONS" (Again.) But would you mind easing up on the boasting and sneering as it is as unattractive coming from you as from some ignorant Englishmen who went overboard last time.

  • el poroto dean on December 20, 2006, 2:51 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen has received much praise for his batting efforts in the Ashes series so far. But I must disagree with his tactics in Perth. In both innings his batting with the tail smacked of a man who had either given up or was just batting for his average. On many occasions he took a single off the first or second ball of an over and left the hapless tailender to face Warne, McGrath et al with obvious results. I saw his batting in the second innings and his shoulders visibly drooped when Warne bowled Flintoff. There were only a few overs left till lunch, England still had four wickets in hand, and Pieterson gave up. He hardly faced a ball after that, and when he did he just ambled singles. If he had as much confidence and belief as he likes people to think he has he would have farmed the strike and make a go of it, at least keep the Aussies out in the field for a couple of hours longer while their Crown Lagers chilled. He was England's last hope, and he rolled over.

  • UMW on December 20, 2006, 2:05 GMT

    Why does the "surfer" headline on cricinfo say "the aussies wanted it more" ???

    is that england's way of missing the point; of drawing a veil over the fact that australia have completely outplayed them in this test series so far, and are the much better team?

  • Vishnu on December 20, 2006, 1:11 GMT

    Macca: What did you call the English efforts at Brisbane or Adelaide? I would call them destruction. Perth on the last day falls into the implosion catergory, perhaps. "A few runs here & there"...are you joking? England got smashed in Brisbane. In Adelaide what happened on the last day? We don't need to go into it, do we?

    Basically, you have a fragile batting line up. It is not settled or in good working order. Once our bowlers have got you a few down in the second innings it has become "destruction". Plain & simple. I agree, it's a strong word, but it's apt. You lot haven't coped at all well & you have been destroyed & blown away by a far superior team who have the mental strength to put their plans into action.

  • andrew schulz on December 20, 2006, 0:48 GMT

    nijnrich should actually pay attention to cricket in Australia. Phil Jaques has now had such a bad run for so long (124 in 8 innings)that he is not close to the Test squad. And it's easy to be wise in hindsight with Hussey. His performances have been phenomenal. But his pura cup record remains ordinary, and he didn't have much of a case for selection right up until 2005. Even then, they did the right thing to keep Hayden and Langer together,as was demonstrated at the Oval. I reckon they should for next summer's series against India too. If not, Nijnrich, look at the facts and tell me how Jaques could possibly be ahead of Rogers?

  • skid on December 20, 2006, 0:39 GMT

    Oz based in UK, Ponting for Vaughan???!!! You really are having a lend of yourself if you believe those two are anywhere near on par!! Ponting is a far better player even when he's not in his current form! That was just one ludicrous point from an entry riddled with them! Maybe 'OZ turned Pom' would be a more appropriate title?

  • Matt D on December 20, 2006, 0:35 GMT

    Australians too obsessed with sport?

    The English just insouciantly go out and play their best and try to win and that's it?

    Remind me who had the open topped bus through the streets of London again. Who gave the members of their team OBEs for winning a two sided contest for the first time in 9 attempts?

  • Justin on December 19, 2006, 23:37 GMT

    The English are a young, promising side. Alastair Cook will be captain one day, mark my words. It's there in his body language, that steely resolve of all great cricketers. He didn't let the Aussies rattle him. Bell and Collingwood showed true grit, and no more need be said about the brilliance of KP. The Aussie side for 2009 will be made up of a lot of 30-somethings like Stuart Clarke and Adam Voges who have perhaps already played their best cricket for their respective state sides. I have a feeling this little urn will be bouncing back and forth over the equator for many years to come.

  • Stelios Patas on December 19, 2006, 23:33 GMT

    Some cricketers are improved under the mission of captaincy and some others are absorbed from that duty.The summer series with Pakistan place Andrew Strauss to the first category and the three Ashes tests so far, Andrew Flintoff to the second.Unfortunately for England...

  • Gus on December 19, 2006, 23:20 GMT

    "It'll be alright on the night" - a perfect summation of the English preparation. If they really wanted to retain the ashes they would have been in Asutralia months ago playing as many first class warm up games as possible. But I don't suppose the ICC/ECB bean counters would have approved.

  • JF777 on December 19, 2006, 21:58 GMT

    SJH - English cricket is a professional sport just as it is in Australia, which means the English players were paid handsomely for their efforts or in most cases lack of them. I'm sure Fintoff & Pietersen would have loved to humiliate Australia so it's nonsesnse to talk about a cultural difference or gentlemen vs players attitutes. England were woefully under-prepared while Australia were magnificent.

