December 8, 2010

Ashes

England's performance bordered on flawless

Akhila Ranganna

Writing in the Guardian, Mike Selvey says that the Adelaide win was the most complete performance by an England team in the memory of those who witnessed it.

From first over to last, they dominated proceedings, first with ball and in the field, and then with bat. If there were those who felt that England might have peaked too early in the warm-ups, then now it can be seen that they had not got beyond base camp. The only question is how to sustain it.

And again, in the Guardian, Andy Bull says these are strange times for anyone who has followed the fortunes of the two Ashes teams these past 20 years, almost a role-reversal.

The keynote contribution to Australia's calamitous start to the series has been made not by the players but by the management and, in particular, the selectors. Such selectorial confusion used to be the bane of English cricket. It seems the Australians have now acquired the habit. There are a host of good players and strong personalities in the Australia team. But they are being undermined by their shambolic mismanagement

Jonathan Agnew in BBC Sport ranks England's victory as one of the greatest wins he has seen overseas. Australia, on the other had, he says, are in complete disarray.

Australia's chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch is under immense pressure. Its seems they have no long-term plans, judging by their depleted reserves of talent, and the Australian media want answers. This saga will run and run. There have even been calls for the return of Shane Warne and it is all demoralising for the hosts.

Steve James in the Daily Telegraph,says that for a change it is Australia who are at the receiving end, as they weren't just beaten, they were smashed at Adelaide. Whatever happens in the coming weeks, the Australians have lost their aura.

The strange thing, though, is not just that the 24 years of hurt since England last won an Ashes series Down Under may be about to end. It is the way that the roles have been reversed. In response to my gag, the gateman just shrugged his shoulders. Negativity, it seems, is at last entering the Australian sporting psyche.

Writing in the same newspaper, Shane Warne says it is crunch time for Australia. Time for them to take some hard decisions about all aspects of their game.

They need to work out a way of getting 20 wickets and they need to find a leader of the attack. Who is that? No one springs to mind at the moment, but making inroads into that top order is crucial and something that has been absent from this current side.

Derek Pringle, in the Daily Telegraph, says Ashes series have cost more England captains their jobs than any other but it could be time for Australia to suffer the same indignity after Ricky Ponting oversaw the country’s biggest defeat to England at the Adelaide Oval in 118 years.

The days of plenty have gone for Australia and while Ponting, 35, has long claimed to have enjoyed the challenge of fashioning a new empire, he is fast heading for his third Ashes defeat and nobody survives that. Whether he calls time on himself or is pushed by the selectors rather depends on whether they think there is an able deputy ready to cope with the heft of an Ashes series and the expectations that brings especially on home soil

Stephen Brenkley in the Independent, asks if this is the worst Australian side ever.

Where they go from an innings defeat on a flat pitch after winning a key toss only they can decide, assuming their selectors are capable of deciding anything. But it is a jolt to the notion of the strength of Australia's first class cricket.

Australia look broken, writes Lawrence Booth in the Daily Mail, and the disparity between the two sides has caught even the more optimistic Englishmen by surprise.

Only three Australians – Hussey, Haddin and Shane Watson – have held their end up. England have not a single player out of form, and were even able to take Stuart Broad’s series-ending injury in their stride: after all, Chris Tremlett, the man expected to take his place in Perth, would stroll into this Australia team

Nasser Hussain, in the same newspaper, says that while there has been talk about how bad Australia have been, it should not take away from the credit that England deserve because they have been outstanding.

As long as England keep their feet on the ground, and I am sure they will under Andy Flower, then there is no limit to what they can achieve. It is definitely one of the best England sides I have seen and there is no reason why they cannot become the best team in the world.

Back to BBCSport and Justin Langer says that one of the reasons behind England's success was that that various players stood up and performed when the pressure was on.

Rarely did it come down to one superstar, but rather a group of players complementing each other and coming good when then team needed it the most. Because of this the great teams become intimidating because the opposition know they have to knock out all 11 opponents rather than just one or two of the best individuals.

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Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo

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