  • safwan on December 19, 2006, 17:35 GMT

    a thouroughly professional rout of the english side.....it was really interesting to note the response from the enland camp after each of the two defeats in the opening tests....they vowed to come bak stronger and defend the ashes successfully.....one must admit that the english media went overboard with their claims regarding this series as england had absouletely no answer.....i beleieve this will be a 5-0 rout.....and it will make up for a really interesting viewing...lol....good luck england....they need truck loads of it to avoid a whitewash...hehe.

  • Paul Clarke on December 19, 2006, 14:39 GMT

    Duncan Fletcher is talking nonsense. To accuse people of "Running with the foxes and hunting with the hounds" is to accuse them of changing their mind on a whim. For the vast majority of disgruntled England fan's this isn't the case.

    We all wanted Read for Jones, we all wanted Panesar for Giles, and we all knew England were very underprepared, these blogs are full of just these comments going back a couple of months.

    Of course England miss Tres, Vaughan and (probably most of all) Simon Jones, but if we'd played the best players (Panesar is so much better than Giles - Read is SOOOOOO much better than Jones) then at least we'd have stood a chance.

    Fletcher took apart a winning side to make room for a couple of walking wounded he thought deserved another go.

    Remember England had just beaten Pakistan 3-0, Why destroy that side for a couple of players who hadn't played for months ...really Fletch, it's like espionage Why.

    (And before you say anything Duncan Disorderly - we were asking these very same questions before a ball was bowled)

    Clarker

  • macca on December 19, 2006, 13:41 GMT

    not too bothered about losing the ashes,hugely disappointed for not putting pressure on what is agreed the best team in the world.allowing australia to play their game is always going to get you beaten.all this talk of being destroyed is a bit odd.barring a few runs here and there ,some poor umpiring decisions,strauss,hussey,england would still be hanging on.more whinging pom excuses?no just realism,last year the talk was all about losing mcgrath cost the series etc,but our injuries are just whinging,ponting can complain about sub fielders etc, thats not whinging.the reason australia lost in 05, they couldnt play the swinging ball in english conditions,then pressure got to them,reason we lost this year,couldnt bowl australia out in these conditions and pitches,then pressure got to us.dont believe it,look at pietersons schoolboy error sweep to warne,

  • errol leeds on December 19, 2006, 13:17 GMT

    welldone congratulations on regaining the ashes mike hussey has come of age as a test player deserved man of match could he be the next captain. england have good players in cook,bell,pietersen and bowler monty panesar. will the english selectors stick with andrew flintoff only time will tell.

  • matt on December 19, 2006, 12:55 GMT

    I want to respond to Jag but I'll deal with SJH first. This buisness about Australian obsession with sport is a bunch of crap. Australians love sport in almost precisely the same proportion as the English. There are many many Australians who have very little interest in sport and/or very little interest in cricket. Good on them! The only meaningful difference between Australian and English sporting passions in this context is that cricket in Australia could conceivably be seen as the number one game (it isn't, thats Australian Rules which no one else plays). In England it's football. But having lived for several years in each country I find it impossible to believe that there is less passion for football in England than there is for cricket in Australia. If anything it is the other way round and that is the irony. England have more passion, Australia are more successful - just look at the fans.

    In addition, the English also spend more money on sport than Australia both in total and as a proportion of GDP. This is admitedly a recent development and England's recent sporting largesse can be seen as response to the high levels of Australian funding. But I think both countries, as democracies, can make a solid case for justifying their funding on the basis of the wishes of the electorate.

    More generally, its fair to say that some Australians use sport in general and cricket in particular as a prop for a kind of parochial national identity that sickens any thoughtful observer. I dont justify this although I am Australian and love both sport and Australia. I merely observe than anyone who thinks that the English sporting philosophy is to go out, do your best and try to win, or that English sports fans are incapable of excesses of this sort has never been to a football game (and by the way I also love English football).

    Turning to Jag, I think the key for England's cricketers (as opposed to their sporting culture, whatever that may be) is to focus on winning all the time. The success of Australia's cricket team is predicated on a ruthless desire to win everything, to never give up. Simon Barnes has written a good article on this in the Times recently so I wont bother paraphrase. If england really want to win they need to do in the Champions trophy, in one day cricket, against bangladesh; everywhere. They certainly have the talent, its a matter of will. But I wont stomach ignorant slanders against Australia because their cricket team never gives a sucker an even break.

  • penny jung on December 19, 2006, 11:22 GMT

    our team did us proud, gilly and his wizardry is irreplaceable, hus is careful, selfless, skillful, shows potential to be a leader, pup, you became a great dane as you kissed your helmet at your ton, stuey, calm cool and collected, you would well end up helping the whole team's wealth management (no more 'toilet blocked' pressures, for now if you are not feted by the advertisers, they are blind) and warny, larrikin, loved, hated, childlike, you have found the fountain of youth, its infectious as macgrath, gilly, haydyn, langer are still thirstily drinking from it, however it is ponting who galvanised this bunch of such different characters and brought out the best in each of them, hooray for each and all, we popped a bottle of champers and screamed hoarse as we as a nation showed 'em who is reigning over them!

  • Nijnrich on December 19, 2006, 10:25 GMT

    For all those Poms whinging ( especially Ozbased in UK) about injuries , ill selections and other excuses. The Poms should be lucky that the Aussies did not even field their best team. Injuries: Shane Watson injured last minute, Brad Hodge injured, Shaun Tait getting by. McGrath returning with no match experience and indeed a sore foot the first tests. Selections: Stuart Clark would just as well be dropped in favor of a quickie like Tait or Johnson We have to rely on a 37 year old bowling 30+overs in 30+ C degrees to get a breakthrough. Michael Clarke in only because Damien Martyn jumped ship. The openers are (almost) past their due date. Why Phil Jacques is still not in the squad is an outrage of Husseyian proportions. I can also take the list of 2005 and we'll match all the misery again. We said it then and we say it now. The best team won because they were more dedicated to win then the others.

  • Jag on December 19, 2006, 8:56 GMT

    In response to SJH...

    You're forgetting that it wasn't always like this...before Border's men won the worldcup in 1987, there were dark and depressing times. Australia was reeling from WSC, even nationality could be bought as rebel tours to South Africa were set up.. More pertinently, its not just about throwing money or why aren't England and India (who have copied Aus structure and methods) competing with them on an even keel..it has helped them, but the right attitude is needed as well..as greg chappell noted, the Institute is overly credited for Aus cricket success..the culture and attitude towards cricket and nationality had to be restored, inculcated in the structure of cricket..the seeds were sown in thosee days by men like the Chappels, Simpson, Sawle..and today we reap the rewards. In short SJH, given the right people with the right ideas, cultures can be shifted...Aus can be beaten..

  • Tim on December 19, 2006, 8:09 GMT

    One thing I am utterly sick of is the English fans/pundits trotting out this constant line that if you took out Ponting, Hussey, Warne and McGrath that England would beat Australia. These people have completely missed the pint of a sporting contest. You can't just take players 'out' and claim some absurd moral prize... If Australia wanted to do this then we would take out Pieterson and Flintoff and play England with the Victorian 2nd XI and still win the ashes. Sport is about physical and mental strength - if you are not fit or cannot handle the pressure this is the entire challenge. These players that English fans want to remove from the Australian team a true greats because of their amazing longevity... if you can't field a team to beat them then thats the point!

  • Tim on December 19, 2006, 7:48 GMT

    2005 was marred by some bad luck but also shoddy fielding and lack of application. The real question, and one that should be answered by the leadership group, was 'how come Hussey was not included in the magic circle for so long ?'. Who else is doing the hard graft off season and really consolidating their skills, without being a part of the inner circle. There is a level of elitism which not only is unAustralian but does not encourage talent.

  • Hank on December 19, 2006, 7:43 GMT

    That is an impressive amount of excuses by "OZ based in the UK" just remember Australia had a run of bad luck with injuries leading up to and during the Ashes 2005 but they were still man enough to put up a fight and just lose the ashes by the smallest of margains, not go down 3 - 0 or more. Forgive me for saying so but maybe you have been over there to long and they have some sort of mind control over you now? Congrats to the champion aussie side what a nice way to seperate a champion from a pretender

  • SJH on December 19, 2006, 6:58 GMT

    In response to Jag, how do you replicate the Aussie sporting culture? The answer is simple. You can't. This country is so absolutely and totally governed by sport it is almost ludicrous to an outsider. The Australian obsession with sport is something (Thank goodness) that simply does not exist anywhere else on the planet. The amount of time, money, and endeavour that is put into sport in Australia borders on the obscene. It is no wonder that Australia is so successful, the money that is put into just cricket alone would fuel the economy of a third world country for years. The resources that are put at the disposal of sporting bodies in Australia are mind numbing. Add to that an obsession with winning and there you have it. The English love their sport, but that's all it is. sport! It is not the be all and end all. No one can compete with this all consuming attitude. The English philosophy is simple, go out do your best and try to win. Australia's is annihilate, destroy, leave nothing behind. That is the difference in philosophy. Until England literally declares war on Australia and goes out to do the same as Douglas Jardine did, we will always be chasing them.

  • Jag on December 19, 2006, 4:15 GMT

    One of the many fascinating battles within the battle that I'm hoping to find material on is the contrast between the two coaches. When England plays, Fletcher makes backpage headlines, whereas most Australian fans would be hardpressed to name their coach. How exactly have their roles differed? Is Duncan trying to be everything to everyone? Is it in the coaches realm to be mentor as well as selector? Gideon, if you say that this has been a victory earned by the side with the greater (systematic) ambtion, then surely it comes down to the coaching and prep, as much as individual talents.

    Clearly this was a series that pitted different coaching philosophies against each other, what is it that made the Australian one more effective? What is it that turned their dissapointment into vengeful focus rather than spasmodic anger and submission? How do you replicate the Australian (read winning) sporting culture?

    These are questions that England should be reflecting on, and ones that interests me...

  • skid on December 19, 2006, 2:29 GMT

    I totally agree that the Aussies showed a complacent attitude towards preparation in 2005, and that they rectified their mistake brilliantly this year.

    I think this difference in preparation you speak of, also highlights the difference in quality between these two sides.

    We prepared poorly in 2005 and lost narrowly, they prepared poorly for this one and we're up three nil!

    Aside from Freddie, Pietersen and maybe Harmison (when he's got his Mum around to iron his undies), the poms lack genuine match-winners. The remainder of the team are just decent players who will have to move aside once some genuine talent comes through the ranks.

    The aussies, on the other hand, boast names such as Langer, Ponting, Hussey, Gilchrist, Warne, McGrath, who all have that ferociously competitive spirit and talent to match. Furthermore, the rest of the line up are either extremely talented but haven't yet fully proven themselves (Clarke, Symonds, Clark), or blokes like Hayden and Brett Lee who thrive when the aussies are at the top of their game, maintaining their stranglehold on world cricket!

    It's good to see the poms are improving, but they're going to need to find a few more Pietersens before they can match the huge Australian totals!

    Aussies 5-0!!!!

  • Vishnu on December 19, 2006, 2:11 GMT

    Congratulations to all the boys on a fantastic win. The belief within this squad is palpable. The first morning of the WACA test I was right at the boundary on the western grassed area where the boys did part of the stretch & warm-up...you could very easily see & feel how much of a cohesive unit they are. I really hope we have no easing up of the pressure & let the English slip in a few parting body shots now the series is won. Keep the foot jammed right up on their English throats, lads!!

    This team has rightly deserved to win. For all their talk of fighting us with youth, fire & brimstone, this English team is a parody of last years team. The ECB made their bed (by allowing Fletcher so much power) & now they must lie in it. I feel no pity for their big slide in standards & performance. Duncan Fletcher must be one of the most sour & ungracious human beings walking the planet. Sucked in Mr. Fletcher!! It must have really hurt when he had to shake Buchanan's hand at the end of the 3rd test!!

    Mike Hussey has been the relevation he has been since making the team. Michael Clarke has ressurrected himself as a test match cricketer. Stuart Clark has been simply outstanding. Warney has been Warney, and Glenn has stepped up when we needed him to. While Gilly has exorcised his around the wicket demons. Then, there is our captain. Ricky has revelled in this series & throughout this year. He is in sublime touch...kind of can't wait for the ODIs to kick off! Mohammed Yousuf has had an amazing year, but some how I think Ricky's has got to be far better. He has captained the side to an unbeaten record for the year & his batting is on another plane altogether. His captaincy has improved no end & his fielding is as sharp as ever; just ask Geraint!! Thankfully in recent memory Australia has not suffered 'the curse of the captaincy' that afflicts the English game.

    Steam roll on, boys. Can't wait to be there at the MCG to watch another classy performance & to witness SKW be the first to 700 scalps.

  • isam on December 18, 2006, 22:30 GMT

    mate, im honored to say that the last bit about MH was significant. The true Australian..

  • Martin on December 18, 2006, 18:22 GMT

    Other than the close run 2005 series in England, the Aussies have dominated the game of Test match cricket for well over a decade... Im in the UK now and a lot is being said on how England lost the Ashes. How about the fact that Australia have been thumping better teams than England all over the world. Dont feel to bad Poms, we do it to everyone!!! The fact is that if the Aussies play to anywhere near there best there is daylight between the two teams, as recently shown.... March on Dads Army of Galacticos!!

  • Aussie Fan on December 18, 2006, 17:39 GMT

    What I love about this drubbing, this annihilation, is how we've gone about showing up all the comments received from Commentators and Press alike. For some reason Australia continues to be heavily criticized; over appealing, fielding placements, negativity, age; the list goes on and on...

    In Brisbane the wicket was glorious on days 1 and 2 while Australia were batting but it became a mine field when England's turn. The curator had not done his job as England succumbed to a dismal first innings score. Punter and his men chose not to enforce the follow on and came out to "exorcise the demons" and expose this shallow commentary by scoring one for 200. Suddenly the pitch was a batsmans paradise again. If Mr Brisbane Curator can please come forward and tell us all how he managed to make a wicket deteriorate and then mend itself we would be most grateful...

    In Adelaide the wicket was too friendly to the batsman. Cricinfo scorecard staff bored all with their continuous mocking of the pitch and the general state of the game. Respectable commentators on Channel 9 and Sky Sports showed us that they clearly must have an agenda going into the games else they wouldn't remark and dwell over such things. Only one man, Richie Benaud, was able to show the intelligence necessary to deliver the game we so love. He said a Test Match is a 5-day affair. How right he was. Once again a curator of many years was receiving unnecessary negative attention for preparing a pitch that could only end in the most boring of draws. Forget not that Adelaide has produced consistent results despite the batter friendly conditions. Now we have one of the most remarkable test finishes in history to show for it...

    People seem to quickly forget that no matter what surface you play on, the batsman must score runs and the bowlers must take wickets. England scored runs. Lots of runs. Collingwood was, a bit unfairly, made to look like a genius. He is not. Collingwood chewed up 2 days of cricket in his efforts and to make matters worse, completely forgot how to score runs on the 5th day, a day that may have turned out quite differently if he had have scored 20 more. Australia came out and scored lots of runs (we expected this) but more importantly, came out with the menace needed to win the game on the 5th day. Kudos to England for self destructing from such a position. It goes to show that even a wonderful pitch means nothing if you play in the wrong state of mind.

    Australia were again criticized for their negative tactics in containment bowling to Pietersen. What a master stroke it turned out to be. What a shame that Australia would receive more unbecoming comments about their tactics come game 3. Who's winning three-zip?

    In Perth Ricky Ponting was blasted for placing up to seven boundary fielders when Pietersen came out. Defensive tactics are still tactics. Pietersen proved this true twice. First by hitting a catch to McGrath (who does look old in the field) and second by not taking full advantage of the conditions. We were wonderfully treated to "how it's done" by Mr Gilchrist in the 2nd dig. By the way, his form and contribution been overly criticized as well. Flintoff (and I laugh here) placed just as many boundary fielders as Ponting, but did not receive the unjust commentary for it. Where Pietersen hit catches and played ugly swipes, Gilchrist showed that fielders mean nothing when a true demolisher sets to work. He smashed a 57-ball hundred (which would have been faster had Hoggard bowled to him) and showed how Pietersen is not even close to the same mold as a Gilchrist or Richards. He could only resort to arrogant remarks from the middle, something Gilchrist picked up on as he could be heard calling Pierersen a "smart a*se" over the stump mic.

    This series has been more than a drubbing. More than Australia desperately seeking to retain the urn. It was been a wonderful testament that it's the players in the middle who matter, and no manner of external criticism makes a difference. I sincerely hope you're all scratching your heads over this one. Continue to make your un-towards remarks. Continue to criticize selection, captaincy, age and everything else. Because in the end, the only thing that matters, is that Australia has a winning formula and the rest of the world is playing in a race for distant second...

  • Ozbased in UK on December 18, 2006, 17:33 GMT

    A job well done by the Australian team but for all the interest in the series can we now be too surprised by its outcome? The English teams of the past 2 decades have made their way to Australia not only unsuccessfully but for many periods without even the hope of success. Yet many of those players may claim some part in the victory of 2005. The "casual Aussie net sessions" that Gid refers to were carried out by 15 Australians that had not seen a decent pommy effort at winning the ashes in their careers (and did not have steely Steve Waugh to focus their intensity). Sure the Poms were going to be better in 2005, we had heard it all before. But this time the POMS really were better, their improvements not only in ability (though those improvements were vast & doubtless)but also in intensity and self belief. In a very tight series their hunger and intensity was the edge to securing victory. Fast forward to the current series and the ageing champions of the Australian side had, for the first time in their careers, a good reason to sharpen their intensity and focus against the old foe (as they had done successfully in previous series in the Caribean and the sub-continent to force historic series victories). Australian crowds could once again rejoice in pommy bashing (even if they could not match the well trained football song antics of the Barmy Army)instead of feeling they were kicking a man while he was down. What has been missed by most commentators to date is just how well this English team has performed! Take Hayden or Langer out for Trescothik, Ponting for Vaughan, Clarke for Jones and make Lee bowl with a sore front foot and this series could have been a lot closer. Yet these are the hurdles England have faced during the lead up to this series. England's preparation has been poor, largely because they have lost or only recently regained half of the winning side from '05!! If you then picked MacGill and rested Warne to replicate the Panesar issue (and that is very derogatory to MacGill comparing either his batting or bowling to that of Ashley Giles), blooded a few new faces, all in conditions close to twice as hot as the average English cricketer is used to, against the best and now most focussed team in the world, what sort of series result would you expect? A lot of people will complain that this "potentialy brilliant" series has been cut short, having been resolved in 3 straight tests. Given the cirumstance I think the current English team have actually prolonged the series. The difference between them and the last decade of ashes tourists (who seldom had as genuine but offered plenty more excuses) being that this lot at least took each game to the final day! The series now becomes all the more exciting for the result most cricket fans were really interested in, can the Aussies win 5-0?!

  • snoopthedoop on December 18, 2006, 14:20 GMT

    Exactly - 'it’ll-be-all-right-on-the-night’.

    That's the attitude and arrogance that has lost Endland The Ashes.

    What I liked as an Aussie is Australia set out to WIN the Champions Trophy before this campaign.

    No resting players, no laziness, it was a straight out decision to play, train and think about what is in front of you.

    England to me, having seen them play on the telly, appeared content to have got their OBE's and were already saving themselves in a way for a defence of The Ashes and not concentrating on the task at hand. Even the commentators like Beefy, Bumbles and Gower kept making reference to The Ashes campaign and how it would all be fine after they mucked around with Pakistan and Sri Lanka and had a holiday at the Champions Trophy.

    Oops I think is the expression that English cricket, crickiters and it's brains trust are searching for.

  • Ian on December 18, 2006, 12:16 GMT

    I'll heap praise on Hussey alright. I've not seen a better combination of talent, intellect and application in cricket since, well - I don't think there has been anybody and I'm perhaps half as well read as you Gideon...

    If anyone was ever ready for a leadership role, it's Hussey now. May his form bubble remain unburst in perpetuity.

  • seals on December 18, 2006, 11:32 GMT

    Gideon, I tend to think that the poor preparation of the English this time mirrors the poor preparation by the Australians last year. I have been fascinated to see that both visiting sides chose to do away with proper first class lead up matches. I think both suffered in the respective series for the lack of acclimatisation. A lot of cricket in the year previous does not equal proper warm up in the specific hostile terrain.

    I would suggest too that the win last year was premature in terms of dethroning Australia. The English time is coming with a young side yet to find its limits, last years win was perhaps a taste of a possible dominance in a few years time.

  • Ron on December 18, 2006, 11:20 GMT

    Congratulations to the Australian team.I am proud to be an Aussie.We showed the true Aussie grit.Something that's hard to beat. I do however feel for Freddie Flintoff and some of the English side.Pietersen and Freddie are true warriors.Cook shows promise.The rest are average cricketers.Thankyou Gilly,Punter,Shane,Pidgeon and Mr Cricket for some life long memories. Aussie,Aussie,Aussie !

  • AussieBill on December 18, 2006, 11:16 GMT

    What's the significane of the title? hmm..

  • colin flint on December 18, 2006, 10:52 GMT

    It's very sad, but all too predictable. Andrew Flintoff is a fine cricketer and a great chap, but Andrew Strauss would have been a better captain. We badly missed Michael Vaughan, and the preparation was clearly inadequate. Darren Lehmann as coach for 2009?

  • Nick on December 18, 2006, 9:48 GMT

    i wouldn't say that England have 'sucked', i mean the selectors were a bit lost not putting Panesar in, Warney's right, Fletcher does have his favourites in Giles and Jones, but England did fairly well to play against the likes of Australia with the team they had, full credit has to go to Pietersen, was England's most consistent batsmen, with little reward.

    But full credit to the Australians, they played awesome, and the hunger was simply too much for England to combat. In the end it was an all-ound performance from the wrold champions, everyone contributed, in slight contrast to England. Australia was simply too good, but England didn't play very bad, they were a bit unlucky, but they didn't 'suck', they were just beaten by a very, very good team, the best.

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  • Nick on December 18, 2006, 9:48 GMT

    i wouldn't say that England have 'sucked', i mean the selectors were a bit lost not putting Panesar in, Warney's right, Fletcher does have his favourites in Giles and Jones, but England did fairly well to play against the likes of Australia with the team they had, full credit has to go to Pietersen, was England's most consistent batsmen, with little reward.

    But full credit to the Australians, they played awesome, and the hunger was simply too much for England to combat. In the end it was an all-ound performance from the wrold champions, everyone contributed, in slight contrast to England. Australia was simply too good, but England didn't play very bad, they were a bit unlucky, but they didn't 'suck', they were just beaten by a very, very good team, the best.

  • colin flint on December 18, 2006, 10:52 GMT

    It's very sad, but all too predictable. Andrew Flintoff is a fine cricketer and a great chap, but Andrew Strauss would have been a better captain. We badly missed Michael Vaughan, and the preparation was clearly inadequate. Darren Lehmann as coach for 2009?

  • AussieBill on December 18, 2006, 11:16 GMT

    What's the significane of the title? hmm..

  • Ron on December 18, 2006, 11:20 GMT

    Congratulations to the Australian team.I am proud to be an Aussie.We showed the true Aussie grit.Something that's hard to beat. I do however feel for Freddie Flintoff and some of the English side.Pietersen and Freddie are true warriors.Cook shows promise.The rest are average cricketers.Thankyou Gilly,Punter,Shane,Pidgeon and Mr Cricket for some life long memories. Aussie,Aussie,Aussie !

  • seals on December 18, 2006, 11:32 GMT

    Gideon, I tend to think that the poor preparation of the English this time mirrors the poor preparation by the Australians last year. I have been fascinated to see that both visiting sides chose to do away with proper first class lead up matches. I think both suffered in the respective series for the lack of acclimatisation. A lot of cricket in the year previous does not equal proper warm up in the specific hostile terrain.

    I would suggest too that the win last year was premature in terms of dethroning Australia. The English time is coming with a young side yet to find its limits, last years win was perhaps a taste of a possible dominance in a few years time.

  • Ian on December 18, 2006, 12:16 GMT

    I'll heap praise on Hussey alright. I've not seen a better combination of talent, intellect and application in cricket since, well - I don't think there has been anybody and I'm perhaps half as well read as you Gideon...

    If anyone was ever ready for a leadership role, it's Hussey now. May his form bubble remain unburst in perpetuity.

  • snoopthedoop on December 18, 2006, 14:20 GMT

    Exactly - 'it’ll-be-all-right-on-the-night’.

    That's the attitude and arrogance that has lost Endland The Ashes.

    What I liked as an Aussie is Australia set out to WIN the Champions Trophy before this campaign.

    No resting players, no laziness, it was a straight out decision to play, train and think about what is in front of you.

    England to me, having seen them play on the telly, appeared content to have got their OBE's and were already saving themselves in a way for a defence of The Ashes and not concentrating on the task at hand. Even the commentators like Beefy, Bumbles and Gower kept making reference to The Ashes campaign and how it would all be fine after they mucked around with Pakistan and Sri Lanka and had a holiday at the Champions Trophy.

    Oops I think is the expression that English cricket, crickiters and it's brains trust are searching for.

  • Ozbased in UK on December 18, 2006, 17:33 GMT

    A job well done by the Australian team but for all the interest in the series can we now be too surprised by its outcome? The English teams of the past 2 decades have made their way to Australia not only unsuccessfully but for many periods without even the hope of success. Yet many of those players may claim some part in the victory of 2005. The "casual Aussie net sessions" that Gid refers to were carried out by 15 Australians that had not seen a decent pommy effort at winning the ashes in their careers (and did not have steely Steve Waugh to focus their intensity). Sure the Poms were going to be better in 2005, we had heard it all before. But this time the POMS really were better, their improvements not only in ability (though those improvements were vast & doubtless)but also in intensity and self belief. In a very tight series their hunger and intensity was the edge to securing victory. Fast forward to the current series and the ageing champions of the Australian side had, for the first time in their careers, a good reason to sharpen their intensity and focus against the old foe (as they had done successfully in previous series in the Caribean and the sub-continent to force historic series victories). Australian crowds could once again rejoice in pommy bashing (even if they could not match the well trained football song antics of the Barmy Army)instead of feeling they were kicking a man while he was down. What has been missed by most commentators to date is just how well this English team has performed! Take Hayden or Langer out for Trescothik, Ponting for Vaughan, Clarke for Jones and make Lee bowl with a sore front foot and this series could have been a lot closer. Yet these are the hurdles England have faced during the lead up to this series. England's preparation has been poor, largely because they have lost or only recently regained half of the winning side from '05!! If you then picked MacGill and rested Warne to replicate the Panesar issue (and that is very derogatory to MacGill comparing either his batting or bowling to that of Ashley Giles), blooded a few new faces, all in conditions close to twice as hot as the average English cricketer is used to, against the best and now most focussed team in the world, what sort of series result would you expect? A lot of people will complain that this "potentialy brilliant" series has been cut short, having been resolved in 3 straight tests. Given the cirumstance I think the current English team have actually prolonged the series. The difference between them and the last decade of ashes tourists (who seldom had as genuine but offered plenty more excuses) being that this lot at least took each game to the final day! The series now becomes all the more exciting for the result most cricket fans were really interested in, can the Aussies win 5-0?!

  • Aussie Fan on December 18, 2006, 17:39 GMT

    What I love about this drubbing, this annihilation, is how we've gone about showing up all the comments received from Commentators and Press alike. For some reason Australia continues to be heavily criticized; over appealing, fielding placements, negativity, age; the list goes on and on...

    In Brisbane the wicket was glorious on days 1 and 2 while Australia were batting but it became a mine field when England's turn. The curator had not done his job as England succumbed to a dismal first innings score. Punter and his men chose not to enforce the follow on and came out to "exorcise the demons" and expose this shallow commentary by scoring one for 200. Suddenly the pitch was a batsmans paradise again. If Mr Brisbane Curator can please come forward and tell us all how he managed to make a wicket deteriorate and then mend itself we would be most grateful...

    In Adelaide the wicket was too friendly to the batsman. Cricinfo scorecard staff bored all with their continuous mocking of the pitch and the general state of the game. Respectable commentators on Channel 9 and Sky Sports showed us that they clearly must have an agenda going into the games else they wouldn't remark and dwell over such things. Only one man, Richie Benaud, was able to show the intelligence necessary to deliver the game we so love. He said a Test Match is a 5-day affair. How right he was. Once again a curator of many years was receiving unnecessary negative attention for preparing a pitch that could only end in the most boring of draws. Forget not that Adelaide has produced consistent results despite the batter friendly conditions. Now we have one of the most remarkable test finishes in history to show for it...

    People seem to quickly forget that no matter what surface you play on, the batsman must score runs and the bowlers must take wickets. England scored runs. Lots of runs. Collingwood was, a bit unfairly, made to look like a genius. He is not. Collingwood chewed up 2 days of cricket in his efforts and to make matters worse, completely forgot how to score runs on the 5th day, a day that may have turned out quite differently if he had have scored 20 more. Australia came out and scored lots of runs (we expected this) but more importantly, came out with the menace needed to win the game on the 5th day. Kudos to England for self destructing from such a position. It goes to show that even a wonderful pitch means nothing if you play in the wrong state of mind.

    Australia were again criticized for their negative tactics in containment bowling to Pietersen. What a master stroke it turned out to be. What a shame that Australia would receive more unbecoming comments about their tactics come game 3. Who's winning three-zip?

    In Perth Ricky Ponting was blasted for placing up to seven boundary fielders when Pietersen came out. Defensive tactics are still tactics. Pietersen proved this true twice. First by hitting a catch to McGrath (who does look old in the field) and second by not taking full advantage of the conditions. We were wonderfully treated to "how it's done" by Mr Gilchrist in the 2nd dig. By the way, his form and contribution been overly criticized as well. Flintoff (and I laugh here) placed just as many boundary fielders as Ponting, but did not receive the unjust commentary for it. Where Pietersen hit catches and played ugly swipes, Gilchrist showed that fielders mean nothing when a true demolisher sets to work. He smashed a 57-ball hundred (which would have been faster had Hoggard bowled to him) and showed how Pietersen is not even close to the same mold as a Gilchrist or Richards. He could only resort to arrogant remarks from the middle, something Gilchrist picked up on as he could be heard calling Pierersen a "smart a*se" over the stump mic.

    This series has been more than a drubbing. More than Australia desperately seeking to retain the urn. It was been a wonderful testament that it's the players in the middle who matter, and no manner of external criticism makes a difference. I sincerely hope you're all scratching your heads over this one. Continue to make your un-towards remarks. Continue to criticize selection, captaincy, age and everything else. Because in the end, the only thing that matters, is that Australia has a winning formula and the rest of the world is playing in a race for distant second...

  • Martin on December 18, 2006, 18:22 GMT

    Other than the close run 2005 series in England, the Aussies have dominated the game of Test match cricket for well over a decade... Im in the UK now and a lot is being said on how England lost the Ashes. How about the fact that Australia have been thumping better teams than England all over the world. Dont feel to bad Poms, we do it to everyone!!! The fact is that if the Aussies play to anywhere near there best there is daylight between the two teams, as recently shown.... March on Dads Army of Galacticos!!